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Friday, May 3, 2013

Just call me "Tubs".

Have you ever felt absolutely disgusted with your own body in general and then mortified by what you see when you look at pictures of yourself - only to revisit those photos years later and WISHED you could be that thin again because you are currently feeling exactly the same way or worse?  Were you ever actually as heavy as you thought?  Will you EVER be happy with your body as it is right. now.?  I rarely have been.  I love food too much to be anorexic -- but never really binged enough to need to purge.... but I definitely have a disorder.  A body disorder?  Is that a thing?  Do all women have that here in America?  I apologize as I realize I am just asking a lot of questions -- and I am not examining uncharted territory by any means.  We know the deal -- our culture does not appear to welcome real women's natural bodies for some bizarre reason.  Of course you find out in reality that nearly every body type is desirable to someone - somewhere....and because there are A LOT of someones all over this country and the world -- we are actually JUST FINE.  Two of my most satisfying & supportive relationships have occurred when I have felt "overweight" (including right now).  Realizing this still doesn't help my own body image and that is just silly. 

There was one point in my life I acquired some peace on this issue.  I bought a book, "The Idiots Guide to Yoga".  I read a lot of the book and looked at the pictures -- but didn't really practice any of the positions.  One thing that really resonated with me was the information about it's connection it's Buddhist philosophies of eliminating negative thoughts, words, & actions - to others - but most importantly to yourself.  For the first time in my life I realized how terrible I had been to myself all those years.  If any friend of mine were saying the things that would go through my head every time I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror to me -- I would definitely rethink that friendship.  So I did the same for myself.  That summer was terrific for me.  I had some extra time on my hands and was able to fit in truly mini workouts almost all week (20 minutes a day -- no kidding)....but I definitely was eating whatever the hell I wanted....and I lost 10 pounds in a month!  This was many moons ago -- and I have experienced a few gains and losses since but my happiest moments with myself have been when I did NOT permit these negative thoughts/words to myself about myself.  When I let myself truly enjoy everything I ate -- whether "good for me" or "bad"....and didn't punish myself.  I have maintained a very happy weight with myself using this "method". 

So - why am I writing about this?  I have recently been rehearsing for the brand new Off-Broadway production of "Spandex the Musical".  I suppose that may explain a lot right there, but for those of you who weren't around in the 80's.....aerobics was the fitness craze which swept the nation.  The wardrobe of choice was a breathable -- stretchy fabric called Spandex!  My role in this musical is that of Linda, a housewife/mother in her 40s who has lost her figure - but mostly her confidence and herself.  She finds her power once again through the inspiring friends she meets at aerobics and while competing in the National Crystal Light Aerobic Olympics - Hosted by Alan Thicke - inspired by real-life events!  I cannot tell you the mental ride I have been on with this experience.  From the callbacks to getting cast - to reading the script and realizing my character is referred to as "Tubs".....I have very conflicting highs and lows.  Winning this role feels amazing as a performer -- but terrible as a woman.  What a bizarre dichotomy for an actress.  Now - I am also not 40...and people claim I don't look 35 (which I am) -- but I have been playing that (& older) for several years now!  So I already am aware that casting often isn't 100% true to character descriptions but I can't help finding this experience so bizarre.  While I know my body is far from thin -- it definitely isn't what I see when I envision "Linda"...yet I could see why I might be perfect for her at the same time. 

This experience is unique for me on so many levels -- one of which is the need for me to wear workout clothes in rehearsal 5 days a week - with the end result being in actual Spandex -- something I don't think I OWNED in the 80's because I did not think I would look right in it (even at 8 to pre-teen I didn't think I could pull it off!).  You stare at yourself in the mirror as you rehearse and think terrible thoughts about all your rolls -- and wonder what other people might think of you (who clearly are paying no attention as they are doing the same thing to themselves).  Only this time --  every time I caught a glimpse of myself and thought of how terrible I looked -- all I could think of was how right that made me for "Linda".  I have NEVER felt so justified in this body I have.  Never.  It is exciting and uncomfortable all at once.  I have been attempting to lose at least 10 pounds for the past 2 years....and thought this might jumpstart that crusade.  The day we started rehearsals - I started another "diet" --- and hoped that - come opening night I could do the show without my "sucky-inny-clothes", as I call them --- otherwise known as "Spanx".  I thought this was when I was going to lose that 10 pounds.  How weird it felt though --- as I was now cast as someone called "Tubs"....maybe I shouldn't?  Well -- have no fear --- the hectic schedule has made it very difficult for me to keep up with my diet -- and that weight has not come off and I still despise my belly every time I see it in the mirror. 

I have been dying to share this experience with people....not because I have some incredible insight to share -- but because I feel like most women with similar feelings never get to have this type of experience.  Most American women never feel 100% perfect in the body they are in.  And that is a shame.  I still don't -- but I get to as I play "Linda" - who is taking control of her life and getting in shape.  Sure, she is doing aerobics - but I like to think she is finding her success the only way I think anyone does - by eliminating those negative thoughts which sabotage your efforts and truly loving and being kind to yourself.  It all reminds me of how we do have the power within ourselves to alter those thoughts which hinder our well-being.  If I had lost that 10 pounds 1 or 2 years ago -- as I had been attempting, and my body looked like I wish it did -- would I have booked this show?  Probably not. 

