- Trapped in the inevitability of what’s about to happen on Friday.
- Ashamed, thinking that I need to do more.
- Abandoned by those who are able to attend the March in Washington.
- Scared that I’ll be too scared to march in NYC.
- Governed by social anxiety of the magnitude I haven’t experienced in years.
- Proud to be escorting on Saturday morning.
- Grateful to have somewhere to be on Friday night, with like-minded, revolution-minded friends.
- Thrilled to be doing a play that actually fucking matters.
- Depressed and alone, on the couch, unable to work or think.
- Stuck in a spiral of news that makes my heart and head hurt.
I like this.
I can tell instantly as when you step up, darling. I know. The posture, the sleeves over the hands, something in your eyes – you the girls who are struggling right now.
Some of you are hard and tense with overeating. Others, anorexic, feel like starving baby birds when I hug you – a handful of brittle bamboo canes. Maybe your arms are furious with criss-cross razor lines, or studs in your ear, your nose, your tongue, where you have tried to reclaim your bodies from something, or someone, with the snap of a piercing gun.
Sometimes your parents are there – standing in the background, nervous, their faces anxiously projecting, “She likes you. Please make her feel better now. Oh Christ, don’t break her.”
Other times, your parents aren’t there, but still present – their carelessness or rejection as tangible as if they were standing a foot away, casting mile-long shadows.
What do I say to you girl – you beautiful girls? You girls who are having the Bad Year – the Bad Year where you cannot remember why you were happy aged 12, and cannot imagine being happy at 21? What can I say in one minute, two minutes, three minutes?
So many things. That panic and anxiety will lie to you – they are gonzo, malign commentators on the events of your life. Their counsel is wrong. You are as high, wired and badly advised by adrenaline as you would be by cocaine.
Panic and anxiety are mad, drugged fools. Do not listen to their grinding-toothed, sweaty bullshit.
e is a promise, and a fact: you will never, in your life, ever have to deal with anything more than the next minute. However much it feels like you are approaching an event – an exam, a conversation, a decision, a kiss – where, if you screw it up, the entire future will just burn to hell in front of you and you will end, you are not.
That will never happen. That is not what happens.
The minutes always come one at a time, inside hours that come one at a time, inside days that come one at a time – all orderly strung, like pearls on a necklace, suspended in a graceful line. You will never, ever have to deal with more than the next 60 seconds.
Do the calm, right thing that needs to be done in that minute. The work, or the breathing, or the smile. You can do that, for just one minute. And if you can do a minute, you can do the next.
Pretend you are your own baby. You would never cut that baby, or starve it, or overfeed it until it cried in pain, or tell it it was worthless. Sometimes, girls have to be mothers to themselves. Your body wants to live – that’s all and everything it was born to do. Let it do that, in the safety you provide it. Protect it. That is your biggest job. To protect your skin, and heart.
Buy flowers – or if you are poor, steal one from someone’s garden; the world owes you that much at least: blossom – and put them at the end of the bed. When you wake, look at it, and tell yourself you are the kind of person who wakes up and sees flowers. This stops your first thought being, “I fear today. Today is the day maybe I cannot survive any more,” which I know is what you would otherwise think. Thinking about blossom before you think about terror is what girls must always do, in the Bad Years.
And the most important thing? To know that you were not born like this. You were not born scared and self-loathing and overwhelmed. Things have been done – which means things can be undone. It is hard work. But you are not scared of hard work, compared with everything else you have dealt with. Because what you must do right now, and for the rest of your life, is learn how to build a girl. You.
Today I close another show. This is how this career is… you’re deep in it, totally invested, your whole day leads up to those few hours at the theatre…
And then suddenly it’s over, and you’re unemployed, and you may never seen your castmates, who have become your family, again, or at least for a long while.
It’s a somber moment, and I’m feeling a bit somber today.
Last night, I went up on an entire speech– I froze onstage and literally couldn’t form words; didn’t know where I was– and it really shook me. It was fine, but awful. I forgive myself, because it wasn’t my fault– I know the speech front and back, I was focused and paying attention– I just short-circuited.
That, compounded with the closing of the show, is making today tough. The rain doesn’t help (thanks NYC).
This was so wonderful.
- We were a New York Times Critics Pick.
- We got amazing reviews (my work was mentioned)
- My parents got to see it
- I got to do Shakespeare!
