Fake it till I make it

(California Beach where the sun always shines. Photo by Jana Stambaugh)

Sitting on the deck of a Calabasas canyon, drinking Pinot Grigio and comparing self-therapeutic techniques with the rest of the family, I exhale.

Is it relief or exhaustion?

Relief finding I’m not the only one swimming in crazy. It must be genetic among the family’s females. Exhausting in rehashing crazy experiences and negotiating proper navigation tactics.

Los Angeles Kitsch Exhibit A. (Jana Stambaugh)

The sun sets behind the mountains lining the canyon. It’s pink. I lean my head back and stare up at the stars speckling the sky. I can’t make out any constellations, but the sight of the stars is reassuring enough that I almost don’t notice I can’t idenitfy recognizable shapes.

That’s so Los Angeles, isn’t it?

Expensive kitsch creating illusion. Palm trees with sprinkler heads so small, I almost don’t notice palms aren’t native to the California dessert. Spray tans so convincing, I think they’re natural from California’s sun that always shines until I notice the orange residue that’s collected in the creases of the L.A. native’s hands and feet. The Buddhas sprinkled around the yards to reflect an element of peace and balance in a life of botox, veneers, excessive exercise and anything but said “peace.”

I wouldn’t begrude L.A. any of its falsehood. Twenty-four hours of it is quite pleasant. The deck with wine and stars feels perfectly timed – a film set programmed to deliver realistic unreality. It’s Disney real life. It’s anything you want your money – clean or dirty, doesn’t matter – to buy.

L.A. is the epitomy of “fake it till I make it,” one of my favorite sayings. And I don’t mean, “be fake, Jana.” I mean – it never hurts to say “yes.”

Sitting in Adventure Theatre’s lobby two weeks ago, I was picking at my nails and trying to remember the questions I’d planned to ask. They always ask “do you have any questions for me?” when I interview and I wanted to make sure I had a few good ones.

“Jana? Hi, I’m James.” He was wonderfully cheerful and outgoing. He showed me around the studios.

“So, Jana, tell me about your teaching artist experience.”

Fake it till I make it. Again – I don’t mean I’m going to lie – I’m just enhancing the experience – any experience – I’ve had.

Palm Trees in L.A. Trees don’t have to fake it. Photo by Jana Stambaugh)

“Well, I’ve worked in New York for the past year and half with the all-female ensemble, The Tempest Ladies. We performed in and outside of New York, touring internationally in both Edinburgh and Istanbul.” (Sounding impressive so far, eh?!) “And now I’m in the DC area hoping to get plugged into the scene. I worked with The Tempest Ladies in New York City schools, where we’d perform and follow up our performances with three week workshops.”

“Awesome. Do you have teaching experience in stage combat?”

Fake it till I make it – I have taken a course in Tai Chi movement, which involved rhythmic, improvised, and slow motion fighting techniques… I taught the slo-mo tactics to my sister and we practiced them in airport terminals while waiting for flights.

“Yes, I’m familiar with stage combat, I say.”

“Wonderful – we need someone to teach our 5- to 7-year-olds in our Light Saber course.”

Oh. My. Gosh. Guess I’ll be watching Star Wars fight scenes tonight and taking copious notes. Is it safe for a 5-year-old to wield a light saber? Guess so. Hey – I’ll be Yoda to a 5-year-old any day.

“I’ll do it.”