Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Up in the Air

After a wonderful visit at home in Indiana, I am headed back to my gray city. When I left New York, it was cold and dry, and from what I hear, my street is now covered with snow. I had a very good Christmas vacation. Relaxing, refreshing, recuperative. For the past few months I have felt lost, awash. Not sure what path I am on or even where I'd like to go. This holiday was not an easy one, and it was far from perfect, but I sure believe I am in a better place than when I landed at Indianapolis International Airport. Now, as I settle in to return to New York, return to work, and ring in 2010, I am focused on 2011 and hitting the ground running. 2010 was my year for tragedy; 2011 will be the year of my comeback. And this time I mean it.

First thing on my list, lose some weight and stop looking like I am from Indiana. I mean I love my home state, but expectations go up just a little the closer I get to the Big Apple. This afternoon, I savored my last morsel of Indiana indulgence (good cookbook name, yea?), frying up some leftover roast beef for a mock Philly Cheesesteak with pepper jack cheese, rye bread, and green onions. Guiltily, I even heated up a piece of fat and ate whole damn thing: soft, salty, and beefy, melting in my mouth. And that was a lite meal. Let's just consider mashed potatoes for a moment. I could eat them for hours. But then, what am I putting into my mouth? Carbs and fat. White potatoes smashed up with cream, salt, pepper, and butter (why planes don't serve this delicious side dish still escapes me). Nothing green, no skins, no protein, no fiber, just flabby thighs. I wonder if you can add whey protein powder to mashed potatoes. Or at least fiber powder. I bet you there is some sick fuck out there who has! I just started reading The Help and like a chameleon, I will probably be writing and talking like a big Black lady for the next week. If I start going to meetin', cooking collards, or complaining about my big feet hurting, someone please feel free to smack me and tell me to take a good long look in the mirror. On second thought, please do that regardless of the circumstance. For some odd reason, I have the tricky habit of mimicking whatever I am reading or watching at the time. Having just finished Kathy Griffin's memoir before dinner last night, I held court like a pro and swore more than the rest of the Wantzs did the entire year. Sorry mother, but after a shot and a margarita, the guns are out. Don't worry, I would never fire them at you. Oh yes, back to this weight I am going to lose. As much as I'd like to imagine a six pack earned from sugar-free Redbull and Parliaments, I think I am going to have to buckle down and do it the old fashioned way through diet and exercise. Chinese takeout, you won't be hearing from me, Falafel truck I am running from you as far as my chubby tummy will allow me. And these are just the beginning of my ever growing list of splurges. Just don't take my vodka. Not yet.

Second, I am going to write in this fucking blog so help me God! Even if all that comes to mind is my grocery list or a scramble of Katy Perry/Ke$ha lyrics, I will publish something. Now looking at the coming weeks, my unlimited month of tanning is over, so I will have a little more time for typing instead of baking. I like writing. It's good for me, it helps me feel not so crazy, or at least my certain brand of craziness is fairly harmless and marginally humorous (how the fuck do you spell humorous, damn it!). If you haven't noticed, I am in the airport/on a plane, which means I am drinking, not too much, just enough to keep myself from panicking or crying. Keep those emotions nice and cool with a crisp vodka soda. And during the holidays, make it a double, you deserve it!

Thirdly, (who's still counting anyways?) I am done being depressed. Done. Done sitting in my room alone, done feeling sorry for myself, being bitter (well . . .), alienating myself from my friends, going on Benders, and giving myself excuses for being lazy or lacking ambition. According to Facebook, my sister's last thoughts were "Lovin' Life," and you know what, as she was sliding down that snowy hill I bet she was. Unafraid, balls out. That was my sister. So, it's time to take a page out of her too-short book and get off my butt and get over myself. Easier said than done, but done it will be. While I certainly could have chosen an easier career path, sleeping in instead of going to auditions doesn't help. Having a bad attitude on set doesn't help. Being afraid doesn't help. So, here goes. Round Two. I just hope I don't have to do a play with a rat number in it again. And that I can pay my rent. Paying rent is a very good thing. As I look into 2011 and my future in general, I don't know what it will look like exactly. But I hope it will see me happier and healthier. I hope it will see me in love, or patient enough to wait. Putting myself out there, being brave, falling down and getting myself right up. In the next few months I am looking to find better employment and housing, to gain some financial security and grow my roots down deeper into New York's soil. Oh, and I just learned while I was home that I might be going back on my dad's insurance. Score! I will be sure to share the details of that first physical as soon as they are at my disposal. All in all, I am feeling good, conscious of the immense work ahead of me, but ready to get my hands dirty. I count myself very fortunate that I got to go home for this extended vacation. Home always centers me, reminds me of where I've been, and where I come from. Surrounded by the safety of 400 South, I am able to come out of my shell, lower the well-built New York walls, and tap into myself once more. Plus, the drinks and smokes are a lot cheaper in Indiana. This is a very good thing. So, like this plane, I am a bit up in the air at the moment, but ready to land and continue the journey laid out before me.

