A version of this letter appeared as a feature for Brava Magazine last spring. My girlfriends are especially on my mind and in my heart right now, so I thought I’d share it…
Dear Ann Krinsky Age Twenty rehearsing a monologue,
How are you Ann Krinsky? The UW theater department smells exactly the same 17 years later—of burnt microwave popcorn, bare feet, and creative desperation. Nice suspender pants, by the way. Very The Limited-does-Annie Hall.
I see you working diligently on your audition monologue for The Fantasticks. **Spoiler alert** you get the part. In fact, we could name 1994-1996 Krinsky Princesses On Ice for all the ingénues you play. Get this--in five short years you win the ultimate princess role of Bride to Ben-The-Drummer.
Ann Krinsky you look a bit wan. Yes, I said wife in five years. Believe me, he's not ready for you yet either. A redheaded non-Jew, not-quite-Democrat, Ben-The-Drummer currently resides in a Colorado basement. I only tell you this because I want you to know your life's most meaningful roles require no audition or casting. Not set to a score, or played out on a stage--your most prized roles are within the ensemble of your family and your life-long friends.
Your roommates in the apartment on West Washington Avenue--Erin and Maria--and the rest of the girls from your grade school group maintain your friendship over decades. Together you traverse career fall out, the quarter-century-freak out, career purgatory, pregnancies lost, new babies, no sleep, sick parents, marriage, graduate school, divorce, bad haircuts and biological clocks. You form a Greek Chorus of sorts, calming the Medea-of-the week from slaying her young with Turn on PBS Kids, I'll be right over with a bottle of wine.
I realize this might not resonate with you right now—as your biggest priority is perfecting your Cockney dialect, but these women become a constant in your life. They serve as your compass as you strive to put a label on Who You Are. How I wish you could know now how unimportant that is compared with who you're with.
You will spend years questioning yourself and your actress-turned-sales executive-turned-social-worker-slash-mother-turned-blogger-slash-writer-path. Yes, sales executive. In five years not only do you wed, but you also begin a career in advertising sales. Am I scaring the suspenders off of you, Ann Krinsky Age Twenty? Have faith. These skills you learn in theater bring you far—taking direction, improvisation, and especially the use of eyeshadow to make your nose appear smaller. I just killed your theater career dreams, didn't I. Don't cry Ann Krinsky Age Twenty. Use this devastation in Shakespeare class. You need it. Your childhood fared too comfortably for this serious acting business. Save those tears for ad sales. You'll be selling Dr. Laura. I'll leave it at that.
Let me take your shoulders and look you in the eye, and after we play a round of mime “mirrors” I will say yes Ann Krinsky Age Twenty you have talent. You have a lovely singing voice and stage personality, but the friendships you began in childhood, and that you keep rehearsing, become some of your most beautiful arias, highest hitch-kicks and most moving soliloquies. You never win a Tony, but you win an Erin, a Maria, a Megan—in fact, too many beloved friends to list. Competing for and winning Leading Lady feels so important to you right now, but the light these women bring to your life endures much longer than any spotlight.
These friends love you and celebrate you for being Ann Krinsky, they never leave you craving more applause, better reviews, or the next gig. Simply, your friendships nudge you toward authentic Ann, and away from actress Ann. This does not mean you never find yourself on the stage again, only that you need not find a stage to find yourself.
Well, I've got to go pick up your future children at school, and you--to your vocal glides. Some quick advice: Take full advantage of your roommates' wardrobes because you will never live with such an array of clothing again. Also, dance the gold unitard off of your role in A Chorus Line. Soon you'll move to Chicago and go to your first professional musical theater dance audition, after which you will change your resume from actor/singer/dancer to actor/singer/moves well and ultimately to actor/singer/…claps.
Ann Imig, Age 37
“The Ruins of Us” BOOK GIVEAWAY!
Today is the release date for Keija Parssinen’s stunning debut novel The Ruins of Us. I had the privilege of previewing The Ruins of Us because I have a very fancy friend who happens to play chalupa to Keija’s chimichanga (Translation: Tarja —author of The Flying Chalupa—is Keija Parssinen’s sister).
Dudes? Keija writes literature. I spend a lot of time bulldozing through contemporary humor, and I loved settling into her elegant prose and fascinating plot line (my heart was pounding so hard I had to put it down at one point—no lie). In celebration of her release date I'll pick a winner at random from the comments and Keija will send you a copy (Continental US only please).
The novel is set in Saudia Arabia on an oil compound—first read a bit about Keija and Tarja’s upbringing as expats in Saudi Arabia here.
Here are just the top three Editorial reviews posted on Amazon:
“A compelling debut.” (Marie Claire (UK) )
“Parssinen’s gripping, well-crafted debut tracks the awakening of a Saudi Arabian family to the dangers that lurk within. . . . Parssinen deftly illuminates Saudi Arabian life through a family locked in a battle over morality and cultural chasms.” (Publishers Weekly )
“Parssinen convincingly inhabits the shifting moods of her characters. . . . Throughout, her prose is artful without being showy, forced, or melodramatic, and her knowledge of Saudi culture informs the story. . . . A fine debut.” (Kirkus Reviews )