Ch-ch-ch-changes! (and bachelorette pics)

Some thoughts.

1. It is crazy to live somewhere long enough that you start to see how it changes. Where you grow up doesn’t count, since you can’t vote or really interact with the community at all, except through your parents. But I’ve lived in NYC for over six years now, and so much has happened. I’m about to vote for mayor for the first time (Bloomberg had three terms)– DiBlasio all the way! When I moved here, the yellow line had N,Q,R and W trains and the orange line was F and V. There is no longer a W line, and the V line is now the M. Huh? We have new taxis that only work uptown (110-215th st), and they’re green! There’s no Village Voice theatre column anymore, and the guy who used to write it is now teaching Theatre History where I work. Tiny things, but noticeable, when you take the time to see them.4732140834_6542bd62b0

2. I found out some great stuff a couple nights ago about that the episode I shot of the Discovery ID show a couple weeks ago. i was at a bar with two of my dearest friends, one of whose husband was the director of the episode. She told me that not only was I her husband’s first choice for the role, but the network loved me too– and the real kicker was that I had fight experience, which made the network excited. The CD, from a large office in NYC, was apparently excited about my work too– he asked, “why have I never called her in?” to which this director responds, “’cause you’re a fucking idiot.” Also, it seems the network is really enthused about the episode altogether– it’s definitely the most complex fight choreography and most gruesome death they’ve ever filmed, and Discovery ID does ONLY murder shows. I cannnnnnnnooooootttttt wait to see it. It was so so so much fun. 🙂

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3. A’s away at army AGAIN. I’m not pleased. It’s a long time! And he’s been gone a lot! He hates how much I hate it, I think mostly because it makes him feel guilty. I appreciate the privacy, but I’d prefer the privacy came without him having to do something he hates while I go about my normal life. It’s not fair.

4. THE WEDDING IS A WEEK FROM TOMORROW!! We’re all freaking out. I can’t imagine how R feels! Our dresses are done, and we through an epic weekend bachelorette party over the Columbus Day weekend! Check out all the pics:

The dresses!

The dresses!

Personalized champagne flutes upon arrival in CT!

Personalized champagne flutes upon arrival in CT!

Gorgeous table setting.

Gorgeous table setting.

The most delicious meal I've had in... years!!

The most delicious meal I’ve had in… years!!

Penis funfetti cupcakes, 'cause you just have to.

Penis funfetti cupcakes, ’cause you just have to.

2nd night was snacks and homemade dinner and movies! (we didn't watch any because we talked all night... but how cute is this?!)

2nd night was snacks and homemade dinner and movies! (we didn’t watch any because we talked all night… but how cute is this?!)

Team Rachel.

Team Rachel.

Beautiful ladies in a beautiful sunset in beautiful Newtown, CT.

Beautiful ladies in a beautiful sunset in beautiful Newtown, CT.

 

 

 

 

Unfinished

I feel like I’m dying.

That phrase keeps repeating, on loop, in my head. I’ve felt so much worse than I do now, but when I’m narrating the feeling of this moment, what I feel when feeling overwhelms…

I feel like I’m dying.

I’m drowning in myself. My skin and muscles and fat are bloated and I– the little “me” that is myself– is buried deep inside and suffocating. I can’t read. My eyes won’t focus. I can’t eat right (too much or too little). Crowds hem me in and terrify me.

Food. I fucking hate it. I lost five pounds from vomiting and not eating for five days. Go me. Fuck you. Suddenly I remembered that empty feeling, that skinny feeling, that feeling that felt so manic and good. But I eat now, remember? So I couldn’t eat small portions or only on occasion. And when i tried, I ate too much. And eating too much is the purest form of self-harm I know. Food turns me into a monster. My body feels flush and bloated. I feel dehydrated and my lips are chapped.

My sister is here this week (Sunday thru Saturday). And she wants to “do” things. Which I’m fine with to some extent. But I’m, frankly, depressed. And I repeat:

I feel like I’m dying.

Tuesday was rainy and wet. We walked up to the Cloisters in the rain and wind. We got there, at last, soaked, and wandered through the museum. I love it up there. But I did feel distant, separate, slightly off. When we were done, I knew that I was hungry and ready to go home and curl up. Which we did. My sister fell asleep, and when I woke her because it was time to head to midtown to try and get Book of Mormon tix, she said, “Jazz club?” Which is the last place I want to go when I feel like shit. I said, fine, A and I will go down and do the lottery, and if we get tix, you can come down and meet us. She said okay.

