Sunday, August 26, 2018

Breaking Up With Gel

Last summer I fell in love.

My life had hit the skids. I was on round who knows of a never ending breakup with my former partner, who's mentally ill. My mom and I were fighting a ton. And I was having money problems. So I needed to make myself feel better. That's when I got a gel manicure for the first time.

I instantly became addicted as my nails lasted for upwards of three weeks to a month. They didn't crack. I looked cute. So it was a pleasure to shill out the dough for the powder.

When the gel nails came, it felt like I had come to life in a whole new way. I got off my ass and applied and got into to a grad program I had wanted to attend for years, and found a way to pay for it myself. I began to rehearse and revise my one woman show in a way I never had, and entered The Lady and President Tramp in festivals. I released April Unwrapped, and much to my mother's chagrin began to post sexy pictures. I renewed my health insurance. I began to officially call myself a headlining comedian. I pitched my book to an agent who's shopping it. I returned to legit acting and acting class. I recorded a voiceover demo and am a regular cast member of a radio drama. I became head editor of a genre for my school's lit magazine, the number one student lit magazine in the nation. I became involved in ACT UP and other activism. I mastered full body puppetry. I took my ventriloquism to the next level.

I became more truthful about my labels in my life, too. I began to put up serious boundaries with my mentally ill ex, and told people willing to give me an update on him that none was necessary. I began to cut toxic people out of my life. I began to be a decent friend, sister, and daughter.

I thought these gel nails gave me this super power to be the April I had always wanted to be: tough, powerful, and determined.


The gel made me feel pretty. Yet my nails were starting to look raggedy as heck. The gel would come lose and particles and dirt got trapped underneath. The gel would crack and it would hurt. The gel would make my fingers feel suffocated and begin to itch and burn. My nails became brittle and frail. All because of my obsession with the feeling this gel gave me.

Overtime the manicures started to work less and less. The nails started to pop off after a week and a half. I went to one lady and she was having a break up with her man and nearly sheered my cuticle off with her machine of death. Then I could never decide on a color. And when I did machine of death lady told me how wrong I was. This was after she scraped my gel off with a metro card and I started to cry because the gel bonded to my nail.

As of this week, gel and I are saying bye for a minute. They are staying on less and costing me more. They crack and it's a freaking medical emergency when they do. They are making my nails brittle. They aren't worth it.

I use I and they like we are two opposing forces.

Really, what made me move forward was myself. It wasn't a stupid manicure but me all along. I know that sounds nuts, but damn it's true.

In stepping away from gel, it makes me realize how much my ex, my health issues, hair loss and other things fucked with my psyche. The nails were the pick me up when I needed them, but I don't need them any more. I thought I was over that bullshit only to pick up more bullshit. I suppose it's the addict or the masochist in me. Hell if I know.

Right now I am back to regular polish. I feel dressed down, humbled, and a little like a crack ho. But I also know this is where I need to be right now with my neuroses, first world entitlement and other nonsense.

I can still move forward and be myself. My vanity just needs to take a rest. I will probably do gel in another few months. But right now, the nails need a break. I need to give myself a break too.

Gel or not, I am good enough gosh darnit!

April Brucker

Monday, August 20, 2018

Time (Culture Club)

