Bloom

Sitting on an ice-cold bench across from the theatre where thirteen years ago, I saw my first Broadway show.

I think about the simplicity of that joy– of the rush of feelings. I think about how my heart still picks up its pace when the lights dim.

I came from a 2hr Alexander workshop, and I’m wasting time before an audition, which will be followed by a volunteer ushering gig at an off-Broadway theatre.

If I separate out the politics, the anxieties, the “too much” I know… I can feel that ten year old me watch me in awe. I’m doing it.

And yet, sitting here myself, in the center of the world, I feel desperate and off-kilter. I know, beyond any shadow of a doubt, what I want. I walk past it every day. I circle it in my mind every hour. I feel it like a lump in my throat. My want blooms so fully, sometimes it feels like it chokes me.

A man approached me just now. “You a very lucky lady.” I smiled at him. He began to rattle off questions. “This is your lucky year– no 2011, no 2012, in March this year you be very lucky lady. He put a crumpled piece of paper in my hand. He had me close my hand, put it up to my forehead. “Name three flowers. Okay, daffodil, rose, posy, D,R,P. Count the gurus in this picture.” A laminated photo of Gandhi and ho followers. “Open the paper.” On the paper, D,R,P. “Now a number under five. Turn over this paper.” Three. Three. “Give donation and I tell you your name, age, where you from.” I don’t have any cash. “ATM card.” I have a card but I’m not going to get money out. “Here, take this paper.” A bright rendition of Ganesh and Shiva. “Laminate it. Put in your bag. You very lucky lady.”

I don’t believe in fortune tellers, but I will allow myself to feel that instinctual tug towards magic. I want to believe I will be lucky. Most honestly, I want to believe that I will get what I want. That I will live the life that I have given my whole self to cultivating.

That in 2013, this want will bloom into a Daffodil, a Rose, a Posy.

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2012: A Retrospective

2012: A RETROSPECTIVE

January

1 – Celebrated NYE with my parents, grandmother, and family friends in Idaho.

9 – Flew home to NYC. Attended a last-minute cat adoption seminar and was GIVEN my adopted kitty. Without any previous expectation, my girl joined my life.

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22 – Begin a long week performing in a site-specific theatre piece in a hotel in New Jersey.

February

14 – Celebrated Valentine’s Day with a cold shower at the gym, holes in my socks, three vomiting men, and my best friend in her hospital bed at Sloane Kettering.

26 – The Tildas.

March

13 – Had my first audition for what would be the biggest show of my life. Earlier that day, on the train, I received the worst email ever from an agent I was hoping to work with. Cried halfway down the shore, realized I had forgotten a second headshot, cried walking towards the beach, auditioned, and cried all the way home. Subsequently, met with P and got drunk on happy hour cocktails, and then saw WIT with L. Thanks to my finagling, we were able to go backstage and meet Cynthia Nixon. Without expecting it, today became one of the best days of the year.

L, Cynthia, Me

L, Cynthia, Me

21 – Had my first callback for American Stare in New Jersey. Nailed it.

27 – Had my second callback for American Stare in New York. Nailed it.

28 – Booked a gig reading student plays with the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ. Came back on the MetroNorth only to hop in a cab to go to Grand Central to get on another train for a callback for a production of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. Halfway through the callback, I received a call that I’d been cast in American Stare. Left the callback.

April

3 – Flew home with Franny to visit for my mom’s birthday.

13 – Did my first extra work on a half-day shoot with Whoopi Goldberg. It kinda rocked.

17 – Ushered a show at Second Stage off-Broadway. Met the boy who would turn into the love of my life.

IMG_110219 – Filmed my first short film. No pay, in a dorm room at NYU, and I still haven’t gotten the footage, but. I felt great.

29 – My 23rd Birthday. Spent alone in a cemetery. And it was great.

May

14 – A pretty nasty self-hosted dinner party at my friends’ that really marked the beginning of the end of our friendship.

21 – A year previously, I graduated from college. This year, I had my first day of rehearsal for American Stare.

25 – Boarded the Amtrak for DC to visit with my family. My mom was singing at the Kennedy Center with her choir on Memorial Day.

June

1 – Left Franny with her catsitter and boarded a train to New Jersey to finish rehearsals for American Stare.

16 – Opening Night of American Stare.

120 – My family visited New Jersey to see my show.

July

8 – I first met the agent who would later sign me.

15 – My “friends” from “my” “company” came to the show. It sort of sucked.

16 – Industry Night for American Stare. One of the biggest nights of my life. It didn’t realllllly turn out how I’d hoped, but. Worse things have happened. Either way, it was a huge blast.IMG_1123

17 – Met that boy for the second time. Was pretty sure I was already in love.

