If I could go back in time and talk to my twenty-year-old self, the fi rst thing I would say is: “Lose the perm.” Secondly I would say: “Relax. Really. Just relax. Don’t sweat it.”
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t anxious and fearful that the parade would pass me by. And I was sure there was someone or something outside of myself with all the answers. I had a driving, anxiety-filled ambition. I wanted to be a working actor so badly. I wanted to belong and feel like I was valued and seen. Well, now I am a working actor, and I guarantee you it’s not because I suffered or worried over it.
As I look back, the road to where I am today has been a series of happy accidents I was either smart or stupid enough to take advantage of. I thought I had to have a plan, a strategy. Turns out I just had to be ready and willing to take chances, look at what’s right in front of me, and put my heart into everything I do. All that anxiety and fear didn’t help, nor did it fuel anything useful. Finally releasing that worry served to get me out of my own way. So my final piece of advice to twenty-year-old me: Be easy on your sweet self. And don’t drink Miller Lite tall boys in the morning.
I don’t know why, but i was born with an extra helping of angst. I would love to be able to blame this on my parents, as I’m told this is good for book sales. But I can’t.
I grew up in a family that was pure Americana. We lived in Dolton, Illinois, one of the newly founded villages south of Chicago created to house the burgeoning middle class. We were like the subject of a Norman Rockwell painting, except it was the 1960s and ’70s, so he would have had to paint us with bellbottoms and a stocked liquor cabinet. I didn’t settle into myself as a child, but the family I had around me was entertaining and embraced the life we had.
My dad, Frank, was a classic Irish-Catholic cutup. He was always singing a ditty, dancing a soft-shoe, or cracking wise while mixing a cocktail. He was almost bald by the time he was nineteen, and every day he’d smear Sea & Ski sun lotion on top of his naked head, then slap a little VO5 onto his hands and smooth the ring of hair around the sides with a flourish. “How do you like that?” he’d say to himself in the mirror, and sing under his breath, “I’ve got things to do, places to go, people to see.” And after that daily Sea & Ski ritual, damn if he still didn’t end up getting skin cancer on his pate. However, it would be lung cancer that took my dad from us in 2003, and I miss him every day.
I can remember my dad, when I was really young—so young, it’s like Vaseline over the memory—dancing with me in the living room. “Do you come here often?” he’d ask, twirling me around and singing along with Sid Caesar: “Pardon me miss, but I’ve never done this . . . with a real live girl . . .”
The card security code is an added safeguard for your credit/debit card purchases. Depending on the type of card you use, it is either a three- or four-digit number printed on the back or front of your credit/debit card, separate from your credit/debit card number. To make shopping at InsightOut® Book Club even more secure, we require that you enter this number each time you make a credit/debit card purchase. Please note that your security code will not be stored with us even if you have saved your credit/debit card information.