A M-F Play

So far, so good. In all senses of that word.

We got to NJ, and after dropping our things off at the house, headed to rehearsal. It was a bit off, since we didn’t know what we were working on so we were a bit out of sorts, and because we were legit ON THE STAGE. The set is basically done, y’all. The trailer park is built and we just had to fit into it.

After rehearsal, we carpooled back to our mansion for a couple of hours of down time. The bedroom I willingly took is the smallest– a dorm room sized square with a twin bed, a dresser, and a tiny TV on a tiny table. I am the baby, so I took the baby room. M joked as we were scurrying around the house that it was the “Anne Frank Room,” due to its proximity to a set of secret stairs (the maid’s stairs). It’s perfect for me– right by the bathroom, private, but right by the staircase so I will be able to hear when everyone’s up (i.e. no awkward mornings). We ran lines and goofed off a bit until it was time to head out for dinner.

The dinner place was chosen by the theatre’s artistic directors, and per expected, was a BYOB Italian place in a strip mall. They had brought two bottles of merlot, and the rest of the cast brought prosecco and two bottles of malbec. I think you can get a good sense of a cast by how they bond over cheap, filling food and alcohol, and this cast was AMAZING. Seriously. It felt like college– that easy, softly wine-drunk goofiness where everyone was dropping in and out of conversations and genial and funny and kind and seemed like they knew each other. Even the artistic directors, one of whom I had a couple of phone/email convos with and one who I’d only met on contract day, treated us like part of the family. I do, I do, I do, I love these people.

I ate a solid half of my unhealthy dinner of whole wheat linguine and what I thought would be veggies, but instead were fried asparagus and artichoke. I COULD have ordered a salad, but. I didn’t. I’m glad I didn’t. I don’t want to be that girl. M suggested running and yoga, which I am totally up for any day (except tomorrow since I am basically ALREADY asleep), but I’m not going to be the asshole who orders a salad at a Jersey Italian restaurant. NO.

we made it home to the mansion after a quick trip to Shoprite, where M gave out a bunch of our beautiful postcards and we bought breakfast food. I am GREAT at being flexible. Even deep in my ED, I could find something to turn into food, some way to compensate for un-ideal food situations that I needed to be socially present for. I starved at home, in my morning cereal bowl, but I ate whole meals when I went out with friends. I drank gin and tonics and wine on a empty stomach, but if someone was eating and offered it, I’d eat mozzarella sticks. Perhaps it meant I wouldn’t eat breakfast the next day, but my social responsibilities took precedent over my disorder at times. This… this is winning for me here. I do what they do, and they are pretty healthy but also completely non-judgemental. I got really fucking lucky.

I have GOT to sleep now. I’m also going to try to write journal entries hard copy this summer, as I got a new journal. It worked really well over the summer a few years ago, and much of it I might transcribe, but I’m going to (after this) likely make that my default journal. Just ’cause.

I miss my sweet kitty.
I miss my cozy apartment and my own schedule.
But I love these crazy hookers in this crazy Buffalo Bill mansion in this crazy Jersey Town.

Let’s do a motherfucking play.

Dreaming in DC

Lying alone in a hotel bed, I let feelings and thoughts wash over me. Memories of overnight, snow-bound delays, of brief holidays past, of transient times in between momentous ones.

Yet also my mind sweeps forward, into imagination, into a body beside me, a bottle of wine to share, a firm chest instead of a pillow to rest my head on. I’ve never traveled with a boyfriend, really. One came to my Idahome once, slept in the basement, where I joined him after my parents fell asleep and then scurried away before they woke. Another I visited– Memorial Day after freshman year, missing the fireworks because we veered off the road to avoid hitting a deer. And I came to him again at Steppenwolf, in Chicago. He was the star. It was an experience of momentary cohabitation. Within days from when I left, Obama was elected , i was opening a show, and I had been unceremoniously dumped.

I like hotel rooms for this reason. There is enormous potential in them. Perhaps I have a hotel fantasy, of days lounging on fluffed pillows and clean sheets, lolling naked as we nibble on hard cheeses and drown ourselves in wine. An escape. An opportunity to be purely with another, all responsibilities irrelevant. That’s it, I think. Hotels are blank worlds where pure, unencumbered connection may occur.

I don’t yet know what my weekend will hold. Yet at this moment, eyelids drooping, cocooned in clean white sheets, alone in a room in our nation’s Capitol… And coming off a first, frustrating, extreme, exciting, draining, dreamy week of rehearsals… I do feel like not much could go wrong these three days. just don’t let me slack on the memorization, bitchez!

