I’m a “Deathscort” and I’m proud of it.

Yesterday, I was a clinic escort at a women’s medical center here in New York City.

What’s a clinic escort?
A person who literally walks with a patient to the entrance of the clinic.

Why do we need them?
Because protestors use their right to “free speech” to hold up horrific signs, yell vicious lies, slander others, and get right up into the faces of women and men who are just trying to get healthcare while telling them that they are “murderers.”

My experience is best laid out by this woman, who escorts at the clinic I worked at yesterday:
http://the-toast.net/2014/07/02/abortion-clinic-escort-stories/
But here’s some of what I experienced:

Honestly, it was just deeply strange. I’ve seen this kind of stuff in documentaries and I guess maybe on the street, but it was a whole other thing to stand there for four hours with these people. When I told A about it, he couldn’t believe that what they were doing was legal. Emotionally, I felt just fine, since I was so sure that these people were in the wrong. The whole time, though, I really felt for the women and men coming into the clinic– they are forced to walk down a sidewalk crowded with people holding enormous, gruesome signs and swarming around them. No one wants that. It’s not fair, and it’s not right.

A few things that didn’t surprise me:

  • The crazy fundamentalist rhetoric. They brought slavery in within about ten minutes; the Holocaust came about five minutes later.
  • All of the escorts were women. The main leader was an older woman, around your age, who the protesters loved to call a communist. The rest of us were in our mid to late twenties. All of us were white, and all of us were really passionate.

And many things that did surprise me:

  • They got SO CLOSE to the patients. Literally, right up next to them, touching, arm to arm. We literally had to push ourselves in between the protestors and the patient, which involved a bit of very forceful “Excuse me” on our part.
  • How much they just YELLED. I was exhausted just ignoring them.
  • How many there were. There were about six escorts and at least twenty five protestors from just ONE church, not including the catholic church of about twelve people that spent an hour across the street singing and praying.
  • It was “peaceful,” I guess, but the language they used was so inflammatory, even when no patients were coming in or out. I was called more horrible things yesterday than in the rest of my life combined. Some favorites: “deathscort” “accomplice to murder” “wicked,” and those were just some of the most obviously hurtful.
  • The longtime escorts were totally familiar with most of the protestors; they come every week from one church. We weren’t permitted to use anyone’s name (even first names) while outside the clinic, because the protestors have tracked down and harassed escorts at their work and home.
  • How locked down the facility was. I have never seen a doctor’s office… heck, any office… with that much security. There’s a security guard outside, two inside. The walls of the waiting room are soundproofed so the patients can’t hear the screaming outside. You have to be buzzed in TWICE by a nurse in order to even get to the waiting room. It’s a fortress.

And what’s most sad about that is that the clinic is beautiful. It’s brand newand is growing every day. We were able to take a quick tour. The OB/GYN and pre-natal area was lovely and filled with light. Whenever we saw a patient with a nurse, they were both smiling or laughing (what a contrast to outside). We didn’t get to see the surgical area, though we did peek into the recovery room. It was so lovely and bright. The head OB/GYN nurse talked to us for a while in the conference room, telling us what the clinic does. There was a lot of information, but basically it’s just a great place for women to get HEALTHCARE. Imagine that. They even have special programs to help women who don’t have papers.

One of the Pastor’s daughters brought her husband and their TWO YEAR OLD CHILD. She held this child as she stood in our faces, telling us that we were murderers. They pushed the baby in a stroller all around the block where the protestors were, huge 4×4′ posters of “aborted” “fetuses”. It was horrific.

Honestly, one of the things the protestors said was true: “One side is the side of darkness, and the other is the side of light.” And know which one I’m on.

America’s Next Top Bully

One of my favorite guilty pleasures is a nice marathon of America’s Next Top Model (lots of seasons on YouTube– enjoy your wasted day!) I love it because it’s stupid reality TV, but also because I’m interested in modeling… not as something I like or even respect, but I like feeling like I can judge the “good” pictures and the “good” walks.

I’ve just learned that a girl I knew in elementary school, the girl who arguably triggered my break into bipolar and depression by being horrifically cruel for numerous years… she’s gotten a second callback for the next season of ANTM.

The fact that I’m facebook friends with this girl is a whole thing in and of itself– I still hate her so much for what she did to me. It’s all a very long story, which I’m sure I’ll tell, but suffice it to say that after being my best friend for half a year at age 8, she suddenly “dumped” me (that’s the word 8-year-old me used), and through a process of constant manipulation, coercion, and cruelty, stole all my friends and kept me just close enough to hurt me but far enough to give me power; excluded from every circle, every friendship. It was so subtle, so malicious, that no one would make a movie about it (I have mixed feelings about this new movie, Bully, because I think the most pernicious bullying isn’t necessarily physical or obvious at all), but it obviously made an enormous difference in my life and development.