I won't lie -- I am still 100% terrified by any publicity shots that are coming --- or just at the thought of any of my friends and family seeing my imperfectness on display in Spandex costumes in the theatre district just Off-Broadway!  After several years doing some of my best work outside of NYC -- now my imperfections will be the most accessible in whatever press we get and obviously visible on stage every show.  I am uncomfortable with every inch of this -- but doing my best to identify with being so "right" to play Linda -- a sweetheart of a woman who has to learn to love herself just as she is - right now - something we should all be doing - all the time.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Here Comes the Sun

  You all know the story.  Girl visits NYC and it's love at first sight.  All she wants is to move to NYC and perform on Broadway.  She just hopes that New York will take her in and be kind.  Well, okay - anyone who saw my cabaret knows that isn't exactly what I had expected.  I knew it would be really difficult - but hell if that didn't excite me even more!  The first time I set foot in NYC a pigeon shit on my head but I didn't care.  I expected it.  So I moved here and started my NYC romance.  Like every exhilarating love affair - I found passion, inspiration, & creativity with just the right amount of hurdles and pigeon shit laced throughout to keep it a constant challenge/chance for growth.  New York forced me to evolve in ways I never dreamed I would and learn exactly what I'm made of.  Though I knew my dream of Broadway would be difficult - I feel a little silly now saying that somehow - deep inside - I never doubted it would happen.  Here I sit - nearly 11 years later and well, let's just say that dream feels 100% as challenging as it did the day that pigeon shit on my head.  People often would ask me in those first few years whether I was thinking about giving L.A. a try - or did I miss Pittsburgh?  My mom, of course, knew me best and could tell within that first year or so that I wasn't coming home - that NYC was going to be my home for a very long time.  She saw my love for the city and continues - to this day - to support me fully in my pursuit of my dreams here.  All I have ever wanted, that I just knew was in my grasp if I did the work, was living in NYC and performing.  That was one thing I was sure of.

  One thing I've never been sure of is whether or not I'd ever find someone to share my life with.  Of course I grew up expecting that "someday I'll meet someone" - because that is just what is supposed to happen - but as I grew older it really felt like that part of my life might never be like it's "supposed" to happen - and I honestly started to just accept this.  I knew I was likely going to live in NYC for the rest of my life and would most certainly be that crazy lady on the train with weird glasses wearing leopard pajama pants and talking to herself.  And that was okay by me.  My, how life can through you for a loop sometimes! Without getting too crazy into the nitty or the gritty -- the important part here is that I did meet someone.  And that someone loves me.  And I am crazy about that someone.  And that someone lives out in New Jersey.  So....guess who's moving to Jersey?  That's right - it's ME!  I know - I am as stunned as you are - which is the point of this post.  It wasn't an easy decision and again - neither the gritty nor the nitty is necessary here but....the EXCITING thing is - I am so giddy to begin my life with this guy without all the commuting!!!  The thing I haven't been as excited about is leaving my NYC.  That is the tough part.  There are so many things I am frightened of as I prepare to make my commute to my city-life sightly more difficult.

  So there I am - the day before I am to move 98% of my belongings from Queens to Jersey --- and I hop on the subway to meet my Jersey boy in the city for a "Final Saturday as an Official New Yorker" dinner type thing.  I am a little melancholy - as I have been with all my recent NY activities - when I hear an accordion player step onto my subway car and start playing/singing "Here Comes the Sun" by The Beatles.  Now - if you live in the city - you know there are a cast of familiar characters you see on your trains -- every once in a while there is someone new - but generally it's the same folks with the same old schtick.  Well, I have never seen this dude and I have rarely - if ever - heard any of them playing this song.  More importantly - this is one of the FEW songs my Jersey boy sang lead on in his old band.  I couldn't help myself as a smile spread from ear to ear and I heard the comforting words "It's all right.".  I begin to get out a dollar for this guy (which I try to do when they genuinely make me laugh/smile).  He had stopped playing and collected from someone else - but was on his way over to me.  My head was down as I struggled in my pocket when suddenly he is hovering over me and loudly singing directly at me "SUN SUN SUN - HERE IT COMES!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SUN SUN SUN - HERE IT COMES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"  I gasped and giggled as he stopped and apologized for scaring me.  I gave him my buck and then he remained there - playing some romantic tune you'd hear if you and your love were being serenaded by an accordion at a little Italian restaurant.  But I was all alone.  It was perfectly ridiculous.  All of it.  It was one of my favorite types of NYC moments - I hadn't had one like that in a while.  And it came just when I needed it.  It felt like my "old flame" NYC was giving the thumbs up to this move with it's blessings - reminding me that it will always be right here and that I will always be just as much a part of it.  Only now it would be my (slightly) long-distance commute.

So that girl moves to New Jersey.  And it's all right....