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The Gnawing Continues...

August 2004- January 2005
More memoirs from Jacqueline as she starts her second year working full time in the entertainment industry in New York...


Blame it on Birth Control, I suppose after spending three days straight with one hundred women in a talk show setting run by two very real ob/gyn’s, though Miriam had been on Sex and the City before, so she was in SAG, we shot the 6 new commercials for Ortho/Evra.   Hearing all the side effects that can occur, I began to suspect my mood swings lie in my hormonal drug of choice.  A big thanks to Jessica Wood (www.get-wood.com), whose comedy antics entertained us and kept us alive throughout the shoot.  On the last night of Hanukkah, which was celebrated in my home this year after I found out I have German Jewish ancestry, I received the call for this job and felt it was God’s gift to me.  This entire year has been one of looking back and evaluating where I am, where I came from and as I celebrate my 30th birthday where I want to go from here.

As well as being on somewhat of a spiritual roller coaster, I feel New York had become a blessing to my life.  Thankfully, I found closure to some issues that had been haunting me and I looked forward to the increased enlightenment of my 30’s.  After running away at 17 years old from CEDU, a boarding school in Running Springs, that my mom enrolled me in shortly after my father’s death, I swore I would never live in snow again.  They had been delving into childhood memories and I wasn’t ready for it.  I spent my entire life it seems running from my buried memories and New York with the seasons and snow subconsciously reminded me of where I had left off in my spiritual work of getting back in touch with myself.  I started having dreams of memories I had buried from my early childhood and realized yet again, that I can’t escape my past and I just need to deal with it and feel what I need to feel to move on with my life and not have it eat away at me and cause me to run in so many different directions looking for an end to why I would do certain things. 

 I spend a lot of my time in novels and joined a book club.  One of my favorite books I read this year was “The Secret Life of Bees”.  Sue Monk Kidd is an exceptional storyteller, and though this was her first novel, she had previously written a religious/women’s study type book “The Dance of the Dissident Daughter” done in a autobiographical way in which she beautifully told her story of her search for God.  From saints to sinners it seems I read a lot of biographies and autobiographies this year, Jenna Jameson, Traci Lords, Donald Trump, Jim Morrison, Socrates, St. Thomas Aquinas, the Russian Orthodox Saint Herman of Alaska, and Confessions of the Pagan Nun Sister Gwynneve among them.  I found new favorite authors in Graham Masterton “A Terrible Beauty”, Toni Morrison “Sula”, Kate Horsley “The Changeling of Finnistuath”, Dan Brown “The DaVince Code”, James Reese “Book of Shadows”, Nikki French “Land of the Living”, Bernard Cornwell “Stonehenge”, Greg Isles “Sleep No More”, Milan Kundera “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”, James Patterson “First to Die” and Tom Piccirilli “A Choir of Ill Children”.

“Wicked” was a wonderful twist to one of my favorite childhood stories.  “Memoirs of Cleopatra” was a bit long, but a tantalizing adventure into ancient Egypt.  Tony Walters mailed me his first novel “Burden” which I found to be an inspired work of art on the heart and soul of a young male mind.  Re-read Edward’s novel “Wings of Flesh”.  Spent the first week of December reading “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” aloud to Ed at nights and Mitch Albom’s talent to show the synchronicity of life and how all our stories are intertwined was exceptional.  I started to see more clearly, moments like those in my own life.  The day after Thanksgiving, my girlfriend from the Ukraine called whom I met on set when I worked over there in 1997 on ‘Black Sea 213’.  Being out to the chiro-crack it (as I call it), my mother in law, who was in town for the holiday, answered the phone.  Touched by the relationship I still held with Russia and seeing my Byzantine icons around the house, inspired her to give me a Russian Amber rosary enclosed in a Polish wooden Our Lady of Perpetual Help jar.  It’s crazy how everything in life links and leads us. 

My cousin got me into the whole Harry Potter series, which I had only been familiar with from the movies.  Though the first few books are targeted at a younger audience not something I’m into, when Harry finally gets to high school age the author’s imagination soars.  Anne Rice had a new book out “Blood Canticle”, and it is the sequel to “Blackwood Farm” so I read them both and got into cameos.  Scouring ebay for something really cool, I found Thumbalina dancing in a rose that a little girl was holding, carved into the lightest shade of a blue stone, a cameo necklace I had to have.  After reading Rice one can’t help but want more and since I had never read “Belinda” or “Exit to Eden” under her pseudonym Anne Rampling, I encountered two inspiringly original treasures of the Anne Rice of old.

