Jams I’ve Been Jammin’ To

One of my jobs right now is writing study guides about musicals and plays for a new website. It’s a shit-ton of work for shitty pay, but it’s really fun for the most part. One of the parts of the job that is the most fun is finding video clips for every show and every character. I love musical theatre songs because A) I’m a theatre nerd, B) it’s my job to be nerdy about theatre, and C) each good song is a glimpse of a moment in time for a character. More than songs of any other kind, musical theatre songs are about people and their stories.

So. Here’s some fun stuff for you.

First, a little girl who KILLS it. Sydney Lucas singing “Ring of Keys” from my favorite musical of last year, Fun Home, based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir about growing up a lesbian with a closeted gay dad. SO. GOOD. (this video is from an event, not the show)

Keeping it in the same with the same composer, Jeanine Tesori. This is “Lot’s Wife,” the insanely amazing 11 o’ lock number from Caroline, or Change.The whole musical is on YouTube– I highly recommend it.

This wasn’t from a show I did a guide for, but it came on shuffle and made me feel good. Lots of good songs from this show, but this week in my life, this was the one. “Remember This” from The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown.

So… Newsies doesn’t always do it for me, but this song gives me serious shivers EVERY time. “The World Will Know.” Super good dancing in other clips– recommended for that.

Love this musical. If you loved the 1970s documentary, you’ll love it too. This is my favorite song, but there are lots of good ones. “Around the World” from Grey Gardens.

The harmonies!!!!!  “Sunday,” Sunday in the Park with George

I love this whole musical. I don’t get why not everyone does. Here’s just a little taste of The Secret Garden.

And, because there’s never enough Matilda:

Tomorrow I turn 25.

1. What was your favorite birthday and why? Who was there? Did you have a party? What presents did you get? Be very specific about what made it so special.

I was lucky in that I always had really successful birthday parties. They were almost always themed, based on my interests (Italy-themed party, animal party, mystery party, etc). Probably my favorite birthday, and certainly one of the most memorable, was my 18th birthday. I turned 18 on the day of my senior prom in high school, which is kind of insane. I was in boarding school, and spent the night with my best friends downstairs. That morning, when I woke up, my friends rolled down a blanket over the bottom bunk, where they tucked me in with headphones and some episodes of Sex and the City while they made secret things happen. After a little over an hour, they rolled up the blanket and I was treated to an incredible sight– a dorm room covered in balloons and signs colored in marker with various memories and statistics (the average girl loses her virginity at 17– me too!). Also there were boxes of sugary cereal and treats– donuts, Lucky Charms, Fruit by the Foot, Gushers. I wasn’t allowed to have these things when I was a kid, which my friends knew. The best surprise, though, was that somehow they got approval to have my boyfriend join us. I don’t know how they did it, but it was magical and glorious and gave me such joy.

2. What was your worst birthday and why? Be extremely detailed about what made it such an awful memory. As always, you can make it into a character’s story and exaggerate all the details to an extreme degree.

My best birthday was 18, but it wasn’t perfect. I’ve never been a huge fan of dances, and I was shy all night. And THEN I lost one earring (beautiful earrings my boyfriend had given me). I found it, but there were tears.

Also tough was my 21st birthday. All my friends were in a play that I wasn’t in– and this was also a time of very tenuous recovery from my ED. I ended up finding something wonderful to do– my parents paid for a nice dinner with one of my dear friends from high school (who was a part of that 18th birthday), but I still felt slightly abandoned.

3. How do you feel as though you will change with your upcoming birthday? Will your responsibilities change? Will your clock start ticking a little faster to do something that you’ve been meaning to do? Be specific and detailed.

25 is a big year. I won’t lie. And yet, even today, when i was freaking out about my life and my career, I never once thought “I’m 25, and now I’m old.” 25 is still so incredibly young. All that will change, I think, is that I will continue to grow and change. I will ride all these waves of feelings, and hopefully will continue to grow and change and have to redefine myself at every turn. Not that I enjoy that at all. It would be preferable to understand everything all the time. 😉

4. What is the best present that you’ve ever gotten for your birthday? Not necessarily the most expensive, but the one that was the most important to you. Talk about it and try to remember where that present is today. 

