I am working. Not only that, but I am working at one of the top theatres in the country, making LORT B (second only to LORT A when it comes to regional theatre) pay, and playing two leading roles. It’s a three month contract which means I will get another six months of health insurance. I am housed. I have a car I share with two other actors. This is the DREAM.
Which means I want to remember this feeling when I go back to NYC. I’m already dreading it… that discomfort of not working, that pain of not auditioning, that hurt of wanting so hard you think you might break.
But right now?
I like this.
I can tell instantly as when you step up, darling. I know. The posture, the sleeves over the hands, something in your eyes – you the girls who are struggling right now.
Some of you are hard and tense with overeating. Others, anorexic, feel like starving baby birds when I hug you – a handful of brittle bamboo canes. Maybe your arms are furious with criss-cross razor lines, or studs in your ear, your nose, your tongue, where you have tried to reclaim your bodies from something, or someone, with the snap of a piercing gun.
Sometimes your parents are there – standing in the background, nervous, their faces anxiously projecting, “She likes you. Please make her feel better now. Oh Christ, don’t break her.”
Other times, your parents aren’t there, but still present – their carelessness or rejection as tangible as if they were standing a foot away, casting mile-long shadows.
What do I say to you girl – you beautiful girls? You girls who are having the Bad Year – the Bad Year where you cannot remember why you were happy aged 12, and cannot imagine being happy at 21? What can I say in one minute, two minutes, three minutes?
So many things. That panic and anxiety will lie to you – they are gonzo, malign commentators on the events of your life. Their counsel is wrong. You are as high, wired and badly advised by adrenaline as you would be by cocaine.
Panic and anxiety are mad, drugged fools. Do not listen to their grinding-toothed, sweaty bullshit.
e is a promise, and a fact: you will never, in your life, ever have to deal with anything more than the next minute. However much it feels like you are approaching an event – an exam, a conversation, a decision, a kiss – where, if you screw it up, the entire future will just burn to hell in front of you and you will end, you are not.
That will never happen. That is not what happens.
The minutes always come one at a time, inside hours that come one at a time, inside days that come one at a time – all orderly strung, like pearls on a necklace, suspended in a graceful line. You will never, ever have to deal with more than the next 60 seconds.
Do the calm, right thing that needs to be done in that minute. The work, or the breathing, or the smile. You can do that, for just one minute. And if you can do a minute, you can do the next.
Pretend you are your own baby. You would never cut that baby, or starve it, or overfeed it until it cried in pain, or tell it it was worthless. Sometimes, girls have to be mothers to themselves. Your body wants to live – that’s all and everything it was born to do. Let it do that, in the safety you provide it. Protect it. That is your biggest job. To protect your skin, and heart.
Buy flowers – or if you are poor, steal one from someone’s garden; the world owes you that much at least: blossom – and put them at the end of the bed. When you wake, look at it, and tell yourself you are the kind of person who wakes up and sees flowers. This stops your first thought being, “I fear today. Today is the day maybe I cannot survive any more,” which I know is what you would otherwise think. Thinking about blossom before you think about terror is what girls must always do, in the Bad Years.
And the most important thing? To know that you were not born like this. You were not born scared and self-loathing and overwhelmed. Things have been done – which means things can be undone. It is hard work. But you are not scared of hard work, compared with everything else you have dealt with. Because what you must do right now, and for the rest of your life, is learn how to build a girl. You.
Walking with the patient and another escort.
Anti comes up behind
us, per usual, and starts talking to thepatient, who stops. She
anti that she’s been to one of the baby showers someof the
have. Anti jumps on it and starts babbling. I let her go on until it becomes clear that she won’t stop. I speak up and try to say, “just so you know–” and the anti tells me to “be quiet– we are having a conversation! I’m allowed to talk to her!” I keep trying to finish my one sentence, informing the patient that she has the right to say no thank you, over the anti’s yells. I’m frustrated at not being able to get a word in, and the anti sees my frustration and starts laying into me: “Look! She’s so angry that you’re talking to me because she wants to force you to do what SHE wants. She’s fuming! She’s about to break!”
I denied this, but realized the situation wasn’t going to get better, so I say, “okay, fine. I just want you to know that you are free to say no if you don’t want to continue the conversation. I’ll leave you guys [gesturing to the other escort] to it.” I smile at her, trying to show that I’m just trying to help, and walk away as the anti yells, “yes, DO leave us be! Stop trying to force this woman to kill her baby!”
I got back to my spot with another escort, almost in tears with frustration. I muttered quietly to the other escort “I hate this” as I rubbed my face and paced, trying to calm down. Another anti hears me and says, “Hate? You say you HATE? You need to have LOVE in your heart for Jesus Christ! No wonder you are a deathscort!”
Shortly after, the first anti returns and begins loudly talking to the other anti about me and my “temper,” — how I’m going to “explode,” how my temper is a result of my “conscience” showing me what’s right and wrong.
I refuse to let them break me, so I force a smile and look straight ahead, feeling their pointed words fly around me.
I am angry because she called me out in front of a patient.
I am angry because she twisted the good I was doing into a bad thing.
I am angry because she makes me feel guilty for trying to be compassionate.
I am angry because of course I’m angry– and angry because she has spotted my anger and will use it against me.
First: it is very odd to me that neither of the gyms I’ve gone to now in AL have scales in their locker rooms… only ONE scale for the whole gym that’s out in the main area. Plus, it’s an old-fashioned scale. In NYC, you have old fashioned scales, maybe, but there are going to be at least three in a locker room. C’mon. What is this nonsense?