Anyway, I really, really, really hope she’s on the show. I do. I want to see how Tyra manipulates her. I want to watch her bomb photoshoots. I want to watch a real model, a real human, beat her. I want to sit on the couch with my friends and watch her, saying, “That was the girl who ruined my life,” “That’s the bitch who hurt me.” I want everyone to see how superficial she is.

It’s fucking mean, but I can’t wait to watch her self-destruct on reality television.

I Am Enough.

Yesterday, I hopped on a train to New Jersey to audition for a play. On the way there, taking a break from prepping my sides and gazing out the window, I casually checked my iPhone email. I received a brief, incredibly passive aggressive email from an agent (this was in response to a recommendation email sent on my behalf, which I’d followed up on Monday with, granted, a long-ish email introducing myself). This is not “the” agent I’d met, but it’s his superior in the agency. I have a pretty tough skin in terms of rejection, but this, for whatever reason, went deeper. I felt prickles run up and down my skin, and I knew my face was flushed. My breathing didn’t even change as tears began to roll down my cheeks. Goddamn it, I’d already put on makeup.

I had about forty five minutes left on the train and could barely put myself back together. I reapplied my mascara once, twice, listened to mood-bolstering music, carved the words “I AM ENOUGH” onto my upper thigh in pen, just to have under my shorts all day… Yet I still felt physically ill. I wandered through this po’dunk New Jersey town, crunching on broken glass bottles with my converse sneakers, getting honked at by semi-truck drivers, observing this tiny, terrible, Detroit-level disaster of a town as if out of a thick, bottle top glasses through a haze.

I had an hour to kill, so I wandered towards the shore, my iPhone map guiding me along “Broadway” towards a county highway, past abandoned buildings and split-levels rimmed by fenced in dumps, feeling lonelier and less safe than I ever do in New York City. Once I’d crossed the threshold of the highway, I found myself in another world, of Gold’s Gyms and microbreweries and apartment complexes named for beaches and purported paradises. I ambled towards the sound of the shore, my styled hair already beginning to frizz in the humid air. The air was thick with it, and warm, but as I found myself standing on a cement boardwalk gazing over a sand back towards the sea, I caught a brief whiff of the sweet, earthy scent of the ocean. I planted on a bench nearby, dropped my backpack and crossed my legs and breathed as more tears slid into the wrinkles to the sides of my eyes, dripping then into my ears. I still felt like I was observing the world through a thick fog, I was invisible in my “moment.” And it was odd… no one looked twice at the girl on the bench silently weeping over the ocean. I’ve found that when I cry in public in NYC, I am always stopped: “Are you okay?” “Do you need a Kleenex?” or just, “Here you go, here’s a tissue, sweetie. Feel better.” It was odd to be ignored– not good or bad, just… different.

After a while, I wiped the final drips of tears from my face with a corner of my sweater and hiked my backpack back on. I knew the way back, now, and I simply took one step at a time, confined to my own bubble of feeling, and hopefully, thereby impervious to the outside world. I simply didn’t have the energy to deal with the “Hey mami! Hey pay attention!”s or the stares of the women from out of their stores of santeria (seriously) or the stoners and drug addicts nestled in shop corners.

I reached the theatre (if you can call it that) and sat on a cement bench in a small area between the parking lot, a foreman’s office, and an abandoned bank. For the first time since deleting that email, I pulled out my phone, and for the first time all day, I reached out. “Hey buddy,” I texted to my friend P, “Having a really bad day and now I’m in Jersey. Can I get a digital hug?” I set down my phone and set myself to the task of doing SOMETHING with my now-ruined face and non-compliant hair. After a moment or two of brushing my hair actually out of my scalp and caking foundation underneath my puffy eyes, I felt the buzz of a reply text. “Of course! **HUG** What’s wrong, princess?

I wasn’t going to tell anyone, I mostly just wanted a hug. And I could very easily just get by on the warmth of feeling growing in my chest from what I knew that **HUG** would be in real life, but I texted him back. Started out with few details, then added some more, and he responded with compassion and understanding and just enough suggestions for ways to feel better that I actually became excited about something again… namely, drinking delicious cocktails at my new favorite bar in Midtown. He did it. And I did it for reaching out. I knew he was the right one.

And then the whole reason I went there in the first place. I walked into a glorified storefront, where an overdecorated hall led to what I assumed to be the theatre. I could hear someone acting from back there, quite clearly in fact, a pretty bad sign in general. I met the stage manager (?) who took my headshots and my intake form and directed me to the waiting room/lobby. There were about five other people there, none reading for my role until towards the end, when a tiny little girl approached (the character is like… 16ish). I pulled out my sides, but let them simply sit on my lap as I watched the other actors sit in that room. Some were nervous, some couldn’t care less, some seemed like they were old hats at this theatre, and I knew I looked completely out of place.