So many good presents. So, a list.

This year, a trip to the UK with my folks.
Luggage. Well-, well-used.
Those earring from my high school boyfriend.
Every piece of art my sister has ever given me.
American Girl dolls. I loved them ALL.

5. You have been given a five million dollar budget for your birthday party (from an anonymous donor). You can only use this money if you spend every penny. What do you do with this fantastic party budget?

Oh man. I would rent a large space. Perhaps somewhere outside. I would hire caterers. I would invite every single one of my friends to come and eat and drink and play with me. Or I would schedule a whole week where every single one of my friends came over to my place and dinner was provided and we just gossiped and loved. Or maybe a totally all-expense-paid vacation somewhere warm with A (and all my friends maybe!!) Haha, this is like the 25 million dollar party.

Getting excited (well, trying to)

“Bored”– from my last post?

Pretty sure that was just feeling depressed. Low energy? Apathy for favorite activities? Lack of motivation? Yeah… that’s the thing. There it is.

Talked about it in therapy today. I  got off the train at 72nd, and per usual, pulled out my phone to check my texts and email. Got an email with an announcement from my company– one girl they cast (who I knew from high school, who I got an audition) had received an “exciting opportunity” and would have to withdraw from the play. R will replace her.

This shouldn’t cause a huge reaction. Does it really matter? R’s a great actor and right for the part. I should be happy for the other girl.
But no. I felt my heart break. Because where is MY “exciting opportunity?” Where is my thing that is so important I can drop everything else?

And this really has no reflection on this show. I’m excited about it. I like these people. We have issues emotionally, friendship-ly, but I love to rehearse and perform with them. I trust them. And yet… I’m not excited excited. I don’t want to tell the world. I don’t want to like every related status on Facebook. I don’t talk about it in advance, giddily, any chance I get. No. It will be fun. I will feel artistically fulfilled in a basic way. But… I’m not excited.

In fact, there’s nothing in my life I’m “excited” about. Not this show, and certainly not the next. Not my agent, not my day job, not my union card, not a trip home (who knows when the next trip home will be), not anything really. There is nothing in my life I want to shout about from the rooftops.

And when I feel this way, I become heavily, disturbingly nostalgic.

I miss my high school, a literal bubble in the woods where only we existed and you knew everyone who trudged past you in the snow.interlochen715
We knew we were the best and our only focus was our work, our craft, the active blood, sweat and tears in reaching for what we want most in the world.

Interlochen-Arts-Camp

And I miss last summer. I miss the Buffalo Bill House. I miss our mornings at the gym with Rusty the dog, jamming out to the songs on the radio. Late nights, full of white wine and guacamole, dressing up and feeling special and like everyone’s little girl– someone to treasure and support and be ceaselessly proud of.IMG_1397

I miss feeling like anything could happen, like this was the first step in a long journey that would change my life. The pride of being a crucial part of something bigger than myself. Being wanted. Being needed for this step, and the next, and the next.IMG_1412

I miss family dinners. Loud chatter. Silliness. Teasing.IMG_1402

I miss performing. I MISS PERFORMING. God, I miss performing. Walking out in the darkness with two sticks of chalk in my hand, backpack slung over my shoulder, rainbow plastic bracelets stacked at my wrists. The comforting, never boring routine of my role. Enter on this line, grab wrist and left shoulder for the fight, roll onto my right buttcheek for the throw. sit on the wicker chair stage right, listen, listen, listen, laugh, laugh. Let his words cut through my heart, feel the fight seep out, then build back up, slam the door, wrap the chain around the knob, wrap twice around my wrist, lean out, holding the door shut through the screams, eyes wet, looking towards the audience, shaky silence, shaky silence, look out. Black out. (and that’s just a brief selection from two scenes).IMG_1306

Rehearsal. Performance. Onstage or off. The sound of the words. Eventually I knew each one.IMG_1212

Mornings. Coffee brewed by someone else. The last of the cool, wet, nighttime air dissolving in the humidity of coastal Jersey.IMG_1267

For more, if you care, click on any “new jersey” tag. It’ll take you there.

