#Blessed

I’m not working right now.

Well, not working “in my chosen field.” I still spend long hours at the computer, attempting to put together lessons and exam questions and nonsense I am highly unqualified for. Which is still 1000x better than working in a restaurant.

Fall is supposed to feel hopeful. I’m supposed to feel refreshed. I’m supposed to be breathing fresh, crisp air and not continuing to roll through life unshowered and apathetic. My friend runs cabarets for kid Broadway performers. There are constantly pictures of her events with them. Kids join and leave shows more often than adults (they grow, they age, they get tired because they are still CHILDREN) and it constantly seems as though a small child is weeping about making their Broadway debut. This is actually from one’s Instagram (bolding mine):

I am so incredibly excited to FINALLY be able to announce some awesome news!!! I am both thrilled and honored to be joining the cast of Fun Home on Broadway- making my Broadway debut!!!!!! I am going to be the newest#superswing, learning the roles of Small Alison, Christian, and John! This new journey has only just begun and everyone is already so kind and supportive and I can’t say thank you enough!! I have always imagined myself being able to step out onto that stage as Al, it really goes to show that with dedication and hard work- dreams can come trueeee!!!#funhomemusical#funhome#funhomebroadway#broadway#honored#YAAAAAYY#okimfreakingoutalittlebit#justkiddingimfreakingoutalot!!!!

Yes, sweet wee eleven year old. Hard work.

Like being born in the tristate area.

Like being able to afford to take classes.

Like having a mom to drive you to auditions.

Not that I begrudge any children that. While some child actors are irritating, others (like the girl this one is replacing) are sweet and down-to-earth. I can only speak from my world.

And in my world, hard work don’t make dreams come true. It helps, but you also need relentless ambition, a willingness to make yourself very uncomfortable, the ability to be told “no” constantly and yet still be willing to keep going (in other words, being a masochist), and a really fucking enormous scoopful of luck. ENORMOUS. SCOOPFUL.

I know I always get like this when I’m not working. I try to keep a bright attitude in life, because how else do you make it through?

But here, I can break. Here I can whine. Here I can feel stuck and angry and lost and bitter and JEALOUS OF AN 11 YEAR OLD. That’s where I am today.

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It’s amazing how quickly…

..you can go from feeling good, solid, grounded, successful, PROUD…

to feeling angry, sad, frustrated, and stuck.

Questioning every decision.

Hating hating other people, and resenting resenting their success.

Ugh.

“Sometimes this human stuff is slimy and pathetic – jealousy especially so – but better to feel it and talk about it and walk through it than to spend a lifetime being silently poisoned.”
Anne Lamott

“A lot of people get so hung up on what they can’t have that they don’t think for a second about whether they really want it.”
Lionel Shriver, Checker and the Derailleurs

“Jealousy always has been my cross, the weakness and woundedness in me that has most often caused me to feel ugly and unlovable, like the Bad Seed. I’ve had many years of recovery and therapy, years filled with intimate and devoted friendships, yet I still struggle. I know that when someone gets a big slice of pie, it doesn’t mean there’s less for me. In fact, I know that there isn’t even a pie, that there’s plenty to go around, enough food and love and air.

But I don’t believe it for a second.

I secretly believe there’s a pie. I will go to my grave brandishing my fork.”
Anne Lamott, Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith

“Jealousy is the most dreadfully involuntary of all sins.”
Iris Murdoch

My Sister: An Exegesis on Patterns and Ice

Okay.

I’ve written about my sister before on this blog. She is probably, apart from my mother, the person I have the most complicated relationship with. In fact, it’s probably more complex than my relationship with my mother. At least we communicate.

My sister is 4 1/2 years younger. As you know if you’ve read my blog, from about age 8 to age 14 I was a hellion– or in less inflammatory terms, a very troubled little girl with symptoms of OCD, bipolar, and depression. Now, as my parents jump to remind me, she wasn’t a perfect kid either. She had learning disabilities and struggled in school. But really, that’s no match for a little girl who bangs her head against walls and threatens her mother with a knife. Yup. Both those things happened.