I was in no mood. I sobbed over A’s subway sandwich before heading back, planning how to tell her I couldn’t possibly go out again. But I get there, and she’s curling her hair. I try to come up with a soft way of saying “I just can’t,” and finally just say, “I just can’t.” She’s disappointed, subtly, and I feel like I’ve done something wrong. Same thing happens

 

FUCK I LOST IT ALL. I finished this fucking blog entry after two fucking days and fucking wordpress lost it.

FUCK.

 

I won’t bother. Here’s this. The only thing worth sharing, anyway. See this musical. It makes things slightly better.

Pounding 42nd St.

I feel like shit.

First, I somehow contracted nasty food poisoning from SOMETHING. Had some cramping and weird appetite most of the day on Saturday, and by that night, was having really awful abdominal pain (felt like I had to fart but couldn’t… sorry for the TMI). That night I vomited twice– once at like 1:30am and the next at 2:30am. Both were heavily labored– hardly any liquid, just gross gross gross chunky bits that really didn’t want to come out. I told A that I felt like I wanted to poop, but couldn’t, and he suggested a laxative. I took a suppository (SOO much TMI, sorry) and peed out of my butt for a little while before climbing back into bed. I was bedridden, still achy, nauseous, and faint all day on Sunday. I felt well enough to drink some vitamin water, but within an hour of feeling slightly better, the stomach pain came back. I took a bath, then laid in bed, and ended up sleeping from about 1:30pm-8:30pm. That night, I slept soundly from 11:30pm-9:30am. Guess I needed it? I was still a little off yesterday (managed to have a cup of coffee, a banana, an english muffin, half an apple, and then overdid a bit on dinner– kale, eggs, and brown rice). Feeling better today, but still not 100%. WHAT DID I DO TO MYSELF?!

And then there’s that silly thing called my career.

I went to a screening of the film made by the people I worked with over the summer on the show in NJ. I LOVE these people. They are brilliant, kind, connected, generous, and all-around glorious. They were part of a cool new festival in the city called First Time Fest. I’d seen the movie twice before (once in the cast house over the summer, again at another screening during the summer), so I was excited to bring A. Plus I was told there would be a red carpet I was wanted on.

Why? Who knows. I was completely uninvolved. BUT. Can I tell you how good it felt to be ushered by my friend S onto the red carpet with her writer/director partner, T, telling the photographers, “This is B, she’s the star of T’s next project.

1

So yay, I felt good for a second.

But.

I still don’t have a job. I haven’t been paid to act (at least in a weekly/non-stipend form) since SUMMER. SINCE JULY. That’s the longest I’ve ever gone.

Everyone tells me that “this is how it is– you’ll never have a consistent job.” Which I get. But I barely audition, you know? I mean, I do, I go to stuff, I get auditions occasionally, but, per example, the last appointment I got from my agent was for a four-show stipend project that CONFLICTS WITH MY FOUR DAY TRIP HOME. This is why I don’t go home, mom, ya see?! And so I hope I don’t book it, but of course I hope I do… and I don’t know what to do.

That little dilemma was the straw that broke the camel’s back this morning and I burst into tears. That, plus anxiety about money (I usually have two jobs– my salary one plus an acting gig or a freelance thing– but haven’t for a few months), plus A’s anxiety about money (since he hasn’t worked since Feb.) just bowled me over.

I feel like I’ve been dropped in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean trying desperately to swim to shore, but there are no lifeboats or pieces of driftwood to help me make it there. Y’know? I just feel really young and really stuck, and I hate it. I hate feeling helpless, and I hate not being able to do anything. But I really can’t. I’m doing my job.

I attend EPAs (the open calls held by the actor’s union)
I submit on ActorsAccess
(a site where I can self-submit for stuff, and my agent uses my profile for her submissions)
I spent the $280 to film and upload video clips to ActorsAccess

I give good auditions.
I’m doing all the superficial shit
(lightening my hair, losing weight–goal hit–, and fixing my skin)
I’m constantly saying “yes” to workshops and readings.

I can’t afford casting director workshops, and I also fucking hate that shit, because seriously… if I need that I obviously don’t have a job which means I obviously don’t have the money to pay for your workshop!!

I keep telling myself that it’s only a matter of time– that opportunities pop up in the oddest of places in completely unexpected times. Everything in my life has happened because of some odd cosmic alignment. I do all my homework, but I know that that’s not the be-all, end-all of this biz.

And I love A, but it’s hard that both of us are struggling artistically and financially.

