Every Day, a Little Gratitude

I am working. Not only that, but I am working at one of the top theatres in the country, making LORT B (second only to LORT A when it comes to regional theatre) pay, and playing two leading roles. It’s a three month contract which means I will get another six months of health insurance. I am housed. I have a car I share with two other actors. This is the DREAM.

Which means I want to remember this feeling when I go back to NYC. I’m already dreading it… that discomfort of not working, that pain of not auditioning, that hurt of wanting so hard you think you might break.

But right now?

This.

Sadie Sadie Workin’ Lady

Today has been quite something at work. Usually it’s pretty relaxed– at most, one crisis per day. Today? Not so much. My brain hurts.

It also got me thinking about how hard I work. An actor I did the most recent show with posted today on Facebook about how he is stuck in Puerto Rico, where he’s been on vacation. Lots of whining. And I’m thinking: a) I couldn’t possibly afford to go to Puerto Rico! and b) I don’t have the TIME to go to Puerto Rico! and C) if I WERE in Puerto Rico, I would not be complaining about having to be there for a bit longer. And CERTAINLY not on Facebook.

Which got me thinking about the number of hours I dedicate to work. So. Calculations:

20hrs/week at my office job.
I do about 3 hours of VO session stuff maybe 6 days a week. So, 18hr/week.
I take an on-camera class for 3 hours each week.
I audition usually once or twice a week. On average, with getting ready, transit, waiting, prep, that’s about 8hrs/week.
My daily commute is at least 45min each way, and that’s if I’m going to work and then going home, which I do about twice a week. Other times, I commute much more. But as far as basic commute, 40 min each way 5 days a week, that’s about 7hrs/week.
I see a lot of shows, which can count as work. Show, plus commute, about three times a week is about 12hrs/week.
There are 168 hours in one week, minus about 48 hours of sleeping (I get about 7hrs/night). How do I spend my days?

So. Here’s the breakdown:

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 4.47.54 PM

With 120 possible hours per week to do as I please, 68 of those are NON-NEGOTIABLE job requirements. That gives me 52 hours/week of free time. Which I guess isn’t bad, except I’m counting all 7 days of the week. Eek.

I always tell my mentees that in order to truly recover, you have to give yourself lots of free time. I did that when I was deep in my recovery, but it’s an important reminder to really look at when I can cut myself slack and take a BREAK. I deserve that. Since, y’know, I don’t get holidays…

xoxo to all, and be KIND to yourselves!!

Homecoming

For all my “feeling good” posts of the last few days… i’m having a problem.I get home from tech & rehearsals late — between 9pm (if I’m lucky) and 10:30pm. I have been at work since usually 11am, packed lunch, had snacks like a Larabar, apple, latte, and whatever generally unhealthy food there is at the theatre.

I know I need to eat when I get home.

The problem is I OVEReat.

I know that being hungry is triggering for me, plus it’s my only time alone ALL DAY (I love A, but seriously, I NEVER have the apartment to myself, which drives me NUTTY), which is also triggering. I’m trying to come up with a way to make it less hard to eat enough and healthily.

Ideas?

It’s nice to feel proud.

Tonight I went and saw a show at my alma mater/workplace. I’ve admired the play for a while, since it was done downtown by one of my favorite off-Broadway incubators, Soho Rep, so i was thrilled when it was selected for the season. It’s appropriately edgy for this school (god forbid we do the expected) but it’s fresh, unique, and utterly do-able. I was proud to come from a program that would take risks like this, and with intelligence and deliberateness. This was thoughtful theatre. That meant something.

(It’s also pretty darn cool that we hired the playwright to teach Playwriting last Fall, and she’ll teach again this fall. Yeah, it’s pretty freaking cool.)

Last night we did our third runthrough of the show I’m currently rehearsing, which runs March 1 – 30. The run was really good, I felt great, and the director even specifically commented on how he thought I was really on track. It’s nice to do a show that you audition for, totally fresh and without knowing anything, get called back, and get cast. No politics, just good old-fashioned picking the right person for the part. And to do a good job– that’s the icing on the cake.