22 – Closing Night of American Stare. A hard, hard night.

24 – Met with the agent who offered to sign me.

August

3 – Phone was stolen. At least it was on a really really fun wonderful night with my American Stare ladies. Got a new phone. A was away at drill. I missssssed him already.

5 – My first by-appointment off-Broadway audition. I didn’t book it.

13 – Started up birth control again. Worth it.

20 – He said he loved me. I reciprocated. Of course.

22 – Saw Sleep No More with the boy. It was something.

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September

1 – Went with A to visit his family for the weekend. It was lovely.

14 – A and I spent our first real romantic weekend in Amish Country in a B&B. It was remarkable.

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24 – Huge audition, huge meeting with agent. Even thinking about it now makes me anxious.

October

6 – First step of the major move into A’s place.

13 – MOVING DAY to Washington Heights!

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20 – Very late night shoot for another non-paid gig I never got paid for. But A came with me and waited for the full 3 hours while I did ballet in Times Square in a leotard at 3am.

29 – Hurricane Sandy hit NYC. We stayed safe– not everyone did.

gty_hurricane_sandy_16_satellite_jt_121028_wblog-1November

3 –  Saw my favorite show of the year at Playwrights’ Horizons, The Whale by Sam Hunter. A was called into active military duty– with no timeline. I might have lost him for a month. Instead, he was home after a day or so.

6 – Barack Obama is back in the White House, and I cast my first official ballot in NY State. Also, we had date lunch and double-featured Argo and Lincoln.

 

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21 – Left for PA to visit A’s family for the holiday. We also visited Gettysburg, which ROCKED.

December

4 – The beginning of a week of fun with A, where we saw Nutcracker at NYCB, Golden Boy on Broadway, “my” “company’s” show off-off-, and the Big Apple Circus!

17 – Home to Idaho with A. He left after a week, I stayed till the 29th. We had fun. When he left, I missed him almost more than I knew how to handle.

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31 – Celebrated the New Year with the best thing in my life (A), in PJs, with a kiss and a toast.

Here’s to 2013 being the best year yet. I’ve got a good feeling about it.

Happy New Year, my dears!

Hold Me

Last night, after cooking dinner with him, sweating off all my makeup in the humid NY air and over the pan-seared salmon and risotto, after playing with his dog, after we ate and drank and laughed, after we kissed tightly, me on my toes, arms wrapped around his head, his on my back and my hips and my butt, we stood still. My arms circled his waist, his draped around my back. His head was on mine, his breath on my ear. My face was turned in to his neck, pressed against his skin. I clutched him tighter than I have hugged anyone in a very long time. I thought I might cry. I was having an emotional experience totally separate from my sexual attraction to him, totally separate from a normal hug. I held onto him as though he was the last solid thing in my life.

I wish I could tell him that. I will, someday, when I can tell him more about the twirling, whirling, gusting darkness and struggle inside, when I can say more than “I was a tough kid” or “I just came from therapy.”

I wish I could tell him that touching him, holding him, makes me feel so safe, it almost scares me.

I will.

A Shot of Adrenaline

Last night, in the shadow of teenage Dorothy Parker’s home, I made out with a boy. Even typing that sends a ripple through me that feels like adrenaline.

I shouldn’t feel this way. By all rights, except for his high level of intelligence and nerdiness, he shouldn’t be my type. He’s slightly effeminate, yet also in the military (to pay for musical theatre school), did a children’s musical tour, auditions, but doesn’t work much as an actor. I should find his speech patterns annoying. I should find his face shape unattractive.

But.

When I think about him, I get a rush.
When I think about what I want to do for the day’s activities, I want them to include him.
When I am with him, I don’t want to leave.
I want to be touching him all the time.

Maybe this reaction is because it’s been so long since I was in this kind of relationship. I’ve grown so tired of the back and forth, the giving a mile and getting an inch, or the pulling away because I just can’t, I can’t, I don’t feel the same way. Maybe I’m just yearning to be touched by anyone. Maybe I’m desperate to be loved. Maybe I’m horny.

But maybe I just really like him.

It doesn’t feel logical. My brain is not really in it at all. I’m almost trying to convince myself out of it.
But that rush, from my toes to my cheeks, the warm tingling in lots of places, the way I feel caught up in my throat when I think about him, the way that I literally lost my train of thought when he put his hand on my back at the wine bar– that’s real. It’s visceral. It’s kind of scary and almost unpleasant.