When I was struggling, I didn’t get along with anyone except, perhaps, a teacher or two. I had friends but I didn’t feel like I did. Basically I was too sick to really give a shit about much at all. The moral being that I CERTAINLY didn’t get along with my sister.

We fought in the normal ways, but she also was part of the collateral damage when things were very bad. It never got much more violent than an Indian burn (wow, looking back, that’s a terrible name for that), but the intention to hurt was there. I certainly made her cry because I was mean, and most importantly, my behavior scared her. I was unpredictable and lashed out at the smallest provocation. i wasn’t a safe person.

But, being my sister, she also learned how to provoke me. And when she provoked me, she knew exactly when to call for Mom’s help. And no matter what, on every occasion, my sister was comforted and put somewhere safe and I was punished. Because I reacted. I know this is basic sister stuff. Everyone does this. But for a kid whose ability to hold it together is on incredibly thin ice, and for a kid whose parents are hyper-vigilant about her moods, and for a kid who doesn’t really feel much of anything thanks to the psychotropic drugs… An angry reaction from me is met with severe consequences from my parents. And of course, because no one believes the “bad kid,” I could never convince anyone that there was an instigator in the sweet, sticky face of my cherubic sister.

We also struggled because she took on every activity I did, again, like most sisters. But again with us, this tension was on crack. Getting to feel special and good at something was, for me, the only way out of my unhappiness. Dancing was something I was good at, and made me feel good. My dad teaching my flyfishing made me feel closer to him. The boarding school I went to was a magical place that was mine, that I had made. And each one of these steps, she stepped in after, and they stopped being mine. And I felt forgotten and lost. I still feel this way sometimes.

And, of course, the icing on the cake was that I moved out at 16 to go to boarding school. My sister was 12. I missed her entire adolescence, which was fairly “exciting,” though in a different way than mine. She dated boys who treated her badly. She drank. She had ceaseless health problems. When I fucked up, I must have done something wrong. When she fucked up, she was damaged and needed protection.

The clearest recent experience of this dichotomy was when I was deep in the early part of my disorder. I’ve told the story about Russia a million times, but in a nutshell– I was moving into a new apartment, then was flying to study in Russia for a month. My mom came to help me move, then my family spent Christmas together on the East Coast before I flew away. I had a blast, despite my disorder. My family pretended to. When I returned from Russia, after a month of cheery emailing, I came back to my therapist who had a letter my parents had sent her behind my back. I was falling apart, they said, and I wasn’t taking care of myself. I was tightly wound and treated other people like shit.

I was infuriated for a million reasons, but key among this was the assumption that I wasn’t in control of my own life. Someone needed to come in and MAKE ME change, FIX me. There was no encouragement. There was no compassion. There was a mistake that needed to be fixed.

When I decided to go back on Zoloft, I called my mother, since I’m still on my parents’ insurance. I told her, very practically, what I had chosen to do. I had recently suffered an injury (which was NOT caused by the ED, fyi). My mother’s response was, “Well, it’s about time. It’s too bad it took an injury to get you to see the situation clearly.”

My disorder. My fault.

My sister’s poor decision-making. Well, she was sexually assaulted so her boundaries are fucked. Well, she’s just confused. Poor thing. Let’s make sure she has the resources to recover and let’s love her all the way through it.

My mother never came to New York to help me recover or support me in my struggle. She never offered.
When was being treated for endometriosis and migraines, my mother moved to San Francisco for a month to take care of her.

My eating disorder is selfish. I should get more help for my depression. I suck at getting “well.”
My sister’s assault is obviously not her fault, so her actions after the assault are not her fault. She’s recovering, in her own time. She gets time.

I am the perpetrator.
She is the victim.

The pattern continues.

Another layer is petty but real. My sister is beautiful. She’s 5’9″, slender, long-limbed, with a round, stunning face and big brown eyes, hair that naturally curls in ringlets. She’s got that sweet sexiness of a commercial model.

I am not unattractive. But I’m not a model.

