Folks? This is the dream.

Winter vacation. One day in Salem, MA, one day in Portsmouth, NH. One day in somewhere, Maine. One day in Old Sturbridge, MA. Tucked into our bed and breakfast in York Harbor.

He’s reading a used book. Today we met a cat named Peter in in the oldest American homestead of all time. I petted him. Tonight we drove out to the Nubble Lighthouse and stood on the rocks looking at the stars in 15 degree weather. Tomorrow we’ll go past the land where I spent the first six years of my life– where my first dog and first cat are still buried or sprinkled, where we had bonfires, where my parents used to wake me up to look at fireflies. We might ice skate. We have dinner reservations.

The only thing I wish we had was the cat.

Otherwise… This is it.

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I love him.

From his blog:

Sometimes it’s just you and the cat.

photo

My girlfriend is away.

The talented thing she is, she’s off rehearsing a play, doing what she wants to do, living the dream, etc, etc.  The only unfortunate thing is, it is away.  Some 2,500 miles and two time zones away.  So it’s just me and the cat for about two months.

Sure, we talk on the phone, and we’re texting every day, but alas, her smiling visage no longer graces the capacious rooms of our castle home.

Therefore, I am getting A LOT of work done.

It’s not that I don’t get work done when she’s here, but when she’s not here, boy howdy!  From the time I wake up until my eyes close on my pillow at night, I’m doing something or other:  I’m writing, I’m transferring my writing from my notebook to my computer, I’m corresponding via email about my writing, I’m recording audiobooks, I’m editing audiobooks previously recorded, I’m working on the musical I’m writing, I’m corresponding with my writing partner about said musical, I’m traveling to my day job, or I’m working at my day job.

There are only MINUTES of my waking hours when I’m not doing one of these things, and I usually watch Doctor Who during that time.  I’m a very busy boy.

If Becca was here, there would be less of this, and more of canoodling and general nesting activities with my loved one.  More time spent on eating, sitting together, engaging in conversation, etc.

What’s been nice in this time of separation, however, is the Travel Notebook.

OH YES.  CAPITAL LETTERS.

The Travel Notebook was a BRILLIANT idea I had (thank you very much) the last time she was away.  I bought a small, pretty, hard-backed notebook for her to take with her on her travels.  For every day she was away, I wrote a prompt for her to complete.  “Describe where you are at this exact second.”  “What was the most interesting thing you saw today?”  “If our cat was there, what would she be doing?” and so on.

Since she had it the last time she was away, I was deemed the notebook-holder this time.  When I visit her in the middle of her time away, we’ll trade, and I’ll give her the notebook.

It’s nice, and it keeps us thinking about each other.  It also provides a fun diary on which we can look back once together and see what the heck we were up to.

Until then, though, it’s just me and the cat.

HOW?

How? HOW?! (so many hows)

HOW #1: How do I balance busy and not busy?

I’m not happy when I’m not busy, but when I’m busy, I feel run down. Balance? What’s that?

A and I fought last night because I was irritable and needed space and probably other things I couldn’t articulate. All day today I felt overwhelmed by all the things I haven’t completed (learning lines, cleaning the apartment, literally my entire job at school) but when I sit down at my desk, I can’t focus on doing them. It’s terrible. Why can’t I complete tasks like a normal person?HOW #2: How to I figure out what I need?

Do I need more space? Probably. A’s not working right now, except from home, which somehow really irks me. I run to work at 11am, then to rehearsal at 5pm, then home at 8pm, and then he’s there and wants to talk… so YES, I need space.

But even when I have it, I’m not happy. I need MORE. Or I need something else. I need him to make choices? I need to relax more? I need to work harder? I seriously don’t know what I need. It would be so much easier if I could answer the question A asked me today: “Is there anything I can do, or say, or is there a food, or an object, or an activity that would make you feel better?” How the fuck do I know? I WISH there was.

HOW #3: How can I stay focused?

The second I get busy I lose my drive. I simply can’t fathom picking up my script and memorizing lines, so I wander around and submit audiobook auditions. What IS that? I know I need to clean the apartment, but instead I take a bath. WHY? I know A’s coming home so I should enjoy my me-time but instead I lock myself in the closet to do voiceovers, which I could do to get space when he IS around. WHY?

