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My New Blog

I moved my Blog! Check out the new and improved site at: www.therecklessoptimist.com

It’s hosted by wordpress.org rather than wordpress.com.

Thanks!

Anthony

I lost my voice. Laryngitis. I have spent the last two days whispering to people when I absolutely had to speak. Such was the case when I went out for Mexican food with some friends last night. The shop keeper asked me what I wanted. I motioned to my throat and whispered, “I lost my voice.” He looked at me with empathy and whispered back to me for the duration of our conversation. “Why is he whispering?” I thought to myself. He asked me what I wanted. I pointed to the picture of the fajitas. He asked me if I wanted chicken, pork or beef fajitas and then proceeded to out each animal. For ‘chicken’ he clucked his arms like he was doing the chicken dance. I wondered why my friends weren’t beside me to share the laugh. When he said ‘beef’, he pointed his fingers above his head indicating little cow horns. I couldn’t bare to see him attempt a pig and so I pointed to the chili con carne.

He hasn’t been the only whisperer. There are many many more of you out there. What is it that you are thinking? I lost my voice… you don’t have to lose yours.

For Part 1, click here: http://wp.me/pFrOn-ao

It’s Wednesday. 5:00pm. I am sitting in a waiting room with a handful of actors. This is the second callback for the commercial we are all vying for. There are eight of us in the room. They will choose two for the commercial. Four dogs, one bone. Let the games begin.

I am paired with a guy who looks about 10 years older than me.  I ask him if he wants to run lines together while we wait. He says no. We are teammates. But we are also competing against each other. Its awkward.

Our names are called. The client is in another room watching us on a TV feed. We run the scene once. Its stiff. We run it again, its loosening up. We run it again, its good. We switch roles and run it 3 more times and it feels great. The director is laughing. I am smiling as we step out of the casting room.

They have asked us all to stay in the waiting room so they can see some alternate pairings. What started as an audition for 80+ actors was cut down to a callback for twenty. Now there are only eight.

And then, the moment. A door opens and one of the women from casting comes out holding a piece of paper. “Anthony, are you here?” My heart races.

“Yes.” I reply.

“OK, you can go home. Sorry about that. You were great. It has nothing to do with you honey.” She smiles and I know her words are sincere. And then there were seven…

I’m not going to say it doesn’t hurt. It does. But there is a scripture that says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Who knows? Maybe the casting director will remember me and bring me in for something even better. Here’s to being an optimist ;o)

It’s Monday. 2:30pm. I am sitting in a waiting room for an audition, hoping to land a role in a television commercial. It’s about 2 guys on a lunch break and the dialogue is quick, witty and fun to play. That is, if you are given the right scene partner. I am paired with an actor from The Second City who is absolutely brilliant. Happy day. We step into the audition room, stand on our marks, and then we play. And man did we play. We had the casting director laughing out loud. I walk out of the audition room with a smile that will linger at the corner of my mouth for hours. I am told that callbacks are happening on Wednesday. That means they will be making calls tomorrow. Nice. Here’s hoping for a call from my agent first thing Tuesday morning.

It’s Tuesday. 6:00pm. My agent hasn’t called. I am still holding out hope. My phone vibrates. I see my agent’s name. I tentatively press the ‘accept’ button and say “Hello?” as if I don’t know who’s calling. My agent tells me I have a callback on Wednesday at 2:35pm. Nice! The lingering smile returns…

It’s Wednesday. 3:10pm. I sit in a cramped audition room alongside 12 other actors with more arriving every other minute. We are told that there will be another callback today at 5:00pm for those of us they want to see again. My scene partner from Second City is here… maybe we’ll be paired together again. Not so. I go into the audition room with another actor that I just don’t vibe with. We do the scene and it is flat. There are no flashes of brilliance. No chemistry. And no laughs from the director. He thanks us. I leave. So does my lingering smile.

I walk down the stairs and into my car. Rejection is a part of the business and I have learned not to take it personally. Just as I am about to turn on the car, my phone rings. It’s my agent. I have a callback at 5:10pm. I will never understand this business.

It’s Wednesday. 4:40pm. I sit in a coffee shop writing a blog so I won’t think about what is going to happen in half an hour. I turn off my computer and prepare to head back to the audition…

I hope this story has a happy ending…

For part 2 click here: http://wp.me/pFrOn-aL

My son starts kindergarten in the fall and I am a nervous wreck. Yesterday we got a letter from the school saying that our child should know his full name, address and phone number before his first day of school. Josh doesn’t know his phone number or address! I spent the entire day trying to make learning our address a fun game. It isn’t fun. He knew it and so did I.