NOW it’s time for this little Belgian to go to bed.

1555276_829843043708098_1844997701_n

What have you been proud of lately?

I Don’t Want to Be Here.

I don’t want to fucking be in these fucking rehearsals. They make me feel bad. I want to open this thing. I don’t want two more nights of four hour rehearsals. I want it to be done. I want to not see these people again.

The director (also an actor) is stressed. Totally over book. I get that, and I have excused that. But then tonight during notes… he makes me cry. Not on purpose, but. I literally don’t know what to do in this situation– open my mouth and try and get clarity and discuss a moment, or shut up and just not care about that moment being unspecific and possibly wrong?

The director gave a note to me and another girl, saying: “I don’t know why you guys cluster at this point, but you should spread out and split.

To which my automatic response, because the girl and I had discussed that moment specifically, was “Oh, yeah, we were never staged in that moment, so I think we just clung.” I was smiling, not making an excuse, just sort of joking about how that bad staging happened, and the director, in the same tone of voice, says “okay, so I didn’t ask why you were there, I asked you to change it. This is another moment where talking about it is not helpful, and I wish you would just take the note.”

And later we were talking about how we needed to identify a character in a scene as Hermes and the director said we should do it at the beginning of the scene. I wasn’t thinking, I guess, because I said, “oh, why don’t we save that for the great reveal of the winged hat?” The director argued that we needed more than the hat to show audiences it’s Hermes, and I agreed– my suggestion was to put the “look it’s Hermes” line with the winged hat reveal. He continues to disagree and I realized I’ve made an error. I say, “it doesn’t matter,” to try and eject myself from the conversation, and he says, “it does matter.” Which meant it matters and I am wrong.

UGH.

So, the other thing was he wants me to wear ballet slippers for my Just Person character. Fine, except I have such a quick change out of that scene that I can barely make it into the next scene REGARDLESS of a change of shoes. I tell the director this and he acts as though what I’m saying is somehow purposefully making his job hard.

HIM: “Are you wearing those boat shoes for the show?”
ME: “No, my black converse.”
HIM: “Could you wear those shoes?”
ME: “Yes, sure. I mean, they’re blue, but…”
HIM: “The problem is that when we see those shoes under the dress it looks bad.”
ME: “Okay. I mean, I don’t know what to do because I have that quick change and my chorus character is a man… And converse are the only black shoes I have that will work…”
HIM: “Can you wear ballet slippers for that scene?”
ME: “I mean, I have a super super quick change so I don’t think it’s possible.”
HIM: “Everything is possible, whether it’s a matter of leaving earlier (impossible since I have the final line in the scene), having help (everyone is already helping with another quick change and shoes have LACES), or something. Please think about it.”

Here’s what I’m thinking about:

1. Why am I responsible for this costume issue? Why I am in the wrong when I shouldn’t even have to provide my own clothing?

2. I’m not buying new shoes for this fucking thing. No. Nor am I wearing shoes that I feel are unsafe (my other black shoes have no traction. I will not wear them.) Also we’re doing our own laundry but are apparently meant to rehearse in costume every night, and we have 4 shows in a row. None of this is okay. It probably goes against Equity rules, in fact.

3. If this was any other show or company, this would not be my problem. Case in point: on my last show, my character was known for wearing sweatshirts. I wore a large black one. In tech, I was given another large black sweatshirt as the gift that one character gives my character as a mean sort of joke. In the epilogue, I am wearing this new sweatshirt.

I told the director, “So I think that this sweatshirt needs to be more distinguishable from my previous one, otherwise you can’t tell in the epilogue that I’m wearing her gift. Also the epilogue is aspirational, so I should look BETTER than I did before.” He trusts me, talks to the designer, and the next day I had a perfect sweatshirt.

4. I don’t feel inclined to think about SHIT because I don’t fucking care about this show. I don’t. And I dread rehearsals and I can’t wait to never go back. I can’t wait for breaks and I am the first person to leave. I want this to be over. I want it over so badly. I feel terrible because I shouldn’t hate it like this, I should put on a happy face, but I can’t. I want everyone to know how much I don’t want to be here, somehow, subconsciously.

