I’m trying to keep my mind distracted from the incredibly anxiety-producing election returns. Lying here with a cat on my lap and a boy clacking away on his computer across from me, writing.
I just stumbled upon a blog written by my boy’s ex that she’s keeping secret. I had known about her previous blog because it’s linked to her Twitter, which I found from googling (YES I’m a stalker, try and convince me you’re not too). She’s made me anxious because they had been together for so long (4ish years), they had gotten this apartment together, and they were on the fast track to… something very big.
Anyway, this new blog doesn’t have her name on it, but I know it’s her because I follow her Twitter– and the blog is all about “Can I find a man who…”
If I didn’t know it was her before, I know based on what she writes about wanting. There are MANY traits that A has that she elucidates: he leaves love notes. He remembers everything I tell him. He’s funny.
There’s something so schaudenfreude about the whole thing… I guess I’ve been the girl that got the guy a number of times (although I have NEVER in my life thought about it like that, like stealing or winning), but there’s something that makes me feel special for having something that someone else no longer does. Does that make me a bad person?
She writes this (clearly about me): “Like, 3 or 4 year relationship ends and a few weeks later, my ex is facebook official with some girl that either looks a lot like me or that everyone says “if she weren’t with _____, you’d be friends with her! you guys would get along so well!” ….Shut up. No, we wouldn’t. Because she is with _______. And because of that, I think she’s ugly and stupid and probably really, really lame. And well, when she looks a lot like me, that just weirds me out.”
Okay. I’m not trying to throw this girl under the bus, just to be clear. I am sure she’s lovely. Anyone who spent 4 years with A must be. I have no beef with the girl. We’ve never met!
But again… there’s this part of me that relishes feeling better than her (I know, I know, I am the WORST).
We don’t look the same. My hair is blonde-ish. I weight at least 20 pounds less. SO PETTY SO AWFUL but it makes me feel good?!
And knowing that she has stalked me too, and that she knows she no longer has A…. It’s a weird good/bad feeling that I can’t describe. I’m not sure what it is… but I had to share it and I sure as hell can’t share it with anyone who actually knows me or A (!).
Love to all. Check in again soon.
My Junior year of college, I was at my lowest weight. In the Fall semester, I took a scene study course taught by a relatively famous actress (anyone seen Star Trek: The Next Generation?) She commented about how “she would kill for my body,” how she wished she still looked like me. She assigned me great scenes and took a deep interest in me– I played Maggie the Cat from Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Emma in Betrayal by Pinter, Claire in Auburn’s Proof. In early summer, I saw her at the opening night of a Classic Stage Co production starring Dianne Wiest. She gave me a hug and then said, “You’ve gained like, a pound.” My face flushed, and I just responded, “Ha, ha. Haven’t we all?”
So she scares me. I fear that she’ll lose interest because I gained weight.
But I invited her to the show I starred in in December, and she came. Afterwards, she brought me, a costar, and a friend (all of whom were in her class) out to dinner and wine next door. She wined and dined us and effusively complimented our work. She told us she would do her best to get her agents and managers and friends in the biz to our show. At some point, she turned to me and looked into my eyes. “You look beautiful. Truly.”
Last night, I emailed her to tell her about my exciting new project. She responded with this email. I’m glowing.
I am tremendously proud of you! I am not surprised, but I am thrilled to see that not only are you made of wonderful complexities, colors and textures as an actor but you have the steel to go with it. B, this is a great accomplishment for an actress of your age and experience and anyone in this industry would agree with that. I am going to do my level best to pass this information along to people who I think might actually make an effort to go to New Jersey – including myself – although I must tell you that this summer is pretty crazy and that I’m all over the place. If there’s even a remote chance that I will make it – I will. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to see you walk out on the stage as the leading lady – and thus I am sure it will be for the rest of your life. Brava!
Yesterday, after therapy, I went to audition for a Syfy show. It went well, even though I forgot my headshots because I’m the worst. It involved the casting director telling me, “Okay, you’re on the swim team, it’s five am, you’re going to walk, then you get a feeling like there’s something wrong. When I snap, you see something in the bushes over there. When I snap again, you see the ghost. If you feel it, give me a horror-movie scream?” In other words… this is my life.