After searching for books by my favorite authors and randomly stumbling or being referred to others, I felt drawn to spiritual inspiration.  About ten years ago my mom gave me “Disappointment with God” by Philip Yancey.  Never reading it, oddly enough, I pulled this little treasure off my bookshelf.  It beautifully summarized the Bible into an overview of God’s role in humanity’s life throughout the ages.  I then came across “The Harlot by the Side of the Road” by Jonathan Kirsch and journeyed into the seedier side of the Bible, not meant for the innocent ears of youth, WOW!  With my new agenda, I started a study of my own back into the Holy Scriptures.  During Hanukkah, I found 2 Maccabees, chapter 7, almost a word for word replica, of the 2nd century martyr, St. Felicity (my patron saint).  The scriptures were speaking to me as they hadn’t in years and I was eager to hear what more God had to say.  I found “Christ Mother and Ours” by Fr. Oscar Lukefahr up on my bookshelf, and remembered I had never finished my online Catholic Home Study of Mary that I had registered for two years ago, when we were living down in Florida.  Now I felt ready to open up to Mary again.  An exceptionally beautiful Russian icon of Our Lady of Valaam appeared at St. Nicholas of Myra, the Byzantine church we attend, and I had to have it.  Curiosity about Valaam is what led me to Fr. Herman’s story.  Russian history is a big part of my life, especially now that we discovered this past Thanksgiving, Edward’s ancestry lying in Ruska Nova-ves (New Russia), in Austria-Hungary. 

A 1,000 page love letter diary of my first few years of life was chronicled by my grandfather and mailed to me this year by my mom, who had just found it.  It was bittersweet reading the words of my grandfather who passed away in my home when I was fifteen years old.  He had been living with us since my grandmother’s death when I was four years old.  A family historian at heart, he also wrote a book on the ancestors in Sweden, which I received a copy of this year.  I found out my great aunt has the family ancestry of Germany and France which I have on backorder.  I guess no one kept up with the history of the English, Irish, Welsh ancestry, maybe a future project for me.

Sometimes I feel like a matrioshka doll, just when I can’t imagine any more surprises, life keeps going deeper and deeper and underneath you discover a journey back to your soul, your innocence, your youth, your imagination, your core of love for God and God’s love for you.  In these magical moments, I wish I could bottle the feeling to release on days when I seem to slip into utter despair because I see God no where.  I just have to resolve to climb out of whatever pit I’ve fallen in and move on, forward, with confidence. 

My life seemed to have been on a downward spiral spiritually into darkness and deception, and I couldn’t figure out why.  Looking back I remember how I had committed myself to doing what Our Lady of Fatima asked in the First Five Saturdays, which means going to confession every first Saturday of five consecutive months of the year, receiving communion, praying the rosary and meditating.  Many blessings are tied to this devotion and I wanted them in my life.  What no one told me was what would happen if I failed.  After a challenging time of making the first four months of 2003, I missed my first Saturday in May and whatever I had been building up toward in the spiritual realm shattered and slowly I slipped into darkness far from God’s loving light.  Reverting back to old habits, I became confused as to what I was doing in my life.  Moments would become meaningless and I sought out therapy to my overwhelming depression, only to be turned away.  For the first time since joining the Catholic Church in 1999, I missed going to confession at Easter, the one mandatory time for Catholics.  In October, after a year and a half of utter despair from separation from God and on the verge of drowning in my soul completely, I was finally lifted when against all odds I made it back into the church for my long awaited confession.  Instantly, refreshment filled me up and my spirit floated in peace as God’s light came pouring into me.  I couldn’t believe I had let myself be misled and disillusioned for so long, it was scary.  For a while I had lost interest in going to church at all.  I blamed it on Zyla who would act crazy in church and never behave and tired of reprimanding her during the entire mass I chose to simply not go anymore.  Most Catholic churches do not provide a children’s church and it was amazing how well behaved everyone else’s children seemed to be but mine.  After my spiritual cleansing we decided to start going to the church Edward’s family had helped found in White Plains.  The pastor Fr. Andor, is a long time friend of the family and visits Austria-Hungary often visiting Ed’s family over there.  The Byzantine service is a bit different than what I was use to in the regular Catholic churches we had been attending, but I grew fond of the chanting~singing mass and the intimacy of a small parish tied to Edward’s roots.