Boys flock to my sister. Girls flock to her too. She’s popular, and always has been. She gets what she wants because people want to give her things. She’s like Jon Hamm’s character on 30 ROCK.

Haha, now I believe we’ve finally gotten to the crux of the matter.

Here’s why I’m writing this entry.

My sister is studying abroad in London this semester. She whined about the program at first, but is relishing in the fact that it’s apparently the “best” ceramics program in the world.

She has also been traveling. She’s visited friends in London, Copenhagen, Munich, and now, Iceland. She’s seeing a number of different boys of high quality and doesn’t seem to understand that most people don’t get to have their pick of international hotties. She’s spending my parents’ money on all of this. Her lifestyle doesn’t take money into account at all.

None of this is objectively THAT BAD. But here’s where it gets tricky:

I’m jealous.

I live a pretty “fancy” life in New York City. I see Broadway shows, I pee in bathrooms with Julie Andrews, I go to world-renowned festivals. But I don’t travel. I am here, or I’m at “home” with my folks. MAYBE I’m in PA with A’s folks, MAYBE spending the weekend in CT or a day in Cold Spring. When I studied abroad, I chose a frugal and logical choice. I know Shakespeare well, and I didn’t want to miss any time in NYC. So I went to Russia for a month instead of London for six. Russia is a terrifying place, and I learned a lot about myself. But we didn’t travel. We didn’t have time. And when we did do “big” things — New Years’ Eve in Red Square, for one– I was scared because Russia is FUCKING SCARY. And I was logical enough to know what I needed to do to stay safe. My choice to go to Russia was a bold one, in that way– Western Europe is COMPLETELY different from the Eastern Bloc. But I didn’t travel the world. And I only spent my own money and scrimped and saved beyond belief.

But I see her pictures– traipsing about Copenhagen without a care, sipping Guiness at the factory in Dublin, jaunting up to Rejkjavik with a boy she doesn’t even really like, while money is flushed away. This really hit me when i called my mom recently, and I told her how I was jealous my sister was in Iceland. My mom heaved a sigh and reiterated that my sister is frittering away funds that they don’t have, and she doesn’t get it. She’s mad and jealous too.

So a part of me is grateful that I’m sensible and responsible.
But another part of me wishes I could do what I wanted and not fear the consequences.

My whole life I have been aware of consequences, aware that the way I act will affect the way my parents see me. I’ve lived my entire life as though I’m on very thin ice with everyone. It’s not a great way to live, but it has kept me safe.

My sister blows through her life without a sense of how she takes advantage of people. She is loved no matter what. By my parents, by men, by friends. And there will always be someone new for her.

So yeah. I’m jealous, and I’m mad, and I’m a bit sad.

And maybe I needed to talk about this?! Jeez!!

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.

 

Day 44 (and Vent City)

journal44 copyI was doing so well with:

1. Filling out these daily pages

2. Not stalking A’s ex

But lately, I’ve been failing with both. Horrifically.

What is my fucking obsession? What? I really calmed down for a while (she moved away, didn’t post as much, etc) but now it’s constant. I think about her a lot. I look at her Twitter, her Instagram, her Facebook, her Pinterest, obsessively. I look at all her pictures. I think about her when I talk to him.

SHE DOESN’T EVEN LIVE IN NYC ANYMORE. So why is this starting up again?

Maybe part of it is the prep for R’s wedding. My rational mind isn’t at all ready to marry, and doesn’t want to, but my emotional mind is screaming, “why doesn’t he want to make the commitment?! He wanted to make the commitment to HER. I wish he would SAY things he said to her, like ‘I can’t wait to get on one knee’ and ‘you’ll be a great mom.'” I truly, truly think that if I didn’t know that he’d had that with someone else, I WOULDN’T care, because I don’t really care about those things in a vacuum.

But she existed.
And she lived here.
And she was going to marry him.

And he doesn’t talk about her anymore. I’m not sure he thinks about her anymore. And instead of that making me feel better, it makes me feel WORSE. It makes me afraid that I’m just as disposable. That, in time, I will transform from his one love into “whatshername,” which is what he calls her now. He doesn’t have as many friends as I do, and he doesn’t get particularly attached to things. When it comes to relationships, that scares me. I don’t WANT to be scared of that, and if I believed him 100% of the time I wouldn’t be scared of that. But for some reason, a part of me doubts.