HOW #4: I don’t even know how to cohesively write a post right now, so how on earth am I going to accomplish anything else today? HOW????

 

Update (feeling the feels)

So, apparently the main administrator for the Theatre & Visual Arts Depts, plus the main administrator for all adjuncts in the entire undergraduate school, have both been FIRED. Like yesterday.

All of a sudden, my job has tripled, at least. And of course I’m not making any more money.

Also I’m in a fight with A.

I had a good holiday, but sorta feel shitty.

Oh and I’ve started mentoring with mentorconnect, so I may be here less.

I don’t know.

Just feeling the feels.

13 Things I Learned in 2013

1. JANUARY: You can get an A+ in “being an actor,” but it still doesn’t mean you’ll succeed.

It’s about being ME, and living my life, and knowing, deep within myself, that this moment is temporary. To forgive myself when I get another “no” or I’ve gone months without a “real” job. To acknowledge that I’m WORTH forgiving. To trust myself enough to believe that the next job will come.

It’s not that you don’t do the hard work– it’s that you don’t depend upon it to make your life perfect. I don’t think I expected that when graduating from high school, or when I moved to New York, or really… ever. Until the last two years of being in the world. I’ve become more and more comfortable with it, but I have to constantly remind myself that the balance is the key. As one of my favorite professors loved to say about the process of acting (and, ergo, the process of living) is “always balancing, never balanced.”

2. February: I want all the things.

This is something that has surprised me about my relationship with A. I never dreamed about my perfect wedding, I never felt like anything was missing when I was alone, I never wanted anyone to spend money on me. But with A, I google engagement rings (not that I want him to propose yet, but again… suddenly I want all the things). I want him to buy me nice dinners. I want him to get his book deal so he can take care of our little family. I want to cook for him. I want him with me all the time.

This is not to say I’m going to get married and become a housewife and give up everything I’ve dreamed of– I’m just as ambitious as always. But I realized that I maybe do want some of the things we’re told women want, and that’s okay. Like Hannah, I feel weird about wanting all the things, but truth be told… I kinda do.

3. March: I know that there’s no quick fix to this.

Everything hurts me.
I’m easily irritated, and I hate that.
It is physically difficult to do anything, and mentally even more so.
I feel as though I’m wasting my life.
I am not entirely sure that “I am enough” for this business at all.

My spirits are very low. And the thing that makes me the most happy in the world is so far away from me. I have nothing to look forward to. I don’t know what else to do. I’m scared and feeling very hopeless. Why can’t the universe throw me a bone? A small one? Any one?

I know this will pass. I know I will eventually work again. But right now I feel like my insides are made of hardening cement– heavy and painful. Nothing give me joy right now. Everything hurts. Everything makes me cry. I want to be nowhere; to hibernate until this time is over. And I just want it go away.

4. April: Our love is the truest thing RIGHT NOW, and for the time to come.

We talk about love a lot. So do most couples.
But my darling, I UNDERSTAND you. We FIT. “I” am not a “thing” without “you.”

Just wanted to share.
I never take you for granted.
I never am not surprised and grateful when you make me coffee.

Our love is energetic and exciting and romantic, but it’s also comfortable. It’s home. And that’s something that’s harder to put into words than the platitudes and poetics that make up the language of most relationships. A year ago, I couldn’t imagine a love like this.
Now, I can’t imagine my life without it.

5. May: Self-harm is the is the easiest game to play.

I’m always amazed by the ways in which I know how to hurt myself.

Food.
Cutting.
Watching videos of my boyfriend’s ex on his computer.
Saying “no” and staying in.

I have hurt myself more than anyone has ever hurt me.

6. June: The way I see myself, the way I see the world, has transformed.

Everything changes. It would take years and years to trace each seismic shift from its starting place, to its catalyst, to its change. There are patterns, of course. My triggers are familiar. Many of my dreams are the same. But the way I see myself, the way I see the world, has transformed, and on more than one occasion.

I’m okay with that.

