A Few Things (including pasta)

A few thoughts this late night in Washington Heights, in a queen bed, alone, while my cat drinks cold water from the glass by my bed.

1. This happened: http://goo.gl/HP0u35

2. Had tech tonight for the next show I’m doing (which doesn’t open till the 16th, but, hey, festivals.) It went fairly smoothly as far as tech goes, but because it’s a festival, we get only FOUR hours (3-7pm) to tech our 90 minute show, including staging the fifteen minute load in and fifteen minute load out. That is the ONLY time we have in the space till we open. Just to compare, most techs for full-lengths involve two 10/12 hour days, plus a dress onstage, before previews or performances begin. I cannot yet tell if this show will be any good. Frankly, I don’t care. I just want to open, and do the show (which is fun, since, ya know, acting is fun), and stop having 5 hour nightly rehearsals. Because that shit is EXHAUSTING. The disorganization is rampant and I’m over it. I’ve officially become the bitch of the cast because I JUST CAN’T WITH INEFFICIENCY. So.

3. Read WINTERGIRLS for the first time. It finally was available for download on my iPad, so I just did the damn thing. I read about it a lot when I first started reading ED blogs, but just never got around to it. (I tend to prefer memoir to fiction, anyway, and most of what I read didn’t necessarily hit that close to home as far as my ED goes). It’s a well-written book, if overwrought. SPEAK was definitely stronger, but who am I to judge. What probably hit me the most about it was the memory of feeling hungry. I obvioously still feel hungry now, but the pervasive hunger of not eating enough on a regular basis… that feels different. And it’s been a long while, and was only a brief portion of my disorder, but… Here’s what I found.

Starving made (and makes) me angry. Being hungry sharpens things, sure, and I’m more productive, but I’m also touchy. I’m isolated. Everybody and everything annoys me. It’s manic, but it’s also pissy. I’m never more outwardly angry than when I’m hungry.

Binging makes me sad. I turn inward here, too, but for different reasons. I want to be invisible. People don’t piss me off– I just feel as though I don’t deserve to be near anyone, like I’m worthless and I want to be alone. It’s almost more painful because of the shame. Not eating isn’t shameful. I don’t care what anyone says. For women, and anyone who has ever experienced an ED, eating is shameful. Not eating means self-control. This is not the objective truth, but it is the truth we live every day in this society. I would get more auditions if I was starving than if I was binging. If I’m sick from not eating, that’s almost understandable. If I’m sick because I tear into myself with food, punish every body part, my stomach and my brain in particular, I lack self-control.

That was another aspect that I appreciated about the book. Binging is no good either.

4. Was down on Suffolk St. at the theatre, and realized I was very close to where J and R just moved in on Orchard. I texted them and asked what they were up to for the evening. They told me they were free, and that I should come over after tech. I did. We chatted a bit, then went out, split a bottle of wine, ate STUPID good and STUPID expensive food because we can, and then saw FRUITVALE STATION. Also stupid good. And stupid sad. It was genuine and fun and I felt like I had friends and it just all in all was a really, really, really excellent night.

5. I ate pasta for dinner.

Now, I haven’t restricted, really, in years. Certainly not to the point where I’m actively refusing things and avoiding eating when I’m hungry etc etc. But there’s still this part of me that knows what’s “good” to eat and what’s “bad.” Which certainly doesn’t stop me from having French Fries and dessert whenever I feel like it (which I do, and only slightly feel guilty about). But pasta. I haven’t ordered pasta in… I don’t even know. A long ass time. Even when I’m home and mom makes pasta, I tend to take a small serving and have a lot of salad or protein. What is my beef with pasta if I can eat ANYTHING else I want?!

But I had it. It was SO good. Black pasta with grilled calamari, garlic breadcrumbs, and some sort of buttery garlic sauce. This was following a yummy grilled shimp and quinoa appetizer we split, and along with a couple of glasses of merlot. This is the life, y’all. And I feel A-OK about it. I didn’t finish it. I didn’t need to. This, my friends, is rare. I’m a finisher now. If it’s there, I feel obligated to finish it. That’s, kinda, how the behavior started.

6. So anyway, I should head to bed since I should do laundry tomorrow. 😦

Love to everyone.

Love to my boy who is asleep in a bunk on a base in Vermont.

Love to my ice-water-loving cat.

What Once We Felt

I spent a portion of tonight re-reading many archived emails deep in the “vault”: I have archives in my box that go back to September 2008.

I can’t say it makes me feel good, but I know why I do it. I do it to make sense of the things that happened to get me to where I am. Because I do this… well, not infrequently… I remember most of what’s there. But occasionally I stumble upon something that really hits me.

Here are a few things, for my reference, so I have them in one place… and I wonder if some of them bring up things for others. Sending love.

B.