Currently Reading: The Help, Official Book Club Selection, The Swimming Pool

Currently Listening to: "Upside Down" Diana Ross (don't ask), Court Yard Hounds (that's the Dixie Chicks minus big mouthed Natalie - well like her or not you can't deny she has a big one!)

Currently Watching: True Grit, Mother and Child, Little Fockers, The A-List New York (guilty pleasure/guilty dreams)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tis the Season

Christmas is in full swing, and by the looks of it, so am I. After what was a difficult fall, where I felt like I was spinning my wheels, searching for answers, and down in the dumps, I feel alive, I feel present, I feel like I'm back to being me and somewhat happy. The cold has come and with it layers upon layers of clothing. My soup and tea intake have gone up significantly in the past weeks and after a brief couple days of feeling cruddy, think I am back and moving, thanks to lots of rest and Theraflu. I love and hate the cold. At times, I love to coop myself up and never leave home, wanting warmth and comfort. On the other hand, I love to defy the cold. To layer it up and bravely go outside, go out, determined to still live. There is a certain mischievous quality to going out in the winter, a feeling of escape and triumph. Another thing I love about the winter are the clothes. You can bundle up and layer to your heart's content. You can justify that second helping or piece of pie because no one is going to see you in your bathing suit anytime soon. And unlike other seasons of the year, stress is not on dressing fashionable or sexy, but merely warm. Without a doubt the warmest person at the party is looking the best.

Revived, released from a coma of grief, self-pity, and artistic exhaustion, I feel I am ready to live, to work, to be a good friend again. Yet, while I feel my efforts should be centered on some artistic effort, whether planning my next audition, learning new music, or even writing in this blog, most of my thoughts of late have been centered around my friends and family and the coming holidays. Besides working, I have been keeping busy catching up with old friends, both in person and on the telephone, writing Christmas cards, and planning holiday festivities. Instead of grappling with noble, philosophical concepts like love, God, morality, delving into politics or critiquing high art, I am debating whether to serve ham or turkey at our coming holiday gathering, what we should drink, what I should wear, what music we should play. Now, true, this year's holiday comes with a particular bitter note, a reminder of what we have lost, a test in where do we go from here? So, perhaps all this extra pondering over matters of pie filling and gift exchanges only give witness to the true reverence of these familial celebrations: that in spite of all, we can give thanks, we can celebrate, we can continue to love and cherish each other, and perhaps even to grow. While Christmas cards are only paper, glue, and ink, gifts merely representations of money spent dressed with a pretty bow, and Christmas treats just empty calories, they are so much more than that. Through these rituals, these traditions, we learn, we grow, we are refreshed, reminded of where we have come from. For me (and for you too I hope!), there is a certain holiness to the holidays (they are after all holy-days). Each year for Christmas, I pester my mother to bring the good China out for Christmas dinner. True, they may break and cannot go in the dishwasher, but these plates are a physical marker of the specialness of the occasion, the sanctity, that it's about more than just food going into our mouths. As we head into this holiday swing, take pride and have fun in whipping out your favorite recipes and sweaters, watching classic holiday movies (I'm treating myself to White Christmas this evening), and trimming the tree.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Comeback

The blog is back and so am I. Well, sort of. After more than a month's long absence, I am holding myself hostage at Panera, demanding I crank out a much overdue blog entry. So what do I write? What have I been up to? The past month has been fairly busy with work, including my newly deemed "Head Waiter" status. Between shifts at the restaurant, I have done a little extra work (you can look for me on Gossip Girl again in 2011), seen lots of movies, a few plays, read some books and articles, and even found myself at the gym on a semi-regular basis.