As long as I still find those moments where all the pieces of my life, my desires, my city, can balance momentarily on a finger. As long as I feel those sharp flashes of knowing I’m exactly where and what and who I’m supposed to be. The inside transforms the outside, and the same is true the other way around. And maybe that makes me hope that I’ll never stop changing, that with each turn of the season and spin of the axis, I’m finding my balance on the point that feels just right, at least for a moment. And then I’ll fall off, only to tip and spin and flounder until I’ve found my perfect, temporary fit again.

7. July: I hate this business sometimes, I doubt my strength when the going is tough, but I honestly CANNOT imagine my life any way but this.

And those raw moments of the play, where the only thing that exists is the look in Reed’s eyes-the kiss or kill- or the way Angie skips onstage after a betrayal, like nothing has happened, or the genuine nerves and laughter of the epilogue– I am so much myself. I get to experience worlds different from my own, physical contortions, and heartache and lust and love, it really just boils down to ME, really looking, really hearing, really standing there and taking it, and letting myself feel every bit. No hiding.

It’s not really disappearing, I guess. It’s allowing honest feeling to seep out and be seen. I am actually standing there, actually slapping his face, actually kissing his lips, actually blocking her way.

And unlike life, much of the time, I get to experience it fully. That’s what I share with the audience. And that is joy. That is release. That is certainty.

8. August: I ate pasta for dinner. And I feel A-OK about it.

Starving made (and makes) me angry. Being hungry sharpens things, sure, and I’m more productive, but I’m also touchy. I’m isolated. Everybody and everything annoys me. It’s manic, but it’s also pissy. I’m never more outwardly angry than when I’m hungry.

Binging makes me sad. I turn inward here, too, but for different reasons. I want to be invisible. People don’t piss me off– I just feel as though I don’t deserve to be near anyone, like I’m worthless and I want to be alone. It’s almost more painful because of the shame. Not eating isn’t shameful. I don’t care what anyone says. For women, and anyone who has ever experienced an ED, eating is shameful. Not eating means self-control. This is not the objective truth, but it is the truth we live every day in this society. I would get more auditions if I was starving than if I was binging. If I’m sick from not eating, that’s almost understandable. If I’m sick because I tear into myself with food, punish every body part, my stomach and my brain in particular, I lack self-control.

9. September: I am a participant in so many tiny universes.

Looking at A’s Facebook page today, loaded with those lovely “Happy Birthday!”s that pop up through the day, I noticed my universes converging. That’s how life goes, I guess, and love is the catalyst for it. Actors I worked with last summer post greetings after friends from college share their blessings. A knows these people and they know him because I exist. I love A, so I bring him places. I love my friends, so I make a point to go to those places.

I know I’m not the only one with these many orbiting galaxies, meshing and meeting, with only me, my strange and special life, at the center. How did I become someone whose world has so much variance? It makes me feel good. It makes me feel like I exist.

10. October: I have confidence that I can care for myself, for the first time in a long time.

Look at all this SHIT I had to fight through, tooth and nail, to get to this point. Look at how hard I worked. Look at all the time I spent fighting for the life I have now. I battled an eating disorder, crushing anxiety, self-hatred, depression, mania, self-injury in every way you can imagine, and I’ve come out the other side. And I have confidence that I can care for myself, for the first time in a long time. Isn’t THAT crazy?”

My life is nothing special to me, as I walk through it. And yet, I realize that I have walked through incredible forests, forded wild rivers. I am lucky to have it, and I am grateful. Overwhelmingly.

11. November: Eventually, someone will reach out to me because they want me.

Andddddd. Here is me letting go. After a day of excitement, then a day of so much nervous energy I could have powered NYC… And the video audition is taped, looks just fine, and was sent off to my agent. Now. I can feel good about this. I just need to stop fantasizing about it.

What’s next to get me excited?! Anyone? Mom and dad are coming for thanksgiving in two weeks! Artie and I have two movie dates next week! I have a play audition on Monday! I have amazing supportive friends! Life is good, y’all. And that’s the end of this chapter. Page turn, cover close, on the shelf, as high as it can go. :)

12. December: I love that in spite of EVERYTHING, every time the lights go down, my heart fills and beats just a little harder.