I’m usually so good at keeping to myself. I don’t know what happened today, but I hated it. Especially because I DON’T WANT TO BE HERE ANYWAY. Please don’t treat me like shit at a rehearsal I already don’t want to be at. I am in such a terrible mood.

In other news, I found out that my sister, and I quote from the FB message my mother sent me: “J is having a laparascopic procedure tomorrow. It will be less invasive than last time and she should be able to get to school by Tuesday. Her doc is suspending”Julia’s uterus because its retroverted position (possibly from the endometriosis) is still causing her pain in certain situations. This has a 85-90% chance of solving that issue.”

This girl. Always in surgery. And why am I jealous? That fucking sucks.

Unfortunately, I like pity. I like being taken care of.

And right now, A is far away, the cat is angry, and I’m doing a show that I really fucking hate. I wouldn’t mind popping into the hospital right now for some Jello.

“Army had half a day.”

FROM FRIDAY. A’s been gone for two days. I miss him. I’m exhausted. Nothing new. xoxo

I was okay with his leaving. Two weeks in Vermont with the army, completing required training to match his new sergeant rank. Basically, just two weeks a plane ride away, hot and busy in his ACUs.

I’m busy and exhausted anyway– running one show and rehearsing another, struggling to keep up with office work, and also battling these overwhelming demons, return to pick and taunt and obsess and hate about the fluctuation in my weight, the food I put in my mouth, the shame and the sadness and the frustration. Some time to myself would be healthy.

And then today came.

I couldn’t go back to sleep after he left around 6:30 (he officially leaves tomorrow– this was just prep at the armory so he has one more night with me). I lay with my eyes closed and listened to half of a This American Life episode. I made a smoothie and checked my email. I put on workout clothes and headed to the train. I did some basic strength stuff (it’s been a while! Eek), and then went to the drugstore to pick up a prescription and a couple of other things. I got back on the train around 10 and headed home.

I felt good. Productive. Independent. For the rest of the day, I did a little work on the show (the one I’m rehearsing and DO NOT want to be doing), watched some project runway, took a bath. Around 3, I realized that A would (hopefully) be home in an hour, and I was leaving for the show in an hour and a half. And then I’d do the show. And then we might go out or just go home but then we’d go to bed and in the morning he’d be GONE.

And then sadness hit like a ton of bricks.

I’m afraid.

Living with him is safe, even when it’s insanely difficult and frustrating and new. But A is so much easier to be around than my own obsessions and neuroses. Without his calming presence, without the life requirements his simply EXISTING places on me, I’m out in the open again, trying to stay on track.

And I’m already feeling vulnerable, so. Great.

I’m sad.

I’m genuinely sad.

And not just because I’m nervous about being home alone.

I am completely, head over heels in love with this boy. He is my life. He’s a limb. I’m going to miss him A LOT.

So twofold, I guess.

Sigh.

Bumps and Bruises

Tonight during the show, about halfway through, I have blocking where, while holding my huge binder, I squeeze between a pair of seats, swing my leg over the seated actors’ heads, then trip and fall onto a rehearsal block, my arm out with a paper.

I realize now that is difficult to describe and you probably can’t even imagine it. Suffice it to say, I do a lot of pratfalls in this show. Which is super fun.

Anyway, I rarely actually hurt myself in this show, despite the fact that I’m throwing myself around and doing highly physical clowning. Part of that is because I’m a dancer, so I know how to move my body in such a way that I look like I’m flying across the room when I’m actually 100% in control. The kneepads also help. 😉

So tonight, I did the pratfall as normal, but for some reason, I happened to hit my forearm (that bony elbow-shin, if you know what I mean?)

Getting hurt in a show is a funny thing. I was talking to R about it. She hit herself under the chin with the trash can lid last night, and didn’t even notice until her entire jaw ached the next day. I have walked offstage to discover that my ankle is bleeding and my shoe is filled with blood. The adrenaline and the focus makes it so that you can’t even feel anything. It’s very odd.

