My Year in Numbers

1     friend I lost

1     job I lost

2     jobs I got

3    plays I did

6    friends of mine who got engaged

10     places I visited

Idaho, Connecticut, Philadelphia, Waynesboro, PA, London, Scotland, Amsterdam, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine

25    days it took to find an apartment in NYC

26    plays I saw (in NYC and London only)

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Mothers and Sons, Richard III, Big Fish, Murder for Two, The Oldest Boy, Our Lady of Kibeho, A Delicate Balance, Lips Together Teeth Apart, Sex with Strangers, The Village Bike, Hand to God, Your Mother’s Copy of the Kama Sutra, The Happiest Song Plays Last, Under My Skin, Sweeney Todd (NY Philharmonic), Fast Company, The Substance of Fire, The Killer, Cinderella, Mala Hierba, American Hero, Hotel, Bring up the Bodies, Showboat (NY Philharmonic), You Got Older

34    blogs I posted

Better than I thought, actually.

73    books I read

My favorites: The Invisible Front, The Circle, NOS4A2, A Tale for the Time Being, Into the Darkest Corner, Dept of Speculation, Tenth of December

365   days I got up in the morning and went to bed and night and existed on this earth.

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.

 

Busy busy busy busy busy

My anxiety these days is subtle. It creeps in, undetected, until I can feel it roiling in my veins.

I sit at a table, waiting for rehearsal to begin, and very quickly, I feel desperate to disappear. To curl into a tiny ball and not be seen.

I don’t feel scared. I don’t feel sad. I just feel completely uncomfortable. Nerves exposed. Fragile. It’s almost the tenuous nervousness before speaking the first lines of a play, or waiting in the dark for the lights to come up. Except I don’t have a line. And the lights are already up.

Maybe it’s the Wellbutrin. I know that can cause anxiety. But it has been really wonderful to feel able to accomplish everything I want to do– the Wellbutrin is doing its job of activation very well. I’m reading up a storm, I am okay with leaving the house every morning and making my way around the city all day and stumbling home at night. I used to get headaches while drinking, but for some reason since the increase, it hasn’t been so bad. Maybe the difference is taking it in the morning. Ah, who really cares, as long as it’s working.

I haven’t written in a while. I’ve been busy, and to be honest, sort of bored. Not genuinely bored, like “ugh, so much time to do nothing, I’m so bored,” but more like “I’m really busy for the most part, but not with much that’s exciting, and everything I do is all over the place and inconsistent and even when I’m home I’m not totally relaxed.” Although I guess that’s not “bored?” Is it? Does anyone know what I’m talking about?

Well, let’s see.

On Saturday, I got fitted for my bridesmaid dress for R’s wedding. Her family is very wealthy, so they’re generously buying all of us our dresses– which, just FYI, are DESIGNER and STUNNING. Here’s mine:

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Yeah. I KNOW.

Then we got mani/pedis and went and got dinner and margaritas at one of R and our favorite places downtown. I had to leave early to meet A to see a show we had comps for, but all in all, a really nice day with a very complementary group of ladies. I have had struggles with each and every one, but today we celebrated R and each other, no strings attached.

Last night, I did a reading with a young theatre company I occasionally work with (they’re the folks who did the Sir Peter Shaffer event where I was in a reading of one of Sir Peter’s plays for an audience that included the man himself, Alec Baldwin, John Guare, Stephen Sondheim, and the woman who originated my role on Broadway, Juliet Mills.) It was a goofy play, and my part was supporting, but it was fun. And guess who it starred, theatre nerds?!

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Yep, that’s Anthony Rapp of RENT fame. I know him from other stuff, and I’ve met him a couple of times before, but it really impressed my mom. 🙂

What else?

