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Scene4 Magazine — Lia Beachy
Lia Beachy
Una vida del actor para mi
Scene4 Magazine-inView

december 2007

 "Hi-diddle-dee-dee
An actor's life for me
A high silk hat and a silver cane
A watch of gold with a diamond chain"

The words sung by J. Worthington "Honest John" Foulfellow (the sly fox in Disney's Pinocchio) had been the soundtrack in my head for several days when I met an old man on the beach in Zihuatanejo who told me to speak slowly, not worry so much, and drink another cerveza.  

Spanish is spoken quickly by most native speakers and I am not one of them. The words already come out of my mouth at a seemingly glacier pace, so I chose to discard that first bit of wisdom. And while beer has been my personal cooling device when I venture into hot humid locales, this trip was to have some focus on my health. But the not worrying part, that was something I had come to Zihua to do. And to write.

A few weeks earlier, I was feeling stagnant and my writing was feeling the same. I was worrying about finances and feeling trapped in my house in front of my laptop. I was feeling depressed. So I rented a few older films I hadn't seen in ages to lighten my mood and bring me back to a time when my only concerns were schoolwork and a 3-month summer vacation. Wizard of Oz, Blazing Saddles, and Pinocchio. And there was the fox, Honest John, singing the song that would seduce Pinocchio into places and things that were no good.  

But rather than just an "actor's life" I have interpreted that song as an ode to a way of life, an artist's life, a different way of experiencing the world. Honest John was selling all the glamorous high points that a young wooden boy (or impressionable young girl) wouldn't necessarily experience and none of the hardships, but he spoke of a life less ordinary.  

"Hi-diddle-dee-dee
An actor's life for me
A wax mustache and a beaver coat
A pony cart and a billy goat"

I don't work a normal 9 to 5 job. I sleep while other's work and work while other's sleep. I don't have children so the only routine I must follow is a couple of pee breaks for the pooch. Money can be precarious at times, but freedom to do as I will has always been far more valuable. So when I am feeling worn and ordinary, the fastest cure is a change of venue. A trip to a foreign land on a moment's notice. In this case, Mexico. It's an uncomplicated trip for me. I have visited numerous times. I speak a little Spanish. The American dollar still has some strength. And a direct flight from Los Angeles to Zihuatanejo is inexpensive and 3 hours long. I hadn't been out of the country since early 2006. It was long overdue. Yes, to travel.

Traveling is something many people say they enjoy, but the reality appears to be far from it. Precious seconds on the meter that cannot be squandered because the average American gets so little time to venture away from work. Desperate expectations that every moment happens according to a schedule. I watched people do what they always do. Lug too much luggage, lose patience with delayed flights and unsatisfactory seating assignments and wear the frowns of weariness before they have set one foot on a plane. Even first class passengers project a degree of irritation and they get to board first, drink for free and stretch their legs and asses in wide leather seats.  

I am no different than others in that I prefer ease and comfort. I always hope my flights are on-time, baby and turbulence free, and that the person sitting next to me is quiet, hygienic and skinny. I look forward to quick plane/train/automobile rides that get me that much closer to unexplored lands. However, to travel is to journey, and the journey is the thing. Stress becomes stress if I get stressed. The moment I stepped into the Alaska terminal at the Los Angeles International Airport, I slipped into non-vexed mode. And while my flight was delayed for 2 hours, I read 2 magazines, drank a giant latte, and observed my fellow travelers. Good material! And there is good material and fond memories of the mishaps that I've found over the years while I was trying to get to my final destination.  

There was the flight to St. Louis that was so rocky, passengers were vomiting and one flight attendant collapsed into the empty seat next to me, grabbed my hand, and prayed out loud. The damned comforting the damned! My husband and I were so shaken once we had landed, that we marched straight towards the nearest terminal bar, drank several large high alcohol micro-brews, and in our collective numbing of nerves and gratefulness for living, we missed our connecting flight. There was the delayed flight to Belize City, which upon arrival, left me stranded in a small deserted airport on a Sunday night by myself, watching the sun set and the remaining few airport employees (who had assured me a taxi would come by) start to go home. I waited for an hour hoping a cab would decide to make a last sweep through and take me somewhere, anywhere. My chariot eventually arrived, but I missed the last boat to Caye Culker and my pre-paid bungalow. My taxi driver and I drove around a sketchy downtown Belize City, and while we looked for a motel that was close to the boats and clean and safe, he taught me local slang (Pretty ladies with attractive backsides are referred to as "lobster tails"). I survived the night, made it to Caye Caulker and my tropical paradise, only to see my plans for scuba certification thwarted by a tropical storm that poured forth gallons of rain for the entire week I was there. Conversation with eccentric locals, Belikin beer, lobster and the Winter Olympics were my salvation.

"Hi-diddle-dee-dum
An actor's life is fun
You wear your hair in a pompadour
You ride around in a couch and four
You stop and buy out a candy store"

Once in a new land, the adventures become meeting new people, learning a new language, eating exotic foods, discovering different culture through art and music and just pushing myself to venture out of what I perceive as my comfort zone, my middle class milieu, my decisions-shaped-by-fear instinct. But no matter how savvy I am or how much culture I try to absorb, it's always the unexpected, the derailed plan that puts me in touch with my richest morsels to take home and cherish and immortalize in words. And the simplest things speak to me... walking through cobblestone streets, swimming in the warm sea, sleeping in a hammock or watching the waves roll onto the shore while I have a random conversation in Spanish with an old man who tells me to let go of my worries. It's not terribly profound, but it puts a smile on my face and a silly song in my brain. Ah yes, to be free.

"Hi-diddle-dee-dee
An actor's life for me
You sleep till after two
You promenade a big cigar
You tour the world in a private car
You dine on chicken and caviar
An actor's life for me!"

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About This Article

©2007 Lia Beachy
©2007 Publication Scene4 Magazine

Lia Beachy is a writer in Los Angeles
For more of her commentary and articles, check the
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december 2007

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