You wouldn’t know anything was going on with me from the outside and after shooting Law & Order in August I was floating on a cloud of anticipation as to what was to come next.  10.1 million viewers saw my debut when the episode aired as the season premier in September.  It was even more popular when it replayed in November with 13.2 million tuning in.  The one thing that stood out about the day I shot the scene was when Edward was driving me down to set at 5am along the West Side Hwy, the eerie feeling that came over us as we passed Ground Zero.  Out of the darkness the lights illuminate the ground of the tragedy that took place.  It’s as if the souls of the dead are still there seeking answers.  My mom was in town when I shot the episode and wanted to see Ground Zero, so we took her down during day light hours and the mood was completely different.  It was loud as the jackhammers slammed into the foundation still being cleared.  Tourists stop and take photos of what I don’t know because there is nothing there, surprising after 3 years. 

I signed with new management and they got me into a Bud Light audition.  Guiding Light started calling regularly and by September I was working weekly as the bar girl in the neighborhood bar scenes.  “Angel”, a movie for HBO, hired me to play a featured executive of their advertising firm.  “Rescue Me” needed a waitress and I was happy to work on the show with my clothes on.  It was really bizarre seeing Dennis Leary and remembering the audition I had turned down months earlier to do love scenes with him.  “Prime” with Uma Thurman was a blast!  I was fortunate to work the feature film twice thanks to my husband Edward who worked the show and then hooked up the second AD’s boyfriend with a job.  She in turn made some calls to get us back on again.  Unfortunately, Ed and I can never work together on set because the hours of production are unpredictable and Zyla’s school is only open so long!  Uma was an inspiration and having just watched “Kill Bill” I felt humbled to be part of her scenes.  Back on “Hope and Faith” as Faith Ford’s photo double was a cush-cush job, though since my hair was now cut short and had gone dark blonde from the lack of the sun’s bleaching rays, I was not called back again for that. 

The agent I had signed with in June called me for a convention show job.  The last time I had worked a convention was for promotion of Full Moon’s “The Killer Eye”, Vegas ‘98.  What a trip to be on the floor of the Digital Life show at the Jacob Javit’s Center in Manhattan!  I felt right at home, but wasn’t signing autographs this time.  I worked for Motorola to promote the blue tooth technology of going wireless.  What I didn’t know was that they expected me and the other actress hired to dress in blue spandex and be tied in telephone wire.  Along with the actor whom they dressed in a blue Afro wig, we walked the convention floor attracting people to the idea of cutting the wires from your life.  ‘Blue Tooth Man’ as he came to be nicknamed, was given a large yellow pair of scissors and business cards for Motorola in which he passed out to everyone as we danced around the convention floor in our get-ups.  We took photos with the Energizer Bunny, Ebay man, the Naked Cowboy and one of the actresses from the Sopranos who were at the show as well.  It was a crazy job and I had a lot of fun.

November 9th, thirty days before my big three-oh, I witnessed Jupiter, Venus and the moon lined up in the early morning sky.  The month was charged with an electric energy as the temperature dropped.  The angels started speaking to us and Ed and I made time for a prayer hour together at the beginning of every day.  I really started thinking about my professional name I had been using the last 10 years.  With the renewal of the fictitious business name approaching I felt drawn to the idea of changing my professional name to my married legal name.  It was finally time to incorporate my real name into all aspects of my life.  I kept meeting other actresses who had done the same thing once they were married and when it was suggested to me I always thought of some stupid arguments for why it wouldn’t work for me.  For example the name is Austrian-Hungarian and I am not, so would that be used to judge me?  Then again my whole life as an actress is all about being judged so why would that stop me.  I got to thinking about New York and how it exudes an air of honest, real, raw people with ethnic flare.  What better way to grow from New York then to change my stage name to my real name, which has a bit of history up here as well.    Back in the early 1900’s, Ed’s grandfather journeyed to America from Austria-Hungary with his brother when he was in his adolescence.   Settling in Yonkers, New York, his passions grew and long before Coca-Cola became a household name they introduced New York to Nyahay Soda.  As I laid to rest Lovell in my heart, I tirelessly went about the tedious effort of letting everyone know and getting my headshots remade and mailed out to all the casting agent and managers. 