And I hate that he sees the disappointment and frustration in me, and I hate that he feels like he can’t really help. I hate that I feel useless and lost and yes, depressed. I hate that I can’t even audition for things I’m right for, because they won’t go to someone like me. They’ll go to a bigger name or someone with a better agent or someone this or that that I’m just NOT.

Ugh.

 

 

Valentine’s x2

I woke up on Valentine’s morning before the alarm. Thin morning light lit my gray sheets, and I futzed around on my phone for a while with A’s arms wrapped tightly around my middle. Once we’d officially risen, I told A to stay buried in the covers while I pulled my drawers apart looking for just the right shirt to wear for the shoot I’d go to that afternoon (a recording of 3 monologues and a song to use for a bit of a demo reel, per my agent’s request). One of my favorite A’s is the mussed-up A, face still a little crinkly from sleep, eyes bright when open, and lashes soft and calm when closed. I had a couple of choices I’d bring, but the shirt I decided on was a navy blue camisole, slightly wrinkly at the bottom, but cut well and flattering on top (where it counts on camera).

I rehearsed my pieces in the shower while A sipped his chocolate milk (his daily morning fortification), and then we rotated. I made eggs and sipped a glass of water, favorite jeans on and a lazy-day flannel tied above my stomach. We watched The Office and waited.

At 11, a friend arrived to do my hair and makeup. While she futzed with my hair, A sat nearby, working on his book. She moved onto my makeup, and while we chatted too-much, awkwardly, acquaintance-friendly, while A did the dishes dutifully behind me.

With only a few minutes before our scheduled departure, I packed up the backpack with a few shirts, makeup, and my checkbook. We left hand in hand and walked in the bright sunlight and wicked cold ten blocks up to the studio.

Long story short, in a little over an hour, I filmed four pieces– a contemporary monologue, a British monologue, a Shakespeare monologue, and a Joni Mitchell song. A sat beside me on the couch, graciously, quietly, not really watching but letting me feel he was there. Somehow he always knows what I need. He accompanied me on piano for the song, which was what I was most nervous about, but stayed with me, didn’t get excited, didn’t tell me what to do or what he thought, just let me decide when enough was enough, or if a mistake was visible, and then backed me up on it. It was one of the most perfect “he-did-what-he-was-supposed-to-do” situations in our entire relationship.

Afterwards, we walked home, bought some soda, ordered a pizza, and stayed in our pajamas on the couch for the rest of the day.
Happy Valentine’s, love of mine.

A week later…

We had our real Valentine’s scheduled. A picked me up in a rental car outside of therapy at noon, and we drove to New Jersey, to the town where I did the last real show of my career, to the town where I got my Equity card, to the town where I made some of the most amazing friends in my life, to the town where I realized that my life was something different than my other friends’, and the town where I realized that there is a LOT to come.

I had an audition at the theatre (the first time back since closing!) and did totally fine work. The only people in the room were the Artistic Director (who I’m close with) and the reader. The role was a sexy twenty-something, and I walked in in my skinny jeans, hair down, and a sexy tank and she says, ‘Wow, you don’t look like you’re fourteen this time.” “That’s the idea,” I responded with a smile.

From there, I had A drive us down the road past the Buffalo Bill House, where we lived, and pointed to the window of the Anne Frank Room, where much of our courtship began. (If you are confused about what the Buffalo Bill House and the Anne Frank Room are and why this janky town in NJ is special to me, click any of these hyperlinks).

Then we drove down to the beach. The air was freezing, and because it’s the ocean, the wind was violent. I’d forgotten a hair tie, so I let my nicely curled hair whip around my face. A pulled his fedora down over his ears, and we pushed against the wind as we made our way off the boardwalk, into the sand, and towards the surf. It was clear that the storm had done a number on this tiny town (in fact, the theatre was one of the hardest hit professional theatres in all of the Eastern seaboard). They were repairing the boardwalk and much was cordoned off. But it was enough just to see the ocean, and remember the moment we saw dolphins leaping from the surf, the burning run from the cool ocean across the sun-heated sand to relief on the grass, the feel of the ocean water as it hit my body, the conversations and quiet moments with my book, friends nearby and loving.

We had time to waste, so we drove to the mall, where we wandered and joked about middle America and Jersey. We stopped in the bookstore to use the last of my gift card, and then around 3:45, headed back to the car. The plan was to drive to Edgewater and have a nice steak dinner before coming back into the city. But Google Maps (and yours truly) royally fucked up and we ended up deep in traffic on the Lincoln Tunnel, headed INTO the city. Crap.