November 2009 – Feeling Like a Victim

Tough session with [therapist] today. It started great… I told her about how great it felt to do Katie’s birthday, a lot of what I expressed to you on Friday. But somehow we sort of got on how I have a hard time feeling like I know how to care for others (I never know what to say!), and maybe that’s because I don’t know how I want to be taken care of. I ended up telling her about this weird thing I have about always wanting to be a victim– like loving being in the hospital when I got that kidney test done, all the Holocaust and Salem Witch Trial obsession stuff– weird stuff. What amazed me was how often I feel that way (wanting people’s pity, wanting to  suffer), and although I don’t totally know why, part of it ist that I feel like I need some sort of validation to be in pain. Like my life didn’t give me any reason to be in pain, and an outward, excessive expression of suffering (like being in a hospital) would allow me that. I feel that way shockingly often.
 
[Therapist] had me try and isolate a place where I felt truly sad– the place that I feel like I need a “reason” to feel. From there we spent a long time “exploring” this deep, ancient grotto of sadness. That sounds really esoteric, but we sort of found this imagined location where I spent a long time. We didn’t “discover” anything, I didn’t have any great realizations, but we explored. It wasn’t a comfortable place to be for a long time.

November 2009 – What Is Going On?

[Therapist],
 
I want you to know some things that I haven’t yet expressed. It is really, really difficult for me to say them, and I think that’s part of the reason I haven’t yet. I wrote a list of sentences I wanted to share and am sending them to you in this sort of unfinished form because otherwise I’m not sure I’d be able to.
 
I eat when I’m not hungry
I feel as though I can’t stop eating
I feel guilty afterwards
I don’t starve myself after I binge, and I don’t purge, so that’s good
 
Even though I know I should gain weight (I bought a scale and I weigh between 98 and 102lbs) the idea of gaining weight is really scary to me and repulsive to me.
 
I love cooking and making food. When I binge I don’t cook, I just eat. I don’t focus on anything but putting the food into my mouth. There is no joy in it.

I hide this from everyone—I only binge when no one is looking.
 
Besides the binging, I am a very healthy person. I feel good about the way I treat my body beyond this one thing.

February 2010 – What People Are Saying / What I Am Feeling

Then, after I finished classes, I got a text from the Theatre Department manager asking me to come to her office. I went up, and we talked about some work things/business stuff (because I’m the head of the department’s assistant, so I help with money and paperwork stuff). Then she asked me to sit down. When she almost started crying, I knew what she was going to bring up, and sure enough, she told me that “there is a lot of concern in the department about whether you have an eating disorder.” She was really sweet and caring (as everyone is when they talk about this stuff to me), but in the place I already was yesterday, it was especially hard for me to hear and kind of put me over the edge. I didn’t know what to say and I just felt really lost and misunderstood. I told her what I always say, about the fact that it was accidental and I know it’s weird and I SO appreciate the concern and all of that, and also that I am making direct efforts to help myself. Of course she was really wonderful about all of it, but I felt self-conscious and really sad all through the rest of the day.

On my way home, I called my mom to tell her how it went, and opened up about how frustrated I was feeling. At some point she said, “I’m glad you’re taking care of yourself, but I’m sorry it had to take your hip injury to make you realize that you need to deal with this problem.” I reacted to that, saying that I had been taking care of this particular “problem” long before my hip started hurting (I’m not sure if I told you, but the hip stuff may be related to demineralization, which could be related to the weight loss). I tried to explain to her what I was hearing and what I didn’t agree with in that, and we came to a kind of understanding, but I think therein lies the root of what I’m feeling right now…

 I wish I wasn’t feeling quite so hyperaware of how other people are perceiving the way I look, and I also wish I didn’t have to jump through all these hoops with doctors and meds, but that’s sort of where I’m at right now. I feel a lot of resistance towards calling the internist and even more towards the nutritionist (I think because I don’t want to be seen as someone with a problem with eating that has to be fixed– I just want to keep doing what I’m doing). And, frankly, I don’t want to take the birth control for very vain reasons– I felt moody, I broke out, and I gained weight. I know the goal is to gain weight, but I want to do it on my terms, not the pills’ terms. Maybe that’s a sign of a “problem,” but I still want to be in control of the things that happen to my body. With all of these things to change how I’ve been going through my life the last few months (a life I feel REALLY good about), I’m feeling nervous, sad, and lost. I’m feeling a lot of resistance to all of this but I think I just have to buck up and do it. I do want to be healthy. But I wish it wasn’t mixed up with all of this.

February 2010 – Acting Notes Sound Like Porn

First Orgasm Sillhouette – we will look at this today but maybe you can sit on his lap on “why are you so sweet, so juicy, and so bad?” – so that it is easier for you to climb up the wall?  I want to hold your back arched for a bit longer with your hand up before you moan.

March 2010 – Bragging

And then I rediscovered this: one of the final scenes from the play I did in Feb/March 2010. It was for a forum at my school about Religion and Madness. I went to a Jesuit school. I flashed a lot of people. You’re welcome. Don’t judge me.

 

ABC ED

How old are you?

22, but I turn 23 in exactly one week. Hooray?

What is your gender?

Female.

Do you consider it possible to recover completely from an eating disorder?

Hmm. I do think it’s possible to recover in terms of symptoms– ie. not starve, not binge, not purge, normalize eating patterns. However, my experience of my ED, at least so far, is that it has changed me. I believe my ED is a symptom of my depression, and now that I’ve used this symptom to control my emotions, it will always be a tool available to me, just like self-harming, just like all these other protective measures I use to regulate myself. I don’t think I, or anyone really, can go back to exactly the way they were pre-ED.

Do you consider media (magazines, television, etc) to encourage and contribute to the spread of eating disorders?

This is a complicated question. The media does not cause EDs,no. Have I found it hard to manage gaining weight and maintaining self-confidence and integrity during recovery in a world (and a profession) where size is key? YES. It’s as though an extra layer is put on the process of recovery. I needed to weigh more than I ever had in order to get my body back into functioning mode, but it was nearly impossible to separate my pride of being where I needed to be to be healthy from the self-hatred for being above a “perfect” weight. In other words, it just worsens things, I think.

What do you think is the primary cause of an ED? If you believe that different disorders manifest differently, please specify.

To be honest, I can only speak for myself, but I think it’s the case for many of us. I believe that my ED was a manifestation of other psychological disorders in my history– bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, OCD. It was a new method for me to self-regulate. Personally, it had NOTHING to do with how I looked or the desire to be “perfect” or “remain a child” or those other things people tell you cause EDs. I think each person is different, but like other forms of self-harm, it’s a way to keep scary emotions at bay.

Would you classify yourself as currently suffering from an eating disorder?

I tend to say I’m in recovery, or I’m recovering. That word is meaningless by itself, but to me, it means that I have all the tools in place to move forward– but it means nothing about my “success” in “beating” an ED. I still fuck up, constantly, but I feel my brain and my intentions are in the place where I am slowly, but surely, moving towards health.

Have you ever been in therapy? If so,when?

I saw a therapist as a kid, from around 8 years old to 13ish. I took a long hiatus, when I was doing “well” and my mother crowed on about how I was “fixed.” Obviously, that’s not the way it works, so I started seeing a therapist again in fall of 2009 (funnily enough, I entered into therapy, without meaning to, right in the middle of developing the restriction portion of my eating disorder. In June I called her and told her I wanted to meet, July/August was the first stages of my ED, and then I met her for the first time in Sep. Classic.)

For how long have you suffered from an eating disorder?

Summer of 2009 is when it started, so going on 3 years now. Jesus.

How would you describe your experience with therapy, if applicable?

I couldn’t really tell you what it did when I was a kid, but now I have such a strong relationship with my therapist I think it does a lot. She’s the one person on the planet who I can tell literally anything to with no repercussions. She’s also given me an entirely new language of talking about and processing my feelings. I think our work together has literally changed ways that I think. It’s a great gift.

Do you consider yourself a happy person?

Yes. However, I’m also one of the saddest people I know. Basically, I’m chemically imbalanced in every sense of the word. But I do go through my life with great wonder and joy. (my laugh/cry is legendary)

Do you share the nature of your disorder with anyone in your personal life? If so, describe this relationship.

I sent an email to about 8 of my closest friends during the deepest part of my ED, letting them know that I was struggling and working to recover. I have never talked directly to my parents about it. In the last year, I have talked about my ED (usually just the restriction part– I still find binging to be waaaaay too shameful to discuss with even my therapist) directly with two or so friends. I do not share gory details with anyone except on the internet.

Do you actively hide your disorder from anyone in your personal life? If so, please elaborate.

Not really. I don’t talk about it, never let on if I’ve binged. Sometimes I’ll say “I’m having a rough day,” if the ED has disrupted me in an extreme way. It’s not necessarily that I hide, more that I don’t volunteer information.

Are you a competitive person?

I kind of think I am. I’m not into sports or anything, but I do like to keep one step ahead of the pack. I think it’s tied to my perfectionism and my deep desire to keep everything under control.

Do you believe that you will ever overcome your ED?

Yes? I mean, it’s already been over two years I’ve been actively recovering and I still trip up all the freaking time. I hope someday I have more good days then bad, but to be honest, the recovery process has been even longer and more fraught then I ever thought it would be. If I every do “overcome” my ED, I imagine it’ll be 10+ years from now.

jesus, that’s depressing.

Little B

Thanks to ALL for the support on the booking of that job. I still feel like I’m flying a little bit each time I think about it. Beyond all the rest of the “stuff,” this whole process has just reinforced the fact that life is unpredictable, unplannable, surprising, and comprised of uncontrollable ups and downs. My life, at least, but I think probably everyone’s lives. I shouldn’t even have been allowed to audition the first time because I’m non-equity. And then I booked the show. Life is weird, y’all.