Then last night, after work, as I was lingering over the free wine at my alma mater’s design show, I got a phone call. “Hey, this is the CD for Black Dog, Red Dog– you submitted a while ago? Look, we had someone pull out last minute, and if you’re available we’d love to have you come and do a scene for the film. It’s with Whoopi Goldberg.” I knew it was going to be an extra/non-paid situation, but all you have to say is “Whoopi” and I hear “EGOT” and I’m in.
So this morning I woke up at 4:45am, powdered my scalp so I wouldn’t look quite so greasy, and hopped on the train to Bushwick. I have very little experience on camera (one TV thing, an industrial, and a number of filmed auditions, but that’s it), so I was understandably nervous.
I arrived at holding at 6am, and my point-person on set, Iris, encouraged me to get some breakfast at craft. The veggie breakfast burrito was exactly what I was craving and didn’t even know it. I also had a styrofoam of coffee. Around 6:30, the hair person, Sarah, walked into the main room of holding, caught my eye, and said, “Hey, are you background?” I answered yes and she ushered me into HMU (hair makeup u…niverse?). “So it’s 1982, huh?” I responded, “Uhh… I guess so!”
I chatted with Sarah as she brushed, curled, and feathered my hair until I looked like Farrah Fawcett. I felt really fucking cool in my professional hair chair. Once I was finished, I was passed off to Steve in makeup. He gave me dark shadow and liner, another layer of liquid foundation, some mascara, and purple gloss. I took a glance in the mirror… I looked pretty cool. I moved next to wardrobe. They handed me a pink polo, which I pulled on over my huge hair. “I really wanted someone in a popped collar,” the wardrobe girl told me. “I can do that for you,” I responded. Next I pulled on a tight, 3/4 sleeve blue sweater. Then, a jean skirt– like… a JEAN. SKIRT. I was a bit nervous about getting it on– they didn’t have my measurements and the skirt looked smallish. Once it was over my butt, though, I was able to zip and button it, and assured the wardrobe girls I could breathe and as long as it looked fine, I was fine. Final touches were pantyhose and nude loafers. “You are my dream extra right now,” they told me.
Afterwards, I meandered back to my stuff in the main holding room, feeling pretty awesome. The light was bad where I was sitting, and I was feeling pretty confident, so I took my book and my phone and took a seat in the couch area, which was well-lighted. I half-read, half-watched as Whoopi sat down across from me with her iPad, going over lines, chatting with the director, then joined by Logan Marshall-Green and Tom Levinson (who are stupidly good-looking, it’s really unreasonable for humans to look like that and congregate together). I was the only non-“talent” person in the little couch area, and I have to tell you… I almost felt like “talent.”
Around 8? I think, Iris gathered myself, Jo Lynn, and Ken, the other extras, and scurried us out the door. Like what I know of film and theatre, it was a whole lot of wait… hurry up!… and wait. We were pointed towards a car, helmed by a PA who drove us to location, a few blocks away from holding. Another PA met us and led us into the bar where we were filming. Inside were hordes of people, some holding really fancy Stead-i-Cams (the nice kind that can actually be handled by one person), booms and reflective lights, labeled water for “talent” and for us, and gear that I didn’t even know what it might be used for.
We met the 1st AD, Jen, who gave us the run-down of the scene and what we’d be doing (“Here are your drinks, some purses… why don’t you sit here– oh no, that’s not in the shot. Scoot down a bit? And Ken, you’ll start at 1 and then when Whoopi walks in you’ll move to 2 and just chat up the girls, order a drink. Girls, you just talk silently together, you just got off work, you know.”) They gave us sides to look over, plus an herbal cigarette to burn in an ashtry, and before I knew it, Whoopi, Logan, and Tom (who was the bartender) were in place and we did a first take.
I was a bit shy, especially because the two other extras were a bit nerd-central (not that I’m not, but… I am gonna be Equity in a hot second so.) But I made it through, kept quiet when I needed, watched the “talent” like a hawk, generally tried to be mature and actor-savvy. As we continued doing takes, I continued to calm down, as did, I think, everyone. I couldn’t really watch or even hear what Logan and Whoopi were doing at the end of the bar. In the last few takes, Tom seemed to open up to the three of us at the end of the bar too, goofing around with our silent conversations, giving silly faces where the camera couldn’t see it… It was fun. And he was very pretty and with my crazy ass hair I felt fine enough to keep it cool. Between takes, we chatted about everything and nothing (just the extras– Tom would migrate back to the “talent”). We got into a relatively easy rapport. I continued to watch Whoopi as she fucked up her lines (she coined the classic “fuck a duck” which was inserted where lines were forgot), Logan and Tom joke with the standbys (“I wanna see you two dance!” “Leave no room for the Holy Ghost!” “I wanna see those earpieces get tangled!”), endless “fog bumps” (the constant use of a fog machine) and packs and packs of random people cycle in and out, who knows what their actual job is. Never have I been more certain of the phrase “it takes a village.”
We wrapped shooting for the day at 12:15pm, SHOCKING for a film shoot. It was a four page scene that only took three/four hours to shoot. A miracle!
My hair is still big, and my heavy eye makeup is all under my eyes, I’m not getting paid and it’s barely a credit, and I’m certain no one but the 1st AD, Iris, and the other extras knew my name, but I hung out in the vicinity of Whoopi Goldberg on a movie that James Franco is producing and it’s not such a bad day after all.
Acting is my life’s blood. I’d be in an institution if I weren’t in the arts.
I’ve gone through a long route in my blog reading– as long as my ED and recovery process has been. I’ve read all kinds of blogs (starting with recipe blogs, to healthy living blogs, to recovery blogs) and now just have maybe 8 or so blogs I’m subscribed to about the process of struggling with an ED. I don’t get email alerts so I have total control over whether I feel like reading about others’ EDs or not.
Sometimes when I do read blogs, I discover new blogs via comments or links. If the blog speaks to me, I’ll read a number of posts, and maybe then, I’ll subscribe. It’s a totally subjective process that makes me safe.
But this morning I stumbled across a blog that is causing me some angst. (note: this person does NOT read my blog and I have never commented there– please don’t take offense at this personal response. As you who read this know, I am only here for venting for MYSELF. I don’t want anyone to feel bad after reading this.)
I’m not “triggered” by reading blogs. I don’t give them that much power, frankly. What disturbs me about this blog is that the writer claims to have “recovered” totally from an ED, but I find his/her eating to still be highly disturbed. He/she offers advice about recovery and has many followers who worship him/her. Maybe they are genuinely inspired, but I find it distressing.
The thing that really put me over the edge was this comment in regards to eating:
question: why is it acceptable for people to accept a vegan diet as means of controlling cancer whereas it’s considered as disordered eating to implement a vegan diet after experiencing diseases such as anorexia and bulimia? that thinking is so hypocritical.
Okay. I havenothing against veganism. I myself am a vegetarian– have been for over 10 years. I was vegetarian before, throughout my ED, and still in recovery– a fact my nutritionist never challenged me on. HOWEVER. Contrary to popular belief, eating a certain way does not “control cancer.” Cancer is a disease. Cancer must be treated. You can’t just give up meat and dairy and be cured.
EDs are a disease too. I am not claiming they are equivalent to cancer— as someone recovering from an ED and having my best friend fighting lymphoma at the moment, I would NEVER claim that. What I’m saying is that the writer is so caught up in his/her own system of doing things that he/she is unable to see how disordered his/her eating actually is.
My best friend is on a feeding tube. She has been since December, when due to the chemo she lost about 20% of her body weight. She’s also had to have TPN, which is calories/fat transmitted through her mediports directly into her veins. She’s almost back to her normal weight, which is wonderful, and she’s over the feeding tube. What she wants, more than anything, is to normalize her eating.
I don’t begrudge anyone their diets (again, I have a specific one too). But, at least for me, the process of recovery from an eating disorder is to be able to live in the real world, the world where I can’t always control what happens, and feel normalized.
