April 19, 2012

Lavender and dreams: Aspiring actor James Green

I virtually met James Green through the magic of Facebook. He began writing to me and so I introduce you to him with a brief essay on his dream. What we have here is one man’s dream, a bit of his life story, and the hint of lavender.

This blog’s purpose has been to discuss the arts, creativity, the process of invention. Most who visit here are writers and painters, artists all. For the first time here, I present the voice of an aspiring actor, who dreams what some say is the impossible dream.

As I present this bit of admitted autobiography by James Green, I’d also like to discuss with you the role of dreams in the process of invention.

John Cheever in an interview in The New York Times, put the question: autobiography in works of fiction in its place—and with that, gave some solid advice on dreams and invention:

It seems to me that any confusion between autobiography and fiction is precisely the role that reality plays in a dream. As you dream your ship, you perhaps know the boat, but you’re going towards a coast that is quite strange; you’re wearing clothes, the language that is being spoken around you is a language you don’t understand, but the woman to your left is your wife. It seems to me that this is not capricious but a quite mysterious union of fact and imagination one also finds in fiction. My favorite definition of fiction is Cocteau’s: “Literature is a force of memory that we have not yet understood.” It seems in a book one finds gratifying, the writer is able to present the reader with memory he has already possessed, but has not comprehended … .

Perhaps here in this brief piece by James Green you will see that dreams and the need to reinvent ourselves throughout our lives is “a force of memory that we have not yet understood.”

Here is James Green:

 I was born in Detroit, Michigan. My father worked at Hitsville as a recording engineer, which later became Motown Records. I've also lived in New York, Atlanta and Los Angeles which is where I spent my formative years, I grew up in a world being surrounded by many great entertainers: The Jackson 5, Smokey Robinson, The Drifters, Rick James and many others. My father worked in the music business, and my mother worked for the Screen Actors Guild in Hollywood. My jobs over the years have been doing extra work in a few films and stand in/model work when I lived in Los Angeles. I moved to Wisconsin and have been a chef for a few years and dabbled in the manufacturing industry. I have a 14 year old son and am trying after all these years to get back into the entertainment business, my true calling I strongly feel. I currently live in Appleton, Wisconsin, and enjoy reading, coaching youth sports, hiking and on occasion playing basketball while pretending every joint in my body isn't screaming in agony.

Three Hours in a Day
by James Green

Three hours of sleep in a day. That’s the average amount of sleep I have had in the last ten years, give or take an hour here or there. I existed in a zombie like state while also enduring a lifeless and loveless marriage. I would go to work, come home and watch the kid, sleep a little and repeat. My only respite was to escape into a Walter Mitty world of fantasy and film.

I jumped into Rick’s trench coat and fedora in Casablanca, and ran for miles as Forrest Gump!

Hmm, also on occasion imagining a little gnome whose arrival was preceded by the smell of lavender...

Two years ago I finally decided to file for divorce, leaving my soon-to-be ex to her own devices in finding a babysitter while she entertained her many male companions.

This month I turn 45 years old. The ink has not quite dried on the divorce papers and thus far shoes still outnumber boots 6 to 1.

After leaving the ex, like a dog realizing its leash is not on, I ran with glee and a newfound hope! I couldn’t wait to get back into the dating pool after 15 years… or so I thought. I have discovered the hard way why certain people are still single. I have met some interesting, entertaining (whether they knew they were or not.) and odd individuals. There has been a rendezvous or two with a couple of nice women, but nothing too substantial.

In the year and a half to two years I have been living by myself, there has been much self-analyzing and introspection. They say if you take a good, hard look in the mirror you may not like what you see—or the opposite? When I was younger I was always the tall, gangly kid trying to blend into the background. I was reserved and painfully shy. Even into the adult years the baggage of youth dragged behind. I have found out who the heck I am.

Punctuality is still an issue, but stopping and smelling the roses is not a crime, yet.

I recently drove to Las Vegas and back! It was almost 4000 miles of bliss and adventure. Steve, a friend, lives out there and has his own film production company. I had been toying with the idea of getting into acting or something film related. The “new” me has decided to take chances and rather than dream, make something happen.

Over lunch I posed the question to Steve about my sudden inspiration to live the dream. His response was honest and disappointing. He advised me not to pursue it. Valid points: Everyone and their mother wants to be an actor. Competition, age, and plus he knew me as the shy kid 20 some odd years ago.

Well, that stoked the embers. One thing that I can call myself is stubborn. In 20 years I had grown mentally and physically, scarred, toughened, and an extrovert by my standards. Let no one tell you what you can or cannot do. I have since returned to merry Wisconsin, and my drive is magnified tenfold.

I will find my path and make my dream come true. I’m not saying that this guy is going to win an Oscar (it is possible!), but there is no such thing as failure if I’ve tried and given it a shot. I could walk away knowing at least I attempted the journey. I will look into getting headshots, overcoming an aversion to getting my picture taken. Ha! This isn’t Hollywood, but there are some smaller theater and stage productions locally. As well as acting, singing and dancing (hmm, let’s not go too far) classes. Baby steps. I’ll do it my way.

A fuzzy photo of James at age 8: dreaming as we all do when we are children
A few years ago, another friend of mine gave me invaluable advice to getting my life together. “James, be eight years old. Remember when you were eight? You dreamed, laughed and played? Where’s that James? It’s time to let him out.” Yes!  At eight I could run into the girls’ bathroom! Of course if I tried going into the ladies’ room now that would carry a hefty fine and a possible sentence. I’ve outgrown some things.

Hmm…do I smell lavender?