I could feel my "elbow-shin" hit flat on the block, and I knew I’d have a nice bruise the next day.

And I got really excited.

I admit. I LOVE getting bruised. I love knowing I’m going to have a welt under the skin, blossoming purple and green. I love looking at my legs when they’re banged up, as though I’ve been through battle and made it through. I love to probe the tender flesh and muscle and bone, feeling that pain deeply rush through the nerve endings and ache dully, throbbing. I love getting bruises, having bruises, and feeling my bruises.

Is that weird? Am I crazy?

I don’t feel this way about cuts. I guess I feel the same about sore muscles– I DID something, and now I can feel it– but bruises seem like a weird thing to love.

This one isn’t even that good, but I got so excited when I saw it begin to form tonight. Do any of you have this weird obsession? Or anything similar? Am I just totally fucked

up?

Powered by Qumana

Tech Week

Tech began yesterday.

9am call in a basement theatre somewhere between the Lower East Side and the East Village. An A train from 181 to 14, the L from 8th Ave to 1st Ave. An hourlong commute.

I like tech. The pressure is off me– it’s a time for the designers to work all of their stuff out. It’s also fun to see everything finally coming together. Those fake and horribly offensive AK-47s they had simulated in rehearsal with wooden sticks are now real, and shoot idiotically wonderful laser-light with a half-hearted "pew pew." That transition I’d always done in silence, with few props and no timing, now is punctuated with sound, and concludes with a solo quick change in the back hallway. You don’t realize how many props you have in this kind of comedic clown-show until you enter from the front after your one long-ish break from the stage to discover the floor piled high with newspapers, Doritos, a spilled first aid kit, and many bottles of water.

Last night, after getting home at the incredibly kind hour of 6pm (usually techs are 10/12s, which means you work for 10 hours out of 12 scheduled hours– the other 2 hours are for Equity-required breaks, including an hour for lunch). I did this and that, ate dinner, puttered about, watched Orange is the New Black, then, just as A walked in the door from his show, launched into full meltdown. Why? I couldn’t find my new boxes of contacts.

I cried. I yelled. I stomped and threw shit around. a stayed calm and tried to help, his voice soft and meek in a way that irritates me in the best of times. I am a monster, he is a saint.

Eventually, I cooled off,

***

Two tech runs today. I showed up at the theatre at 9:45am, Americano from The Bean in hand. Now costumes aren’t questions, makeup slides on. We’re ready to go for a run by 10:30. We break for lunch at 1:40, and I head across the street to Hummus Place with R, P, and SP. We’re back in the space by 2:40 to put back on our costumes (still damp, now cold and hanging heavy). Another time through, then notes, and I stumble out into the heat towards the L train.

***

I can’t wait to do this play.

I can sit around and talk about the struggle of my "career," about how it’s not what I "wanted," how it’s possibly a "step back," but when I walk onstage, when the moments flow smoothly, one into the nest, everything feels RIGHT. I am 100% myself, 100% present. It’s the greatest thing on earth.

I wish I felt more like writing, but this tab has been open for days, and I can’t seem to finish it.

More, I suppose, as things get closer. We open Thursday.

I can’t wait.

Powered by Qumana

Seismic Shifts

I’ve been thinking about what to write for a few days now, and I’m just now sitting on the couch, hoping to scratch some of it down. It’s going to be jumbled, but sometimes there’s poetry in chaos. My dad always said to start with a free write.

The window behind me is open a crack. The air is wet and full, but the breeze has a chill. It’s been a rainy June, but we’ve had a couple of miracle days. Days of perfection– bright blue skies, calm air, just enough warmth to release the sounds and smells of spring, as if every piece of the city was perfectly placed on its coordinates, suddenly allowing things to flow just right.

I have moments in this city, like I did yesterday on the way home from working with my boss while he was in rehearsal at the Barishnikov Arts Center on 11th Ave, where the pieces feel like they fit just right. I can glance at the skyscrapers uptown and wonder at how a homebody from Idaho made a life here. I’m not hungry, but I’m not overfull. Breath flows, unobstructed. Heading home in time for dinner, the sun just starting its descent over the Hudson.