This blogger is far from normalized, and yet he/she cries that he/she’s completely without disordered eating (he/she also claims that EDNOS is too loosely defined in the DSM-IV and therefore not a valid ED, which is bullshit). He/she is WRONG:
1. Only eats alone. Writes “eating like a slob at restaurants doesn’t mean that i’m disordered… i don’t really care to socialise with anyone else because it’s a waste of my time, not a disorder. ” Keeps no food in the house, ever. No flexibility of meal times. No snacks.
2. Literally screamed at a barista, called over a manager, and threatened to contact corporate because the barista added simple syrup to a black iced coffee (which they do at Starbucks unless you ask for “unsweetened.”) It would have been really easy to just ask the barista to make a new drink.
3. Screamed at a store clerk (who he/she referred to as a “girl [who’s] biggie sized every french fry in her life“) and her manager because he/she couldn’t locate the vegan cheese which he/she NEEDED. Continuing on the hunt for vegan cheese, this writer went to a store he/she avoids because of binging triggers, then take the time to think about how he/she’s going to binge on this stuff long enough to take pictures of it (long enough, also, to probably go through the thought process of simply not buying it), then proceeds to binge and “ruin her night.”
4. Screamed at his/her parents and storms out because while eating lettuce and salsa, a tiny piece of cheese appears in the salsa. He/she refuses to acknowledge his/her parent’s apologies for maybe accidentally spilling a sliver of shredded cheese into salsa while making tacos and accuses them of using a “cheese infested fork” to put the salsa back in the jar. His/her father responded by politely suggesting the writer be “more flexible” in “dealing with hiccups in life” — i.e. normalizing— to which the writer responds that this comment makes him/her “feels like [he/she’s] experiencing a bad dream.”
Sorry, I just can’t with this. I can’t do it. And before I get even bitchier, I should just stop.
And no, I did not subscribe to this blog.
“The goal for a person suffering from an eating disorder is to normalize their relationship with food by letting go of the power they give to it… There is no such thing as perfect eating… People who do not eat with their families or co-workers do not have the connection with others that people who ‘break bread’ together do. All cultures celebrate with food. Healing from an eating disorder involves the flexibility to eat, more or less, what others do. This doesn’t mean the client should become a junk food junkie but less rigidity and fear is essential to normalize eating.” —Monika Ostroff, MSW is the Program Coordinator at the Eating Disorder Treatment Center at Hampstead Hospital in Hampstead, NH.
In May 2007, my best friend L and I graduated from acting school in New York City. Like most acting students from super-serious pre-professional programs, we had a Showcase for agents and casting directors. We each got two 3-minute scenes to try and show all those theatre industry bossypants’ that they wanted us. It’s a psychical crisis waiting to happen.
During the time we called “Showcase Season,” L lent me her copy of Bossypants. Even after I finished the book, I kept it in the dressing room during performances. After facing a sea of our own headshots staring back at us from the audience of industry bigwigs, backstage L and I would refer back to our favorite chapter of Bossypants, in which Amy Poehler tells a room of execs that “I don’t fucking care if you like it.” Y’know what, big bad world, we’d say, “I don’t fucking care if you like it.” That line got us through (and I’m not hyperbolizing—we would have probably had severe nervous breakdowns otherwise).
Only two months into “real life,” on November 16, I went with L to a doctor to get some test results back. I sat with my best friend as the doctors told her that she had lymphoma. The world upended.
L is deep in chemo treatment now. Its physical effects are, of course, extreme, yet the emotional toll is in many ways even more difficult. To L, it often feels like she is losing time—two years of treatment is two years without a career, two years of living with her parents, two years of looking like a patient. She is learning, in the hardest way possible, how to find her identity when the only job she can have right now is to beat cancer.
Tina, your book helped L and I make it through the first test of our self-confidence together. Your words (and Amy Poehler’s) reminded us of the most important role of beauty (“who cares?), that it’s okay and totally normal to be “blorft,” and that life “will never be perfect, but perfect is overrated.”
Now, L is facing a frontier that she has to battle through alone. Yet even more than before, if that’s possible, your writing brings her comfort. You remind L of her identity. Me too.
