Tuesday, March 17, 2009

no snakes, thanks to St. Patty! and other thoughts

There is an awful lot of green here in DC.

I did my best to join in the festivities by wearing my white t-shirt that says in bold, green block letters:

Little Green Tee

Honestly, it wasn't very hard to do since it is one of my favorites and I basically wear it every week anyway.

Oh, I also made a big contribution to this day by marrying a man who was born on St. Patrick's Day. And he's Irish. Not like should-be-in-Billy-Elliot-right-now Irish or anything, but still, more Irish than any of us in the Latshaw clan.

I mean, we have the Italian thing down for sure, but we just aren't Irish. Nothing personal.

But I figured wearing my shirt, combined with marrying Drew makes me festive today.

So don't ever say I don't support...

As an actress, it can be very tempting to rely on the audience for feedback. And I don't mean hanging around the front of the theater directly after the show as the audience is pouring out, hoping to get recognized and applauded up close and personal--no, I mean gauging their response during the actual show.

Being painfully aware of their presence while you are the one in the spotlight.
Or wonderfully aware of it, as the case may be.

Hanging on their applause. Their laughter. Their silence.

I know we aren't supposed to go for the laughs. But let me tell you, making an audience laugh can give you such a high--so you can imagine how easy it is to get to the place where you do, in fact, go for the laugh.

Especially if you have found something that works. A certain way you say something, a certain look you make--well, if it works, then why not do it again? And if that works? Then maybe you have a know, some shtick that cracks people up, and that is gold.

But the thing is you cannot rely too heavily upon the audience's reaction. Because it changes. You might not change a single thing about your performance, but on Wednesday night you could get hoots and hollers and on Thursday night you get a big fat silence. Or you know, polite applause. Or something that never ceases to amaze me--just the person sound asleep in the front row where they can clearly be seen and clearly do not realize it. And if you are anywhere near me if I am one day sitting in the front row of a live performance (I don't care if it is the JCC putting on Fiddler on the Roof or if it's the opening of the latest Broadway show) and I happen to fall asleep, for the love of all that is good, wake me up.


But anyway, you could really go crazy deciding whether or not you are good enough by the audience's praise or lack thereof. And you might just end up changing your mind a lot.

Right, so it can all be quite confusing.

Which is why I try to take it all in stride...Um, try being the operative word.

And remember this post?

Well, I am a very curious person. It's in my nature to ask questions, to find out how people feel about something; what they think about this or that.

And when it is pertaining to me?

Come on.

Anyway, like I had previously mentioned, I replied to the person who had written a message that felt (to me, anyway) judgemental. Especially since there was no dialogue precipitating it, no hey how are you? to sort of let me speak my heart to her before she decided what kind of person I am.

I waited for a while and got nothing in response which frustrated me since, if she really wanted to help me find my way back to God, as she put it, then why wouldn't she show me she cared for me?

So, I sent her a short message:

Hey--I was just wondering if you had received my response to your message. I hadn't heard from you...Hope things are well for you and your family! --Jessica

And in what had to be close to about five minutes after the time I sent it, I received this:

Yes I did. We are very blessed. Hope all is well with you.

In my prayers, So-and-So


So I guess she doesn't care to talk to me. And again, I got a little bit sad about it because if she had felt compelled by some sort of compassion to write to me in the first place wouldn't that same compassion make her a). rejoice that, whether she believes me or not, I do at least think I have a relationship with God? or b). want to keep talking to me so that she can shed some further light on me, or at the very least be friendly towards another soul?

I just really don't understand people sometimes.
But I guess that isn't necessarily my job.


peaj said...

With Italians in the family and marrying an Irishman, how come you ain't Catholic?

Here is my take on the person (I'll call her Randy, short for "Miss Random Christian") that wrote to you:

I reread the email Randy sent to you and the first email you sent to her. In Randy's note to you I don't see any place where she said that "she really wanted to help [you] find [your] way back to God." In fact, in her note she seemed to put in all on the Lord ("I hope that you find God and let Him lead you back to Him"). I don't see any invitation in Randy's email for you to respond to her.

Then, in your note, you were pretty passionate in stating that you felt her judgment was wrong and that it was "small minded" of her to jump to the conclusions that she did. I don't think that you were mean to her, but I read that note and it seems that you were pretty upset.

So, here is my conjecture of what might have happened: Randy saw your site, drew her conclusions, and felt sad over how she felt you had "fallen away." Maybe she didn't want to be confrontative with someone she didn't really know, but she still felt she should do something. So she wrote you that note, not really expecting an email in reply but hoping it might trigger a response in you to "get right with God" or maybe an admission along the lines of "yeah, I have been apart from God a bit."

Instead, she got this emotionally charged defense of who you are and what you do. Now Randy's probably thinking "oh man, I really stepped in this. She sounds angry with me. I just wanted to plant a seed, I didn't want to get into a debate!" Maybe she feels bad that she hurt you. Maybe she accepts that she misjudged you and feels bad about that. But now that it has turned unpleasant, she has backed off. She'd rather just not deal with it - maybe she finds it hard to accept that you do want to dialogue with her and not just defend yourself.

If I can read the common theme in this post, Jess, you need to feel validated. You've learned that you can't look to tonight's audience to validate your performance as an artist. Miss Random Christian wrote a note invalidating your walk with God, and now you seem to want her to reverse that position. But what if you can't get that validation from her? How will you deal with that?

Love you Jess, and I hope this note isn't harsh.

Jessica Latshaw said...

Okay, well maybe I was wrongly assuming that she wanted to "help me find my way back to God" but that was the only kind reason I could find for her writing what she did.

I know she didn't say those exact words--I was sort of summing it up--but wouldn't it make sense that that was her impetus?