- I made some amazing friends and met some remarkable people
- I got to work off-Broadway, which is a gift in and of itself.
But more is to come, I know. Including a weeklong vacation in July.
And really, you can’t top what we did at the end of our performance on Friday, June 26. The day was already so joyous. Then we did this, and it was the best curtain call ever:
I thought about cutting yesterday.
I was sitting on my yoga mat, eyes gazing, out of focus, at the plant in the corner. That tightening in my chest as I breathed in, breathed out, breathed in, breathed out.
I didn’t move. I just sat there, breathing, feeling this strange sensation as it hovered around me, like a thin, gauzy curtain.
Eventually I stood and went to the kitchen, where I started cooking and cleaning. In very little time, the feeling was gone.
It didn’t scare me. It was almost like seeing an ex on the subway, halfway down the car. You recognize him, you’d prefer not to see him perhaps, but you can sit there, coexisting quietly, until one or the other gets off the train.
I’m thinking of calling my therapist when I get back from this trip. Since June, I have been weighed down by the loss of my friend L, the vicious purging of her life from mine, done while I simply kept moving as though I was still whole.
This is shameful, but:
I sat with her from the first day of treatment in 2011 to her final chemotherapy at the end of 2013. I was there when her girlfriend broke up with her on Valentine’s Day. I knew her doctor’s names. I scheduled her visitors. I learned what I needed to learn to be her advocate, and to be her friend. And now, she has excised me from her life entirely. It doesn’t seem fair, which isn’t really a fair thing to say. Cancer is cancer is cancer, and sadness just is.
My feelings are many, and they are muddy and muddled in my body: puffy and thick in my throat, deep and hollow and aching in my stomach, a thin film over my eyes, a tightness in my lungs that stops my breath halfway in bursts. It is a sadness I have perhaps never known before– a unique sadness that is not depression. I have been sad before, and I have been depressed, but this is a new one– this is grief, trapped in a cage of shame, with loss holding the key, smirking at me as a I look back, lips tight, brow furrowed.
My home state just shut down a bill that would add the words “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” to the Human Rights Bill. After nine years of work to merely get the bill to be considered, it was shut down before getting to the stage where it could be voted on. It is heartbreaking, and I grieve for the many women, men, and children who remain unprotected in the name of “religious freedom.” We are not equal until we are all granted equal rights. BY LAW. I kept thinking of the movie Selma, which is remarkable and an absolute must-see. There is a right side and a wrong side of history.
Also, this is probably the worst clip from the testimony (most were supportive of the addition of the words), which I share so we can all see what bigotry looks like, and also because my mom (who was a major volunteer working to pass this bill for years) is in it, in the red sweater. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1N6tn8-oA5M
We found out we’d have to move after sending our landlord a kind, intelligent message about the raise in rent and the change to a month to month lease on September 23.
I was still away doing a show. I did some legwork and he saw a handful of apartments. This was three days or so worth of agony (this is NY real estate after all). We put in an application on a place I didn’t even see on September 28. We felt sure.
We waited. And waited.
Two weeks of waiting, I had had enough. I scheduled a number of viewings on October 10. We saw four units that were fine and then… the one. We still hadn’t heard from apartment #1, but this one was so clearly “it” that we didn’t even care. We got our application in that day.
October 13. Find out the first application for the first apartment was rejected. Unclear reasons. We’re not married, our income is too low, our guarantors are out of state… the bottom line is that they’re obviously assholes so who cares. We found a better place anyway.
October 14. Today.
We find out we lost the second apartment. A hair’s breadth too late. I am heartbroken. I am exhausted.
I spend hours staring at a screen, sending emails, making appointments, completely unsure that I’ll find anything at all, alone and crying and frustrated because it’s NOT FAIR. It’s NOT FAIR that we are good people with a great rental history and good credit and amazing tenants and now it’s no no no no no no no.
And I am binging.
I can feel myself hurting myself because this is too hard. It’s too much. I can’t handle my own feelings of anxiety AND A’s, because his are strong too. I can’t do this much longer.
We’re living in an apartment that is completely packed up. I haven’t unpacked from my two months away. We don’t have fall or winter coats.
I am so tired of this. I am so scared we won’t find another place we love. I am scared we will be down to the wire with this move. I am scared that I won’t be able to get back on track… this month feels like it’s running away from me. So does this year.
