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Gotta Have It
Jenny Brown
going bankrupt 2 years ago was his most shining moment

The other night I was glumly standing at the hostess stand in the restaurant I’m regretfully employed at. I was massaging my jaw from the fake smiles I’d been plastering on all night and wondering, not for the first time, how at 30, I managed to arrive at a career choice about as challenging as folding laundry. I was looking at my watch for the tenth time that minute, when who should walk in but Kurt Russell. I managed to squeeze out ‘Hi’, and his response was
‘For one’, and then I was suddenly struck by how troubled and almost half embarrassed he seemed. I silently sat him down, not trusting my voice to conceal my star-struck panic, and rushed to the back of the restaurant to squeal at my co-workers in hushed tones ‘I just sat Kurt Russell, I just sat Kurt Russell!’ It added a bit of spark to the otherwise wrist slashing monotony, but it also got me questioning my reaction of such awe and my position of subservience.
I am, after all, an actor myself (well, I’ve been taking classes on and off for 10 years), and I started comparing my life to his. I realised that somewhere along the line, I’d missed a few boats, whereas he had obviously hopped on quite a few (albeit not so many in the last few years, but hey, he’s married to Goldie Hawn, and that’s nothing to sneeze at). I thought about the excuses I’d made that led me to this point, such as not going out and auditioning till I’d gained more confidence through classes and not studying my scenes enough because I was too busy socialising. I couldn’t escape the obvious conclusion: I’ve been procrastinating.

Throughout my turbulent 20’s I had always looked at the distant beacon of 30 and imagined that when I reached that ripe old age things would all click into place. Well I’m still standing at my hostess stand and though it doesn’t excuse my lack of achievements, partying and procrastination some degree or another seems to be part of everyone’s journey to 30.
Three of my friends have bravely shared some horror stories and given their perspective on how their priorities have changed.

George, a 31 year old actor with a beetnick wardrobe, recounts the summer of 42 women (he was 18). He knows it was 42 because he made a list. He insists he has long outgrown that phase and is now a ‘one girl kinda’ guy’. His theatre school tuition fund quickly became the ‘drinking’ fund and summer was spent working to get through summer, not to save for the school year ahead.
He has now settled into a supervisory role at a 5 star hotel and with a salary of less than $2000 a month, he is regretfully still paying off his student loan. However, he says ‘I feel optimistic about the future even though I may be 70 by the time I can afford a home. He sometimes thinks ‘Oh god, I’m going to be a lonely old man living in a box, but those moments of panic are usually fleeting.’
He thinks Kits is the best part of town to live in, and he frequents more ‘grown up’ places now like
The Living Room where you can have intimate chats with groups of friends. He says that his financial world affects happiness, because being broke limits social possibilities. ‘It still, even in this modern age, looks bad if a guy doesn’t pay for the first few dates with a girl’.

Bob, 33, an award winning WWII model airplane maker wonders whether punching someone in the face at Earl’s on New Years’ or going bankrupt 2 years ago was his most shining moment. Money has always burned a hole in his pocket and he says ‘Bankruptsy was a wake-up call. It was shit, I hated it and it’ll never happen again’.
His attitude towards jobs in his early 20’s was ‘If it gets boring, just move on’. Jobs included working as an electronics technician, bartending, delivering newspapers at 3:00 am and now duct cleaning for The Bay.
His view on the club circuit is ‘When you’re 20 you feel like a loser if you don’t go out and party all the time, but when you’re 30 you look more like a loser if you do. I don’t want to be the 40 year old guy sitting in a bar wearing the Kiss T-shirt and baseball cap because I never grew up.
He’s a Woody’s, Walmart, Jay’s Wok kind of guy. ‘For girls, shopping is an event. For me it’s a means to an end’.

Julie, 29, an ethereal, catlike beauty with an abandoned artistic talent, tells a colourful story of her daily drug use at 15, of dropping out of high school twice, being kicked out of home by her mother and working part time as a receptionist at an undercover prostitute ring. During this time she lost a few good friends. ‘I was self destructive, despondent and withdrawn.’ She eventually straightened out and with the help of an older boyfriend, graduated when she was 19.
She thinks anyone who dabbles in drugs could end up on Hastings. Some of her old party pals are now junkies on the street and she is glad her experience was a passing teenage phase. She is generally happy now and things are going well though she can’t predict how things will be in future.
A bookkeeper at computer firm with responsibility, she says ‘Too many people allow themselves to be empowered or disempowered by their jobs’.
She and her partner have bought a condo in Kits area, but says Julie, ‘I would never have been able to do it with my income alone, and don’t know any women who could either. It has changed my life completely. There is so much responsibility and extra costs. I racked up the credit cards with the excitement of buying pots and pans, then realised I don’t have an expendable income. Kits area is a great part of town, there is still a sense of community’.
She set a goal to start saving for retirement when she turned 30 and has already started saving a small amount.
Favourite places: The Living Room (cozy, good wine), Bukowski’s and the convenience of Safeway shopping. Clothing store favourites: Gap, Jacob, and boutiques on 4th.

I know I will be returning to that dreaded world of plastic perkiness and humiliating menu wiping soon, but I’ve decided that being a student of acting all these years has to count for something. I’d like to think that just as soon as I get my demo tape and headshots together, I’ll be armed with all the bravery I need to nail any audition, or at the very least, not be discouraged by rejection. I’ll just switch on my well rehearsed smile and say ‘Have a nice day!’

© Jenny Brown - actress,dancer,hostess, Kurt Russel greeter and intern for Hacks this Fall.

Van Dusen Gardens
Jenny Brown takes a walk in Vancouver's 'secret garden'

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