My first gig as Jacqueline Nyahay was for a two-day job on an Oil of Olay commercial.  After spending a year and a half trying to get into Background Inc. who holds the monopoly on commercial background work, I finally landed a commercial, but it wasn’t through them!  I still hadn’t been allowed to register with Background Inc.  Month after month I called and mailed to them with the promise of ‘next month we will have an open call, call back then’.  Finally they told me in October they were having an open call, but I had to be invited and to mail in my headshot, which I promptly did, but those efforts were in vain.  God’s grace came my way when Hero Casting called me for this job.  At first I thought maybe it was a set up, I couldn’t remember mailing Hero my headshot and they weren’t on any lists of casting offices.  Who was Hero?  All fears were gone when I showed up on set and found out from the other actors that Hero was legit and months earlier had posted on NYCasting.com wanting actors, a site I frequently check out.  So in the end I must have mailed them my headshot months ago and forgotten about them, but thank God they didn’t forget about me.  They were also responsible for the Ortho/Evra commercial gig as well, big thanks to Hero!

“Trust the Man” needed a bar girl and I appeared on set with Julianne Moore sitting across from me and her husband directing, it was a beautiful thing.  Julianne is so adorable and her laughter is contagious!  I dream of the day when Edward directs me in a big budget feature like that!  I played a giggling 80’s clubber for “Nailed Right In” as I ran past Freddie Prince Jr. on my way to dance the night away with my girlfriends.

I had to turn down a few jobs because it seemed like when it rains it pours and everyone would want me on the same day.  I was called to work on Law & Order as background, but then they found out I had just been a principal and I would have to wait a while.  It seemed monthly I was called for Law & Order SVU, but then they would remember I was a victim back in June and they were still shooting that season so I would have to wait on that too.  The day before my birthday I got a call to work Law & Order Trial by Jury, but I had set my mind to not accept a job this year on my birthday so when they asked if I was available I said no, but any day the next week.  The casting agent then told me they were looking for a hot smokin’ blonde to play a hooker getting booked at the precinct and if anything changed to let them know.  Ok, thanks click.  Nothing changed; I certainly did not feel like playing a hooker for my 30th birthday.  I also got calls for modeling but my heart was only focus on acting this year.

Christmas was almost ruined for us when I booked tickets out of the Westchester County Airport.  When I shot there earlier this year it had seemed like the perfect little place to fly out of, but being so small they couldn’t possibly handle the Christmas Eve traffic and unfortunately we were delayed seven hours after which they told us there was nothing to be done and we went home.  We were refunded our money and I got online and found a new flight for us~ a Christmas evening flight.  Now we were stuck in New York for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, when we were suppose to be in Florida.  We took an early train Christmas morning into the city and walked up 5th Avenue.  How different everything was compared to when we were here the day after Thanksgiving.  Now there were only a few people out and those who were called out “Merry Christmas” as we passed.  At Rockefeller Center, the tree was lit and the ice skating rink was full of skaters and this one man was dancing in the middle of the ice, trailing a green scarf as he slid across.  We made our way into Saint Patrick’s Cathedral for mass and sat down in the fourth row as channel four set up to broadcast the service.  The Christmas morning homily was about the new painting the Metropolitan Museum of Art had just purchased.  For $45 million, almost completely depleting the museums funds for art, they bought a 700 year old painting about 8x11 inches of a simple rendition of the “Madonna and Child” looking into each other’s eyes.  This humble piece of artwork by 14th century Renaissance master Duccio di Buoninsegna, showed the people of New York how the museum felt about spiritually inspired art and how important it is to bring humility into our life.  After mass we walked down to Central Park enjoying the beautiful window displays along the way.  We got into a horse drawn carriage for a ride through the park and heard the history of the park and buildings that surround it.  It was all very surreal being here when we were suppose to be in Florida.  We made our plane that night with no problems.  The flight had been overbooked and knowing we had purchased our tickets yesterday I felt bad that we must have been the reason someone else wasn’t boarding.  The airline was offering free tickets to the Bahamas and free tickets for the next morning’s flight and a hotel room for anyone willing to wait to fly.  We just wanted to go.

