confidence · courage · fear · love · self-esteem

You Must Be This Tall…

I still haven’t submitted my photos to the “real people”
modeling agencies that my friend suggested to me after seeing some of my photos
from my October photo shoot with a friend. Or sent the hard copy photos to the
modeling scout who saw me while I was busking in Union Square on Black Friday.
This morning, I was querying why I haven’t done these
simple, low risk tasks, though they’ve been on my internal and external to-do
lists for months. The answer was simple: I’m afraid I’m not good enough.
When I first stopped drinking, I read this memoir by a guy
who’d also stopped drinking. In explaining why he drank the way he did, he writes,
and in explaining why I drank the way I did, I quote: “I always felt one
drink behind—One drink behind being funny enough; one drink behind being smart
enough, cool enough, attractive enough.” One drink behind being good enough, in
essence. So there always had to be one more drink, then; and after that,
oblivion.
It’s ridiculous, however, to think that I’m not “good enough”
somehow to submit photos to professional agencies of myself, I wrote to myself
this morning, because that’s like saying, I’m not tall enough to ride a roller
coaster. That I walk up to the measuring stick in front of the ride, and the
sign with the painted finger points to five feet tall. … I am 6 feet tall. But I tell myself, I
convince myself, that I’m not tall enough. I’m not yet enough to ride this
ride.
It’s absurd. But it’s the truth of how I (sometimes) interpret myself in
the world.
Many years ago, I wrote a poem that included the line: [Fear],
you Nancy Kerrigan my knees before I even stand up. (Or something like that.)
That fear takes me out before I even have a chance to try. I wrote that so many
years ago. And fear continues to pull a Tanya Harding on me.
I am pretty sure that the only cure for this, let’s
call it, personality dysmorphia (like anorexics have body dysmorphia – seeing
flaws and fat that aren’t at all there) – the only cure for this is
self-esteem, self-care, and just walking through the fears anyway.
To walk up to the measuring stick at the roller coaster, see
that this ride is actually accepting me,
and walk onto it. – The ride is Life, if you haven’t figured that out.
I am enough. I am healed enough, sane enough, funny enough, smart
enough, pretty enough, engaging enough, lovable enough to participate in life,
to have relationships, to have valuable friendships, to throw my photos into
the hat, to show up to auditions, to even show up to musical auditions. I am
enough to have this, to be this.
Because, I am six feet tall, by god! – And I want to ride. 

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authenticity · children · confidence · fear · motherhood