But there is something so glorious about it too… To feel. To focus my mind on someone else, someone warm and caring and engaged, instead of falling into the whirring thoughts and the emotional soup of “what’s next?” “what should I eat?” “I have to lose weight” “I have to see that show” “I’m spending so much money” “that audition is tomorrow and I’m not ready” “make a decision” “fix yourself” “be good be perfect be what they want.”

That’s still there, of course, but now there’s him. Something solid outside the ephemeral spin of thoughts. It’s incredibly comforting.

I am dizzy with this feeling. And feeling feelings is a sign that something is on track in my life. It sounds crazy, but when I get a rush of happiness, of dejection, sadness, of anger, of this, I know that I am alive. I am living. I am enough.

Massacre (Sing to Your Children)

Tonight I saw Jose Rivera’s new play at the Rattlestick, Massacre (Sing to Your Children). I didn’t love the play, but I absolutely respect it, and it was extra awesome because Jose Rivera was actually in the show tonight– one of the actors was out, he was around, so he decided to do it. It was pretty amazing to see someone onstage in his own play whose work I’ve read over and over in Theatre History courses.

The play begins with 7 people running into what looks like a horror movie torture chamber, covered in blood in crazy masks, carrying machetes and knives. Over the course of the first act, we learn that they have just slaughtered “Joe,” a man who seems to have taken tyrannical, bloody rule over their New Hampshire town. At the very last moment of the act, we hear three knocks on the door– Is Joe alive?!

Act II begins with the 7 actors in the same shocked position as the first ended, but now with a small man in a white suit with a red poppy on his lapel– Joe. He doesn’t really exist… yet they all can hear him… Whatever, that’s not the point.

The point is that in this second act, Joe goes one by one to each person, grilling them and exposing their deepest secrets (real or false, it doesn’t even really matter)– one man possibly raped a woman years ago in Chicago, a woman and her mother both slept with Joe, etc.

It got me thinking, though. If that happened to me, what secrets would Joe reveal about me? I tend to feel I’m pretty open on the blog– maybe not in real life but better than some. Yet at the same time, I had a pretty strong reaction of fear just thinking about what a revelation of my deep, dark secrets would mean. But what would they even be?

I still binge all the time and my binges have included boxes of donuts, entire loaves of bread and tubs of hummus? That I masturbate, and have since I was very young? That I haven’t had sex in over a year? That I’m spoiled and privileged and expect a lot from my parents, including financial support? That I wish my sister loved me, but I’m insanely jealous of her and her boyfriend especially?

Honestly, none of these things would ruin my relationships with people, I don’t think. None of these would honestly even shock my friends, probably. So why does the idea of exposed “secrets” cause this knee jerk reaction?

I’m sure it all ties back to shame, that lovely little thing my therapist and I are all about. I feel shame about pretty much everything I do, and it’s not till I completely stop, slow down, and track the reality of a situation that I can convince myself there’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Joe couldn’t actually destroy my life with my secrets.
But it does feel like he could.

B.

 

I Am Enough.

Yesterday, I hopped on a train to New Jersey to audition for a play. On the way there, taking a break from prepping my sides and gazing out the window, I casually checked my iPhone email. I received a brief, incredibly passive aggressive email from an agent (this was in response to a recommendation email sent on my behalf, which I’d followed up on Monday with, granted, a long-ish email introducing myself). This is not “the” agent I’d met, but it’s his superior in the agency. I have a pretty tough skin in terms of rejection, but this, for whatever reason, went deeper. I felt prickles run up and down my skin, and I knew my face was flushed. My breathing didn’t even change as tears began to roll down my cheeks. Goddamn it, I’d already put on makeup.

I had about forty five minutes left on the train and could barely put myself back together. I reapplied my mascara once, twice, listened to mood-bolstering music, carved the words “I AM ENOUGH” onto my upper thigh in pen, just to have under my shorts all day… Yet I still felt physically ill. I wandered through this po’dunk New Jersey town, crunching on broken glass bottles with my converse sneakers, getting honked at by semi-truck drivers, observing this tiny, terrible, Detroit-level disaster of a town as if out of a thick, bottle top glasses through a haze.