At my wig fitting a couple of days ago my hair person said that I’d lost weight since being here. I felt like it might be true– I eat less when I don’t have a nice boy to ask for desserts. Plus, I’ve been working out pretty regularly. A part of me felt a bit nervous about it– but not TOO nervous. My depression is under control, and I know my triggers. I’m not going off the edge, and I know that, 100%, with a confidence that really makes me feel strong.
Today, as I changed back into my clothes after a costume fitting, I pulled the scale down off the shelf and weighed myself in my show slip and socks.
I weighed the low end of what I usually weigh.
Part of me was disappointed.
COME ON, GIRL. GET IT TOGETHER.
I don’t want to lose weight– at the VERY least, my costumes need to fit for the next two months.
I’m not anxious or freaked out. I’m just always amazed at how ingrained our reactions to numbers are. I think that, at least for me, it has less to do with my ED than the constantly ingrained notion in our society (and my biz in particular) that we should always be losing weight… even if we genuinely don’t need to.
Life is weird.
Starting tech tomorrow. Here. We. Go. http://www.bykennethjones.com/elyzabeth-gregory-wilders-white-lightning-new-play-rum-running-racing-romance-premieres-alabama/
I’ve been in Alabama for about two and a half weeks now. I’ve settled into the apartment: figured out how to work the dishwasher and the heat, which way the door locks, and how to angle the showerhead. I’ve learned all my lines for show #1 and we’ll run through the whole thing off-book for the first time tomorrow morning.
I need to remind myself to take a step back and appreciate how incredibly lucky I am.
- I am working at one of the best festivals in the country.
- I am the only girl in a cast of five in show #1, and I’m playing a lead in show #2 as well.
- I like my castmates.
- I’m making good money.
- This job could have gone to ANYONE. But it went to me. Can you believe it?
I started this blog so long ago, it’s insane. I started it before I had an agent. Before I had my AEA card. Before I had gotten a single job worth bragging about. I was single. I was sick. I was unhappy and struggling and anxious and alone.
And now, look how far I’ve come.
Life is funny like that, and being in my industry reminds me of it all the time. Hard work is part of it, of course– beating my eating disorder was probably the hardest things I’ve ever done, and god knows I wouldn’t be working right now if I hadn’t worked REALLY hard to get the auditions in the first place and then nail the auditions later on– but a whole lot of it comes down to luck, or the way circumstances shift. I used to believe that people “deserved” things, but now I’m not so sure. I think everyone deserves everything– we just don’t always get those things. If everyone got what they deserved, there would be nothing left. We are all just pioneers, trudging forward on a path with a vague idea that we’re headed in the right direction.
My days generally hold the same shape. I get up around 7:30am. Most mornings, I meet M (my costar, who is my age), and we go to the gym. We work out until about 8:45, when we come back to the apartments. I turn on the coffeemaker and hop in the shower. Often I have to be at rehearsal at 10am, but I’m not in every scenes so many times my call is later. I eat a smoothie with peanut butter and oats. I pack an apple for a snack. I walk to rehearsal, through the apartment parking lot, under a small arbor, down the road between the park and the parking lot, and to the rehearsal room, punching in my code to get in the back door.
Rehearsal is slow, occasionally frustrating, but generally fine. I trust my fellow actors (well, I only have scenes with M) and I enjoy being around them, though the director is kind of a weird dude. I have issues with the play, but I know it’s going to be very well-received. Sometimes, that’s enough.
We get out for lunch at 1pm, and if one of us drove the car over (I share a car with M and our fellow costar L), we carpool back. I usually eat, watch some TV, and go over my lines. Nothing too rigorous. We’re back in rehearsal at 2:30 and work till 6:30 or 7pm, depending on the day. We drive back together to the apartments. Most nights, I come home, feel lonely, and eat dinner solo. My brain hurts at the end of the day, so I rarely want to work, even when I know I should. Sometimes I go out with M, like last night, when we went to a Mexican restaurant. We get along well, though we’re quite different. The more we get to know one another, the more fun we can have onstage.
I’ve never had issues with romantic scenes (even when I’m not a huge fan of my costar, I can suck it up and kiss ’em like nobody’s business), but there’s always a negotiation. You want to be the best possible partner for your partner, which means everything from making sure your teeth are brushed to pushing through to the intimacy early (especially as the woman, because men tend to get nervous that they’re doing too much too soon– I like to take charge to ease the tension and show it’s okay to touch/kiss/whatever in a scene).
I go to bed around 10:30/11pm.
We open this first show in early March (I can’t even remember) and I’m excited. And I am SO, SO lucky. Who knew this would be my reality.
There are the stars–doing their old, old crisscross journeys in the sky. Scholars haven’t settled the matter yet, but they seem to think there are no living beings out there. Just chalk… or fire. Only this one is straining away, straining away all the time to make something of itself. Strain’s so bad that every sixteen hours everybody lies down and gets a rest.
–Thornton Wilder, Our Town
“I have a seven year old. I’m a single mom. I love my son, but I almost died having him– turns out I’m allergic to one of the pregnancy hormones. After, the doctor said I shouldn’t get pregnant again because it might kill me. I used birth control, but I got pregnant. I already have rashes and bumps. I didn’t believe in abortion before, but I want to be a good mom. I want to be able to take care of my son. Don’t these people think about that?”
“I told them I’m not here for an abortion. Why do they keep yelling at me?”
“They don’t care.”
“Can I go around the back way? I really don’t want to walk through that again.”
“Are these people out here every Saturday?”
“Yep. That’s why we’re here.”
“Don’t they have anything better to do?”
“Do you harass women like this who’ve been raped? You don’t know what people are going through. Leave them alone!”
And from an anti-choice protestor: