Murder in the Evening

Two nights ago, I was chased down an icy dirt road outside a castle in 30 degree weather, then dragged down the same road by the feet, then hogtied on the frozen gravel and creepily petted by a stranger while six other people watched. In other words, it was just another night at my job.

I’ve done a few of these “reenactment” shows. They’re silly, non-union, and can be really bad, but they’re also pretty fun. It’s like all of the most fun stuff to act without the pressure to be “good,” because really, who cares.

So the last two days I shot an episode of “The Haunting Of,” which airs on Lifetime Movie Network. I played Judy Dull, a 1950s pinup model (obvi, haha) who was murdered by the serial killer Harvey Glatman. Not only did I get to do the fun murder-y stuff (most of which was shot in the freezing evening I described above (they padded me so the dragging didn’t hurt, but you can’t fake lying hogtied on the ground– it was fucking FREEZING, and anytime we weren’t doing a take they rolled me up like a burrito in a moving blanket), but I also got to be a ghost, which was a surprise.

So yesterday, I met the courtesy van in Union Square at 10am, and we drove to an obscenely enormous house in NJ (the “castle” we filmed at the night before was in Tarrytown, NY) where we were shown to actor holding and I was immediately ushered into HMU (I genuinely have no idea what that stands for, but it’s hair and makeup). I got all dolled up and pretty for my bondage scene (yep, 1950s lingerie and tied to a wooden cross– THIS IS WHAT I WENT TO COLLEGE FOR GUYS) and then got all scary for my ghost scenes. I mostly lurked around corners, did a whole lot of walking around crying, messing with wires, etc. etc. It was a blast.

It’s kinda hard to express exactly what it’s like to shoot something like that, but it can be really, really fun. You’ve got to have a sense of humor about the whole thing, because otherwise it would be pretty dark.

Here’s me in the makeup chair yesterday between bondage scene and ghosty makeup (pre-blood, strangulation marks, and sad makeup running down my face.)IMG_0422

Here’s what the back of me looked like after getting murdered in an episode of Redrum on Discovery ID (it was a great episode– lots of fight choreography. You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZvatPDzuls&list=ELFhYgKowg8ek&index=11  )

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It’s Happening.

I’m really happy. For now, and the work continues, but I’m going to honor happiness for just this moment and brag.

Tuesday, Feb 25, watch me get murdered at Lululemon on the show Redrum on Investigation Discovery on your local TV. 9pm. Apparently I’m good. I haven’t seen it. All I know for sure is I’m super bloody.

This September, I’m going to get paid the most I’ve ever been paid to do a month-long run of Steel Magnolias at a professional Shakespeare Festival in the West. I auditioned just “cuz” for the Artistic Director over the Christmas holiday, knowing the season was mostly cast. It’s merely my luck that they were actually looking to cast a part– he had me send a video, and I just found out I booked it.

It’s the little things.

13 Things I Learned in 2013

1. JANUARY: You can get an A+ in “being an actor,” but it still doesn’t mean you’ll succeed.

It’s about being ME, and living my life, and knowing, deep within myself, that this moment is temporary. To forgive myself when I get another “no” or I’ve gone months without a “real” job. To acknowledge that I’m WORTH forgiving. To trust myself enough to believe that the next job will come.

It’s not that you don’t do the hard work– it’s that you don’t depend upon it to make your life perfect. I don’t think I expected that when graduating from high school, or when I moved to New York, or really… ever. Until the last two years of being in the world. I’ve become more and more comfortable with it, but I have to constantly remind myself that the balance is the key. As one of my favorite professors loved to say about the process of acting (and, ergo, the process of living) is “always balancing, never balanced.”

2. February: I want all the things.

This is something that has surprised me about my relationship with A. I never dreamed about my perfect wedding, I never felt like anything was missing when I was alone, I never wanted anyone to spend money on me. But with A, I google engagement rings (not that I want him to propose yet, but again… suddenly I want all the things). I want him to buy me nice dinners. I want him to get his book deal so he can take care of our little family. I want to cook for him. I want him with me all the time.

This is not to say I’m going to get married and become a housewife and give up everything I’ve dreamed of– I’m just as ambitious as always. But I realized that I maybe do want some of the things we’re told women want, and that’s okay. Like Hannah, I feel weird about wanting all the things, but truth be told… I kinda do.

3. March: I know that there’s no quick fix to this.

Everything hurts me.
I’m easily irritated, and I hate that.
It is physically difficult to do anything, and mentally even more so.
I feel as though I’m wasting my life.
I am not entirely sure that “I am enough” for this business at all.

