My inner play - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

My inner play

And now, a play based on my actor’s psyche.

Jana: Every once in a while – or every day – I flip open some social media (cough. Facebook) and find someone’s fiance, wedding, husband, and/or baby filling up the better portion of my newsfeed.  And it’s cool.  I’m in my mid-twenties.  We’re not fourteen anymore. People should have fiances, weddings, husbands, and babies.  It’s natural.  It’s normal.  It’s beautiful.  Okay, it’s tragic.  And depressing.  And somewhat insulting.

Thoughts streak through my brain like a naked man through a soccer stadium.  Thoughts of: Why?!  Why not me, life?!  Where’s my fiance, wedding, husband, and baby shower?!

And there’s the rub.  I struggle as the demon and the angel converse on my shoulders.

Demon: You’re behind.  You should have ten babies by now.

Angel: You’re right where you need to be.  You don’t even want ten babies.

Demon: If she can have ten babies, she should have ten babies.

Angel: Not everyone wants children.  Certainly not ten of them.

Demon (to Jana): You’re behind.  You’re a terrible person because you can’t keep up with the milestones.

Angel: She has a career.

Demon: Sort of.

Jana: Hey!

Demon (with fingers crossed behind his back): I mean, yeah.  You have a career.

Angel: And you’re just getting started.

Jana: That’s right.

Angel: You’re doing great.

Jana: Then why do I feel like a loser, like, 99.9 percent of the time?  I listen to N*SYNC Christmas on my commute.  And I don’t feel guilty about it.  I only know how to cook Macaroni and Cheese.  From the box.  What’s wrong with me?!

Angel: You’re young.

Demon:The clock’s ticking.

Jana:I know it is, but I’m not sure what makes me happy.  Sometimes I want to up and move to Spain and get lost eating tapas among the Spaniards.  Is that so crazy?

Angel: Yes.

Demon: No.

Jana: You guys suck.

Angel: Hey!

Demon: Thanks.

Jana: I’m not saying I’m behind, but I feel like a hamster on a wheel.  Running as fast as I can without moving a centimeter.

Demon: It’s true.

Angel: It is not true.  She’s moving places.

Demon: Where has she gone?

Angel: …places.

Jana: See.  All I want is to be normal.

Demon: You will never be normal.

Angel: The “not normal” is your normal.

Demon: You’re good at not being normal.

Jana: Then why do I keep trying to work a 9-5 job?  Why do I envy people who sit in cubicles and go to Happy Hour like the guys on Mad Men?  Why do I feel like a clown when I say my degree is in acting?  Why won’t people take me seriously?

Demon: Because your degree is in acting.

Jana: Hey!

Angel: No one is normal.  And cubicles are boring.  I’m guardian over Frank – he sits in a cubicle all day.  I swear if retweets Justin Bieber one more time…

Demon: Tell him to practice Gangnam Style.  Way cooler.  Psy’s going to be a millionaire.  I’m trying to get him under my watch.

Jana:  Umm… Hi.  This is about me.

Demon: Who do you think you are?  Kate Middleton?

Angel: Sorry.

Jana: If I go with the “not normal” and tell people what I do, they assume I’m crazy.

Demon: You are.

Jana: Or stupid.

Demon: Ding, ding, ding – right again!

Jana: Or liberal.

Demon: Well, you did vote for…

Jana: Hey!

Angel: You don’t know who she voted for.

Demon: Yes I do.

Angel (to Jana): You didn’t tell me who you voted for…

Jana: Not the point, Ang.

Angel: Sorry.

Jana: I know I’m young and I “have time,” but I also don’t want to waste time.  I don’t want to wake up one day and wish I hadn’t spent all that time acting.  I have a brain in my head.  I’m not an “airhead actress.”

Demon: Could’ve fooled me.

Jana: You’re the worst.

Demon: Thank you.

Jana: No, seriously.  You should see the amateur headshots I come across.  It’s like they printed a photo they took of themselves on their iPhone – and they print it on computer paper!

Angel: Such bad quality.

Demon: Idiots.

Jana: …I just don’t like watching people physically recoil from me when I tell them what I do.

Demon: Tell them you’re in marketing.

Angel: Or architecture.

(Jana and Demon both look at the Angel).

Demon: Architecture?

Jana: I can’t lie!

Angel: Sorry.

Jana (to Angel): Am I behind?

Demon: Yes.

Jana: I didn’t ask you.

Angel: You’re right where you need to be.

Jana: Am I wasting my time?  You know, acting?

Angel: You will always act in some capacity, Jana.  Always.  It’s not a waste.

Demon: You’ve learned a lot.  I’m proud of you.

Jana: You are??

Demon: Yeah, I’m allowed to say that.  Like that time you stayed out all night in –

(Angel coughs).

Demon: Sorry.  Another time.

Angel: Lay off Facebook for awhile.  Everyone posts their best selves on there anyways.  It’s just a slice of real life.  And it’s edited to appear better than it is.

Demon: That’s what I love about it.

Angel and Jana: You’re the worst.

Demon: Thanks.

Angel (to Jana): You going to be okay?

Jana: Yeah.  I guess I’ll just keep taking it as it comes.

Demon: Go with the flow.

Angel: That’s actually good advice.  And if you need anything, you’ve got us.

Demon: Call me first, because I’ll tell you what you want to hear.

Jana: Thanks.

(Angel and Demon disappear).

Jana: I curl up with a cup of coffee and a good book.  Sometimes an autobiography helps put it in perspective.  Lucille Ball was told to stop acting at a very young age and she became the queen of comedy.  I’m not saying I have to be famous.  Or that I have to take the place of The Beeb.  It would be weird to become the next Canadian teen pop idol at this point… I’m also not saying that my own news feed will never sport fiance, wedding, husband, and/or baby photos.  But for now, it’s enough to embrace the adventure.  What isn’t routine.  What’s crazy, stupid, and liberal.  Be where I am.  Forge ahead.  Make my own mistakes and hit the milestones as they come.

About the author

Jana Stambaugh

Jana (it rhymes with “banana” or “anna”) is an artist from Clarksville, Maryland. Growing up her parents always told her to “be whatever you want to be.” Seeing as she has come from three generations of doctors, she obviously became an artist. As an actor, she has performed internationally Off-Broadway, and locally to the Baltimore/DC area. Favorite roles include Juliet, Ariel, and Caliban. Jana is the Founder of Red Connect Online, a social media marketing company that creates customized advertising campaigns for small businesses. You can listen to her podcast, Confessions of a Closet Christian, on the E-Squared Media Network. You can also follow her on Twitter (@Jana_Stambaugh) and friend her on Facebook. Contact the author.


  1. Tim Forkes says:

    So that’s where they go when they’re not talking to me …


Leave a Comment

Comment Policy