Friday, December 19, 2008


   I am exhausted. But happy. So this is good, right?  Well, right now it's good because I am laying in bed, computer snugly in my lap, with nothing pressing until tomorrow's matinee. So this exhaustion is not so overwhelming. But it may have felt a mite overwhelming when I woke up this way, after having spent a night that did not have the amount of sleeping hours I need. 

   Since I am living at home while playing Philly, I am desperately trying to balance time between family, friends, Drew, actually um, being in this home that is such a comfort, and my job that is about an hour commute each way.  
   Which is why I am so tired.  

    It's been so nice, having all these fantastic people make time to come see me in ACL. My sister, Jenna, has seen the show twice this week so far, and I am pretty sure is coming back for another hit tomorrow. What can I say? She's a sucker for good theater. 

  Oh, and it doesn't hurt that we have some pretty hot men in our cast. Doesn't bother her one bit, I am pretty sure.

     Yesterday, my dear sweet friends, Erin and Christine--along with Christine's wonderful grandmother--came and saw the show. And tonight, a huge group from the school where I grew up training, the Delaware Dance Company, and am now on staff when I am between shows, came to see me. My brother and sister-in-law, Josh and Sunshine, were there too.  And by happenstance, two friends from church, Kathie and PJ, happened to sit right by them as well.

   Now, this group made themselves known after my number. And boy did they scream at my bow. Other people in the show were talking about how the audience didn't seem to be overly enthusiastic tonight, when one piped up, They sure seemed to love you, though, Jess.

   I smiled and said, Yeah, well, I do have a few friends in the audience...

   Anyway. I was on the West Coast with this show for so long, where nobody I knew (with the wonderful exception of Jason and Darby, the West Coast Latshaws) was really around to see it, that it is now thrilling to have friends able to come see me do it.  

  Two of my friends, Ian and Anthony, went with me to a diner called Midtown today.  There was an exchange between ourselves and our waitress that caught my heart, making me pause and take notice.

  The waitress was maybe somewhere in her 60's, though honestly, it was hard to tell. But the way she referred to herself, you would think that she might be 160. She had a nice shade of bottle-red dyed into her hair and wore earrings that were so heavy they had stretched out her lobes.  She was a little sad, a little jaded.  Or maybe a lot. And here's how I know this.

  Somehow we got to talking about how we are actors, dancers, singers--the whole shebang, I think, is the way she put it.  When she heard this, she got a far away look in her eyes and simply said, That used to be my passion. I wanted to do that, too. 

  We just looked at her, not quite knowing what to say, until one of us piped up, Oh, did you act? Coming back to the present, she answered, No, not really. But, I sure did want to. I was probably ever only in ten plays in my whole life, but at one point, well, that was my plan. 

  Her gaze pointedly swept the dishes she was clearing from our table as she said, But I got sidetracked. I got sidetracked and then I just stayed. 

    She went on to say that she had really wanted to dance, as well: I used to spend all of my time watching the pretty dancers on the television, and this was when television had just come out. I remember telling my mom that I wanted to be like those dancers. I guess she finally listened because she did send me to one tap class. At this point, she scooted back from the table enough for us to be able to see her footwork as she demonstrated her toe taps and heel taps while saying, I guess maybe I mixed up the heels and the toes while tapping, cause I never did get to go back. I guess the teacher told my mom that I just didn't have it in me, or something. 

  We were just staring at this woman, transfixed by her sad story, simultaneously hoping that it never became ours, while sad that it was hers. She took advantage of her captive audience and continued, I didn't try for my passion. I settled for this. I am glad you guys are following your dreams; so few people really do. Please, keep doing it; don't get sidetracked like me. Life has no dress rehearsal. You go for what you want, or you don't, and I just didn't. Now I am old; in a year I will be dead, and what do I have to show for it? 

  How do you answer that? How do you tackle the monstrous topics of death, bitterness, and unrealized potential with a woman you barely know? How do you assuage her fears, encourage her heart that is bound for eternity, for a place where deadlines have no application, all the while acknowledging that she is, in fact, fettered by a body that is giving out, burdened by a heart made sick by lost hope and disappointment? That she is, indeed, living in a world bound by the ceaseless tick tock of time? 