Maybe Baby

Here’s the subtitle of the book of the same name: 28
Writers Tell the Truth About Skepticism, Infertility, Baby Lust, Childlessness,
Ambivalence, and How They Made the Biggest Decision of Their Lives.
You can imagine there are a lot of thoughts about and sides
to the story. I haven’t yet read the book, but I plan to. Because I fit in
there, somewhere along the Skepticism, Ambivalence, and the unlisted Fear of
Regret.
Yesterday, I attended a baby shower for a friend of mine.
It’s the 2nd I’ve attended recently, but skewed very differently from the last
one.
The first one was held in a yawning mansion in Russian Hill
or Pacific Heights, some “you will never afford this” neighborhood. It was
hosted in a home that would not be out of place in Dwell, or Architectural
Digest, and peopled by beautifully draped women who would be staged in such a photo
shoot.
The conversation was all about babies. When you were due,
how many you had, getting into preschools, Diaper Genies, the best nappies,
where you take your toddler.
The striking thing, to me, is that all of these women were intelligent, obviously savvy, had or have a career. And they were all talking about poop.
I was (very obviously) one of two women in attendance who was childless, and
I felt so fish-out-of-water, I was relieved to leave and call a single,
childless friend to … not commiserate, per se, but to, I don’t know, vent,
maybe.
Yesterday’s event was entirely different. A baby shower,
yes. Held in a gorgeous home with a catered lunch, yes. Obviously savvy, intelligent,
careered women, yes.
But somehow, the conversations were completely different.
Sure, there was some “helicopter parent” talk, a few “we’re trying to get
pregnant” comments, and a story of a friend who bought a racecar, and by
default, because of the cost of the car, decided she wouldn’t freeze her eggs. But mostly,
these women were talking about themselves, their interests, and random wordly
gossip; about new restaurants opening, the surprisingly inviting nature of the L.A. community, and, in one instance, syphilis.
Why was this event different? The two guests of honor would
be at home talking with one another, smart, hilarious, worldly. I don’t know.
But, I know I left feeling a hundred times different than the last time. I felt
like a person who’d attended a party, not a single, childless oaf who didn’t
fit in.
I have two friends back east in very different stages of the
spectrum. One I spoke to in New Jersey last weekend told me she’d
looked up freezing her eggs recently, as she’s back in her on-again-off-again
relationship with a man in his 40s who’s already been divorced and has two
school-aged kids. He does not want more.
She just turned 33 and doesn’t know what she wants, but is scared that if she enters this
relationship again, she is making a decision by default to not have children.
And she definitely does want them. Just not now.
My other friend is 6 months pregnant, living in suburban
Long Island in a new house with her new husband, having gotten pregnant on her
honeymoon cruise through the Aegean. Really.
She is 35 and this is her first child, and because she’s one
of the most straight-shooting women I know, I get to have all kinds of “what is
it like” conversations with her—like, are you still having sex?
I called this friend yesterday while driving home from the
baby shower, having been acutely aware after leaving the party that I probably
won’t get to go to her shower. That I won’t really be there to be Auntie Molly
to this child. It was a very different phone call; it wasn’t really about me,
because I didn’t feel that my value as a human was called into question over
the “Do you have children?” line.
My friend and I spoke about how the 30s are just this
minefield of all this information, questioning, and decisions. I am imminently
grateful that the parents I respect most are friends of mine who didn’t have
their children until their late 30s and early 40s, and they are by far the most
fully-formed mothers I know—with lives and interests and hobbies and careers.
These are my role-models. And they help take the pressure off the ticking eggs
in my womb.
My friend in New Jersey is surrounded by women our age who
are in the depths of baby-land, and she gets the “you better do something soon”
message mirrored back to her daily. The suburban life will do that more than city life, I think.
But I didn’t feel yesterday, after the party, after speaking
with my pregnant friend, that I had to make any kind of decision. It felt like,
Wow, this is a lot of information all we women have to wade through in our 30s.
More observational than judgmental.
I don’t know if I want kids. I know I don’t want them now. I
feel like in 5 years I might be ready, and may try then. I know for sure I
don’t want to intentionally become a single-mother through mishap or I.V.F.
I know that I feel very
selfish with my time and my life right now. I feel like the 5-years-from-now
mark is one that caps the “trying to be an actress” portion of my life. In 5
years, I will hopefully have done something around all this, and I won’t feel
that by having children I’m “giving up” myself and my dreams.
Because, despite my role-model moms being super and
self-possessed and interesting, their lives still revolve around the upbringing
of their children. And I am still just rearing myself.
I feel extremely grateful to not feel the pressure my NJ
friend feels to make a decision now. I feel proud of my friends who’ve made the
decision to have children.
BUT. I know many women, too, in their mid-40s who regret
terribly not having children. And I know that option stands for me too. But,
I’m also not willing to have children, to bring a life into this world under
the shadow of longing, desperation, fear, or simply, “I want a legacy, and someone to visit me in the nursing home.” It’s the same selfish motivation.
So, back to Maybe Baby.
For now, Maybe Breakfast. Those eggs, I’m not ambivalent
about. 

authenticity · beauty · confidence · sexuality

Your Beauty Speaks So You Don’t Have To.