I love this community, despite its flaws.

I love this craft, despite its strangeness.

I love these shows, despite some of them being kind of dumb.

I love this city and its passion, despite the fact that it’s exhausting.

13.  2013 was not a “banner” year. My career was slow. The first bumps in my relationship appeared. I struggled with friendships, I struggled at work. I fucked up a lot. It’s hard to look at the strides I made last year (huge show, Equity card, agent, new boyfriend, moving in with boyfriend, new cat) and compare them to last year. Yet 2013 was not devoid of growth. It was just that the growth was subtler, harder to see, less exciting, less bright.

I rekindled incredible friendships through the process of R’s wedding.
I did a show that reminded me why I love the theatre.
I shot my first lead in a TV episode, and did really well. And had so much fun.
I am happier with my body, and also more content with my “recovery,” than ever before.
I took some great risks (new dance studio, solo vacation, new doctors).
I supported my boyfriend through a career change and the ups-and-downs therein.
I watched my boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend in a play, then watched her leave the state, and slowly stopped letting her hurt me (still working).
I had my final appointment with my amazing therapist.
I said what I wanted and boldly asked for things (“I want an audition for this.” “Could you please do the dishes?”)
I reconnected with my relatives (though my grandmother would disagree).
I attended my first wedding.
I looked more beautiful than I have ever looked before, and I felt that.
I accepted that there are things that I can’t do because they make me feel bad, and that’s okay.
I was more in love than I’ve ever been.

So yeah. 2013. Things happened. As we enter a new year, I want to continue to make things happen. I want to continue to take risks. I want to give back. I want to be kind. I want to keep learning.

What did you learn this year? And by the way, I’m so grateful for your presence in my life this year. Happy new year!

Irks and Happy’s

Things that irk me:

False, ceaseless, unrelenting positivity. Look. If you spend this much time blogging about how GREAT your positive life is, how MUCH you love yoga, how DETERMINED you are to give back, how REWARDING it is to free yourself from the material things… I’m not going to believe you. That’s what people find so irritating about a lot of these “healthy living bloggers.” The way they write makes you feel like shit because they are constantly on the “right track.” They are self-aware and GOOD, focused and DISCIPLINED, and you are a schmuck who has good days and shitty days and is honest about it.

Look, here’s the specific example. I’ve done… okay… at detoxing from A’s ex’s social media. I’ve definitely cut down. However, i still occasionally look at her blog. Basically since January she’s been giving up one thing per month and writing about it. At first it was stuff like giving up meat, giving up social media, giving up sugar, etc. Normal human tests of will. Now it’s like… giving up NEGATIVITY, giving AWAY EXCESS (not shocked this came around the time she started working at Lululemon)… and all she writes about is: “I have the important things.  Family, friends, dogs, food, water, shelter… everything else is secondary” and “Can you come out on the other side as a positive person?  You can.  And that will change your life.” and  “I’m grateful for you coming on my journey this month.  I hope you learned something too.  🙂  Stay happy!”

THAT? That makes me want to punch someone. Partly because I irrationally hate her, but partially because of that thing of “who are YOU to tell me what happiness is? Who are YOU to change your entire life in one month and be like, oh my god! I figured out the universe! Who are YOU to post affirmations without humanizing them?”

I don’t know. Am I insane? Because I post happy shit too but I don’t think I’m quite so annoying? Why am I so bugged by this?

But now, onto the happy (you get both here, folks):

Things that make me really, really happy:

Walking outside and discovering it’s bright, clear, and warmer than you’d expected

Rehearsing with someone, and looking straight into their eyes– it’s like this totally bold way of connecting that is truer than almost anything in the world

Noticing a card that fell from someone’s pocket into a seat on the subway and giving it back to her before I leave the train

Wrapping Christmas presents for A

Looking up as I walk into the courtyard into my building and seeing the star on our Christmas tree through the window

The first moments in bed at night, reading, and the first moments after the light is out, snuggling

Getting an audition

Completing a transcription project (side jobs, sigh)

The weight of the cat when she lies on my legs

Realizing you’ve memorized something faster than you thought you could

Wearing a cute outfit to a student meeting and feeling important

Lots of red wine and the Sound of Music live telecast

People who read my blog. 🙂

Bad Day Conversation

Welp…

Inner Voice: Thought it would be so easy, didn’t ya?! Thought you could just NOT do something. Sounds like the same person who though “Oh, I’ll just NOT eat so much” or “Oh, I’ll just NOT be sad anymore.”