Yesterday in therapy, I brought this great news to H (my therapist). She was very excited for me, I know, and honestly it was the first time I’d really talked about how it made me feel, what it meant, what it even was. She allowed me to effuse prolifically, something that I’m often shy about because my brain says, “It’s therapy! Stop talking about your happy stuff, work out your shit!” But hell, sometimes the good stuff is important to bring into the room, says H– no shame (oh shame, you old goose).

I described how I could talk about the logistics of the part for ages– what it pays, what being Equity means, why the schedule works, why the part is good– but what has really changed is this feeling inside me. Very quickly, from one of the worst weeks in a long time, where all I wanted to do was disappear into myself and become totally translucent, I felt solid. I felt as though there was a think beam of bright light in the center of my chest. It didn’t make me want to scream and brag and run around, it just changed the inside of me. When I walked down the street, I felt more solid, more human, as though I’d been filled with something thick and warm that no one needed to see or understand but that I could feel.

Near the end of the session, my therapist asked me what would happen if we brought “Little B” into the room. “Little B” is the part of myself/memory of myself at age 10, deeply bipolar, depressed, and incredibly alone. She lives in perpetual sadness, banished to my childhood room after an explosion of anger which nearly instantaneously turned into pure guilt. The moment H mentioned her, my eyes filled with tears and my breath caught. I could see her, see the pain in her eyes (as an actor, I have quite the imaginative faculty– my therapist loves me).

It was a complicated moment of imagination. I knew I couldn’t save her from her sadness, and I knew it wouldn’t make her feel better to say something like, “You’re going to be an Equity actor at 23!” She will still be sad, and she knows she’s going to be successful. But in my mind, I put my hand on her chest, that warm, thick, glowing inside of me now giving a brief moment of comfort to “Little B.”

That little girl is an enormous part of me. She is in me every moment, and she won’t ever go away. I cannot cure her, because I’m not cured. I simply love her as much as I can, and accept that she, in all her sadness and anger and shame and loneliness, will appear for the rest of my life. But I’m so glad that at least in brief moments, I can give her a bit of warmth, a bit of solidity, a moment to breathe and feel the ground beneath her.

Shameless

A story in time stamps and terrible titles. Feel free to ignore if you’re not into the nitty gritty of auditioning.

3:40pm– Work, then Play

I send a final email, and slightly guiltily, push off from my desk at work and walk determinedly towards the subway, quickly catching the A to 42nd. I feel a little queasy, a little lightheaded– a kind of nervous I haven’t felt in a while.

4:15pm– Ripley’s Believe it or Not

At Ripley-Grier, I aim straight for the bathrooms, dodging stretching dancers and vocalists, where I strip off my sweater and jeans and pull on shorts and a checked top. 15 year old trailer trash in Florida– check. I start to leave the bathroom, then, glancing side to side to make sure I’m alone, scrawl “I AM ENOUGH” on my thigh under my shorts. On my way out of the bathroom, I nearly run into the director I’m auditioning for, and he pulls me in for a hug. Good first sign– I try and let that settle.

4:20pm– Nerves

I find the room, 16N, and take a seat. My heart leaps to my throat. Sitting next to me is a woman I recognize– who I’ve seen twice off-Broadway, has a great agent and her Equity card, and for my money, is a “sure thing.” Next to her is a girl I faintly recognize from the second callback. To her right is a girl I certainly recognize– flaming red hair and a round, girlish face. We reintroduce ourselves, smiling. There’s another girl on the floor in the corner. I recognize her. My brain scans until I hit upon it– she played this role in three previous workshops. I found her name while googling the play. She seems to be best friends with the other actors there for different parts, who I can only assume My face flushes. I’m fairly sure it’s all over. I try to breathe.

4:45pm– First Read

I’m brought into the room. The director seems flustered– three girls have already been in the room once. I read the first side, the one I read the first day and then again in the second callback. He asks me to sit in the chair instead of on the floor. I oblige. He sends me out of the room immediately after, bringing someone else in. When he ushers me in again, it’s with another actor, an older man. He begins to speak. It’s not the side I have. They haven’t given me this one. They quickly hand it to me and usher me off.

5:35pm– A New Room

Four of five girls, plus actors for other characters, move onto the next room, across the hall. More various pairings happen, other actors for other characters go in to read. I read the new scene with an older man– it goes fine. He’s an “original,” and he’s good. Then I read the first scene again, with another actor. The director comes outside to give me some feedback.

“I know it’s so hard to have to do it over and over and try new things, but I liked what you’d did when she was simpler, less bratty. Find the humor though.”

