thought definitely an enjoyable and enlightening read!
I'm Armenian. My grandfather's name was Papazian. He came to Maine in 1920 and saw the name "Martin" on the side of a truck. So he took the name. He also took the truck. (11)
In any case, I grew up in Maine, home to Republican country clubbers, yacht, and lobsters, about as far away from my reality then as a penis is to my reality today. (11)
I felt as if there should have been a bit of a drum roll following that sentence! Ha!
At the ripe old age of thirteen, Andrea was cast in her first professional play, South Pacific, with the New York touring company, starring Penny Fuller as Nellie and locals for the supporting roles.
I was chosen to play Liat, the Polynesian princess. A swarthy Armenian was the closest thing to a Polynesian princess they were going to find in the state of Maine. (13)
That was probably very true! :)
Andrea's description of her first visit to her "home country"/Armenia was especially revealing:
When my feet did touch land, nineteen hours later, all horrifyingly spent on the Devil's own airline, Aeroflot, I was just thankful to be alive. Flies buzzed inside the plane, pieces of ceiling dangled overhead, seat belts didn't fasten, and a flight attendant slept throughout the trip. (24)
So...flying is not one of my favorite activities, anyway. (I should write a blog post about my reasons for that! :)) And especially not for 19 hours straight! Yikes! I can't even imagine that! And then the obviously shoddy condition of the aircraft... Wow! She was brave! And this was in 1991! Her father was angry about her desire to visit Armenia, claiming that her family came from Turkey, not Armenia, and they were all dead anyway. Her motivation was to get to know her roots before writing a one-woman show.
It took four hours to get through customs. Armed Russian soldiers stood behind glass partitions. On the trip from the airport to the hotel I saw lambs being slaughtered at the side of the road, barefoot children sleeping in makeshift houses, and decaying buildings left unfinished in the 100-degree heat. And everywhere I looked their were rocks. (24-25)
I didn't realize Armenia is known as "the land of stones," and Andrea could see why.
...it seemed so barren and bleak. And backward. Peasant women in shapeless, worn clothes sat on the ground selling yogurt and melons. Men pushed underfed cattle down the middle of the road. Traffic was at a standstill.
Every comedic bone in my body was broken. I didn't know what I'd expected, but this certainly wasn't it. All my life I had felt like an outsider. Too ethnic for Maine. Too ethnic for Hollywood. And now I was too waspy for Armenia. The Annette Benning of the Caucasus. (25)
While this last is written to be humorous, perhaps not so much since cultural marginalization can cause many problems for people; when they feel as if they don't 'fit in' anywhere. and I blame the rest of us in this world for causing others such discomfort and preventing their 'sense of belonging.' Really?!? What prevents each of us from accepting others for who they are without judgement? Just accept. It's truly a simple concept, yet seemingly so difficult for so many to enact. But, I digress...
Andrea is quite forthcoming and honest in discussing her addictions/eating disorder and her regrets regarding the resulting affects upon her marriage and children. She then recounts how she has
done the best I could, like my mom, who did the best she could. My grandmother survived a genocide, and when she died took many secrets with her. I hope I have been able to stop the cycle of secrets in my family. I want my boys to stand up proudly and own who they are, warts and all. Shame passed down through generations is palpable. Authenticity trumps all. (115)
The longer I live the more I believe that we inherit so much more than just our physical looks and health. Good for her for doing this. I have tried in my own way to do the same, breaking with the tradition of hiding things from others, especially my children!
Andrea's passion shows while describing her various acting jobs, particularly her time with SCTV which I admit I've never watched, though would like to catch a few episodes with her just to see what it was. It was said of the SCTV group:
we might all have different experiences in our lives and go in different directions, and maybe not see each other often, but we would stay friends, and we'd be at each other's weddings--and at each other's funerals. (319)
It is interesting to me that actors seem to bond closely when they work together on a show such as this. Amy Poehler also talks in detail about such bonds among actors. Personally, I think that's cool! I can imagine that may well be why these shows are successful, too. I think an audience can sense when the actors are well-meshed as a group and working well together.