An audition monologue piece was suggested to me by the 25
y.o. He said it’s not the best character in the play, but the character is
supposed to be young and attractive, and it’s best to go with what the auditors
are already seeing.
In the piece I’m practicing for Monday’s audition, the woman
says, “You think my beauty gives me riches I didn’t earn.” “I used to feel that
way, too,” she says. So she became quiet, unseen, out of the way, meek, so as not seem … well, it’s hard to say exactly what – so as not to seem
like she’s bragging? It’s a hard quality to distill. But I get it, and I’ve written about it. (See: Cadillac Beauty. Actually, after writing the rest of today’s blog, I just reread that piece, and it’s nearly the same place I am with this 3 years later, and worth my rereading.)
The character in the play says she became quiet and instead used piano as her
voice when she was young, in order to have a self, but not an intrusive self,
more than her appearance already intruded. Which is what I did with writing.
The piece goes on to say she wishes she could meet her
younger self, and tell her to own it,
flaunt it if you have to, she says. Be anything other than afraid.
I stayed late after acting class on Thursday to talk with
the only other “trying to be an actress” person in the class – she’s in the
actor’s union and everything. She was giving me notes about my performance of
this piece. She said that I have to stop hiding, that this *insert curving shoulders inward here* doesn’t actually hide or pretend that I’m not who I am.
That, damnit Molly, you will always be a 6 foot tall beautiful woman. That
brushing it aside, pretending it’s not, doesn’t change it.
I argue-joked with her while pulling down my cheeks in “nothing lasts forever” agedness. I looked down, brushing away her words with my hand. No, it isn’t
something I’ve earned. It’s
not
something I’ve “accomplished,” or built, or created. It just happens to be.
But, it’s not that important.
I told her that sometimes you just want to walk into a room
and not be noticed. How hard I tried
when I was young to be the wallflower. But, I am a 6 foot tall beautiful woman,
and I don’t get that anonymity all the time.
I realize now I would like to say something like, But I
don’t mean to play the “Poor Little Pretty Girl” card, that I don’t mean to
incite rancor or dismissiveness in you over what actually has created a very
uncertain way of being in the world, but I won’t say that.
I have apologized for a very long time to you for looking
how I do.
The two ways I sought to remedy this in the past was to try
to hide (see “shrinking shoulder” move) or to decide if what you wanted from
me, boys, was my body, then that’s all you shall have.
Neither of these take all of it into consideration – take all of me into consideration.
This feels like trepidatious ground to walk on, being honest
about this part of my experience. I don’t want to arouse negative feelings in
you. But, if part of what I do here is to be honest about everything, and
believe me, you know a LOT!, then this is part of it too.
Because I have changed, and am changing around it. I’ve
begun wearing heels again. Upgraded my jeans to be more form fitting, because I
have a body that wears clothing well. I don’t have to “flaunt it” as my
character says, I don’t need to, I just need to be honest with myself, and
therefore the world about what’s really going on.
I wonder if you’re still even reading 😉
It is a very hard line to walk (in heels) for me. How to own
how I look, but not have that overshadow my personality. My friend in acting
class said that I am a super model walking around in the world, who can
actually have a conversation.
That’s a large mantle to wear.
Like most assets of mine, I downplay and dismiss them. My
appearance is no exception. “Oh, it’s not really… No, don’t praise, it’s not… I’m
not…”
We’ve heard me write about this before, about jumping from
creative endeavor to creative endeavor so as not to get too good at anything,
and therefore have to admit (own) that I’m either good at it, or that it’s
important to me.
If you’ve met me in person, you do know that how I dress is important to me, most of the time. You know that my
style has evolved, is ever changing, and is sometimes more bold than I give
myself credit for.
But, honestly, it’s not bold enough. It’s not honest enough. It’s still hidden. It’s still “shh, don’t
tell, don’t look.” I think I’m getting better at it, but last night, as I was ushering
at the Fox theater, there was a photographer taking shots for the event. We
were making eyes at one another, and I found as I walked back and forth
helping patrons to their seats, I held myself differently than before we
noticed one another. I walked with a confidence and precision in my body that I
didn’t before. And, I also pretty much stopped breathing.
My breathing becomes shallow when I know you’re watching me.
When I take on the posture of the 6 foot tall model, I’m not fully embodied
anymore. There’s a retreat that happens. Still.
So. [Insert end-of-blog life lesson/challenge] (my blogs are as predictable
as an episode of Full House with it’s
cheesey last 10 minutes music overplaying while Danny Tanner talks to his oldest daughter D.J. about some “just be yourself” life lesson!)
Nonetheless. I know I have a switch from “just me” to “me in
heels” (read: me when I’m aware of my appearance). The “me in heels” is a
little distant, a little removed, and a little scared of not maintaining
composure. All of it is me, but it is not integrated. So, guess what today’s life
lesson/challenge will be?