A talked me off the ledge and we made a new plan– drop off the car, check into our hotel (yes, that was the romantic part of this evening), order room service and drink champagne, and THEN go to the ballet (the other romantic portion). I agreed, and we were off. We stopped briefly to grab a bottle of champagne (good thing we did, since a bottle cost $75 at the hotel), and after a few turnarounds (when you’re a walker in NYC, you forget that all the streets are one-way), we dropped off the car and brought our stuff to the hotel.

On the way up the elevator, I realized I didn’t have my phone in my pocket.

Nor was it in my bag.

Nor was it in A’s backpack.

FUCK.

We got to the room and I stayed calm and rifled through everything– throwing books on the floor and clothes on the bed, spreading everything out on the white sheets– to no avail. THAT was when the tears came. I felt… mostly just angry at myself. Because now this was a “thing” that we had to deal with and the whole plan of the evening had now turned into “where is B’s phone.” Also, I can’t afford a replacement. I felt like an idiot and I just wanted to go back in time.

A was wonderfully patient with me, and tried to talk me down. Didn’t work. I ended up just being mean. Finally, after grumpily picking what to order for dinner, A placed the order and left for the garage to see if I’d left my phone in the rental car. “I love you, you know,” he said as he walked out the door.

I moped for another few minutes, then lay face down on the bed and breathed. I calmed, then rose and walked to the bathroom, where I wet a face towel with cool water and began to clean my face. As I reapplied my foundation, the door clicked open. There was A, my phone in his hand.

I gave him an huge, huge, too-long hug, apologizing profusely, thanking him up and down and around till Thursday. We popped the champagne, ate the dark chocolate with caramel and sea salt I had purchased, then when room service arrived, sat and devoured our burgers (his, beef, mine, crab cakes) and fries. At 7, we prepped our final touches for the ballet, at 7:08 we had quick sex (if you read deeply enough to catch this, you win!), and at 7:15, walked out of the front door of the hotel, crossed Columbus, and entered the Koch Theater at Lincoln Center to see NYCB’s Sleeping Beauty.

Our seats were great (third ring, first row, dead center), and we both really love watching dance. I’m not sure I’ve ever watched dance as comfortably with anyone else (a lot of people don’t really get it… actors think it’s overwrought and silly, plebes get bored, my mother wants to talk a lot about it after). Afterwards, we stopped at Duane Reade to get ice cream and breakfast foods (yogurt and granola for both, chocolate milk for him), and headed back to the hotel.

We finished the champagne and ate the ice cream, did some other stuff, watched some Netflix on his phone (seriously… what is live TV?), and then, around midnight, both of us realized that we’re actually 85 years old and were really, really sleepy. We both read a little bit, then I curled up under his arm, half my body on top of his, just like every night, and we went to sleep.

I’m a lucky girl.

We woke up this morning at our regular time, 8:30, and lazed around for a while. We ate breakfast, watched more Netflix, took a long shower, and packed. I grabbed coffee on the way to work, and he headed down to get a haircut for Army. He has two days of Army “drill” this weekend (I don’t really get it… but basically it means he has to go to the armory and “work” from like 7am-5pm Sat and Sun, one weekend every month). I hate it because he’s gone two days, but I hate it most because he hates it.

The moral of the story, though, is threefold:

1. I haven’t blogged in a while, and I really should.

2. I had two amazing Valentine’s Days.

3. I love A. I love A. I love A.

Hugs and kisses to all of you out there.

B.

 

Doing your Homework

Like most people who call themselves actors, I’ve known what I wanted to do for about as long as I knew what “acting” was. I started in dance, and I was quite good, but the parts I liked most in dancing were the acting parts. I always got the bit parts in The Nutcracker (“sled girl”, “naughty ladybug,”) and was always better at modern dance than ballet, where I could more openly express emotion. I still love dance, but really, it was a just a portal through which I discovered what I actually want to spend my life doing– theatre.

As you all know, if you’ve been reading, I’m well-trained. I went to the premiere performing arts boarding school to study theatre for my last two years of high school. I attended a top-tier university in New York City to study acting. I’ve been an apprentice at two different, well-known festivals, and I received my union card about a year after graduating from college. No one can deny it– I’ve done my homework.

As a kid, I had OCD tendencies. I was a perfectionist. I couldn’t ever be late. No “puffies” in my ponytail. I never missed an assignment in school. But I was also a very, very angry and a very, very sad little girl. I mean, let’s just diagnose it right here– I was bipolar.

