• Mama PhD

    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.


Pleasures of an Almost-Empty Nest

Inside the Glass House.

August 25, 2013

Yesterday I had another first in my acting "career" — a photo shoot for an art exhibit and book, which took place at Philip Johnson's Glass House in New Canaan, CT.

One of the things I love about acting is the chance to inhabit other people's lives; to have experiences that would never come my way in my ordinary life. Usually, at least at my level, the geographical aspects are largely imaginative; we endow a stage or film set with the properties of a hotel in Paris or a prison on Neptune. Once in a while, though, an opportunity like this comes along, and the magic intensifies.

The concept was a 1960s-era party, so the shoot was preceded by intensive makeup and hairstyling sessions and last minute costume alterations (we had been fitted earlier in the week). It was fascinating to watch the nice, attractive, modern actors in cutoffs and flip-flops with whom I shared a van from Manhattan transform into elegant, Chanel-clad archetypes from my youth. When the stylists were done with me, I looked at my reflection and blurted, "Oh, my God, it's my mother!" And when I later posted a snap on Facebook, a childhood friend commented, "You look just like your mom!"

My face may have looked all too familiar, but the environment was definitely exotic. It was a thrill to have the run of the house and grounds, which became more beautiful and mysterious as the light shifted and waned. At one point, a fellow actor said, "I'm sitting in the Glass House, on a Mies chair. Pinch me!" I knew exactly what he meant.

It wasn't all fun and magic. Holding a standing position for over an hour at a time is hard work, and even some of the younger people complained of stiff muscles and sore backs. But curling up on one of the aforementioned chairs and drinking champagne as the moon played on the trees and the water outside the glass walls was an unforgettable experience, and a welcome reminder that there is, indeed, life after active parenthood.


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