What worries me most is that Josh tends to clam up in front of new people. At home he runs around like a Boston Terrier on Red Bull. But in a room full of new faces he is quiet and withdrawn. What if he doesn’t make any friends? What if the other kids make fun of him? I do bullying prevention assemblies in schools and it would break my heart if Josh got bullied.

So today I am at a school doing a bullying prevention seminar when this very talkative Grade 3 girl starts telling me all about her soccer team and the correct spelling of her name and then she gets quiet for a bit and says, “You know… I got bullied too.” I asked her what happened. She told me about a very mean boy who used to pick on her and call her names and even hit her. “That’s terrible.” I said, “Is this still going on?” She shook her head. “No,” she said, “That was in kindergarten.”

I am a black man. But when she said the word ‘kindergarten’ my face became that of a white man. I am convinced this little girl was a messenger of Satan sent to torment me. “Little girl” I said, “Get thee behind me!”

OK, so the King James rebuke didn’t happen but I swear to you, when this little girl said the word ‘Kindergarten’, I almost fainted!

Last night we had the best Family Movie Night ever! Until recently, our kids have been too rambunctious to sit down and watch a full movie. Our 2-year-old daughter Ariella asks us to put on Wally about 7 times a day. When we oblige, she will sit on the couch completely fascinated by Eva and the Captain for all of 4 minutes. Then she wanders into the kitchen and asks, “Whats that Daddy?” about a variety of objects that she knows the name of already. So Family Movie Night has never really worked.

But Susie came up with a brilliant plan. She set up my LCD projector on the wall and turned out all the lights. She had snacks ready and sippy cups on hand. And when it was dark and our kids were fascinated by the huge screen on the wall, we watched UP.

Well our kids were silent and focused on the screen for almost the whole time! And as they got antsy we broke out the snacks- it was great! Ella sat with Susie for most of the movie but halfway through she crawled over to me, plopped herself down on my lap and rested her head against my chest. What a beautiful moment. She must have felt quite peaceful because just as the final standoff was about to happen, Ariella peed on me.

If you haven’t seen UP, might I recommend you do so. If you have a family, make it a family night! Just ask your daughter to sit on the couch.

God spoke to me today. For real. Depending on your own personal beliefs, you may think this makes me crazy. But before you close this window and dismiss me as delusional, let me explain…

I was driving on the 401 in Toronto. This is a highway where God is spoken of often- usually betwixt much profanity and raising of fingers. I was sitting there  feeling quite bogged down with my career. You see, there are four things I love to do: Writing, Acting, Rapping and Speaking. I have been doing a lot of speaking lately and I have put all of my other passions on the back burner. And because speaking is what pays my bills, it is easy to justify that.

But… in the last couple of weeks I have been haunted by this terrible restlessness. I can’t focus. I’m indecisive. It’s awful. And today on the 401, I heard the voice of God. He simply said:

“There is very little that you actually love to do… so do it all.”

Pretty simple huh?

Now, you may be thinking: “If there is a God, and this God were to speak to you, why wouldn’t he tell you the name of the plant that can be used to cure AIDS? Or give you a strategy to create world peace? Or give you the winning numbers for next week’s lottery?” Good questions. And I don’t have the answers. But I do believe that God wants to speak to every person on the planet. There is a scripture in the Book of Job that says:

“For God does speak–now one way, now another–though we may not perceive it.”
- Job 33:14

Imagine that… God speaks. There’s no thunder. No lightning. No James Earl Jones voice. It is so subtle that we don’t even recognize it. God speaks and we don’t even notice.

I once heard a guy talk about this whole thing. He said, “God’s voice sounds like spontaneous thoughts that light upon the mind.” I thought that was neat.

Of course, I don’t think he only speaks in spontaneous thoughts. I think He speaks through emotions and dreams. Scriptures and convictions. Sunsets and images of Jesus that supernaturally appear on breakfast toast.

OK, maybe not the toast. But I do believe we can miss His voice. And I don’t want to miss it. So all day I have been turning this spontaneous thought over and over in my mind. And the more I think about it, the more I feel a peace about my career, the more I feel emboldened to fan all of my passions into flame. This little spontaneous thought accomplished quite a lot.

OK, I admit it. Maybe this was just me. After all, there’s no proof. No evidence. And I don’t have the name for some miracle plant growing in the Amazon. But I also don’t have that deep restlessness anymore. And for that, I am thankful. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go butter my Jesus toast.

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