Hasta maƱana, and hola Washington DC.

B.

Glowing

My Junior year of college, I was at my lowest weight. In the Fall semester, I took a scene study course taught by a relatively famous actress (anyone seen Star Trek: The Next Generation?) She commented about how “she would kill for my body,” how she wished she still looked like me. She assigned me great scenes and took a deep interest in me– I played Maggie the Cat from Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Emma in Betrayal by Pinter, Claire in Auburn’s Proof. In early summer, I saw her at the opening night of a Classic Stage Co production starring Dianne Wiest. She gave me a hug and then said, “You’ve gained like, a pound.” My face flushed, and I just responded, “Ha, ha. Haven’t we all?”

So she scares me. I fear that she’ll lose interest because I gained weight.

But I invited her to the show I starred in in December, and she came. Afterwards, she brought me, a costar, and a friend (all of whom were in her class) out to dinner and wine next door. She wined and dined us and effusively complimented our work. She told us she would do her best to get her agents and managers and friends in the biz to our show. At some point, she turned to me and looked into my eyes. “You look beautiful. Truly.”

Last night, I emailed her to tell her about my exciting new project. She responded with this email. I’m glowing.

I am tremendously proud of you! I am not surprised, but I am thrilled to see that not only are you made of wonderful complexities, colors and textures as an actor but you have the steel to go with it. B, this is a great accomplishment for an actress of your age and experience and anyone in this industry would agree with that. I am going to do my level best to pass this information along to people who I think might actually make an effort to go to New Jersey – including myself – although I must tell you that this summer is pretty crazy and that I’m all over the place. If there’s even a remote chance that I will make it – I will. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to see you walk out on the stage as the leading lady – and thus I am sure it will be for the rest of your life. Brava!

One year ago today…

One year ago today, I took the MetroNorth to the Bronx with my parents, a black polyester robe folded and stuffed into my leather shoulder bag. I processed across thick rubber mats in my espadrilles with my peers around me, our flat caps absorbing the straight, bright rays of early summer sun. We grinned at each other, robes unzipped and slipping down our shoulders, backs stuck to the folding chairs with perspiration.

One year ago today, I processed with the faculty to a seat on the stage with my name taped on it. I stood in front of my graduating class at the podium and spoke of the promise of our lives. “Genesis says that all men and women are entrusted with the task of crafting their lives– they are to create of it a work of art, a masterpiece. We are all artists in that way.”

Today, I had my first official day of rehearsal. I suffered through the soggy, raining morning to a small theatre on the UWS, where I quickly met the SM and the costume designer, and said friendly hellos to the cast. We started at 10am with contract-signing with the artistic director of the theatre. I watched quietly as the rest of the cast got their Equity forms and riders, and I had a simple white paper contract in three copies. Soon that will be me, I thought. Patience.

Last night, I dreamed I was crying. Sobbing thick, heavy tears, wheezing for air. It had to do with graduation, but I don’t know if it was mine or the one that just happened for my friends this last Saturday. It didn’t really matter… I was mourning a loss.

I am doing well. Sometimes I have to stop and actively look back to where I was one year ago, restless and scared and out of control and ten pounds heavier than now. I can remember how much I hated my job at the sports bar, the weekend I dog-sat and broke down into the worst depression I’d had in months, my inability to come into rehearsal feeling “together,” my exhaustion. And I can see that I am doing well now.

But today I got my period, and tonight I binged worse than I have in months. My cat is irritated with me because I can’t get it together, and I’m irritated with me because I want to wake up and I want everything to be fixed and better.

Life doesn’t work like that.

It was three years ago that my life swerved into the groove I’m in now. I’ve struggled my whole life with faulty brain chemistry, but that was the most recent iteration of it. It doesn’t feel fair that I’m still fighting every single day. I struggle to accept the daily struggle, to feel hopeful for tomorrow when pounds of food I had hoped to savor are sitting, hot and bloated, in my belly.

One year ago today, I said goodbye to twenty-two years of structured education, to grades and dorms and class times. I spoke to my class about creation and exploration, but inside I was terrified of what my life might be. Unfettered, ungrounded, alone– how could I survive?