I had an hour to kill, so I wandered towards the shore, my iPhone map guiding me along “Broadway” towards a county highway, past abandoned buildings and split-levels rimmed by fenced in dumps, feeling lonelier and less safe than I ever do in New York City. Once I’d crossed the threshold of the highway, I found myself in another world, of Gold’s Gyms and microbreweries and apartment complexes named for beaches and purported paradises. I ambled towards the sound of the shore, my styled hair already beginning to frizz in the humid air. The air was thick with it, and warm, but as I found myself standing on a cement boardwalk gazing over a sand back towards the sea, I caught a brief whiff of the sweet, earthy scent of the ocean. I planted on a bench nearby, dropped my backpack and crossed my legs and breathed as more tears slid into the wrinkles to the sides of my eyes, dripping then into my ears. I still felt like I was observing the world through a thick fog, I was invisible in my “moment.” And it was odd… no one looked twice at the girl on the bench silently weeping over the ocean. I’ve found that when I cry in public in NYC, I am always stopped: “Are you okay?” “Do you need a Kleenex?” or just, “Here you go, here’s a tissue, sweetie. Feel better.” It was odd to be ignored– not good or bad, just… different.

After a while, I wiped the final drips of tears from my face with a corner of my sweater and hiked my backpack back on. I knew the way back, now, and I simply took one step at a time, confined to my own bubble of feeling, and hopefully, thereby impervious to the outside world. I simply didn’t have the energy to deal with the “Hey mami! Hey pay attention!”s or the stares of the women from out of their stores of santeria (seriously) or the stoners and drug addicts nestled in shop corners.

I reached the theatre (if you can call it that) and sat on a cement bench in a small area between the parking lot, a foreman’s office, and an abandoned bank. For the first time since deleting that email, I pulled out my phone, and for the first time all day, I reached out. “Hey buddy,” I texted to my friend P, “Having a really bad day and now I’m in Jersey. Can I get a digital hug?” I set down my phone and set myself to the task of doing SOMETHING with my now-ruined face and non-compliant hair. After a moment or two of brushing my hair actually out of my scalp and caking foundation underneath my puffy eyes, I felt the buzz of a reply text. “Of course! **HUG** What’s wrong, princess?

I wasn’t going to tell anyone, I mostly just wanted a hug. And I could very easily just get by on the warmth of feeling growing in my chest from what I knew that **HUG** would be in real life, but I texted him back. Started out with few details, then added some more, and he responded with compassion and understanding and just enough suggestions for ways to feel better that I actually became excited about something again… namely, drinking delicious cocktails at my new favorite bar in Midtown. He did it. And I did it for reaching out. I knew he was the right one.

And then the whole reason I went there in the first place. I walked into a glorified storefront, where an overdecorated hall led to what I assumed to be the theatre. I could hear someone acting from back there, quite clearly in fact, a pretty bad sign in general. I met the stage manager (?) who took my headshots and my intake form and directed me to the waiting room/lobby. There were about five other people there, none reading for my role until towards the end, when a tiny little girl approached (the character is like… 16ish). I pulled out my sides, but let them simply sit on my lap as I watched the other actors sit in that room. Some were nervous, some couldn’t care less, some seemed like they were old hats at this theatre, and I knew I looked completely out of place.

Finally, they called my name and I entered the… theatre. It was a weird, wide rectangular space with three long rows raised above the stage floor. It seemed disproportional to me, and also really, really, really small. No more than 45 people could possibly fit. How do they make money? I introduced myself to the director and the Artistic Director, and in very short order I started the sides. Luckily my reader was good, so that was something, and they let me get all the way through. I hadn’t planned on doing an accent, but since the other guy was and I totally can, I let it slip right in through the second half. He had me do the side again, more playfully and teasingly. Girl, I was born for that. After I finished a second time, he asked how tall I was. And YUP, that’s when I realized what a waste this was. If I seemed tall in this space, then everyone who is supposed to play older than 16 is fucked. And I’m 5’5″. He also complimented my work quite effusively and sincerely, but I knew I was done and I was really ready to go home.

I finished, relieved, packed up my stuff and walked back down Least Cool Town Lane to the train station. I picked up an Izze and a snack at the Rite Aid (hadn’t eaten since 10am and was about to drink) and waited. The entire train ride back, I was in a much better mood. I listed to Mindy Kaling’s audiobook, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me, which is no Bossypants, but is still pretty delightful. I love to hear her voice and I love how unabashedly her girlie, sassy, determined, but also average Mindy is. I like to think we’d be friends.

I arrived back and headed uptown to meet P at Breeze after changing into a dress and my favorite gray bootie heels for the show. Oh, I didn’t tell you? I saw WIT on Broadway (play about cancer with Cynthia Nixon) for free with my friend L (friend with lymphoma), and afterwards, I’d spoken to my friend who is an understudy and she brought us to meet Cynthia Nixon. In other words, no big.

P and I drank and talked and got well-soused on their delicious drinks (mai tai and Blue Moon for him, “kimono” sake cocktails for me), and I remembered why I am the luckiest and have the most amazing friends. He in particular is easy to talk to, smart, funny, willing to let me go a little bit mad and still think I’m special. About four drinks and two hours later, it was time for WIT. We paid (only about $10 each, because Breeze is the BEST), and parted ways on 47th St, where I met L, her mom, and our friend N.