Me: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Inner Voice: Wait, do you not feel bad about yourself? Didn’t you have more than one bowl of cereal this morning? Didn’t you eat two servings of cookies AND PEANUT BUTTER last night? Didn’t you not go to the gym this morning? Don’t you feel disgusting? Don’t you hate yourself?

Me: I mean… no. Everything you said was true. I don’t feel great about eating more than I needed last night, but it happens, and I haven’t been eating quite enough while A’s gone anyway. And cereal schmereal. I’ll get over it. I’m not going to let you make me feel shitty about myself when I’m doing well. I’m not going to let you take my successes away from me. So please, if you wouldn’t mind, just shut up.

Inner Voice: Hey, no! I have a lot of things to say! I love to talk to you! I keep you busy!

Me: I mean, yeah, but it’s tiring so stop.

Inner Voice: Fuck you.

Me: Fuck you too. And checking her Facebook once a day is already an improvement. See ya later, asshole!

Detox.

533168_540376390603_1834508623_nOkay.

It’s time. I’m not getting any less obsessive, and I’m not feeling any better. It’s time to make a change.

I’m detoxing from A’s ex. I’ve cleared my search histories so her Facebook, blog, and Instagram don’t pop up. My laptop, iPad, and iPhone are clean.

She’s a part of our relationship, and she’s a part of what I look at every day, and it’s not good. She doesn’t even live here anymore. She’s living with someone else in the South. Her life depresses me. SHE depresses me. I don’t like her. I feel sorry for her, which is worse. And none of that makes me feel good about me.

So here we go. Time to focus on the here and now. No more stalking. No more self-flagellation (because that’s what this is– self-harm via feeling less-than this girl who he was going to marry, this girl who lived here and slept in this bed, this girl who was with him four years).

I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

All she has to do is exist.

“‘You have the luxury of time. You’re young. Young people are doing something even when they’re doing nothing. A young woman is conduit. All she has to do is exist.’ You have time. Meaning don’t use it, but pass through time in patience, waiting for something to come. Prepare for its arrival. Don’t rush to meet it. Be a conduit. I believed him. I felt this to be true. Some people might consider that passivity but I did not. I considered it living.”
The Flamethrowers, by Rachel Kushner

One of the strangest things about day-to-day life is how mundane it seems. I get up. I go to the gym. I go to work. I go home. I make soup. I watch bad TV. I try and get auditions. I go to bed. Ostensibly, “nothing” is going on in my life.

I never really listen to music, except when I’m doing something else, like playing a game on my iPad or cooking, and it’s even more rare that I listen to music while walking down the street. But the other night, I did. I was on the train, and an Iron & Wine song came on shuffle. Now, there are LOTS of songs that bring up memories for me. But all of a sudden, this song jerked me into taking a step back and actually looking at what this “nothing” really is. And I’m shocked to discover that these days– morning to night– that feel so devoid, so par for the course, are the building blocks for an amazing life.

Sometimes I feel that way in New York. This place is idealized by so many people (I, for one, never really did– I guess I just always assumed I’d be here, and didn’t fantasize about it at all), and this is where my “nothing” life takes place. The capital of the WORLD. I have to stop myself, often, and marvel at this city. I literally stop in the street sometimes, and look up at the skyscrapers, like a nerd, and think to myself, “I am living a life that others dream of. No matter what else I’m doing, being here is a success.” Because it is. Because New York is fucking hard.