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and the holiday season is upon us. This is my favorite time of the year. Deep down, a part of me looks forward to the first chill in the air, the first round of corny Christmas music, warm and bulky clothes that like a good friend hide those signs of holiday excess. Curling up on the couch with a blanket just seems a little more wonderful when the temperature drops low, even if there is a long list of things I should be doing. Despite what has happened in the past year, Christmas is still my favorite time of year. Despite what has happened in the past year, I still see so many things to be thankful for, reasons to still find joy. Despite what has happened in the past year, I'm still here (to quote one of my favorite Sondheim songs). Even though things have not always gone my way here in the city, and this year has been far from easy, I am still here, still loving it, exploring, growing, and taking advantage of all it has to offer, daring myself to live. However, my focus, my state is markedly different from Christmas seasons of the past. More than ever, I am lacking the creative drive, the steely desire to succeed, the need to achieve and be everywhere all at once. Instead, my thoughts are centered around scenes of domesticity, of family, of love. My mind constantly wanders to visions of family get-togethers, my anticipated return to Indiana, to family and cooking and laughter. Instead of hoping for gifts under the tree, I am excited to spend the entire day at home with my family.

Admittedly, I have not been to an audition in a month or so, a self-administered sabbatical. I have not had a voice lesson or been making the rounds at the piano bars. My headshot has not been dropped off or submitted, nor have you seen me in any form of acting or dance class. I have been to the theatre only once, dragged by a friend to catch a performance of the quickly closing and critically acclaimed Scotsboro Boys (if you are in New York it would be a shame to miss Kander and Ebb's last musical). Instead of hustling my wares around the city, I have taken this time to work on myself, and perhaps to rest. Reflecting, I see that my life has been pretty non-stop from high school to college to making the move to New York, spinning my wheels in order to get ahead. So for once, I am slowing down and putting a few things on hold. In fact, this fall I turned down a potential gig, a show that would have been a great opportunity and my longest acting gig to date. However, after much contemplation, I said no, not now, not today. The gig would have taken me away from New York and shortened my Christmastime in Indiana. The thought of rushing through this holiday, this year, just seemed an unthinkable idea, and so here I am, still in New York, with no clue as to my next move, but ultimately happier. I have been trying to exercise, reinstating my former courtship with yoga, trying to eat healthy, seeing the people who mean the most to me, and taking care of me. My sister's death and the accompanying grief have been more than enough to handle, but have also brought to the surface emotions, feelings, and pain that I had hidden deep within. Recently, I read cultural critic bell hook's book All About Love: New Visions. In the book, hooks (spelled in all lowercase, how fly is that?) analyzes our perceptions of love, our very human need to experience love despite our culture's greater focus on fame and wealth. hooks tells us that healing only comes through love, that we can never find the love we didn't experience in the past, but rather bravely seek out love in the present. Instead of walling up my heart, afraid of being hurt once again, I am attempting to open it back up again, to friends and family, to new experiences, and maybe even romance. With this softening of the heart, comes pain, tears, and is at times very scary. However, through this love, through this reawakening of my soul, I once again see vision for my life, hope, the promise that God does indeed have good things planned for me. Out of this love, this reexamining of myself, the world, and how I feel about it, I find myself coming back to art, coming back to a desire to express myself. What is next, I am not certain of, but I am certain there is a place in the sun on the horizon. One thing I do know is that I hope to return to this blog more often in the coming months.

So, once again I find myself getting into the Christmas spirit. While Thanksgiving was somewhat of a bust (I worked) and my birthday was mostly a mess (I worked and then I Drank), this Christmas promises to be a very special holiday. A time for healing, a time to grieve, but also to celebrate and cling very close to those big and small that are the wonders of life. My holiday season officially began last night with a very spirited tree trimming party. Up ahead, I am looking forward to writing Christmas cards, wrapping presents, and all that Christmas cooking. Oh, and a new episode of Glee this evening.