I’ve written here about how my eating disorder(s) is a part of my psychological struggle, which I’ve been fighting since childhood. I started restricting unconsciously, because I was working too hard. I was trying to be too good. In recovery, I “let myself go,” got messy and angry and ugly and gained too much weight and fell apart and was late and fucked up all the time. Neither were gold-star moments in my life (and by moments, let’s call a spade a spade, I mean YEARS).

I think a lot about those two parts of me– the perfectionist homework-doer, who crosses her T’s and dots her I’s, and loves the feeling of succeeding because she put in all that hard work; and the messy girl, who forgives herself when she falls apart and trusts herself to make it to the other side, and who knows that sometimes hard work just means getting through the day.

Being an actor, or an artist of any kind, I think is finding a constant balance between these two extremes. And I don’t think I quite anticipated it upon embarking on my life. I guess I expected that if I did all my homework, I’d just be a really good, successful actor. And god knows I did my homework. But life isn’t quite like that.

There is the work, of course. The side of the “biz” that’s just nose-to-the-grindstone.
1. Look at audition listings every day. Make notes about when the EPAs (Equity calls) are.
2. Attend the EPAs (this means getting downtown to sign up for a slot at around 7am, while your appointment may be as late as 4:20 and the auditioners aren’t even really looking, since the call is just required by the union.)
3. Say yes to any audition that comes my way via my agent or some other means. Appointments are how you book jobs. Getting appointments is the key.
4. Say yes to any reading/workshop offered. At least you’ll be acting, and maybe, just maybe, someone will see your work.
5. Keep your headshots updated. Spend 500+ on top-notch headshots every two years.
6. Make a demo reel. Film it professionally. Spend the money to get it put on Actors’ Access.
7. Prepare for your auditions/readings/workshops/roles IF YOU’RE LUCKY.
8. Attempt to follow your agent’s suggestions– lighten your hair, lose weight, clear up your skin, dress better.
9. Stress out over what outfit to wear for each audition. Have days where you pack three changes of clothes and shoes, plus makeup and hair stuff, plus resumes/headshots and sides, and carry them in a backpack over your huge winter coat in 3 degree weather in NYC.
10. Oh, and during this time you’re not actually making any money acting.

Now, that’s all very extreme, and not every day is like that. In the last couple of weeks I’ve been blessed to have had a number of auditions (that 3 changes of clothes thing is a real true story from last week), and even a couple of callbacks, but failed to book the job. I’ve gotten so close I get apology emails from the casting directors (this NEVER happens).

And that’s where we come to the funny thing about the arts.

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

Frankly, some of the people I run into at auditions are those kinds of people– they go to every open call, they send thousands of postcards to CDs and agencies, they buy books to help them organize their finances, and they know EVERYTHING there is to know about EVERYTHING.

Hilarious true story– those aren’t the people that get cast. Those are the people who wait tables and wait tables and work HARD and never book a union part and end up as waiters. Or as indie theatre producers, or who get married and move to Philly. Now, this isn’t a hard and fast rule, of course. Everyone should do their homework.

But acting isn’t like school (unfortunately for those of us who did really well in school). In school, you turn in your homework on time, do a great paper, test well, and you get an A. Just like that.

As an actor (or an artist of any kind), you show up on time, do all your work, do it really fucking well, and then you never get a call. It’s like working really hard on a ten-page paper, turning it in on the due date, and having the teacher take one look at at it and say, “Oh, no, I prefer Georgia to Times New Roman,” and trash it right in front of you. You want to say, “But look harder! It’s so good!” or “I can edit that so easily, just give me a chance!” but it’s already round-filed.

All this to say, I think that it’s important to balance. If all I did was “work” on my “career,” I’d feel like a major, total failure. Because after all the hard work of the last month (okay, no, monthssssss since my last job) I haven’t had any measurable success.

But it isn’t just about the homework. 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.”

“The power is in the balance: we are our injuries, as much as we are our successes.”
Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible

“You will be fierce. You will fearless. And you will make work you know in your heart is not as good as you want it to be.”
Ira Glass

“It was possible to feel superior to other people and feel like a misfit at the same time.”
Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot

Weeding through…

Weeding through the medical records they sent me.

