It Came From The Search Terms: November 2021

The sun is setting on November, so here’s that thing where I treat the search strings people typed in to find this place as actual questions. No context, snap judgments, go! I didn’t pick a song this month. 

1 “Is walking too fast creepy?” 

No? Walking way too close behind a stranger can be creepy. Walking very fast while aiming directly at somebody could certainly alarm them. Walking much faster than a companion, so that they continually fall behind or have to race to keep up, is annoying. Glad to put that one to rest for you. 

2 “How to casually drop to your long-distance crush that you are coming.”

“Hello, [CrushName], I’m going to be in [CrushTown] for a few days next month. Can I buy you dinner one night?” 

I don’t really know how to do the “casually” part of this. Do you want to see them or not? If so, invite them to hang out, preferably with plenty of lead-time so they can give you a real answer. 

Do not show up at their door to surprise them. Don’t do it. 

3 “Captain Awkward how not to be someone your adult child writes to advice columnists about.” 

This could become a very long list/book chapter unto itself, but these are a few common elements I notice in recurring parent-child conflicts in my inbox:

  • Your children are not your property nor are they extensions of you. Grocery bills and tuition payments were not a down payment on a lifetime of obedience.
  • Your children are experts on their own experiences and needs, which may be inconsistent with what they needed when they were small, and quite different from what you imagined, assumed, or hoped. Insisting upon imaginary consistency at the expense of what the actual person in front of you is telling you that they need is both extremely stressful and extremely doomed. 
  • Respect boundaries. If your child asks you not to do something (call them when they’re at work, touch them a certain way, comment on their body or appearance, serve food that they hate or are allergic to, drop by unannounced, call them the wrong name), they are giving you information about how to treat them well. “But I’m your parent, so I should get to [do the thing you just said you hate!]”  isn’t a good argument, and your relationship with them will deteriorate if you continue.
  • Your children have their own memories of growing up, and it’s normal if they remember events that you both experienced differently than you do. That’s not an attack or a lie, and they aren’t automatically unreliable narrators just because they were little. 
  • You do not have to like or agree with all of your child’s choices, but if you respond to everything they reveal about themselves with judgment and criticism, do not be surprised if they stop telling you stuff. 
  • “Are you asking for advice or just telling me what’s going on?” is a useful question in any relationship. Not everything needs to be a teachable moment. 
  • Your adult children are not responsible for your emotional well-being, nor is it on them to fill the gaps in your social calendar or make up for disappointments in your other relationships. Make some friends. Join something. Find a therapist. Everyone will be happier for it. 

That’s not the whole list, but you get the idea. 

4 “Mother expects me to be her friend.”

And not in a fun way, I’m guessing. See above?

My tried-and-true suggestions for dealing with a parent who wants more than you can give are:

  • Take a little time to think about what kind of relationship you actually want with this parent. What would it look like if the relationship were going well? What would make spending time with them more enjoyable for you? In a perfect world, how much interaction (time, energy, effort) is right for you? 
  • Try to set up a regular phone call (Zoom, visit) etc. so that there is a predictable structure for interacting with the person. Choose a frequency, format, and duration that is sustainable for you. If the person learns that you won’t reply immediately to every text and call but that you can be depended on to show up for the (for example) weekly Sunday phone call, they may chill out over time. 
  • If a parent claims that you’re the only person in the world they can talk to, interrogate that. They seriously have zero peers or other family members or social connections from their entire lives? Is it that you’re the only person they know, or you’re the only person they can guilt and bully into doing what they want when they want it? Consider that someone refusing to hire a therapist doesn’t make you their therapist. 
  • Set boundaries about things you won’t discuss. “I don’t want to be your marriage counselor, this is way too many details about my dad!” “Whoa, too much information!” 
  • When someone wants something from you and won’t take no for an answer, there is no way to push back that won’t upset them. Setting a healthy boundary where none existed before means accepting a certain amount of upset feelings in order to change the situation.“She won’t like hearing ‘no’, but I still need what I need.” 
  • Making a boundary stick is less about finding the right words to convince the other person and more about being consistent in your actions, e.g. ending the conversation if the person won’t stop bringing up a touchy subject. 
  • Give it time and multiple chances. The relationship didn’t get this way overnight, it won’t change overnight. 

5 “I don’t want to go holidays.” 

This topic is covered exhaustively in the site archives, but since it’s that time of year again, I will repeat: 

The world will not end if you skip a holiday celebration. There are other ways to connect with people you love. Given that there is still a pandemic, 2021 is an excellent year to NOT subject yourself to group activities in close quarters. 

6 “Auditioning for supporting part tips”

How fun! I don’t know how this ended up here, but after spending hundreds of hours on the “casting” side of the table, I do have a little bit of audition advice for actors for all kinds of roles. Everyone has a different process and different priorities for choosing actors, so this is not meant to be comprehensive, nor is it a professional standards guide. It’s  more “unforced audition errors I have personally witnessed & how to prevent them:” 

  • Name your headshot and resume files something descriptive that contains your full name before you submit it or upload it anywhere so busy people do not have to figure out which “headshot4.jpg” you are on the day. 
  • Do not be an imperious ass to people on the production doing admin work like emailing you to schedule auditions or signing you into the room. Everybody talks to everybody, and you can burn a lot of bridges with a single dick move.
  • Especially when auditioning for film, do not mime actions (scattering invisible flowers, pouring invisible tea, etc.) even if they are described in the script unless the director or casting director specifically asks you to do it. It’s  distracting in the room and looks incredibly weird when the video is played back later. The camera mostly wants to know what your face is doing, so ignore most stage directions and focus on the emotion. 
  • Make choices about the material you end up reading or presenting in the audition. If it’s a “cold” read (meaning: the actor hasn’t seen a script until they arrive at the audition space), and they don’t give you anything to go on, chances are that they want to see you interpret a text. Can you find the beats, or make some? If the scene is funny, can you hone in on why it’s funny, and can you mine the funny in your performance? As the audition progresses, the director might give you a different objective,  layer in a different subtext, or shift the tone or timing, etc. to see how you “take direction.” Ideally you will make different choices once you receive different input, and some of those choices will work while some will fail, and that’s okay. The stronger and clearer your choices, the more the director has to react to, and the more it will feel like a collaboration. The best auditions I have seen are the ones where the director and the actor discover that they keep making each other better the more they mess about. 
  • If you’re asked to choose your own audition piece, strongly reconsider using something from a role you’ve actually performed in the past. You may feel more confident about presenting something polished, but what made sense for that one show can fall incredibly flat in the audition room. When a director wants to see how well you respond to their ideas, now you’ve suddenly got to push through a bunch of long-calcified creative decisions that you drilled into your muscle memory in order to try something new.  [See Slings & Arrows, Season 2, everything to do with MacBeth for an excellent cautionary tale about this]. 
  • I know the whole casting process is nerve-wracking and full of rejection, but please know: The people in the audition room are most likely rooting for you to be great. They want you to solve their creative problems and to make the project come to life. They hate rejecting people, and love getting to make the “You’re cast!” call as much as you love receiving it. In the end, you might not get cast for all kinds of reasons that have nothing to do with your talent, but trust: These people invited you to audition for a reason, and they would not waste their time if they didn’t think you had something to offer.

I love actors. I miss actors. You are all the best. Break a leg out there.