But today I held my own in a 7hr rehearsal with strangers who were older than me. I curled my hair in the morning but wasn’t freaked out when it frizzed all up by the time I got to the theatre. I let the director focus his critique on me for most of the day, let the words flow in and over and out and not hurt me just because they were about me. I had my costume fitting and didn’t feel shy and self-conscious, and I felt as though I belonged in a professional rehearsal room as a lead in a world premiere.

It’s a day by day thing, and nothing ever moves as quickly as I wish it would, but when I stop and line them up side by side…

I have come so very far in one short year.

No One Talked

(I sent this email to my therapist about last night. Last night being the reason I cried all the way home on the uptown 3.)

Hi H,

I had a bit of a hard night last night, and I feel a bit like I’m wallowing today, so I just wanted to reach out. This is REALLY long. I’m sorry. I just kind of wrote… and I think I needed to.

Last week, after our meeting, I was feeling kind of lonely and decided to do something about it, so I emailed my friends (R, JP, P, G– the whole crew from the company) and said I wanted to have a farewell dinner party. Only R and P responded, but I made an executive decision and set a date and time and planned what I would make and everything. I never really do this– it scares me.

So last night was the night, and I did a whole grocery shop and asked G to make salad and P to do drinks… and I was excited. But when I got to their apartment, no one else seemed excited. I immediately started cooking– a whole complicated southern savory pie with a homemade crust and everything, a crowd-pleaser, I thought. And I tried to talk to them, tried to feel like I wasn’t a literal slave in the kitchen, kneading and slicing and layering and shredding… no one offered to help, which is fine, but no one talked to me either. No one asked me about how I felt about leaving (to which I would answer, honestly, I’m really scared), no one answered anything I said with more than a few syllables. I don’t think JP spoke to me at all. They seemed to talk AROUND me, not to me, and discussed all sorts of company things (JP and G are going to Yale to audition people today) and no one even offered to play me the songs from the show. I’m not really exaggerating when I say that no one talked to me during the hour I spent in the kitchen.

No one came to the table and said, “wow, that’s a real pie! Thanks!” No one told me it was delicious. No one invited me into the conversation at all. This very real effort I made to “expand,” like we have talked about, to feel worthy of love and friendship, was failing and very quickly, I was shrinking into myself.

After dinner, which lasted like, 15 minutes, I went to the bathroom and texted L, who’s in Connecticut. I told her that I was feeling sad and that I missed her. I told her she didn’t have to reply, but within ten minutes she called me. When I picked up and walked into the other room, no one asked who it was. We talked for about ten minutes about how hard this time of year is… it’s transitional and scary. She made me feel better, at least for the moment.

When I came back, they started Mad Men. Fine with me, except that at this point I just wanted to go home. I suffered through it, sitting off to the side because the couch was full, mostly just moping. I felt bad. I wanted to go home. Pretty much the second the episode ended, I gathered my things and told them I was going home. I walked out pretty much immediately and wrote in my journal all the way home. I still felt pretty awful last night, and still pretty awful today.

I don’t want to sound selfish, like I expected yesterday evening to be the official “me” party and for everyone to fawn over me. I guess I just hoped that by organizing an opportunity for friendship, by giving them the gift of a home-cooked dinner, by being present in their lives I would remember that “oh, yeah, I was being stupid, they really are my friends and do care about me.” What I felt, though, was the opposite of that. It felt like a goodbye… like when you go on a date with someone and you can feel that disconnection the whole time and you just KNOW they won’t call you again. I’m sure I overblew it in my head (the fact that I’m still moping about perceived slights is proof of this), but it felt really, really bad, and instead of a celebration of friendship, when I walked out I had the distinct feeling I wouldn’t walk in again. And I had the distinct feeling that I was completely unnecessary.

It hurts especially because in the last two years this group of people has given me enormous comfort, and made me feel special in all my flaws and struggles. I felt like a part of something. And with the loss of the closeness of friendship, I’m also losing the company, and I’m losing that distinct feeling of belonging. I feel like I’m suffering a real loss.

And the whole point of the party was because I’m really, really scared about what the next few months will be. I am scared of being thrown into this alone. I know I’ll be fine, but I’m scared.

What I really wanted was for someone to say, “I’m here for you. Give me a call anytime.”

But instead I walked out the door at 9:30pm feeling even more alone and scared than I did when I walked in.

I’m SO SORRY this was so rambly, but I didn’t know who else to tell, and I didn’t really want to wait until Thursday. No need to respond… I’m just feeling a lot of feelings and I guess if I couldn’t get the “I’m here for you” from a friend, I might get it from you.

Hope you’re well. Thanks for everything.
B.