The show was brilliant. Truly. As was Cynthia Nixon. And when my friend found us at the stage door and pulled us backstage, I felt a little like I was going to die and I was so proud of being the best friend on the planet. She guided us up the stairs towards the dressing rooms, past other actors, and past VANESSA REDGRAVE NO BIG DEAL JUST THE BIGGEST DEAL and finally into Cynthia’s dressing room. It all went very fast– L introduced herself, hugged Cynthia, Cynthia gave her a book, the rest of us introduced ourselves briefly, and then I helped L’s mom get her phone to take a picture of us. I, at least, was on air all the way out of the theatre. We capped the night with one more delicious cocktail and a yummy meal at one of my favorite restaurants. L and her mom dropped me at my apartment in a cab on their way home, and I went straight to bed, but not after posting this picture on Facebook for all to see:

L, Cynthia, Me

And I didn’t even notice until this evening that “I AM ENOUGH” was still visible on my upper thigh. And over 24 hours later, I’m beginning to believe it.

Love,
B.

P.S. I’ve been bingeing a lot in the last couple of days, which I do want to write about, but not in this post. Soon. Also, more updates on the boy front. Also for another time.

“Now is a time for, dare I say it, kindness. I thought being extremely smart would take care of it. But I see I have been found out.”
Margaret Edson, Wit

The truth is…

Okay, so…

Why am I tipsy after half a cup of old champagne? Especially when I had a brutally normal day of eating (banana before gym, coffee, BIG sandwich, partook in free Pinkberry)… It is confusing. But fine. I guess that’s what tonight will be. Drinking alone in my apartment at 6pm. It’s okay. I swear I have friends and a life.

People ask me what I’m doing and I don’t know what to say. I used to. I had a nice, tight ball of words to hurl back at those who dared ask me what my life in NYC is like. Now…

The truth is, I submit for auditions probably at least 5-10 times daily.

And the truth is, I have one audition a week if I’m lucky.

The truth is, I thank god I’m salaried because sometimes I forget that I actually have a job. And that’s wonderful, but also weird. What do I do all day to make me so tired?

The truth is, when I get to go home at 5pm and don’t have anywhere else to be, I am so happy I do things like drink champagne alone and watch crappy television in bed for hours. And it’s glorious.

The truth is, I haven’t had sex in 15 months. That, I think, is a life record (I mean, not counting pre-sex years).

The truth is, I wish I didn’t have any dignity and would just fuck that incredibly attractive boy that WON’T stop and just get that shit over with. (the truth is, profanity sometimes helps)

The truth is, I’m more excited to bring my cat home for Easter than to go myself.

The truth is, sometimes I want this life I’ve built for myself so badly, I actually feel ill. My stomach actually hurts and my heart actually aches. I cry every time I walk into a theatre. Really.

The truth is, I actually feel okay about how I’m doing in terms of “life.” I’m okay (not thrilled, but “okay”) with my self-made “career” at this exact moment. I’m okay with the amount I work out and the amount I eat, usually. But what do I SAY?

But when I’m actually asked, “What are you up to?” I say stupid shit like,

“Oh, y’know, just livin’ life!”
“Auditioning as much as I can, working, running around, y’know, the usual!”
“Well, y’know, well, my spring mission is to get an agent so I’m pretty focused on that…”
“Oh, my company’s in a ‘development’ phase now, since we just got representation… No, it’s totally on track!”
“Well, um… I got a CAT!”

“That boy” and another kid from my school just got in to Yale School of Drama for their MFA. And my first response was ANGER. Which felt crazy, but recognizable. I talked to my therapist about it. I wish I could throw out a gem like that as an easily measurable gauge of success, you know? I’ve always been more comfortable with that– like, “Oh, well I went to the premiere performing arts high school in the country” and “I was the salutatorian” and “I played like 6 leads in college.” “I’m working on it” simply doesn’t have the same ring. It’s fine when it’s just me saying it to myself, but for some reason “not good enough” when I have to explain it to others, even others in the business.

The truth is, I’m happy but I don’t know how to tell people.

So at least to you, blog world, you heard it here first: “I’m doing well. And I’m proud of myself.”

“Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you… Be happy about your growth, in which of course you can’t take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don’t torment them with your doubts and don’t frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn’t be able to comprehend. Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them, which doesn’t necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again; when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own and be indulgent toward those who are growing old, who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust…. and don’t expect any understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.”
–Rainer Maria Rilke