My spirits are very low. And the thing that makes me the most happy in the world is so far away from me. I have nothing to look forward to. I don’t know what else to do. I’m scared and feeling very hopeless. Why can’t the universe throw me a bone? A small one? Any one?

I know this will pass. I know I will eventually work again. But right now I feel like my insides are made of hardening cement– heavy and painful. Nothing give me joy right now. Everything hurts. Everything makes me cry. I want to be nowhere; to hibernate until this time is over. And I just want it go away.

4. April: Our love is the truest thing RIGHT NOW, and for the time to come.

We talk about love a lot. So do most couples.
But my darling, I UNDERSTAND you. We FIT. “I” am not a “thing” without “you.”

Just wanted to share.
I never take you for granted.
I never am not surprised and grateful when you make me coffee.

Our love is energetic and exciting and romantic, but it’s also comfortable. It’s home. And that’s something that’s harder to put into words than the platitudes and poetics that make up the language of most relationships. A year ago, I couldn’t imagine a love like this.
Now, I can’t imagine my life without it.

5. May: Self-harm is the is the easiest game to play.

I’m always amazed by the ways in which I know how to hurt myself.

Food.
Cutting.
Watching videos of my boyfriend’s ex on his computer.
Saying “no” and staying in.

I have hurt myself more than anyone has ever hurt me.

6. June: The way I see myself, the way I see the world, has transformed.

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.

7. July: I hate this business sometimes, I doubt my strength when the going is tough, but I honestly CANNOT imagine my life any way but this.

And those raw moments of the play, where the only thing that exists is the look in Reed’s eyes-the kiss or kill- or the way Angie skips onstage after a betrayal, like nothing has happened, or the genuine nerves and laughter of the epilogue– I am so much myself. I get to experience worlds different from my own, physical contortions, and heartache and lust and love, it really just boils down to ME, really looking, really hearing, really standing there and taking it, and letting myself feel every bit. No hiding.

It’s not really disappearing, I guess. It’s allowing honest feeling to seep out and be seen. I am actually standing there, actually slapping his face, actually kissing his lips, actually blocking her way.

And unlike life, much of the time, I get to experience it fully. That’s what I share with the audience. And that is joy. That is release. That is certainty.

8. August: I ate pasta for dinner. And I feel A-OK about it.

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.

9. September: I am a participant in so many tiny universes.

Looking at A’s Facebook page today, loaded with those lovely “Happy Birthday!”s that pop up through the day, I noticed my universes converging. That’s how life goes, I guess, and love is the catalyst for it. Actors I worked with last summer post greetings after friends from college share their blessings. A knows these people and they know him because I exist. I love A, so I bring him places. I love my friends, so I make a point to go to those places.

I know I’m not the only one with these many orbiting galaxies, meshing and meeting, with only me, my strange and special life, at the center. How did I become someone whose world has so much variance? It makes me feel good. It makes me feel like I exist.

10. October: I have confidence that I can care for myself, for the first time in a long time.

Look at all this SHIT I had to fight through, tooth and nail, to get to this point. Look at how hard I worked. Look at all the time I spent fighting for the life I have now. I battled an eating disorder, crushing anxiety, self-hatred, depression, mania, self-injury in every way you can imagine, and I’ve come out the other side. And I have confidence that I can care for myself, for the first time in a long time. Isn’t THAT crazy?”

My life is nothing special to me, as I walk through it. And yet, I realize that I have walked through incredible forests, forded wild rivers. I am lucky to have it, and I am grateful. Overwhelmingly.

11. November: Eventually, someone will reach out to me because they want me.

Andddddd. Here is me letting go. After a day of excitement, then a day of so much nervous energy I could have powered NYC… And the video audition is taped, looks just fine, and was sent off to my agent. Now. I can feel good about this. I just need to stop fantasizing about it.

What’s next to get me excited?! Anyone? Mom and dad are coming for thanksgiving in two weeks! Artie and I have two movie dates next week! I have a play audition on Monday! I have amazing supportive friends! Life is good, y’all. And that’s the end of this chapter. Page turn, cover close, on the shelf, as high as it can go. :)

12. December: I love that in spite of EVERYTHING, every time the lights go down, my heart fills and beats just a little harder.

I love this community, despite its flaws.

I love this craft, despite its strangeness.

I love these shows, despite some of them being kind of dumb.

I love this city and its passion, despite the fact that it’s exhausting.