6:00pm

The director comes out the room and pulls aside the girl who’d played the part before, saying, “Can we talk for a second?” They talk for five or so minutes, and when she comes back, she starts packing her stuff to leave. I overhear her telling another “original” cast member, “They aged me out.” There are three girls left. For a moment… I think it might happen.

6:45pm– Sent Home

Another girl, the readhead, is sent home. She has to go all the way back to Philly. They bring me in to read the first scene again, with a different actor. I read with an actress, the “original,” and when I finish to and leave to let her do her monologue, there are no more girls. They have sent everyone else home. My heart is beating hard and fast, my face is flushed… I think I may have gotten this part.

7:30pm– A New Room

We move to yet another room, not too far from our previous one, just down the hall. There are two actresses for the “mother” role, and me. The director stops me in the hall.

Hey! Can you take your hair down so I can see it? How would you do it, like, if you were going out? Great, great. So, where do you live? Manhattan, great. Your family? Oh right, your family’s out West. Are you done with school? Oh, right, and you didn’t know Laila right? What’s the name of your school’s designer? Lights and set? Yeah, Chad, I’ve worked with him before. He’s very talented. Thanks for being a trooper tonight. Yeah, I mean obviously we see something we like, right? Okay, see you in there.”

8:00pm– “Yes, Ma’am”

I read with the final two “mothers,” the same scene. After the second scene, I go back and sit outside to wait for her to finish so I can go in and do my final monologue. When she comes out, she grins at me, laughing.

“They asked me if I’d die my hair blonde. What’s the right answer to that question?”

8:10pm– Final Moments

I’m good at the monologue. I ace it. When I finish, the director smiles at me, the reader winks, and the artistic director glows.

“Okay, again, thanks for being such a trooper tonight. It’s a long night. I’ll call you.”

I go home.

TODAY

5:30am– Early Riser

My alarm goes off. I want to die. I hop the 7:14 NJ Transit to Princeton. I’m picked up with a number of other actors to be bussed to a high school in NJ, where we’ll be working with the McCarter on readings of student plays. It’s fun. An actor and I flirt. He’s front New Jersey, so that’s where it ends. The kids seem inspired and their inspiration inspires me.

3:56pm– Back to the Big Apple

They’ve bussed us back to Princeton Station, and we board NJ Transit back to the city. Everyone’s exhausted, and I’m nervous and kind of want to be alone. But now that we “know” each other from the day, we have to be “social.”

5:12pm– Cab

Arrival in NYC. I give one hug and say a polite farewell to the rest. I run towards the exit at Penn Station and grab a cab as fast as I can to catch my train out of Grand Central. It’s slow work at 5pm in midtown on a Wednesday. We make it, though.

5:40pm– Keeping on Up

After consulting with a train conductor and finding a bathroom, I ensure I’m boarding the express train towards White Plains for my callback for Bloody Bloody. I don’t have time to get more food (I’m huuuungry), but I do grab a Sprite Zero for energy and thirst. On the train, I fix my makeup, brush my hair, and change into leggings and a red checked dress in the MetroNorth bathroom. The train’s only about 30 minutes, and once I reach White Plains, I’m bolting towards the callback.

6:25pm– Pumping Bloody Bloody

I’m not late, thank god, and of course they’re running late so it’s fine. I see R, tell her a bit about my day. I put on my character shoes. The nitty gritty of this audition is not the point– as R said to me on the way home, it was “something…” We dance (short simple combo, beyond easy), improv rocking out, and show off some tricks. I try to look as edgy as possible. After dancing, we all are to sing. I’m glancing over my sides when…

7:20pm

I get a phone message from the artistic director of NJ Rep, where I auditioned yesterday. She asks me to call her back. At this moment, as I’m literally swearing to myself, “oh shit, oh shit, oh shit,” they call all the girls in to work on the music. We sing it a few times together. Then, to my horror, we are all asked to stay in the room and sing one at a time. My own personal hell. Luckily I’m a really good actor, the song was not hard, and at this point all I can think about is my phone in the other room so I couldn’t give a fucking shit about this non-paid, non-union gig right now. It goes fine. When everyone has sung, finally, they release us.

8:00pm

I call her back.

I’ve been offered the role.

It’s arguably the lead-iest role in an ensemble play, a world premiere.

I will be paid, housed on the Jersey shore, and receive health+pension.

I will start rehearsals May 21. The play runs approximately June 14-July 22.

I will be able to get my Actors’ Equity card at the end of the run, if I want it.

My career just changed. I am now, according to all official definitions of the word, a professional actor.

I AM FREAKING OUT.

(ignore all info for the below poster– it’s not correct. But it’s happening….)

How do you spell ‘love’?” – Piglet “You don’t spell it…you feel it.” – Pooh”

Yesterday, I did an informal reading with a director two of my friends worked with our freshman year. When we were done at 3:15pm, none of us had anything to do (I was theoretically seeing L after 5pm– I had a feeling she’d cancel though, and I was right), so we decided to indulge in happy hour.