Also, because I am someone who comes from a state with two professional theatres (yes, I said “state” and “two”), I can’t forget my artistic life here. I don’t know how many Broadway and off-Broadway shows I’ve seen for free. This year alone, examples include but are not limited to: Hands on a Hardbody, Romeo and Juliet, The Nance, The Testament of Mary, Little Miss Sunshine, Golden Boy, Picnic… I have seen Julie Andrews in a bathroom, given Liam Neeson back the hat he forgot in a theatre (he was so sweet about it), and seen Patti LuPone, Phylicia Rashad, James Earle Jones, Dianne Wiest, Ellen Burstyn, Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Christopher Lloyd, Fiona Shaw, Daniel Radcliffe, Richard Griffiths, Zosia Mamet, and ENDLESS MORE live onstage, often from a few rows back. How cool is that? And I’ve met some of them too. I did a reading with Anthony Rapp. I did a reading directed by Shirley Knight. Stephen Sondheim saw me act. (sorry, Braggy McGhee just got excited).

L received news that she will receive her last chemo treatment on December 17. That’s literally two years and ten days after her initial diagnosis. She texted me and asked me to be there. I will. And I’m can’t believe it. Walking with L down this path has been so strange and awful and important and… it’s hard to talk about. When I talk about it too much, I feel like I’m being a “poor me” jerk who thinks she was more important than she actually was. But I have to be honest– I was there for a LOT of it. Probably more than anyone else besides her parents. That’s not nothing. And cancer, like all diseases, is powerful. It is a nuclear bomb, and anyone who is nearby when it explodes is infected with radiation. And those of us who bear it, and live with it, uncomfortable though it is, emerge with superpowers. Like Spiderman. (someone shut me up)

Then “Now We Can See” by the Thermals came on as I was trudging up the subway stairs. The last song in the first show “my” company ever produced. 2010. We were very young, kinda dumb, but with enthusiasm and self-confidence, poured to overflowing into this strange group of young people. What a strange, wonderful first New York theatrical experience. We won awards and got raves, yes, which was amazing and thrilling and great, but even more special was the feeling that washed over all of us as we sang this song, stomping, clutching the mikes, shaking our styled hair, in one of the most historic theatres in New York. What was that feeling? A strange mix of confidence, hope, and more than anything, joy. We overflowed. Regardless of what would happen next, those moments in the Ellen Stewart Theatre were unforgettable.

I spent four years with my therapist, and now I’m phasing out. I think I have two more sessions. WHO KNEW I’d ever get to this point? I sure didn’t. I frankly didn’t know what I thought, but in the last four years, I’ve felt so far from “stable” that leaving wasn’t even a thought. But here I am. Moving forward, out of therapy, because I have done so much goddamn work. And that’s the most amazing thing– not, “oh my god, weirdo me is leaving therapy! Crazy!” but “Look at all this SHIT I had to fight through, tooth and nail, to get to this point. Look at how hard I worked. Look at all the time I spent fighting for the life I have now. I battled an eating disorder, crushing anxiety, self-hatred, depression, mania, self-injury in every way you can imagine, and I’ve come out the other side. And I have confidence that I can care for myself, for the first time in a long time. Isn’t THAT crazy?”

My life is nothing special to me, as I walk through it. And yet, I realize that I have walked through incredible forests, forded wild rivers. I am lucky to have it, and I am grateful. Overwhelmingly.

 

I have an idea.

I have an idea.

Let’s get a credit card. Doesn’t really matter what since someone else is gonna pay it off.

Let’s board a plane and fly somewhere beautiful.

Like the British Virgin Islands, perhaps.

Here:
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We’d be sure to pick up enough food to keep us going for a week. Fresh island foods. Fish to grill.

We’d wake up in the morning to the sun rising over the bay. Breakfast on the veranda– coffee, and fruit, and eggs.

We’d while away the mornings reading by the pool. When the sun is too hot, we’d drop ourselves into the pool and lap about, splashing.

Lunch is eaten half wrapped in towels. We probably have hot, damp sex that smells like tanned skin.

In the afternoon we walk the beach. We stop to admire the way the sand sparkles in the sun. Our feet skim the shallows.

Hunger, and the taste of crisp white wine, drives our wander home. The sun is setting over the bay as the smoke from the grill drifts into the air.

The bed waits.

We don’t close any doors.

We never worry about how to pay.

Never feel guilty for what we’re “missing” in our lives “back home.”

Sound good?