13.  2013 was not a “banner” year. My career was slow. The first bumps in my relationship appeared. I struggled with friendships, I struggled at work. I fucked up a lot. It’s hard to look at the strides I made last year (huge show, Equity card, agent, new boyfriend, moving in with boyfriend, new cat) and compare them to last year. Yet 2013 was not devoid of growth. It was just that the growth was subtler, harder to see, less exciting, less bright.

I rekindled incredible friendships through the process of R’s wedding.
I did a show that reminded me why I love the theatre.
I shot my first lead in a TV episode, and did really well. And had so much fun.
I am happier with my body, and also more content with my “recovery,” than ever before.
I took some great risks (new dance studio, solo vacation, new doctors).
I supported my boyfriend through a career change and the ups-and-downs therein.
I watched my boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend in a play, then watched her leave the state, and slowly stopped letting her hurt me (still working).
I had my final appointment with my amazing therapist.
I said what I wanted and boldly asked for things (“I want an audition for this.” “Could you please do the dishes?”)
I reconnected with my relatives (though my grandmother would disagree).
I attended my first wedding.
I looked more beautiful than I have ever looked before, and I felt that.
I accepted that there are things that I can’t do because they make me feel bad, and that’s okay.
I was more in love than I’ve ever been.

So yeah. 2013. Things happened. As we enter a new year, I want to continue to make things happen. I want to continue to take risks. I want to give back. I want to be kind. I want to keep learning.

What did you learn this year? And by the way, I’m so grateful for your presence in my life this year. Happy new year!

A confession:

Sometimes I rewatch the previous year’s Tony Awards (particularly the 2013 one) because it reminds me why we do this.

I love this community, despite its flaws.

I love this craft, despite its strangeness.

I love these shows, despite some of them being kind of dumb.

I love this city and its passion, despite the fact that it’s exhausting.

I love that real musical theatre (i.e. 8-shows-a-week-musical-theatre, not one-night-only-live-musical-theatre, sorry) is being transmitted into homes throughout America, despite the fact that no one really watches it.

I love that in spite of EVERYTHING, every time the lights go down, my heart fills and beats just a little harder.

Irks and Happy’s

Things that irk me:

False, ceaseless, unrelenting positivity. Look. If you spend this much time blogging about how GREAT your positive life is, how MUCH you love yoga, how DETERMINED you are to give back, how REWARDING it is to free yourself from the material things… I’m not going to believe you. That’s what people find so irritating about a lot of these “healthy living bloggers.” The way they write makes you feel like shit because they are constantly on the “right track.” They are self-aware and GOOD, focused and DISCIPLINED, and you are a schmuck who has good days and shitty days and is honest about it.

Look, here’s the specific example. I’ve done… okay… at detoxing from A’s ex’s social media. I’ve definitely cut down. However, i still occasionally look at her blog. Basically since January she’s been giving up one thing per month and writing about it. At first it was stuff like giving up meat, giving up social media, giving up sugar, etc. Normal human tests of will. Now it’s like… giving up NEGATIVITY, giving AWAY EXCESS (not shocked this came around the time she started working at Lululemon)… and all she writes about is: “I have the important things.  Family, friends, dogs, food, water, shelter… everything else is secondary” and “Can you come out on the other side as a positive person?  You can.  And that will change your life.” and  “I’m grateful for you coming on my journey this month.  I hope you learned something too.  🙂  Stay happy!”

THAT? That makes me want to punch someone. Partly because I irrationally hate her, but partially because of that thing of “who are YOU to tell me what happiness is? Who are YOU to change your entire life in one month and be like, oh my god! I figured out the universe! Who are YOU to post affirmations without humanizing them?”

I don’t know. Am I insane? Because I post happy shit too but I don’t think I’m quite so annoying? Why am I so bugged by this?

But now, onto the happy (you get both here, folks):

Things that make me really, really happy:

Walking outside and discovering it’s bright, clear, and warmer than you’d expected

Rehearsing with someone, and looking straight into their eyes– it’s like this totally bold way of connecting that is truer than almost anything in the world

Noticing a card that fell from someone’s pocket into a seat on the subway and giving it back to her before I leave the train

Wrapping Christmas presents for A

Looking up as I walk into the courtyard into my building and seeing the star on our Christmas tree through the window

The first moments in bed at night, reading, and the first moments after the light is out, snuggling

Getting an audition

Completing a transcription project (side jobs, sigh)

The weight of the cat when she lies on my legs

Realizing you’ve memorized something faster than you thought you could

Wearing a cute outfit to a student meeting and feeling important

Lots of red wine and the Sound of Music live telecast

People who read my blog. 🙂