We drank cheap cocktails and talked abouteverything, the kind of talk you don’t get to do so much. The boy, J, is the “brownstone commune”set, but the girl, R, I really never get to spend as much time with. Sometimes she makes me nervous, or self-conscious, since she always seems together, and beautiful, and well-loved and perfectly imperfect.

At 6pm, I sent J home with Chipotle and waited for R to finish doing a brief musical rehearsal she left us to do. J’s text when he got home:

Then, we went out and drank more cocktails, eventually holding hands and revealing to each other each of our own insecurities and fears and struggles (she had eating issues I’d never really noted… unfortunately our dear friend and roommate K had a bad influence on us both, by accident of course and we were already prone… but still). Basically, it was 7 hours of such intense, blooming, life-altering friendship. That’s my favorite. Her text to me after we parted ways to head home:

I mentioned a few posts ago about seeing my old friends N and R again. That experience was another explosion of LOVE and friendship and honesty and trust. I love to drink with people I’m close with– I become so SO happy and feel so SO loved. It’s just in my nature, I suppose, without much inhibition. A text to N about seeing R:

And of course, there’s L. Lovely, lovely, sick, brave, sad, strong L. I didn’t see her last night, but I did spend nearly 5 hours with her at the day hospital today. We napped, we chatted, we waited. It’s interesting how my mind does this thing where I wonder what I would do if I were her in those moments… I’d probably want to be alone, watching bad TV or sleeping alone. But Leslie wants to be touched, to be consoled, to have me not just sitting near her reading, resting, whatever, but to be snuggling, my hand on her shoulder.

It’s also hard to want so desperately to do what she needs me to do. I want to give her total happiness, total comfort in every moment. It’s an impossible hope, because I’m not a magical mind reader. Sometimes I feel like I’m not doing enough, and despite the enormous amount I want to be her rock, I sometimes feel like I’m failing. Then I get a text like this from her mom:

And then, these from her. Different days, not really prompted. But so beautiful and special and more meaningful than almost any actual compliment I’ve ever received.

And this.

When I remind myself of these people… when these moments bump up on my phone with a ding or a buzz… I can feel my heart sweel and grow. I can feel the power of their love and I remember why I fight for myself every second of every day, and why I forgive myself every time I make mistakes.

They are amazing, and I am lucky.

Okay, here are a bunch of quotes… They’re just all so good! (All AA Milne)

“I don’t feel very much like Pooh today,” said Pooh.
“There there,” said Piglet. “I’ll bring you tea and honey until you do.”

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”

“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.”

“And by and by Christopher Robin came to the end of things, and he was silent, and he sat there, looking out over the world, just wishing it wouldn’t stop.”

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

 

 

“Working, building, never stopping never sleeping”

I’m on my butt in my bed, mug of coffee beside me, and some loud music blaring from a car parked outside my window. The usual morning in Harlem.

Yesterday, after therapy, I went to Trader Joe’s and picked up my weekly groceries, then headed home and chilled out. I haven’t really worked out at all this week, even though I’ve had the time. A part of me says, “Normal people exercise, even when they don’t feel like it. Plus you want to feel self-confident and look good. Make yourself go.” But another part of me says, “Give yourself a gift. You’re really enjoying being lazy. You WILL want to go again. Let it come. Don’t give yourself undue stress– that is triggering for you. Focusing on not bingeing is your priority.” It’s hard to know which voice is the “healthy” voice. But at least I’m at the point where I’m taking the time to think about it, right?

Last night, well, first, last night I ate intuitively (until I binged in the evening… but I am forgiving– I knew what was going on and I just didn’t do the work). BUT, what I was going to say was that last night, I mustered the motivation to really put together my table. It has about a trillion pieces (three part base plus swinging leg, table top, two stools, and two drawers), and I had only finished enough to have the table. So, I turned on the showtunes (well, Next to Normal and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson) and got out the screwdriver. Complete success!!!

P.S. First comment when I posted this on Facebook, within ten minutes:
” i’m consistently blown away by your many talents.” Guess who. What the fuck?!

Next week is SPRING BREAK!! At last! Ugh I am so relieved. It’s funny… I’m nowhere near as busy as I have been, but I still want a break from school. Plus I’m desperate to get out of NYC somehow over the next week. I’ve been thinking about getting a room at a B&B on Long Island or in Southern Connecticut for a wee rest, probably solo. As Kander and Ebb say, I am my own best friend. Well, I have other friends, but if I’m going to create a vacation for myself, I think it might just be mine. I’ll go on other people’s vacays. Does that make sense? I don’t know. It’s not a break if I feel the pressure of planning it and living up to it, maybe? So far, the only things on the schedj are:

Saturday and Saturday: Theatre company meetings. One is a planning meeting with the whole board, and the other is a production meeting.
Sunday: Dinner party with some of my BFFs.
Monday: Massage!!
Tuesday: Work for a few hours.