Thank you for assuring us that there are perfectly imperfect, super-silly selves inside even when the world outside ourselves, like agents, critics, and cancer, seem to scream “NO!” Well, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to say yes. Yes to love. Yes to life. Yes to staying in more! And we don’t fucking care what you think.
If you have a moment in your busy time, might you write/call L? I can’t quite describe how important you are to both of us, and to our friendship. THANK YOU.
I’d really like to be you when I grow up.
Tonight, post-most amazing day ever & really very unpleasant binge afterwards, I needed something to bring me back to my body. And I found something incredibly lovely: “Dear Me: Celebrity Letters to their 16yr-old Selves.” The most moving is Alan Cummings. It’s below:
I’d really like to write one too. Prob not tonight, but maybe tomorrow. I’m pretty nervous about the coming week… perhaps I should do it as a healing meditation (oh jeez, I hate that kind of language).
So tonight, instead, I’ll just share some little pieces on inspiration. I hope you enjoy the following inspirations.
Women are amazing. Amy Poehler planned this whole thing, I think, and I cry every time. These are the women I want to rule this business– the women who genuinely want to congratulate each other and ironically tease the form while granting it its full due. I love ALL these ladies.
I know the quality is poor, but this dance is unreal. I started watching So You Think I Can Dance because this girl goes to my school. She was a freshman, of course, and not even a dance major. This performance was absolutely, unbelievably breathtaking. I think she won the series (sorry, spoiler!) on that one leap alone. Plus, she’s just acting up a storm — why I always loved dance!
So this was my day. Unreal.
And now, folks, my letter to myself, written quite briefly.
Right now, it seems like your entire life is somewhere “out there,” just waiting for you to come find it and claim it. You’ll always feel that way—that if you only stretched farther or dug deeper you could find the life you were “meant” to have.
But that’s not the way life, especially yours, will go.
Becca, you are as talented and brilliant as they say. It won’t always feel that way, but you have a gift of the mind and the heart, and it will give you great joy, even if it’s personal and never shared.
You will also never “get better.” Along with the brilliance comes the madness. It will never be the same as it was at 8, or at 12, or at 15, or at 22, but it will remain. You will cry, and starve, and stuff yourself silly with food or feelings or pills. You’ll take Zoloft until the day you die. You will feel lost and alone, you will fall down a deep well with parts and feelings clanking along the ridges on the way down. Don’t allow anyone to tell you that you are “cured.” You are not. But you will live in the world, and you will succeed. And you will possess a depth of self-knowledge that will serve you.
Stop fearing the people around you. It is lonely without people who understand and love you for who you are. I know that as you’ve grown up, you’ve had to build barriers to your heart and soul to protect yourself from pain. I don’t want you to put yourself in danger, but you can open the window to your heart when the sun is shining.
Becca, you will have amazing friends, and they will hold your hand when you fall down the cliff and they will clap for you when you climb back up. People will love you because you are worth loving.
Right now, you have exactly what you want to do all planned out. I’m proud of you for that. But I wish you could know that your life will look nothing like that plan. For the next many years, you will continue to plan, thinking, or hoping, that if the checklist or calendar says it, it must happen. But life’s not like that, sweet B. You must learn to drive on long and bumpy roads, full of hairpin turns and unexpected detours. You will get lost sometimes, and you won’t have a compass. In your life, you will be expected to continue on, in some direction that seems like it leads somewhere, even though you don’t know where that is or if it’s even worth it. You may never get used to this, but you will find ways to live in it. Your friends, and the love you have for your craft—those will help.
Cut yourself a lot of slack, Becca. You are lucky, but you are embarking on a difficult life. You will continue to fall and lose your way and shut down your heart—we are not perfect creatures. But Becca, when you get older, you will feel some shackles begin to fall and you will pick apples with three friends in a Prius zipcar, and you will be the founder of a successful theatre company, and you will meet Maria Irene Fornes, who you MUST listen to, because she understands.
You are amazing, but you are going to be lost for much of your life. I just ask that you navigate the world with curiosity and openness. You will find things you didn’t expect, and those will be the greatest things you will know.
Love yourself, Becca. You are enough.