Why did I get to have such joy to come “home” to such awfulness?
The things that make me happy are not making me happy because all that’s in my head is 1 bedrooms west of broadway pullman kitchen dishwasher laundromat across the street .5 miles from the A train sunny Hudson Heights steps from transportation roomy comfy converted uptown rent stabilized walkup low fee broker fee st nicholas eat in kitchen
My eyes are crossing and my heart is hurting and I’m hurting myself because I don’t know what to do.
As everyone knows, Robin Williams was found dead of suicide yesterday. His son went to my high school. He was 63.
Less people know that a costume designer I worked with died yesterday too, from complications from breast cancer. She was 41.
Everyone is about to learn that Lauren Bacall passed away today. She was 89.
Life is so delicate. I’m doing a play called Steel Magnolias, and the title is hitting me very hard today. We are all always on the edge of it, you know? Depression is a terrible disease. So is cancer. And aging? We’re all on our way, every day.
I whine occasionally because everyone I know (it seems) is getting engaged. It makes me feel behind, in a way, but simultaneously closer to old-maid-dom (even though I’m in a very serious relationship anyway). And isn’t that the thing? We are all things at once– past and future selves, behind in some ways and ahead in others.
As the boy (now a man) from Richard Linklater’s film Boyhood states at the end of the movie, “It’s always right now.”
I am grateful for my right now— more today than usual.
I’m back from a 2.5 week vacation with my folks in London, Drumnadrochit (a wee town on Loch Ness), and Edinburgh!
But that’s not what’s flitting through my mind.
I lost a friend somehow. A best friend.
I said something possibly insensitive in a text. I didn’t think twice about it. Looking back, it was probably misguided, even though my intentions were to be amusing and share a silly moment in my life that made me feel connected to this person.
This was three months ago.
I hadn’t heard a word from her. I continued to text, to “like” on Facebook, to comment, to talk about, to generally act like a friend through this whole time. While in the UK, I sent a text like usual, remarking on a funny thing that was happening that I wanted to share. Her response was that she has been distant because I really hurt her with my text, she wished I hadn’t said it, and maybe we can talk about it when I’m back.
We were headed out the door to breakfast when I got this, so I dashed off a reply along the lines of “oh my god. I had no idea and I am so sorry I hurt you. I hope you know that I would never hurt you on purpose and I regret hurting you then. I love you, but I understand you need your space and please do what feels right.”
And subsequently deleted every single communication so that I couldn’t look at that text ever again, and left my phone at home all day, even though I wouldn’t have Wifi or cell service anyway. I sobbed through breakfast, and burst into tears throughout the day. I still am hurting, deeply. The shame is overwhelming, and I’m hurt too.
I’m also finishing up a two book audiobook contract with an author who HATES me. She hired me, for goodness’ sake, but she is horrifically disappointed in my work and condescends to me at every juncture. And of course all the stupid little things are going wrong in production, so she treats me like I’m unprofessional and terrible at my job. The worst was the three page LETTER she wrote me after I finished the first book, about how much she hated my narration. So that whole situation sucks.
Obviously one hurts more than the other, but they both make me feel physically SICK.
I’ve gotten to a point where I get that sick feeling when reading an email from the author about the audiobook, but I’m able to let it go within a relatively short amount of time as long as I make the change she wants or respond IMMEDIATELY.
But this friend.
It hurts so badly.
And I have many feelings that contradict the sick, shame feeling:
Our friendship of years couldn’t withstand a mistake?
Everything we’ve been through together can fall apart because of this?
Why didn’t you tell me till now?
Why couldn’t you let go?
Why couldn’t you forgive me?
How could you not wish me happy birthday?
How could you watch me reach out, continue as if nothing was broken, while you pushed me unknowingly away?
So there’s definitely anger.
But mostly, I am sad.
I am so, so, so sad that it makes me want to throw up.
It takes my heart and pokes tiny little holes in it so it wheezes with each beat.
The shame wears me like a thick, wool coat, the heavy hood pressing my chin to my chest.
What do you do when your best friend isn’t your best friend?
Does the sadness go away? Does the SHAME?
Do people forgive as easily as I do? Because I do.
I have to let her go. It’s in her hands. And if we talk, I’ll collapse in a heap and the tears will never stop. So I hope she just forgives me.