I’m a free agent (except for Thursday-Appointment-Day) for the rest of the break. Yahoo!! Let’s go team.

B.

Today, no quote, just love and prayers for Japan and the rest of the Far East that is currently being struck by a tsunami. Stay safe.

And, the hilarious and terrible continuation of the terrible/hilarious saga of Spiderman on Broadway:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/10/theater/julie-taymor-spider-man.html?_r=1&ref=theater

Nostalgia

A quick update:

The reading on Monday went great. The play has its issues and needs a good editor, but it’s funny and scary and surprising. People seemed to really enjoy it. Plus, it’s a fantastic part for me, and, frankly, reading plays out loud is one of my favorite things in the entire world. Add an audience in a theatre where I saw a show I LOVED, and you’ve got a very happy girl.

Tuesday is a sassy day for me… I have my least favorite class, a singing class, and the stress of prep and performance for that class just irritates me beyond all get-out. Perhaps a year ago (well, perhaps my entire education career prior to this) I would have put my feelings aside and just work 123% to impress the teacher. I would have studied what she wanted so that I could give it to her and acted like her advice was the be all and end all.  Now, though, I know that what she is saying is ridiculous. I get more nervous than I was before the class before I sing, but I also have a stronger sense of myself as an actor. I know that I can act. I won’t let her push that out of me.

Lately, with Spring Break approaching, I’m getting ridiculously antsy for woods, mountains, lakes, and clear, crisp air. New York ain’t got it. This is where I’m from:

I’m also homesick for where I went to high school. In other words, this:

That is me and my ex-boyfriend, my first love, my first time, and all that good stuff. This photo, while lovely, makes me sad because it was indescribably hard to leave that place. I mean, imagine: you’re a loner in your high school. No one understands what your dreams are, and there’s no way to fulfill them. Then you spend two years living in what amounts, basically, to an artist’s commune. You live with the same people, you train with the same people, you kiss and fight and dream with the same people. Then, when May rolls around, you are handed a diploma and a golden tassle. Your family swings into your sacred place and sweeps you home instantaneously. Suddenly you realize that there’s no going back, and that you may never see these people again. There is no way to go “home” to this place. It’s lost.

So here’s to a little writing and some nostalgia.

It’s already dark as midnight when you push your way through the double doors of the theatre complex into the five o’clock evening. The air is sharp and clear, the nip on the tips of your nose a sure sign of early snow. You’ve had a full day of classes already, and the night has only just begun. The morning began with an early alarm set to Shostakovich and the perfectly timed morning rituals of showers and hair dryers and alarms that is necessary for four teenaged girls sharing one bathroom. I still can’t stay in the shower for more than five minutes.

The groggy stumble into the cafeteria, fluorescent lights the only barrier against the still-dark, bitter-cold early morning. Breakfast is the quietest meal here, with only the most dedicated breakfast eaters willing to rise before the sun and trundle, bundled, into the bright, hot cafeteria. Here the best meal is the bagel breakfast sandwich, closely followed by the omelets. You don’t think about what’s in the food you’re eating– you eat. Strangely ungreasy donuts are dunked in burnt coffee, and the sun begins to rise beyond the lake. I reminisce on the days when food simply existed– all you had to do was get up, put it on a tray, and eat it with your friends. It was a part of the routine. I never thought about it.

At ten til, you find your way out of the cafeteria, following a small girl with a cello case across the main quad. The early morning light seems to shine almost blue in the thin morning air, cheeks and noses burned with the sharp drops and rises in temperature. The classes blend smoothly through the morning– 8am Tales of the Jazz Age, in the room that’s cloyingly sweet and warm with freshly brewed coffee, 11am Acting Shakespeare, where suddenly the weight of the Complete Works and lexicons you’re carrying become light and your brain begins to whirr, 12pm finds you trudging across campus in the flurry of gossip towards lunch, sneakers crunching and spinning over gravel, and with barely a moment to stride up the stairs towards your dorm room to throw your books on the bed and glance at your email, your sneakers are again whipping down the pavement until 1pm, Senior Seminar, a circle of ten bright seniors who love to journey through the world of knowledge and produce 40 page essays with dozens of citations which are gleefully shared, and by 3pm you’re in rehearsal. It’s the day of your big monologue, and your nerves spark in time with your heart. As you work through the text, the director talks to you– his words, his thoughts, penetrating into your own, gently guiding. Soon he is on the ground with you, whispering, provoking, and the two of you traverse through the monologue together. It’s brilliant, and suddenly you realize you’re no longer scared.