As expected, it’s nothing I haven’t seen before. The most interesting document is the initial assessment from my psychiatrist when I was about 9 years old. The words seem to echo hollowly, almost appear meaningless: “very perfectionistic, overly sensitive, shy, withdrawn little girl,” “extremely irritable, quick to flare, overly sensitive, etc,” “devaluing of herself, may make threats about wishing she was dead, talks about herself being a ‘bad person,'” “overachiever… wants to be the best and do the best.”

It sounds simplistic too me, almost offensively so. Words about “no signs of depression,” “happy and content most of the time,” “no unusual fears or phobic reactions.” I know, I know, that this was an initial assessment and things changed. I have my mom’s “book,” in which she basically wrote diary entries about my emotional health.

Even going through those entries, which I’ve read before too, are tiring to me. They seem one-sided, clinical. I know, I know, they can’t be any other way, but I wish there was something more here.

In these piles of papers, these yellowing sheets of lined notebook paper, I want to find an explanation. I want to understand what happened, who I was, where I was and how I survived. I want an explanation.

In a letter to my therapist and psychiatrist from my father, he writes:
“we’re both concerned that B’s egotism is so extreme that it impairs moral judgment. She seems utterly unable to summon empathy, and when she does her purpose seems more manipulative than empathetic.”

“B reports that she feels depressed. We know that she feels like a ‘bad’ person when her behavior is inappropriate, but we can’t help but feel sometimes that her apologies are manipulative.”

“To be frank, lately we can barely stand to be around her.”

I know, I know, that my parents love me more than most anything else on the planet. But flipping through these papers, notes, letters, diagnoses, clinical terms and records of meds increased and decreased, up on the Klonopin, down on the Risperdal,

One year ago today…

One year ago today, I took the MetroNorth to the Bronx with my parents, a black polyester robe folded and stuffed into my leather shoulder bag. I processed across thick rubber mats in my espadrilles with my peers around me, our flat caps absorbing the straight, bright rays of early summer sun. We grinned at each other, robes unzipped and slipping down our shoulders, backs stuck to the folding chairs with perspiration.

One year ago today, I processed with the faculty to a seat on the stage with my name taped on it. I stood in front of my graduating class at the podium and spoke of the promise of our lives. “Genesis says that all men and women are entrusted with the task of crafting their lives– they are to create of it a work of art, a masterpiece. We are all artists in that way.”

Today, I had my first official day of rehearsal. I suffered through the soggy, raining morning to a small theatre on the UWS, where I quickly met the SM and the costume designer, and said friendly hellos to the cast. We started at 10am with contract-signing with the artistic director of the theatre. I watched quietly as the rest of the cast got their Equity forms and riders, and I had a simple white paper contract in three copies. Soon that will be me, I thought. Patience.

Last night, I dreamed I was crying. Sobbing thick, heavy tears, wheezing for air. It had to do with graduation, but I don’t know if it was mine or the one that just happened for my friends this last Saturday. It didn’t really matter… I was mourning a loss.

I am doing well. Sometimes I have to stop and actively look back to where I was one year ago, restless and scared and out of control and ten pounds heavier than now. I can remember how much I hated my job at the sports bar, the weekend I dog-sat and broke down into the worst depression I’d had in months, my inability to come into rehearsal feeling “together,” my exhaustion. And I can see that I am doing well now.

But today I got my period, and tonight I binged worse than I have in months. My cat is irritated with me because I can’t get it together, and I’m irritated with me because I want to wake up and I want everything to be fixed and better.

Life doesn’t work like that.

It was three years ago that my life swerved into the groove I’m in now. I’ve struggled my whole life with faulty brain chemistry, but that was the most recent iteration of it. It doesn’t feel fair that I’m still fighting every single day. I struggle to accept the daily struggle, to feel hopeful for tomorrow when pounds of food I had hoped to savor are sitting, hot and bloated, in my belly.

One year ago today, I said goodbye to twenty-two years of structured education, to grades and dorms and class times. I spoke to my class about creation and exploration, but inside I was terrified of what my life might be. Unfettered, ungrounded, alone– how could I survive?

But today I held my own in a 7hr rehearsal with strangers who were older than me. I curled my hair in the morning but wasn’t freaked out when it frizzed all up by the time I got to the theatre. I let the director focus his critique on me for most of the day, let the words flow in and over and out and not hurt me just because they were about me. I had my costume fitting and didn’t feel shy and self-conscious, and I felt as though I belonged in a professional rehearsal room as a lead in a world premiere.

It’s a day by day thing, and nothing ever moves as quickly as I wish it would, but when I stop and line them up side by side…

I have come so very far in one short year.