Monday, September 26, 2011

I had a conversation last night with a Mad Men character.

I usually blog at night. Nothing interesting happens to me from the hours of 9pm-9am, so it seems fitting to conduct my writing exercise in this way. And, I romanticize the idea of "writing." You know what I am talking about- the dusk of evening settling in, the light glow from my computer screen dancing on my cup of tea. (Or tea with brandy, usually.) Sometimes I play classical music in the is a pretty obnoxious ritual, but it cranks these gems out, so I commit to that set up. But I am here blogging in the morning with a cup of coffee-sans-brandy to the melodic thumping of a garbage truck outside. Why? SOMETHING AMAZING HAPPENED TO ME LAST NIGHT.

I went to bed on the early side and fell asleep immediately which never happens to me. I usually like to spend about 2 hours in bed freaking out over possible break-ins and wondering where exactly I would run/hide if said break in occurred. So, falling asleep without planning an escape route was a welcome change, as was the dream that I had.

I dreamt I was on the set on Mad Men as an extra, observing a scene between Peggy Olsen (Elisabeth Moss, for all you non-obsessed people out there) and Don Draper, (the admirable Jon Hamm.) Now, this is hilarious simply because: 1. I clearly don't aim high in my dreams. I mean, I was an extra. Usually people are superheros or the star, or flying or something ridiculous. Not me. I remember distinctly that I was in an ill-fitting 60's style dress, sweating a little, and wondering if John Slattery could see my pit stains. 2. There is no "2," actually. Just meditate on "1" for a little while while remembering again I was not the star of the show or Jon Hamm's girlfriend or anything. I. was. a. sweaty. extra.

As I watched the scene unfold I saw my chance when it ended and Jon Hamm walked away to get a glass of water. Peggy, (er, Elisabeth,) was alone, looking over lines so I inched my way over to her. I grabbed some napkins, shoved them under my pits and timidly tapped her on the shoulder while looking around frantically for the director. I didn't want to get caught bothering the stars or anything, but this was important. She spun delicately on her heel to face me, and raised her eyebrows slightly over the quivering sweaty mess in front of her. "Yes?" she asked.

"How do you do it?" I blurted out. She seemed to know exactly what I was talking about. "Do you mean, how am I on this show, one of the biggest characters, when I don't exactly look like January Jones?" I didn't want to say yes, but...yes. That was sort of what I was asking. At this moment John Slattery walked by and pointed at me. "You. Extra. I have to grab your ass in the next scene as I walk by. I can't find any of the other girls, so you are it. Hope you don't mind- it's not personal." As he walked away and my mouth dropped in horror, Peggy grabbed my hand and looked right in to my eyes. "Listen. Smart girls get it done. Don't you think I knew coming in to Hollywood I wasn't exactly what everyone was looking for? I didn't give up. I have great comedic timing, I know what I am capable of...and so do you, so quit hiding behind a false screen of modesty. You're not working hard enough. You need to work harder. Can you do that? If you can, this could be yours." She half gestured towards John Slattery and then shook her head. "Well, not him, but you get what I am saying."

She walked away and I stood there, absorbing every scent and sound around me. The feeling of sweat rolling down my back. The stale smell of a musty set warmed by spotlights. A hint of apples from the "scotch" bottles in the office. It was so surreal.

I woke up before the ass-grabbing scene, but sat in bed for a long while. Did I think that Elisabeth Moss came in to my dreams to tell me I was going to be a famous actress? No. But I think Elisabeth Moss came in to my dreams to tell me to stop living at god damn Blockbuster and eating things covered in cheese all day while moaning about how pathetic I am.

I know exactly what I want to do, and I lie to myself about it all of the time. I tell people "Oh, I could never do that." But- I secretly think I can. It's more attractive to be modest. People don't want to hear that you are going to write books like every one else. It was like a Peggy Olsen angel came down and told me to put on my big girl pants and get on with it. Embrace what you know you were meant to do, STOP CRYING, and start working.

Maybe I need to stop watching so much Mad Men, but you know what? I guess you could say it changed my life. I raise my (coffee cup) glass to all those dorky girls out there. The ones that know what they can do and firmly plant their feet in a world that doesn't always want them there. To emmy nominated Elisabeth Moss. To emmy nominated Tina Fey. To the girls with big noses and glasses and a sass that just can't be broken. I drink to you.

And thanks for hanging out in my dreams last night. So cool.

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