Dinner passes in the same flurry as lunch, and again you find yourself moving through the chilled, dark evening across the quad. This time of day, music floats in the air, buoyed by swells of warm air that drift past and dissipate. You find yourself in the library behind the desk, your community service job. This library is new– ceilings high and beamed, windows wide and clear,  carpet as-yet unruffled. You watch as students come and go, spread their books out over a table, and lean distractedly towards the computers. You check out, or check in, the books that come your way, but mostly, you lay your Complete Works flat on the desk, lexicons at hand, notebook pages freshly turned, and you work. The brain whirr returns. You’re good at this. You’re good at it, and you love it.

Faster than expected, 9pm arrives. You hear a “Hey,” as a pair of hands rest on the desk in front of you. You look up, and it’s him, smiling at you, come to pick you up, to relish your sparing moments together. You grin, and it feels like your heart wraps twice around itself and squeezes tight. In an instant, you gather your things, kiss his lips, twine your fingers around his, and you set off.

There’s only an hour before you need to be in your dorm, so time is not on your side. It’s cold, and the dark has seemed to spread, like an inkblot, over the campus. Coat lapels flipped up, shoulders leaned against each other, you slowly walk towards the east side of campus, past the main concourse, past the row of dorms and the film building, to a grassy patch with a perfect view of the stars. You lay down, the sides of your bodies bonded together, backs to the earth, which feels as though it’s frozen over. You talk, about nothing in particular. Perhaps about the stars. Perhaps about your irritations. Perhaps about each other. It doesn’t matter– you’re good at talking. Talking turns to kissing, and kissing turns to five-to-10pm. You peel yourselves from the frozen ground, link together once more, and skitter down the path towards your dorm. Before you round the corner to go in, you stop, and you kiss him. You laugh, and you kiss him. You smile, and you kiss him. And then you turn the corner and he is gone.

In your room, you curl up into your desk chair and open your textbooks and notebooks. Your roommate, a violist, is scratching dedicatedly at a piece of sheet music. You work for a bit, and then crawl out of your chair, through the bathroom (which smells like recently Febreze-d smoke) and into your suitemate’s room. They’re gossiping, laughing, eating Japanese candy, and soon you are too. There’s work to be done, sure, but also massages to be had, Veronica Mars to be watched, and boys to be discussed. The minutes tick by, and soon you can feel your eyelids grow heavy. It’s time for bed. You hug your suitemates, swing around through the bathroom, and jump into your bed– the top bunk. Your fingers dig into the side of the mattress, where you keep your cell phone and your glasses, and you plug in your alarm. You have a text message from the boy– he’s the only one who texts you. You call him. You talk, about nothing in particular. Perhaps about rehearsal. Perhaps about your mother. Perhaps about each other. It doesn’t matter– you’re good at talking. But you’re also tired, and soon, the conversation slows to a crawl and you say good night. Your roommate, getting into bed below you, sighs and whispers her goodnight to you and to him (she knows the routine and loves the sweet night chats), and as you click off the lamp and settle, squeakingly, back into your wooden bunk bed, you whisper, “I love you.” And sleep comes within moments.

Oh boy! Thanks for indulging me, guys. Sometimes, a girl’s gotta write!

B

Who woulda known?

A few years ago,

Who woulda known that I would be a founding member of a 501C-3 non-profit theatre company in New York City, producing two productions in spaces off-off Broadway this summer?

Who woulda known that I’d have fallen for two really attractive boys at different times, kissed both of them, and then be told by each of them they couldn’t be with me? (and that one of them would still Facebook chat me all. the. time. (i.e. now))

Who woulda known that I would have been the girl who ate shrimp poppers and donuts without a care to a girl recovering from EDNOS? (well, the girl that knew that an eating disorder is simply a symptom of my other psychological issues woulda known)

Who woulda known that I’d have had a great deal of money stolen by a women I was subletting from earlier this year?

Who woulda known that I could spill coffee on a play and not feel anxious, wear sweats to school and not feel stupid, touch wet food in the sink and not want to puke, and lay in bed all day and not feel guilty?

Who woulda known that I’d have a B.A. in Theatre Performance in May?

Who woulda known that I’d play leads in three “plays with songs” in the span of six months? And that I’d actually do it?

Who woulda known that I didn’t do a single Shakespeare play after high school until this last summer, after growing up being the “Shakespeare girl?” And who woulda known that I have more premieres on my resume than anything else?

Who woulda known that the braces didn’t work? (fuck you, Dr. Calhoun)

Who woulda known that I take more meds (or at least the same amount) now than I did when I was first depressed and manic from ages 8-14?

Who woulda known that that place from Sesame Street that seemed like a strange, otherworldly land would now be my home?

Who woulda known that the actor I was in love with back home for my entire childhood would now be considered a “friend” in NYC, and is trying to get me work with his theatre company?

Who woulda known that people like me just the way I am?

Amazing to look backs. More of these “Who woulda known”s to come. What are yours?

“Someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It’s a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn’t education. It’s history. It’s poetry.” –J.D. Salinger