I wish I didn’t care so much. I wish I didn’t feel shame so deeply.
To be in my business in this city is to be one of millions. To survive in my business in this city, you have to believe that someone will choose you over the other millions. You have to believe you have something to offer.
And I do believe that. I can’t tell you how– I have no hard evidence beyond anecdotal– but a part of me really, truly believes that someone will choose me. They have before, and they will again. And that’s the key.
I walk around Penn Station, where most of the studios where auditions are held are, and see hundreds of girls in heels or in tights, most with backpacks or rolling bags, hair whipping in the wind. Each one of them believes that they have what it takes. And if they don’t, eventually I’ll stop seeing them. I peer through pages of agent’s websites, looking at their clients’ headshots, hundreds of girls with soft, flowing hair and eyes that stare out of the frame, lips naturally pink and eyebrow hair retouched to smoothness. Each one of them also believes they have what it takes, and they have already found someone they believe in.
I often feel like the only person who believes in me is myself. I have an agent, but don’t get appointments. I have friends who help, sorta, but not enough. Everyone else glances over me or doesn’t see me in the hundreds of smiling, pore-smoothed faces that pass through their days.
It’s exhausting to only have yourself, to maintain that belief that someone will choose you when you go for months without anyone proving that to be true. It’s hard to walk amongst those girls on 36th St and feel different, only to realize that they feel the exact same way about me and everyone else.
There is an abundance of girls like me. There is a severe dearth of work.
There is an abundance of work for certain people. There is a severe dearth of work for me.
I watch auditions come and go, most I never even get to go in for, watch the shows I didn’t get to audition for open, then run, then close, watch the actors who did get to audition and who did get the roles move onto the next, and I just stand there in the middle of the city and think, once, just once, I want to be the one that they choose.
What the EVERLOVING SHIT is going on with me right now?
I had a pretty shitty weekend, emotionally. A was gone. I did some work and relaxed a ton, but got about as close to binging as I have in a loooong time. Had those terrible thought cycles and got constantly caught up in the emotional soup. Had what should have been great sex last night but wasn’t there at ALL.
Now today, I feel shaky and sad. This isn’t the numbness I felt this weekend, it’s a heavy wet cloud in my chest. Tears or screams or something always feel just on the VERGE of coming out. I have a cracked lip I can’t stop picking at and a pimple the size of Pluto that I can’t stop thinking about. My brain feels far and distant and it takes an exceptional amount of power to convince my self to do my actual job.
I don’t know how I feel. I feel depressed but also manic, unfocused and flighty, epically sad but also terribly anxious.
Is it just this time of year? Where things are ending and new things are supposed to be starting, but instead the days just slide into the thick humid fucking loooooooong days of New York summer? Why does the “future” look like a total jumble, just weeks and weeks of IcantevenimaginewhatIamdoingIhavenocluecanItakeanapandwakeupandsuddenlyhaveapurpose?
This better pass by tomorrow, because I’m turning fucking 25 years old and I deserve a good day. Goddamnit.
It’s finally beginning to be real.
I’m losing my job.
Yesterday we interviewed 4 applicants, all qualified, although there’s already someone in place to take the job from within. Today I’ll have my very last program meeting, where the students and faculty get together and talk about news and auditions and departmental happenings. I have gone to these monthly since August 2007.
I’ve been recording a lot for these audiobooks I’m working on, and the ones that pay the best give me about $100 per finished hour (plus royalties to come), some more than that. It’s not bad. But I’m realizing that if I were to “rely” on my audiobooks, I’d have to be doing at LEAST two full-length books per month to get up to the pittance I’m currently making. It’s not really feasible.
And also, I no longer have a safe space. I don’t have a computer not in my home. I don’t have somewhere quiet to escape to. I don’t have the comfort of a door I can close and a chair that’s mine and a printer I can use and the people who I have surrounded myself with for the last 7 years. SEVEN YEARS.
I think that’s the hardest part. It’s sort of like graduating all over again, and it hurts. It’s scary, but it’s more sad. It’s more like leaving my therapist or graduating from school or having a show close than it is money anxiety or anything like that.
I don’t know how I’m going to make money, but even more, I don’t know where to focus my energy. I’m not sure where my “home base” will be. That’s very scary.
So many endings. So much uncertainty. Starting from zero again.
And not knowing exactly what the next step is.