I still do think that in her heart she was trying to "help me find her way back to God," which I think is basically what you meant when you said she was trying to "trigger me to get right with God."

I guess I see those things as the same, with different semantics.

Also, maybe you are right about needing to feel validated by the audience, but I was just trying to portray how the audience changes so often you really cannot simply rely on them to let you know how you are doing.

To my knowledge, the two thoughts of the audience and then this girl were unrelated.

And yes, my response was emotionally charged because I was writing about something that was very very important to me and what she wrote was offensive.

But I still don't understand why she wouldn't grace me with a response; I honestly just don't understand it.

And I am totally fine if she feels badly about who I am--I know that her opinion does NOT define me. However, I would have liked to have discussed it. Remember, she was the one who opened the door, not me.

It sounds like maybe you really feel for her, which is kind of you. I am sure that she is a person who loves God. I just wish she would have responded--I think that is only kind.

And her note DID help me in a way--it made me rethink how I see others and decide anew NOT to be judgemental...

jason said...

Jessica - your email left them "very blessed," don't sweat it!!!

I would argue judgement wrapped up in Godly language is MUCH MORE CONFRONTATIONAL (and dangerous, and wrong) than simple "in my opinion" judgement.

What if I said to someone, "I pray that God leads you to a place where you aren't such a miserable person with a cold, dark heart,"

instead of

"I fear that some of the things you've done has made me think you've been going through a rough time, that you might be making some decisions that aren't the best for you, and was wondering if there is anything I could do to help?"

Which is more confrontational?

Christians speaking on behalf of God when it's really just their own opinions is a real problem that has dimmed the influence of the church in this world. (In my opinion, from knowing a large number of people outside of the church.)

Jessica said...

Yes jase, I agree-and the first prayer you quoted made me laugh.
But you are right-confrontation disguised in godly language is dangerous and harmful.

merry said...

Seriously, I don't understand why some Christians feel the need to get people "back on track". I personally feel that if a person is truly "off track" then they will not respond particularly well to someone telling them the obvious.God will lead them back in His time. However, if you really KNOW someone and feel that they are in a bad place the best thing you can do is pray for them and ask them realistically if there is anything you can do to help. Also, just because some people have a different kind of relationship with Jesus doesn't mean that they are off track.I feel many Christians wrongly assume that someone is not a Christian or not right with God if they are doing certain things or living a certain way. If someone has the guts to declare that they are a follower of Jesus than who are we to judge them and say they are not.Just my opinion. Jess, that would have completely pissed off pretty much everyone that I know and love.I think your response was fine. If she didn't want to deal with a response than maybe she should have thought about that before she said anything. Nobody appreciates a hit and run "saving of the lost".

Jessica said...

Merry-first of all the "hit and run saving of the lost" is freaking hilarious! And thank you for your wisdom, my dear-it is so easy to judge a book by it's cover, so to speak, but the truth is we don't really know what going on.

peaj said...

I feel sad for her, that she would think that it is enough to merely identify a problem and not be part of the solution. I feel that her sending one email that identified what she considered a problem and then not responding to your email effectively said "may the Lord change you, but I can't be bothered enough to help." It was a cowardly thing to do.

But, I've been a coward a number of times myself, so far be it from me to judge her. You, on the other hand, are not a cowardly person, which may be why you have difficulty understanding why she would act the way she did. If you took the time to identify what you saw as a problem in another person's spiritual walk, of course you would try to help them get out of it, or at least discuss the issue with them. I think that you are kind to assume that she would necessarily have the same motivation. That she seems not to, and that it seems many Christians feel the same way, makes me sad.

sarah said...

love you, Jess and i know what you mean..even though you don't "need" the audiences validation for you to know you are good, it still is nice to have. and i think you dealt very well with that are doing a great job! sorry i missed your show last week..Liam had been sick on and off for a week and i wanted to make sure he was okay. im sure it was amazing and i can't wait to hear you perform again! love, sarah

Karenkool said...

Love this post. I'm realizing only now (just because I'm THAT slow) that I need your blog on my regular reading log.

I "supported" yesterday too. I even made corned beef and cabbage. It was purty darn good and I didn't even get to have any until 10 pm. Blithey!

Anyway... boy, can I understand and relate with your comments about the audience. I'm not before audiences the way you are--with actually stage performances, but I do have audiences none the less, and I'm on the stage of life. I'm always looking for a satifying response, based on a real a connection. It's certainly dangerous to base self-worth and self-value on the opinions of others. I hate being misunderstood but it happens all the time. I highly value the art of connecting with others. The whole thing is such a fine balance. It's a great topic.

I was sorry to hear of "random christian person's" interactions with you (and lack thereof). I can remember being like that... making people "my mission"... being a "fixer" in the name of Christ. It was definitely a dysfunctional way of operating and one I am glad to have grown out of. And sheesh was that a long hard trek! Turthfully, though, people in that mode usually don't realize how off base they can be. They truly believe in what they are doing/saying and have the confidence that God is pleased. Hopefully He will lead them into clearer vision and greater truth about himself and his ways. One can only hope. In the meantime, it's always great to blog about it! ;-)

Jessica Latshaw said...

Sarah--don't you worry one second about not making it to the show--you have your hands so full with two little ones and I love when you stop by here and say hi;-) I miss you!

Karen--I think you might be the first person to use the word "blithey" on this blog and I will forever be indebted to you because of it! Also--yes the "art of connecting with others" is such a perfect way to put it--and I highly value that as well, on and off stage.

Peaj--thank you for calling me brave--I hope I am;-)

Anonymous said...

Holy shit, I'm glad this girl doesn't "know" me. Her head might explode.

Jessica Latshaw said...

Well, anon, just make sure that you keep yourself off myspace and you should be safe;-)