Why can’t I believe him when he tells me that I’m special, and I’m the best, and he loves me more than he ever loved anyone? Do I really not believe him, or do I just need a bit more encouragement? What kind of encouragement beyond what he already does– tell me he loves me, can’t wait to see me, misses me when I’m gone, touches me, makes me things, takes me places, goes places with me…? That’s more than most get.

I have a really bad habit of comparing myself to other people. Including this girl who is so far out of our world now, there’s no reason to even know her name.

And yet.

And yet.

Promises and Endings

You’d think that by now I would have trained myself to resist the sweet bait of promises. You’d think I’d have realized that nothing is permanent, including happiness, including certainty.

And yet.

Last summer, I resisted the honey they poured in my ear. I tried to let it drip out as it came, delicious and sweet, but not something to hold on to too tightly. Of course, as honey always does, it sticks.

In this business, promises are frauds. Nothing lasts. A perfect moment, an upswing, a success, will pass even quicker than it came. Humans like to make sense of things. People in normal industries are used to this. You intern. Then you assist. Then you office manage, then you’re a junior partner, then you’re a CEO. Or whatever.

That is not the world I live in. There isn’t any "fairness" to it. The best, most honest of intentions are thwarted. No one lies on purpose. No one says, "there will be a reading in March," or "we’re going to cast Connie Britton," or "there’s interest in a transfer" or "that was beautiful to watch" or "you’re undoubtedly going to have a career" and NOT actually believe that they’re telling the truth.

Nothing in this business works with they way things are "supposed" to go. You don’t climb the ladder. You don’t work with the same people in the same office on the same schedule on the same things day in and day out. Your job doesn’t conflict with ANOTHER job because you just have ONE job. You don’t turn down the opportunity to audition with a casting director who loves you for a lead role in a hilarious short that’s filming in a gorgeous beach town in August with all the people who love you and tell you how special and talented you are because you have 7pm performances of a play with the company you both helped found in 2010 and were weirdly fired from in 2012 in a basement theatre in the East Village.

And yet, that’s what happens. And it’s not the first time.

It’s hard, when shit like this happens, to feel like its worth it. My heart breaks on a weekly basis. But when I’m in rehearsal, with knee pads on, loping around like the Zanni from commedia dell’arte, I understand. When I’m set up in front of a camera and I dig my hands in my pockets and gaze into the tiny eye of the lens, I understand.

It seems, based on my posts this summer, that its been particularly trying to be an actor at the moment for me. I guess that’s accurate. It was so EASY last summer– but now I’m back in reality and its not quite as simple.

1. I’m in NYC, land of (too many) opportunities, not trapped in Jersey and safe from the cattle call.

2. I’m doing a show that may or may not be any good, and that people may or may not see and may or may not enjoy.

3. I have to talk myself down off the ledge. I don’t have two 40 year old moms to tell me I, good and special and important.

This life is exhausting in its complexity. Being in rehearsal from 11-3 feels so good, but at 3 I have to go to an audition, or go home and work on my relationship, make dinner, go to the psychiatrist, THINK.

I helped host this panel with the Drama Desk Awards in June, which brought together a number or folks making their Broadway debuts totals about, we’ll, "Making My Broadway Debut." One young (my age… Oof) actress, who’s currently in VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE said something along the lines of: I love going to work. But even though I’m actually doing my JOB (performing in a play 8 shows a week), I feel like I’m not. It feels like my job is to find the next project. I’m not comfortable just coming to the theatre every night and doing the show. The SEARCH for work feels like my job almost more than the job itself.

And even when I was at my most comfortable in a show, I agree– you’re always looking for the next. Everything ends. Even a Tony-Award winning play. Even happiness. Even a promise.

But I also have to believe that even the frustration, the stagnation, the sadness, will end, too. It’s just a matter of time.

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