I’m alone, usually, when this happens. It’s like those toys we had when we were kids– the beak of an eagle perched on your finger balances the whole bird. Miraculous. Also, temporary, and also, solo. If a bee lighted on the back of the small plastic eagle, it would crash down, all memory of balance gone. So I relish those moments– solo, balanced, and necessarily brief.

I have found that I am still very young. This is not shocking. I mean, I’m not crazy– I’m 24 years old and I’ve known I’m young for about as long as I’ve been alive. But I don’t have a life pattern yet. I have little to base what’s next upon. I was in school for 22 years– day care and preschool, elementary school, high school, boarding school, college. And now I’m entering my second year of true "adulthood." That’s not a very long time to develop of sense of what "life" is.

So I falter. I compare. I long for last summer’s career arc, and I pine for my college friendships. I am a different person now than I was two years, four years, ten years ago. Which surprises me, in some ways.

Perhaps personality develops through a series of catalysts. Choices we make that echo long after they’re done. Battles we fight until we can finally emerge, bloody and mutilated, but victorious. Sometimes the mere shape of the world around us– a high school, for instance, or a mother-daughter relationship– catalyze what’s next. I wonder how long I will keep changing. Will who I am ever cement? Or with every shift of the seismic plates, every strong Noreaster, will my "self" be changed a little bit too?

 I come from a town that is bigger than a town but smaller than a city. There were cul-de-sac suburbs and junky trailers off the highway, but where I lived there was a front yard and a backyard, an elementary school in walking distance, piano lessons, ballet class, and gymnastics. I had a younger sister and two parents who worked. My dad, a PhD and a Rhodes scholar, professor of English and author of creative nonfiction, my mother a labor and delivery nurse who often worked odd shifts but could be counted on, when home, to prepare stir fry or pesto pasta and knew when we should finish our last snacks so we had room for dinner. I had some friends from school– Heather, Keako, Andrew, Evan. We went camping in the mountains during the summer, alternately covered in dust and damp with lake water.

This was the structure of my life from age 6 to age 15. And yet, the inside is so much more complex. I was a difficult little girl– tempermental, moody, destructive, obsessive. My parents fought often, and for some time, slept in separate bedrooms. My mother sent money, and then refused it, to my drug-addicted cousins (there’s more than one), and she learned that her sister was in prison. My father still struggled to come to terms with his childhood sexual abuse at summer camp. It shuttered him. I didn’t know my sister, despite the fact that her room was next to mine.

The facts of my life are these:
I live with my boyfriend. I’m a professional actor. I’m a resident of New York City. I graduated summa cum laude as the salutatorian from college. I take the subway every day and see a therapist every week. My eyes are blue, or green, or gray, or a mix; no one can decide. My hair is blonde, or dark blonde, or light brown, or honey-colored; no one can decide.

Underneath, the struggle:
I can no longer see food without considering whether or not I should eat it.
I know when I’m depressed when I can’t read.
I am terrified that I have alienated the dearest friends I have.
All I really want is for people to love me as much as I love them.
I feel trapped and terrified and lost nearly every day.
I fantasize about a childhood that I know didn’t exist.
Sometimes I go through days in New York where every single person I see, I resent.
I want to write powerful personal essays like my father, but I don’t know where to begin.

Everything changes. It would take years and years to trace each seismic shift from its starting place, to its catalyst, to its change. There are patterns, of course. My triggers are familiar. Many of my dreams are the same.

But the way I see myself, the way I see the world, has transformed, and on more than one occasion.

I’m okay with that.

As long as I still find those moments where all the pieces of my life, my desires, my city, can balance momentarily on a finger. As long as I feel those sharp flashes of knowing I’m exactly where and what and who I’m supposed to be. The inside transforms the outside, and the same is true the other way around.

And maybe that makes me hope that I’ll never stop changing, that with each turn of the season and spin of the axis, I’m finding my balance on the point that feels just right, at least for a moment. And then I’ll fall off, only to tip and spin and flounder until I’ve found my perfect, temporary fit again.

Powered by Qumana