The tsunami taking out hundreds of thousands of people for Christmas 2004 was a tragedy.  Death was surrounding everyone everywhere.  Then while I’m sitting in Macy’s a couple days after Christmas, I was watching the news while Ed was in the dressing room and saw that Jerry Orbach had died of prostate cancer.  I couldn’t believe it.  I remembered last January when I had first met him on set of Law and Order and how upset he had been to be working in zero degree weather outside.  Had anyone known of his illness?  I couldn’t believe he was gone now.  The end of an era.  Death has always been a huge part of my life since forever.  My father and his whole side of the family were pretty much all dead by the time I was 16 years old.  Jerry’s death sort of tripped me out because I had just worked with him and now he was dead.  It reminded me of a few years back when Brion James had died shortly after our filming of Black Sea 213.  Was the energy I was putting out in the spiritual realm as Lovell inadvertently responsible?  I was glad I was done with those vibes.

A year and a half deprived from the beach is too long for me and I almost cried as I slid my toes into the powder sands of Florida.  The last time I was at the beach was when I was vacationing in Cally, summer of 2003.  That was when Ed called from New York to tell me he had got the job and we were moving to New York in one week so I better get home to pack!  

Spending the week after Christmas in Florida, really hit home how much Zyla missed her cousin’s.  I never intended to have children so early into my marriage and when Zyla was born, I wasn’t planning on more children for quite some time.  Knowing how important my sister was in my childhood I was happy that Ed’s sister had three little girls around Zyla’s age that would be like sisters to her.  After moving to New York it broke my heart to see Zyla share my loneliness for close family as friends you can count on.  So our New Year’s Resolution for 2005 became a desire to head back down to Florida.

When we landed back in New York, New Year’s Day, there was something strange in the air it wasn’t that cold!  No snow, warm weather, where were we?  I guess we brought a little bit of Florida back with us.  I had a job lined up that I was booked for before Christmas to work as a cocktail waitress on the WB/Fox show “Johnny Zero”. Edward had worked the show as a homeless man back in August and I was eager to be on the new series.  Hip, trendy club scene shot at Club Deep in Manhattan.  It was interesting to see how people react to hanging out in a club all day instead of all night and pretending we are all partying and having fun getting wasted on non-alcoholic drinks.  Thankfully they taped down the drinks and tip jar on my tray so I didn’t have to worry too much about someone bumping my tray as I made my way through the gyrating crowd of extras.  A lot of the background hired were new and around 6pm they started clapping every time “Checking the Gate” was called out.  This is a typical phrase called out after the director is happy with the shot and wants to make sure it was good for camera.  Unfortunately the newbies thought it meant we were done for the day, and who could blame them, we got in at 6am and non-union only get a flat rate for the day, unlike union with our over-time pay, and penalties, etc.  The day finally ended at 10pm that night with a lot of pissed off non-union extras.  Something new I found out was that a lot of them, besides getting a flat rate for the day were paying an agent to get them this job!!!  I couldn’t believe how much they were getting screwed over!  And some came from Philly, 2 hours away, so they were pretty much working for free, for the exposure, but in a crowded club scene like that, it’s highly unlikely you will be ‘discovered’ and sickening that agents will take advantage of actors trying to break in by taking a cut of every extra job they get them. 

I guess we all live and learn.

In November, Edward signed us up to have the Pilgrim Vocation Icon in our home for the first week of January 2005.  Little did we know in taking the icon home from church, the blessings that it would bestow.  As we said the prayers every morning for direction from God on where we should go with our lives, I felt at peace with where we were and happiness in giving my life over to God’s will and direction and not trying to so hard to figure it all out all the time.  The saying ‘Want to make God laugh?  Tell him your plans…’ was running through my head, but sometimes I get down when my career doesn’t seem to be moving in the direction I desire and I wonder if I am disillusioned and maybe on the wrong path and should be doing something else.  Why am I fighting so hard for a career that never seems to go anywhere?  Should I give up and start over with something new, get a real job as the saying goes?  But, whenever I have tried to change careers into something else it always depressed me and never worked out and doors close and the only ones that seem to open have to do with acting.  In my heart I am only happy when I am on set, so I resolved to stop trying to figure out when my big break will come and just enjoy doing what I do and let God lead me to the jobs I am meant to be at.  Then Guiding Light called after not hearing from them in over a month and my first prime time residual check came in from Law & Order.  I took it as a sign from God that this was absolutely my true vocation and where God wants me to be.  We returned the icon back to our church at the end of the week with renewed vigor in our direction from God.


 ‘To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody but yourself—means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting.’   –e.e. cummings


Springtime in New York Part 3 click here!