The world is too hard as it is, without letting your pants have an opinion on how you are doing.

Saw this on Facebook and couldn’t NOT post to the blog. Thanks, Anne Lamott.

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This is the Anne Patricia Lamott Anti-Diet that I posted at this time last year. This year, I post it with an added urgency, as the new Viking Diet is upon us, the latest and hottest It diet, and since you may feel vulnerable and somewhat battered after the last few days/weeks/years of festive family get-togethers, or estrangement, you will be susceptible to its promises. And yes, young Canute, if you are enjoying the noble Viking lifestyle, raiding your neighbor’s grain stores and salted venison lockers, this may in fact be the perfect new diet for you. Are you giddy with relief that Whole Foods carries so many foraged vegetables, and moose meat? Then step right up. Help bail out the ever-struggling diet industry, while you’re at it. But otherwise?

We need to talk.

I know you are planning to start a diet next Thursday, January 1st, I used to start diets, too. I hated to mention this to my then-therapist. She would say cheerfully, ” Oh, that’s great, honey. How much weight are you hoping to gain?”

I got rid of her sorry ass. No one talks to ME that way.

Well, okay, maybe it was ten years later, after she had helped lead me back home, to myself, to radical self-care, to friendship with my own heart, to a jungly glade that had always existed deep inside me, to mostly healthy eating, but that I’d avoided all those years by achieving, dieting, binging, people-pleasing, multi-talking, and so on

Now when I decide to go on a diet, I say it to myself: “Great, honey. How much weight are you hoping to gain?”

I was able to successfully put on weight during my last book tour by eating room service meals in a gobbly trance in 13 different cities. So that was exhilarating, as I may have mentioned several hundred times that I have had the tiniest, tiniest struggle with food and body image for the last–well, life time. Hardly worth mentioning.

And then, after book tour, I accidentally forgot to starve myself in December, or to go back to the gym, which I’ve been meaning to do since I had a child, 24 years ago.

So I am at least five pounds up–but thankfully, I do not currently have a scale, because as I’ve said before, getting on a scale is like asking Dick Cheney to give you a sense of your own self-worth every morning.

I can still get my jeans on, for one reason: I wear forgiving pants. The world is too hard as it is, without letting your pants have an opinion on how you are doing. I struggle with enough esteem issues without letting my jeans get in on the act, volunteering random thoughts about my butt.

By the same token, it feels great to be healthy. Some of you need to be under a doctor’s care. None of you need to join Jenny Craig. It won’t work. You will lose tons of weight quickly, and gain it all back, plus five. Some of you need to get outside and walk for half an hour a day. I do love walking, so that is not a problem for me, but I have a serious sickness with sugar: if I start eating it, I can’t stop. I don’t have an off switch, any more than I do with alcohol. Given a choice, I will eat candy corn and Raisinets until the cows come home–and then those cows will be tense, and bitter, because I will have gotten lipstick on the straps of their feed bags.

But you crave what you eat, so if I go for 3 or 4 days with no sugar, the craving is gone. That is not dieting. If you are allergic to peanuts, don’t eat peanuts.

So please join me in not starting a diet January 1st.

It’s really okay, though, to have (or pray for) an awakening around your body. It’s okay to stop hitting the snooze button, and to pay attention to what makes you feel great about yourself, one meal at a time. Horribly, it’s yet another inside job. If you are not okay with yourself at 185, you will not be okay at 150, or even 135. The self-respect and peace of mind you long for is not out there. It’s within. I hate that. I resent that more than I can say. But it’s true.

Maybe some of us can try to eat a bit less, and walk a bit more, and make sure to wear pants that do not hurt our thighs or our feelings. Drinking more water is the solution to all problems.

I’ll leave you with this: I’ve helped some of the sturdier women at my church get healthy, by suggesting they prepare each meal as if they had asked our beloved pastor to lunch or dinner. They wouldn’t say, “Here Pastor–let’s eat standing up in the kitchen. This tube of barbecue Pringles is all for you. i have my own” And then stand there gobbling from their own tubular container. No, they’d get out pretty dishes, and arrange wonderful foods on the plates, and set one plate before Veronica at the table, a plate filled with love, pride and connection. That’s what we have longed for, our whole lives, and get to create, now, or or on the 1st. Wow! And God bless you all real good, as my pastor always says.

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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

Welcome to my Country

I may or may not be in this book… Which somehow makes me feel cool?!

http://books.google.com/books?id=mZ4rlVsmZP0C&pg=PA76&lpg=PA76&dq=decoding+anorexia+becca&source=bl&ots=CZQQhm6U1l&sig=CYZrPxd2rfFgvuOGD0PdhXFeNME&hl=en&sa=X&ei=W9b5UNmFFebp0QGUg4CIBw&ved=0CDYQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=decoding%20anorexia%20becca&f=false

Also, I just finished reading WELCOME TO MY COUNTRY by Lauren Slater. A beautifully-written book I’d recommend to anyone who has experience with a mental illness, or a particular interest in the FEEL and experience of mental illness. Some of my favorite quotes:

Crazy or sane, we al know the desire for skin touching skin, or brain rubbing brain as minds meet.