My therapist asked me if there was a way I could take those incredible, warm, loving feelings and instead of holding them outside myself, making me sad, allow them to penetrate and give me some comfort.

I don’t know how to do that.

But I’ll try.

(Sorry about the ramblingness of this post… I started a post and then it turned into another post. Ah well).

 

TMI

Have you ever wet your pants?

The answer is probably yes. We all were kids, right? And that’s just “one of those things,” as it were. That was a long time ago, though. Can you remember what it felt like? Can you remember how you felt?

When I was a kid, I used to wet my pants constantly. At school, at home, at different times of the day. It would come upon me suddenly– the urge to pee– and I wouldn’t be able to hold it in. I can’t quite explain the details of it. My parents, of course, asked the usual questions: “Did you wait too long?” “Couldn’t you just ask the teacher to go to the bathroom?” “Didn’t you notice that your pants were wet?” It was the pants-wetting that led my parents to approach a therapist in the first place.

They never found anything physically wrong with me. I’d get UTIs, but only because I wet my pants– it was an effect, not a cause. I had ultrasounds and took antibiotics and had invasive intra-uretal explorations. Nothing was “wrong.”

A while ago, I mentioned this whole debacle to my therapist. She looked at me askance. “Did your parents ever thing it was related to your emotions?”

I mean… they must’ve. But really? No. It wasn’t easily explained that way. It was easier to think of the pants-wetting as the “problem” instead of as a “symptom.”

I remember the way it feels to wet my pants. It is so embedded in my memory, and, embarrassingly enough, so recent in my own personal history (although I’m in great shape now, for the most part), that most times it still feels like a part of me.

I remember being 3 years old, crawling around on the floor, my bottom up, back arched.
“What are you doing, B?” my parents asked, suspiciously.
“Pretending to be a lion,” is what I said. “Trying to hold in my urine,” was the truth.

I remember sitting in a blue plastic school chair at 8, wiggling my butt deep into the groove, trying to keep from needing to pee. But I’m called on and I have to stand, and with a rush, I feel hot liquid run down the inside of my thighs and pool in my underwear. I remember sitting down in the wetness, trying to pretend nothing happened, but feeling enormous shame and complete discomfort wash over me.

I remember crouching in a bookstore aisle at 10 years old, the heel of shoe digging into my crotch to keep the urine in. I waited, pretending to look at something. I’d test, to see if I could make the mad dash, and I’d feel a think warm stream begin to inch its way out. I’d crash back down, brain whirring, waiting, hoping, praying the moment would pass.

I remember an accident in Florence, Italy at 13, on a trip with my family. Walking towards a church after lunch, an urge shoots through me like adrenaline. I arch my back, wiggle, hope, wish, pray… but then it’s over. I’m humiliated, wet, and horrified. I pull my mother aside and confess. She thinks “we were done with all that.” But we’re not. Who knows why, but we’re not. And in the most compassionate move my mother has ever made (well, one of many, but this one rings very strongly in my heart), she went with me to the bathroom and told me to hand her my white bermuda shorts and underwear from inside the stall. She hand-washed both completely in a public toilet in Italy, and then I put them back on. My bottom half was still wet, but I didn’t smell and at least the wetness was uniform and clear.

I remember the tools I used to manage the pants-wetting.
Wrapping toilet paper around my underwear, attempting to soak up the worst of it. Tying my sweater or jacket around my hips even though it was unfashionable or I was cold, just to cover the dark, damp circle peeking out from my crotch. I remember the way I had to walk when I needed to pee, I remember how I sat. I remember the smell.

I was reminded of this part of my life today, because it happened again. Today. Yes, I’m 23. No, “I didn’t hold it too long.” I don’t know what happened. I know it could have been worse. I’m not particularly worried it’ll happen again. I think I sometimes have bladder issues when I’m on my period.

But this minor episode today just brought me allllll the way back to those days when I didn’t know what to do, didn’t know what was going on inside my body or my brain.

And I’m so grateful to be a grown up, and to know that even though there are moments when I feel out of control, most days, when it counts, I’ve got this.