"So...what do you do all day?"
I get this question a lot. A lot. And I don't actually mind the question itself; it makes sense. The majority of the people in my hometown grow up to tackle the professions you learn about as children: firefighter, teacher, lawyer, teacher, homeless person, teacher. In fact, I come from a whole family of teachers: my father taught middle school math, my mother taught reading, my brother teaches first grade, and my sister teaches teachers. Two aunts taught, and two other aunts were secretaries in schools. I even taught a section of the Freshman Writing Seminar at Boston College before I realized that I teaching is a lot of work that I don't care about doing.
What I really mind in the question is the tone. People ask in several different ways.
1. They ask to legitimately find out what I do.
I understand this one. They are curious. I look forward to informing the uninformed.
2. They ask in order to secure gossip to pass along to their friends/relatives.
I also understand this one. They either want to build themselves up by telling people that they know a starving artist in New York, or they want to tear me down for bucking the upstate system and choosing the road less traveled, which will inevitably lead me to a life of ruin and possible prostitution.
3. They ask to make me feel bad about not choosing a real career.
Well, I have a career. I actually have a couple of different careers. How many careers do you have?
I imagine that I have the same reaction to this question as do stay-at-home mothers. People seek to belittle mothers and artists by quantifying their time. Like them, I am busy without having an office or a nine-to-five job. Like them, I often don't know what day of the week it is because my weekends don't have more significance than my weekdays. Like them, I often find myself eating Fruit Roll-Ups and watching the Disney Channel.
In order to better understand my lifestyle, here is a day in the life of an actress/writer. This is Wednesday:
7:30 Wake up and prep hair and makeup
9:00 Coffee with a casting director friend to discuss agent issues
10:00 Dance audition for a Broadway musical (could take 1 to 4 hours, depending on turnout)
1:30 Lunch at home
2:30 Freelance work
4:00 Voice lesson
5:30 Dinner with a friend on break from a Broadway show
6:30 Freelance work
12:00am My actual bedtime
As you can see, I don't sit around and twiddle my thumbs all day. In fact, I often wish I worked in an office because the hardest part of my schedule is that it's entirely self-motivated. It's up to me to make sure that I get everything done and find opportunities to forward my career(s). I have to manage my own time management. For example, I may be scheduled to do "Freelance work," but I may find myself tempted to "Stalk people on Facebook,'" or "Take a two-hour nap," or my personal favorite, "Watch all four seasons of 'Felicity' to examine the existential dilemma that may arise from an unfortunate haircut." Sometimes temptation wins out. Especially if I'm in a JJ Abrams sort of mood.
Now, don't get me wrong. I do have more free time during the day than the average business person, and I often glory in doing things like laundry and grocery shopping at non-peak times. But I don't do nothing. I work. I just sometimes get to work at home in my pajamas.