Food is fuel, the weakness that makes us want it our greatest strength.

Depression, I thought to myself then. It’s a psychiatric disorder suffered by one in ten Americans and, despite the severe pain an all-out bout can inflict—lack of appetite, dwindled sex drive, crying jags that last for hours—it’s still remarkably banal, as common as the common cold. At its best, I viewed depression as a bronchitis of the brain, undeniably difficult but not nearly as exciting as the holy lights and purple pumpkins conjured up by my psychotic patients.

Depression is a death within, a knowledge—terrifying—that you cannot resurrect yourself. Depression is loss of the vision that lets leaves breathe and fall, that lets the air smell of seed and soil. And there must be rage, yes I think there is rage toward such a severing, such a ragged-deep rupture with the world.

But I think I set aspects of my own life down not so much to revel in their gothic qualities, but to tell you this: that with many of my patients I feel intimacy, I feel love. To say I believe time is fluid, and so are the boundaries between human beings, the border separating helper from the one who hurts always blurry. Wounds, I think, are never confined to a single skin but reach out to rasp us all.

I am not that girl any longer. I tell that to myself as I ride up the hospital’s elevator. I found some sort of way into recovery. But I know, have always known, that I could go back. Mysterious neurons collide and break. The brain bruises. Memories you thought were buried rise up.

For I have learned how to soothe the hot spots, how to salve the soreness on my skin. I can do it so no one notices, can do it while I teach a class if I need to, or lead a seminar on psychodiagnosis. I can do it while I talk to you in the evenest of tones. “Shhhh,” I whisper to the hurting part, hidden here. You can call her borderline—call me borderline—or multiple, or heaped with posttraumatic stress—but strip away the language and you find something simple. You find me, part healthy as a horse and part still suffering, as are we all. What sets me apart from Kayla or Linda or my other patients like Oscar, Marie, Moxi—what sets me apart from these “sick” ones—is simply a learned ability to manage the blades of deep pain with a little bit of dexterity. Mental health doesn’t mean making the pains go away. I don’t believe they ever go away. I do believe that nearly every person sitting at this oval table now has the same warped impulses, the same scarlet id, as the wobbliest of borderlines, the most florid of psychotics. Only the muscles to hold things in check—to channel and funnel—are stronger. I have not healed so much as learned to sit still and wait while pain does its dancing work, trying not to panic or twist in ways that make the blades tear deeper, finally infecting the wounds.

“We have our Arts so we won’t die of Truth.” –Nietzsche

Steve Jobs on creativity:

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.”

That’s how I feel about my acting. When I was asked how exactly I go about playing a 14-year-old, what my “process” is… I can’t really explain. Basically I do a lot of thinking, a lot of feeling, and eventually I’ll just find and think something thatclicks, that makes sense, that feels and seems right. Sometimes I feel guilty I don’t do enough “work” when I’m working on a role, but I think it’s just that the work I do is more internal, less obvious to the naked eye. I am a synthesizer of feelings and thoughts… as my director told me during tech, what he likes about my acting is that he can “always see what I am thinking.”

Anyway, back in NYC. Parents fly home today. I stayed over with them in their little rental house in Jersey last night after a fancy dinner out. I always feel a little guilty having my parents buy nice dinners, but a part of me thinks they like treating me. I also tried to make clear how grateful I was that they came all the way out to the dreaded Jersey Shore to support me– it is NOT their scene. They said, “We’d go anywhere.” But I hope they heard that what I said was true… I know it was a sacrifice of time, money, and effort, especially to take my grandmother, and I am grateful. I am proud that they are my family, and I think they are proud of me.

Henry James on art:

“We work in the dark — we do what we can — we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.”

And finally, Jonathan Franzen on the chronically depressed David Foster Wallace (who eventually killed himself):

“Once, when we were driving near Stinson Beach, in California, I’d stopped to give him a telescope view of a long-billed curlew, a species whose magnificence is to my mind self-evident and revelatory. He looked through the scope for two seconds before turning away with patent boredom. ‘Yeah,’ he said with his particular tone of hollow politeness, ‘it’s pretty.’ In the summer before he died, sitting with him on his patio while he smoked cigarettes, I couldn’t keep my eyes off the hummingbirds around his house and was saddened that he could, and while he was taking his heavily medicated afternoon naps I was learning the birds of Ecuador for an upcoming trip, and I understood the difference between his unmanageable misery and my manageable discontents to be that I could escape myself in the joy of birds and he could not.”

The Times’ They are A-Changin’

Times review came out.

It came out halfway (at least) through the show tonight. I have a Google alert on my name so I got it during scene 2 in Act I.

It’s not great. In fact, it’s pretty bitchy towards the play and the theatre that produced it.

However. And the big however.