  I don't know. 

   Anthony started crying, silently, so as not to make her think that she was being pitied. I couldn't say anything. The enormity of her sense of loss dwarfed my attempt at conversation. 

   The dishes were cleared by now, so she simply walked away. We were left to look at each other and make noises about how sad her life is.  And hope that she has good, loving people in it that make it rich, even if she never has felt that she has "made something of herself."

   May we all have the courage to go after whatever good things are burning in our hearts. Though they may look frightening, may the possibility of not realizing them frighten us even more...And may we be grateful, always always grateful.  Because wherever we manage to get on this journey, it is never our doing alone.


kathiek said...

" is now thrilling to have friends able to come see me do it."

And we were thrilled to see you do that thing you do! You were absolutely wonderful, Jess! Everyone did a superb job! I said it at the theater and I'll say it again, I am so glad that the first time I got to see A Chorus Line, I got to see you in it!

That IS a sad story about the waitress.

Jenna said...

i have had such a fun time with you and your friends this week! what can i say i'm a sucker for good theatre, hot men, and gay guys. especially hot gay guys which your cast is filled with!

merry said...

First of all, that poor lady. I would have cried too. Secondly, We are coming to see you today. I expect to have my name in tomorrow's post.

beingawesome said...

Well Jess.. you've read my blog.. and in my overly dramatic fashion I'd like to say that I feel a bit of this woman's pain. It's really hard to look back fondly at anything that may have been good in your past when the one thing that you always dreamed about never happened.

But, hopefully I'm still at an age where I can at least try to make it happen.

kathiek said...

Jess, I can't believe I forgot to tell you this! After we left you, Josh, and Sunshine, PJ and I decided to get something to eat, but we wanted to get out of the city. We drove back to Newark and, long story short, we ended up at Denny's. We were standing behind this couple, waiting to be seated, and they asked us if we would like to join them, so we did. We had told them that we had gone to see you in ACL at the Forrest Theater and they asked what else you had done. I told them a couple things, then I pulled out the playbill and showed them your picture. The girl commented on how pretty you were, what great bone structure you had, and then she said..."she has an ELFISH quality about her" (I kid you not)!!

jason said...

BeingAwesome and Waitress Woman –

The way to ward this despair off is to be in charge of the definition of your own success, and define it as something you can achieve. You can shoot for things that are outside of your control – like making it on Broadway or getting a record deal or having something you write be produced – but in order to be successful (in your own opinion), make it something you can control. Like putting on your own show at a playhouse somewhere, or writing and playing songs, or writing screenplays. That has to be your definition of success or else you are putting your happiness and self-worth in the hands of people who don't care about you at all. It's not giving anything up, it's enjoying the journey and realizing that it's important in its own right. I think this is the real key to continuing in artistic endeavors without going INSANE. If it's your dream to dance, then dance. If it's to write, then write. If it's to act, then act.

Natalie said...

That story made me cry...and not silently, at all.

Jessica Latshaw said...

Jase--that is great advice; I am so glad you wrote that. I have to say that it is never too late to start NOW. To start where you are. You wanna be on Broadway, find out what kind of theater is available to you where you are. You wanna write a book, start blogging or something...Do whatever is within YOUR POWER to do to accomplish your goals.

And Kathie--you know how I feel about elves--THANK YOU!!!

jason said...

I think they might have meant Kebler Elves though...

jason said...

and by Kebler I meant Keebler.

K-Ro! said...

Hey there Jess, 1. very inspiring post...i hope that lady has family too :( 2. I will try my best to come see the show. Money is tight and no one wants to sit in the balcony with me!!!! Ugh I'm like, "come on guys jess is in it!!!" So I'm still workin on it but i will let you know! It's not sold out is it?

Tiffany Schleigh said...

Wow, you have every right to be exhausted! Again,so glad I was able to see the show! {the really loud yelling coming from the back today? yeah, totally me... hehehe} anyways, Hope you get some time to rest.

God Bless.