(*NOTE: The following was written & formatted based on Chris Guillebeau’s article “HOW TO CONDUCT YOUR OWN ANNUAL REVIEW,” which can be found in its entirety at www.ChrisGuillebeau.com.)

(*NOTE: Furthermore, I have copy and pasted the post made recently by fellow contributor, JVB, to ease my formatting. He’s a gem, ain’t he? Yes, we can concur on this!)

Yo, 2009! I got some bones to pick with you. You, my friend, were a bitch, and I for one am both relieved that you are leaving and contemplative of what you have given me to consider.

It’s me, your ‘friend,’ Emily. I am not going to pretend that we get along. But, as I have realized, you are in my life for some reason. To test me, to try me, to measure me. I seek not to fully understand your motives but I am now, I can strongly say, at a point where I can accept them.

Dear Playbills readers: you have missed me, I know this. I have been absent. As Ben put it so aptly: acting is one of those art forms where you cannot begin to actually succeed or produce anything until you are fully in yourself. I think I gave myself too much to take on this year and 2009 didn’t like that too much. She saw me take on transition, focus, ambition, and growth all at the same time and was almost offended that a mere mortal would test her thus. So, what did she do? She spat on my eager little dreaming face. I was down and out for a bit but I have returned. The year is ending and 2009 is going on a repose. I am returning with clarity and focus. This year should have just been transition and if I look at it solely through that lens: I see success. Only success. So, 2009, FUCK YOU! Thats what I have to say to you!!! I succeeded, you bitch. And I couldnt have done it without you testing me to see if this is really what I want and who I am. So, again 2009, FUCK you, and THANK you.

As the year winds down, I am beginning to pick of the pieces of my life and myself that I lost in the big move to New York City and the big graduation from college. Unpacking is a process. Process. Process the process. Ok. Done, though never really done. Oh, its almost too much to think about and thus why I put it in such poetic terms.

Like J to the V-B, I am now going to take a look at 2009, in review. The highlights, the lowlights, and the unmentionables there within. Let us begin: hands inside the vehicle at all times.

Year: 2009

Theme: “This is no Miracle on 34th Street!” (to quote my father, who I saw for the first time in 7 years this year – but that story is for a different blog on a different day. A blog I might one day entitle: Everyone and Their Mother has got Daddy Issues). In more Elementary terms, dear Watson, we’d call this year: the year we realized the difference between expectations and reality while still attempting to dream.

What Went Well This Year:

  • I graduated from college and received a BFA in Acting (though this was technically Dec 08):
    • I completed something that I started 3.5 years ago and have fully dedicated myself to a profession and art that I love.
      Apart from this, graduating from college is really just that. Its the process that is too much to delve into in this one subsection in this one blog.

  • I had my first three professional acting gigs
    • I cannot begin to share my love and admiration for The Colorado Shakespeare Festival who have gotten me started on a path that I now know is the one for me: classical works
    • They gave me an opportunity to play classically challenging roles as well as new challenges like playing men.
    • This experience has taught me the type of people I always hope to work with the type of work I always hope to create. Yes, every company has their flaws and I am not saying that this is the pinnacle of high art or production values but there are no better people and there is no better mission statement. This company solidified my confidence in myself, my love for Shakespeare, and my faith in good people making honorable works.