Finally, they called my name and I entered the… theatre. It was a weird, wide rectangular space with three long rows raised above the stage floor. It seemed disproportional to me, and also really, really, really small. No more than 45 people could possibly fit. How do they make money? I introduced myself to the director and the Artistic Director, and in very short order I started the sides. Luckily my reader was good, so that was something, and they let me get all the way through. I hadn’t planned on doing an accent, but since the other guy was and I totally can, I let it slip right in through the second half. He had me do the side again, more playfully and teasingly. Girl, I was born for that. After I finished a second time, he asked how tall I was. And YUP, that’s when I realized what a waste this was. If I seemed tall in this space, then everyone who is supposed to play older than 16 is fucked. And I’m 5’5″. He also complimented my work quite effusively and sincerely, but I knew I was done and I was really ready to go home.

I finished, relieved, packed up my stuff and walked back down Least Cool Town Lane to the train station. I picked up an Izze and a snack at the Rite Aid (hadn’t eaten since 10am and was about to drink) and waited. The entire train ride back, I was in a much better mood. I listed to Mindy Kaling’s audiobook, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me, which is no Bossypants, but is still pretty delightful. I love to hear her voice and I love how unabashedly her girlie, sassy, determined, but also average Mindy is. I like to think we’d be friends.

I arrived back and headed uptown to meet P at Breeze after changing into a dress and my favorite gray bootie heels for the show. Oh, I didn’t tell you? I saw WIT on Broadway (play about cancer with Cynthia Nixon) for free with my friend L (friend with lymphoma), and afterwards, I’d spoken to my friend who is an understudy and she brought us to meet Cynthia Nixon. In other words, no big.

P and I drank and talked and got well-soused on their delicious drinks (mai tai and Blue Moon for him, “kimono” sake cocktails for me), and I remembered why I am the luckiest and have the most amazing friends. He in particular is easy to talk to, smart, funny, willing to let me go a little bit mad and still think I’m special. About four drinks and two hours later, it was time for WIT. We paid (only about $10 each, because Breeze is the BEST), and parted ways on 47th St, where I met L, her mom, and our friend N.

The show was brilliant. Truly. As was Cynthia Nixon. And when my friend found us at the stage door and pulled us backstage, I felt a little like I was going to die and I was so proud of being the best friend on the planet. She guided us up the stairs towards the dressing rooms, past other actors, and past VANESSA REDGRAVE NO BIG DEAL JUST THE BIGGEST DEAL and finally into Cynthia’s dressing room. It all went very fast– L introduced herself, hugged Cynthia, Cynthia gave her a book, the rest of us introduced ourselves briefly, and then I helped L’s mom get her phone to take a picture of us. I, at least, was on air all the way out of the theatre. We capped the night with one more delicious cocktail and a yummy meal at one of my favorite restaurants. L and her mom dropped me at my apartment in a cab on their way home, and I went straight to bed, but not after posting this picture on Facebook for all to see:

L, Cynthia, Me

And I didn’t even notice until this evening that “I AM ENOUGH” was still visible on my upper thigh. And over 24 hours later, I’m beginning to believe it.

Love,
B.

P.S. I’ve been bingeing a lot in the last couple of days, which I do want to write about, but not in this post. Soon. Also, more updates on the boy front. Also for another time.

“Now is a time for, dare I say it, kindness. I thought being extremely smart would take care of it. But I see I have been found out.”
Margaret Edson, Wit

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.”

 

 

I’m 30 Rockin’ Tina Fey

I’m on a giddy Tina Fey kick at the moment. I mean, I’ve always loved her, but right now I’m feeling especially connected to her. Maybe it’s because she truly represents my version of “the American woman.”

Here’s why (in no particular order):
1) She’s funny.
2) She has her own TV show, book, company, etc. Woman’s got POWER.
3) She has a family.
4) She knows who she is and stays uncompromisingly herself at all times.
5) She’s funny.
6) She is not shy about being smart.

I rarely buy books (I’m a library girl– maybe the only one left), but I might just have to go out and buy Tina Fey’s new book. It seems to me that she’s probably a good role model for me right now; to help me remember that I am so much more than my size or my weaknesses, and to embrace that imperfect, intelligent, funny, purely ME self that I am.

Here’s the NYT review that inspired this post:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/04/books/bossypants-by-tina-fey-review.html?_r=2&smid=tw-nytimes&seid=auto

The book’s best blurb:
“It was worth it.” –Tree