He liked me. And I quote: “Thanks to competent actors under the direction of [director], this hodgepodge manages to achieve some semblance of reality. The honey-voiced Mr. S does his best to make the obviously written [character] appear not too openly villainous at first, while Ms. B invests [my character] with considerable youthful fervor.”

It’s a testament to the power and strength of this cast that we didn’t reveal that we ALL had seen the article until tonight, as we were enjoying a glass of wine after the show. And of course… pretty much all of us (who have any technological skills at all) had gotten the alert and read the review.

Truly, and maybe this is my personal bias about this play and my personal bias about what I want my career to be like…. I can’t see it hurting us. I guess the playwright’s agents (who had previously beem full throttle interested in a NYC transfer) wanted to talk to him tomorrow. BUT. BUT. For me… this can’t change my belief that this play will transfer to NYC and succeed off-Broadway and change my life. I truly, truly believe that this will not be the end for this play. And that thought gives me such unbridled joy and enthusiasm, I can’t even express the level to which I feel it would influence my emotional life (which, like it or not, is tied to my theatrical life).

My parents loved it. My grandmother liked it, and she loved me, which is actually,betterthan I had expected. Truly. I wasn’t sure if she’d survive the New Jersey experience and remember my performance positively. Apparently she didn’t even know I was the lead? Hm. Sounds like selective memory to me. (Oh, and did I mention my grandmother grew up with Marlon Brando and didStreetcar Named Desireon Broadway with him in the ’40s? Cause that happened.)

So basically I can’t see this review derailing the train of this play. I firmly believe (for, fair enough, selfish interests) that we will transfer somewhere in NYC in the Fall (it has to be fall because I am quickly aging out of the part.)

Although, after most everyone had gone to bed (the playwright and his actress wife snuggled up taking care of each other like a goddamn little happy family goddamnit), it was just me and R, the older man (old enough to be my dad), left, finishing off our glasses of whiskey.

“You’re not going to listen to this.” he said to me, slurring a bit but clearly on a track. “You are going to have a career. You’re not done yet. You’re going to be FINE.”

Of course, I tossed my hair self-consciously and said, “oh, oh, sure… haha, thanks…” But hearing those words from someone who by NO means has to give them? And who continues on by asking how I do what I do and play 14 so convincinly? I believed him. I allowed the compliment and the faith he had in me to inject past the soft fleshy bits, dogding the firm, stodgy bone, and squeeze out right into that wonderful heart muscle, that pumps me full of self-worth (sometimes) when there’s some great compliment that made it there. And that one? More than any of the others I’ve gotten so far… that one made it. And I let it bloom quietly in my little personal happiness greenhouse… where I can tend for the blooms of good feeling and good will that sprout; where I can keep them calm and secret and purely mine; where I can enjoy them without the guilt of owning them… my personal garden of sweet, sweet statements.

On a totally other note.

My body. Obviously. What else is new.

Isn’t it remarkable how every day your body can look completely different? For some reason today, my legs looked lean and thin today… my stomach looked extra flat… my collarbones said hello more than once. I obviously did not lose weight in 12 hours. So… it’s clearly just my mind. But is there some way to control that, so I can hold onto the beauty of how i see my body at this moment and reject the days where I want to slice every non-essential lump off with a machete?

I mean, no. No is the answer. But that’s how I feel many days. And perhaps, in my dreams, in my dreams of career and jobs and future and more than anything else in the world, the kind of life I need, want, crave…. I will be able to experience each day, each feeling, each body sensation as fine. I will not have days where I feel as though I have 8 chins and flabby thighs. Or if I do have those days I will let them go. I will not dream of being a waif because I will see my body as strong and important and in a totally “normal” place.

As a recovering bipolar, balance is the place I crave, normal is the place I dream of…. and I think I will be fighting to find that place, those places, for the rest of my life.

And I do believe I’m up to that war. I’m just going to have to fight one battle at a time.

xoxo to all.

And EXTRA SPECIAL THANKS to those of you who commented on my last post. Truly. You made an enormous difference in how I felt. I am beyond grateful for your continued interest in my silly little life and your support when it goes off the rails. I am here for you too. Seriously, email me, write me, whatever. I am consistently amazed by your strength and your ability to share those strengths with me. My heart is very full of you right now. 🙂

Sleep well, my loves. Until next late night in my little regional theatre world…
xoxo B.

Here I Am

One of our actors’ wives is the editor- in- chief of Cosmopolitan.
(would you vajazzle your frenemies hoo-hah for anything you want from Tiffany’s?)

I spent the weekend with one of our actors and our stage manager without awkward incident.

Tonight we cooked dinner and drank wine and ran lines and got drunk and it was glorious.

There was an entire conversation about how perfect I am for this part. What the fuck.

I wish I could lose ten pounds for this role but I can’t, because we open in a week and a half.
Perhaps it’s better that I just have to accept this moment, this body, this self that got cast.

Here we go.

“there was this red-haired girl… she was awful.”

“it wasn’t like everyone else sucked… B was just the best of all of them.”

“You came in and everyone was like… Oh. Here’s our baby.”