  • I auditioned for tons of theatre, and it is in this process that one finds themselves. I have yet to land anything significant (or anything at all) in New York City but I DID land THREE professional roles in Denver. That IS something and something that I forget.
    • Taught me how to audition and how to swim in this enormous city
    • Given me perspective on my life. I have always thought that life is measured by success and that, if I wasnt on Broadway or in movies, that I was no real actor and that my life has no meaning. What I have learned over anything else in this enormous move to NYC is that that is not what life is. Life is not money or credits. It is your relationships with the world around you and with yourself. Depok Chopra would be so proud of me right now but I hate to say it: I would be happy with good friends and good food any day of the week right now and I am working on accepting that. This does not mean that I am not driven and focused and that I dont still have enormous dreams (because I do) but it is all about perspective and expections. Take, for example, NO MIRACLE ON 34th ST (the theme for 2009, that bitch). I moved here with a movie in my mind. I was given the reality. My father has been to NYC once and he wanted to go to Macy’s but they were closed for rennovations and he says, “well, what the hell, this is no miracle on 34th st.” And that is exactly what life is. Things are closed for rennovations. People are already cast in roles even though they are hosting an open call. Men have wives though they tell you you’re a goddess and Starbucks WONT tell you they are out of Chai until after you’ve waited in line for 20 minutes. BUT, life not being a movie is also an amazing thing in it of itself. You can breathe. You can take a day off. You can change everything in an instant and when you do succeed, it is that much greater. And though I hate to live in the future and wait for this “success” to make me happy – it does get me through the rough days. And it has certainly gotten me through 2009 (that bitch!)
  • I moved to NYC/left home/became independent/started a career as an actor/retail associate! This year was rough for many, in a fiscal sense. My family declared bankruptcy and I decided to move to the most expensive city in the world to pursue the most competitive career in the world during the worst economic crisis of all time. Fortunately, I love my President and so I remain optimistic. Apparently, I am always optimistic. I work in a store with late closing hours and a lot of customer traffic – when we close, I apparently, according to other employees, am too happy. I look at myself and I think that I am depressed. Other people look at me and see someone who is always happy. AGAIN – my expectations of myself are not realistic. I expect myself to be bounding with glee, partying every night, cuddling with a boyfriend, and paying my bills with acting gigs. The reality is: I am always smiling and I am always dreaming. So, in the end. I AM happy. I just dont accept it because I am waiting for a bigger, better happiness. But, as I review the year, I realize that I am happy. And I cant help it:
    • Transitions are hard and you have to give yourself time (YOUR time, not anyone elses measure of their transition time) to adjust.
    • The years directly out of college are the hardest for anyone. Accept this too.
    • I have realized that, in order to do what I WANT to do, I need to get more training. I have made a few decisions:
      • I HAVE APPLIED TO GRAD SCHOOLS – blog entry to come.
      • I am taking control of my physical and mental health.
      • I am assessing my own relationship with money and examining the worlds relationship with money. It is a sad one – on all accounts and an issue that I feel needs to be addressed. However, that is another blog post on another day
  • I am looking into learning something new, again! At the beginning of this year, I began Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at Easton Academy in Boulder, CO. GO TO EASTON if you too decide to take up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. They are the best people in the world and I cannot begin to tell you the impact that it has had on my life and my perspective of the world. A philosophy that I have fallen in love with is one entirely based around breathing, playing life like a chess game, and not wasting energy in areas where energy ought not be wasted. Happiness is simply about observing the world around you and making choices. I take what I am given and I choose: I choose happiness. However, in the Spring, I injured my elbow and stopped my training. It was something new to learn after college when I was lost wondering who I was and where I was going. And it was something to keep me in shape. It is not my passion and that is okay. After I moved to NYC, I tried to stay in shape through running but that just did not agree with my body. Then I spent a few weeks hemming and hawing between Capoeira (another Brazilian martial art) or Aerial Trapeze/Acrobatics. Which would be more “me?” Which would help my acting career more? Which could I actually afford? I am STILL making this decision and, at some point, I want to pursue ALL of these things. But, today, I decided to go back to YOGA – my base, my home. When I began college, I was taking Bikram yoga classes once a day, every day of the week. I was in the best shape of my life, I was taking my life in my own hands and steering it any way that I wanted. Today almost killed me. I am out of shape but determined to get back there. I started a program: 30 days for 30 dollars. I am going to go once a day for 30 days and hopefully get back into the swing of 1) health, 2) being in touch with my body and 3) being in touch with myself. I miss being a hippie and I have been running from yoga and myself for too long.
  • I began writing. People say that I should be a writer and that I have a way with words. When, in this city, I have found that I cannot perform and act or am not allowed, I need SOME form of artistic expression. I draw, I sing, I dance, and I write. I began pvspb.com with Joe and Ben with the intention of writing more. Now it has become more of a Forbes of acting and less of an artistic expression which is admittedly one of the reasons why I do not post as frequently as I ought to. But it is an amazing outlet and, as I find myself and help myself, I hope to help others. As the bew year approaches, I hope to write more. In fact, I am writing a book (whose genre, contents, themes I know not) merely so I can quote myself all of the time. But it is something that I need to do.
  • I realized the importance of a community, of friendships, family, and support systems. This is one reason why I have decided to reenter the world of education. However, its more than that. Moving to the largest and loneliest city in the world has taken its toll on my love for isolation. Don’t get me wrong: there IS nothing like a quiet evening alone (Paramore quote) but there is also nothing like connecting with another human being. I have taken a vow of all negative influences (including bad dates and focusing on relationships when I ought to be focusing on myself) and this is incredibly beneficial as well as lonely. However, it has left me free to see the true relationships that I do have in my life. My fellow writers are one of these relationships that is strong and real. My relationship with my sister, mother, and step father is another. And then there are the few friends from home who I have realized with always be in my life. This was a huge breakthrough for me and one that can only help me on my path to not only realizing who I am (to help my acting and my career) but also on my path to knowing what life really is all about.

This is the section where I am going to talk about what didnt go well this year:

And yet – I have decided to venture from the outline and NOT write about these things. I have learned from my mistakes and I have made many in the past year. But I am not going to relive them. I refuse. Writing them here and ending my post with the things that have plagued me the most these past couple of months will not do me any favors. I take every negative instance from this year, every challenge, every bump in the road and I say: you’re a bitch, fuck you, thank you for testing me, and thank you for teaching me. I will not go into the challenges, but I will go into the lessons that I have learned:

    • There is no such thing as a “good deal.” There are only good things, and bad things in pretty packages.
    • You will find in life that you have fewer friends than you thought but that these few friends are better friends than you ever could have imagined.
    • No one is thinking about you: they are thinking about themselves. You should do the same. You should live your life for you and do what makes you happy. Apologize rather than asking for permission.
    • Our disappointments are ONLY the result of having unrealistic expectations on ourselves.
    • Your environment affects you more than you know: where you live, where you eat, who is in your world. Negative surroundings will breed negativity within you and vice versa. If you are unhappy where you are: make a change. It is the most difficult and the most important decision you will ever make.
    • Dont compare yourself to others. Ever. The time it takes for you to succeed, get cast, adjust to a city, find love, lose weight, read a book, find yourself: its all on one time line and no one elses. Live your life and not someone elses.
    • Dont ever waste your time trying to convince someone of your worth. Those who are worth your time will recognize it immediately.
    • Learn new things – it takes 2 weeks to develop a new habit (good and bad). I hope to collect hobbies and know as much as I can in this life. As actors (to quote a great post by Ben earlier this year) it is our duty to love learning all sorts of things as we have to be all of them at one point or another. Evolve. Grow. Adapt. Challenge. Change. Create. Write single word sentences. Its all good.
    • Never give up on your stupid, stupid, STUPID dreams. (I am still working on this one)
    • Know thyself
“I am not suited to polite society.
To social striving, upward mobility, and making good impressions.
I am radically honest, sensitive, brilliant, and blunt. I hold up a mirror to the best and worst facets of human life.” – Vajrayogini