I’m working less this week, since my boss is in tech. That’s a real pleasure. I basically just sit in the air conditioned office and half work, half goof off in the quiet. I love A, but it’s nice to have time where we can be separate and just work on our own things. He actually just got an email back from his agent, after waiting a while, and it turns out his agent wants him to do a serious overhaul on the book before he pitches it to the American markets. I know A is disappointed, and I do wish that he could just move forward towards the next project, towards making a deal, and be done with the editing, but of course, THIS is the work of being a writer. At some point soon, he’ll have to radically accept that. And it looks like his agents wants him to really dig in deep. So. I’m trying to figure out how to support him through that, when I know that’s not really what he wants to do. We both (or at least I) know it’s undoubtedly necessary, but I know the time and workload feels very overwhelming to him. He’ll do it… we’ll just see how it goes.

Tomorrow is exciting! A and I planned a “day of fun” where we took off work completely and didn’t worry about money and splurged on fun stuff. So, here’s the agenda:

Drunch at Big Daddy’s:

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A matinee of our favorite show in town:

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Dinner somewhere followed by a performance of this fabulous play (I’ve seen it, he hasn’t):

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And finishing (if we can) with dessert and a bottle of wine at our “2nd date wine bar.”

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Annnnnddd…. maybe I should do some work now. 😉

What have you guys been up to this week?

Addict on Addiction

Upon my Lady Friend’s (I guess this will be her official title on the blog?) suggestion, I borrowed her Husband’s copy of Beautiful Boy, a memoir from a father about his meth-addicted son. She’d read it because she’d just complted a film (which the Husband wrote/directed) about a heist by meth addicts gone wrong. I’ve been interested in meth as a sociological and cultural part of the fabric of America (oh god, I’m that girl) for a while. I grew up in a state that boasts top 3 status of meth addicts in the nation. Although I went to a very sheltered high school and lived a very sheltered life in a good neighborhood, when I was 15, a house exploded two blocks from my house. There was a basement meth lab.

I read a book called Methland a while ago, and was completely intrigued. Meth is unique and uniquely influential drug. First of all, it came to prominence for a few incredibly logical reasons– with the rising economic troubles in middle America, people had to work harder, for longer hours, for less money. Meth is a serious upper. It allows the user to have huge reserves of energy. One could work for hours straight with great speed and efficiency, and without rest or hunger. Laborers could work hard and fast, stay-at-home parents could keep on top of all their chores, and women could get skinny. Plus, it was able to be manufactured at home with just a few household chemicals. It was cheap, easy, and worked fast. These are very logical reasons for generally straight-laced citizens to try drugs.

The real problem, though, is what the drug does. Meth affects the “pleasure” neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin. The high is strong, quickly acting, and lasts long. A user gets an effective high without the quickly dropping low of cocaine or heroin. However, the drug actually damages these parts of the brain. A user will need more and more meth to activate those “pleasure” receptors. Very quickly, meth becomes the only thing that actually can activate those receptors. That’s why the drug is so addictive. It is still unclear whether a meth addict can ever experience pleasure in the way non-addicts can. That’s why the recidivism rate of meth addiction is over 90% by most estimates. It’s a nasty, nasty, nasty drug.

This evening, I took a walk to the organic grocery where I bought my first kombucha in months, then to Rite Aid for TP, soy sauce, and some clearance lip gloss and blush. At the register, I eyed the cigarettes behind the counter. I have never smoked a cigarette. Not even a puff. For a long moment, I wanted to buy them. Just to see. Maybe it would help.

I didn’t buy the cigarettes. And I will never touch methamphetamines. And I drink, but not heavily, and I’ve smoked pot, but not much.

My drug is food.

I went for a walk tonight because I had binged. A big one. A bad one. The kind I could have avoided if I had the energy or willpower or wherewithal or whatever to do the work it would require mentally to prevent it. I didn’t. I binged. But then I went for a walk. I cleaned up the kitchen. I drank a kombucha and I put on some lipgloss. I dealt with it like a champ.

Sometimes my ED feels like the end of the world. I hate the way it monopolizes my brain space. I hate how it makes me hate myself.

But it’s not killing me. My body is fighting through admirably, and so is my mind.

I experience plenty of happiness without my “drug” of choice. I’m getting better at isolating that happiness. I’m going to be fine.

For once, in a very real way, I’m grateful for my ED.