It’s insane how time passes. Seems like only yesterday I was starting my journey going to class through those red doors at the Strasberg Institute. Seems like only yesterday I was going to open mics, had never headlined, had never been on TV, and took every bomb to heart. Seems like only yesterday I was doing something stupid. Wait, what was last week…….
Everyone has their different markers in knowing they are getting “old.” For the rest of the world it’s when their friends get married, and news of an arriving child is greeting with a congratulations, not a shotgun visit from good old dad. I still remember my sister Skipper trying on her wedding dress. Suddenly tears streamed down her eyes. She wept, “I look like an adult woman that has a mortgage and pays her own cellphone bill!”
I said, “Look on the bright side. At least Boomer has a job. You are doing better than several women in our family currently.”
In show business you know you are getting old when people you know depart the business. It’s not just one or two but rather a mass exodus of sorts. The other day a buddy of mine and I were talking about a vapid creature known as Starfucker. A beautiful almond haired would be starlette, Starfucker bragged ad nauseum about her celebrity friends she had. These included but were not limited to Mischa Barton, Spencer Pratt, and Paris Hilton. Starfucker, through her friends, even had some high powered agent.
I had seen her act and wasn’t impressed. Sure she was beautiful but not much else going on. Once, I forget where we were, but she was distressed. Screaming, panicked, she said, “My butt is vibrating!”
It was a crisis. Starfucker screamed as she once again said, “MY BUTT IS VIBRATING!”
Then she realized it was her phone. As my friend and I recounted the phone incident, we remembered Starfucker’s on again/off again love Tom. He had a band of some sort and actually seemed like a dufus but a nice one. Tom was always being beaten down by Starfucker and her Lucy Ricardo need for fame and fortune. He actually had talent, he just had a girlfriend who was shortening his life span.
Starfucker announced she was moving to Beverly Hills to be near her friends and fell off the map. My friend and I had wondered what happened to her. So we looked her up. She’s no longer in Beverly Hills but back on Long Island where she is from. She’s married with two kids and sells real estate. Starfucker had that same vacant look in her eyes. We had a laugh. So much for her high powered friends. Maybe she’s smart enough to keep her phone somewhere that it doesn’t make her life embarrassing.
The memory of Starfucker got me thinking of all the people I have known over the years who have come and gone from the entertainment world. Some were cool. Some not so much. Was it an easy decision to give this all up for Starfucker and those like her? Was it not?
Who knows.
This past year I decided to get my MFA in writing. It’s a program that allows me to see LA on my own terms, network, live life, still tour, and be married to my career. It’s what I have chosen instead of a “normal life.”

In pursuing my writing for real, it’s brought a fresh perspective to my acting. I am legit acting more than I have in sometime. Part of the reason acting fell to the wayside was because of the opportunities with my puppets. But the more I brush up on my acting, the stronger I get with my puppets and live comedy.
Honestly though, the truth is, I wish I could take a time machine and speak to my younger self. Help her out a tad.
“Listen to your voice teacher about that breathing. He’s not an idiot. Don’t make him a prophet before his time!”
“Stop fucking breaking the rules stupid ass. You are a rebel without a hall pass. Some of the rules are pretty good. You will figure this out when you play a large crowd!”
“Cigarettes do not relieve anxiety attacks!”
“Alcohol won’t relieve your anxiety attack!”
“Getting drunk and making an ass out of yourself will not impress him! And he’s worthless anyway!”
Yesterday I went to a rehearsal and we talked about internal life. An old acting teacher of mine that I loved made a post about internal life. His post also reconnected me with an old friend. We ended up talking. It was amazing actually.
It also made me realize we don’t get people forever. Time slips by and before we know it, time is gone. It was only yesterday Starfucker was being herself. It was only yesterday she and Tom were the free theater minus the overdone plot. Now they are both adults. He scores films which is awesome, and he has a fiancĂ© who doesn’t seem like she screams at him in public.
Sure, there are days that I beat myself up for not being where I want to be. There are days where it feels like I am climbing rocks and am about to be thrown off. But in those days I realize I am still following my dreams, fighting the good fight. As I completed my weekly checkin for my master’s program, I knew the other women in my group were fighting that same fight with me. Just like the students each term in my section in college. We were running towards our dreams, and hopefully we would run together forever…..
It also made me think of the acting class I took each week that just wrapped, and about how one student burst into the student lounge eager to share that he had found his beats in his scene. His enthusiasm made me think of going to class through those red doors. And it made me realize how much I love my graduate school teachers, and how much I miss some of the wonderful teachers I had in college too.
It made me hunger for a different time, when it was about beats and scene and technique, not about casting directors, producers, writing packets, pitching, auditioning, who was booking what and the shoo shoo sha sha bullshit that goes with having a career. It also made me wonder if the fact that it became about the shoo shoo sha sha bullshit was why I had seen so many of my peers depart.
Sure, there is the shoo shoo sha sha bullshit, but there is love for it and maybe I can marry the two. And maybe I should give myself credit for not throwing in the towel.

With this thought in my mind I decided to write my old acting teacher a note saying hello after reading his post. Time teaches us that we don’t have people forever and they might be taken at any moment.
As I crafted my letter once more I laughed as a memory of Starfucker yelling at the unfortunate Tom raced through my mind. I shook my head. Those were the days. The other part of me now saw that I had been judgmental towards Starfucker even in the nickname. She wasn’t vicious or plotting, just shallow. More comic relief if anything.
As I sent the note off to my teacher I put a thought out to the universe. Time makes you less judgmental because you realize life is indeed short. Instead of condemning Starfucker, I started to hope she was happy in her life in Long Island. After all, people change, and maybe marriage and motherhood have given her more dimensions.
And maybe I should stop calling her Starfucker.

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