acting · change · confidence · dreams

Hunger Games

I attended the Theater Bay Area General Auditions on Sunday
as a volunteer, which meant I got to see a lot of headshots, a lot of nervous
milling actors, and some of the auditions.
What I got to observe was that I probably fit somewhere in the
middle of that pack – I’m not worse than the worst person, and certainly not as
good as the best, so that means… I have a shot, right?
The General Auditions bring together all of the casting companies from around the Bay in one
room, like a cattle-call. There are about 5 auditions every 15 minutes, and it
goes on for 3 days. I can only imagine what that must be like for the auditors!
But, you never know – they can’t blink, because they might miss something, and
if you falter, you’ve just faltered in front of everyone you’ll ever audition for.
(all hail hyperbole!)
The other thing I got to see was how hungry all the actors were. It didn’t matter the age, or
experience, there was a rabid manic energy about the whole place. The guy
sitting in the lobby mouthing the words to his monologue, the slight look of
lamb at slaughter of a few, and the general awkwardness of the others standing
around their competition, sizing one another up, if even glancingly.
Because there isn’t enough. That’s the grand and great mantra
of things like this. It reminded me of the day laborers who stand outside of
Home Depot, waiting for someone to pick them. All they want to do is work. That’s
it – just give these people an opportunity to do what they know how to do best.
Just let them work. It’s a very different idea about the hungry artist, to me
at least. The idea that the hunger isn’t necessarily about pride, prestige,
fame, but just about getting the chance to do that which you’ve been trained to
do –
Let Me Work. That’s what these
actors are saying, in their fidgeting, their primping, their priming.
And this Saturday, I will do the same. I will say the same
thing: Dear CCSF Director, Please let me work.
It’s a strange interview process; so much more intense than
“regular” office interviews, where it’s a dialogue (hopefully). This is just
you, presenting what you have to offer, sans feedback. There’s no riffing, no
improv, no charming self-depreciation or affable witticism. There’s just what
you can give in 1 minute – what you can bottle and nutshell in one minute of
the macrocosm of who you are and what you can do.
It is a lot of
pressure!
But. I’m up for it. I have to be. I don’t really have the
option to shirk my dreams anymore, or shrink from that which enlivens me. I mean…
I do, but, “all things considered,” I don’t. Life is short, dearies.
I also am getting to observe my lovely monkey mind as it
compared my list of acting credits to those on the resumes I was handing to the
auditors. I don’t have an MFA in Acting.
I don’t have a BA in Theater
Arts. Hell, I don’t even have one legitimate credit at all. And, yet, (I’m
talking to you, monkey mind) So, the, fuck, what. ? So what?!
Do you not make a new recipe because it might fail, and
therefore never eat again? Do you not refuel your gastank because it’s empty
and futile to continue refilling it? Do you stop talking to people you’ve never
met before because your name hasn’t been in lights, on a program, on Buzzfeed?
Well, I hope not.
Essentially, Life would be pretty awful if it meant only
doing the things you knew how to do. Where is the joi de vivre in that?
So, I’ll own the joi. I’ll de vivre. I’ll feed my monkey
mind banana chips and positive affirmations. I’ll practice the shit out of my
monologue, and I’ll mouth words silently, and I’ll appraise my competition, and
I’ll remind myself there is enough and I am worthy, and I’ll believe it and I
won’t believe it, and I’ll try again next time.
Because, I woke up with Lose Yourself in my head this morning — Eminem wants me to work, too. 

acting · action · change · commitment · confidence · kindness · laughter · life · performance · persistence · progress · recovery · relationships · self-support · sobriety · time

For those of you playing along at home. . .

For those of you playing along at home, below are a few
updates on things I have here written about:
  • The
    caffeine-reduction experiment has been a near-fail since beginning the
    temp job, but continues to remind me to feel guilty.
  • I realized this morning that the free bus I sometimes catch to BART can take me all the
    way to the city, instead of transferring to BART (thank you to my school’s
    student bus pass, making bus transit in the East Bay free).
  • I put
    back up the series of my paintings that I’d taken down during Calling in
    the One
    , at which time I’d realized that women
    not looking at their lovers was something I wanted to move away from. I
    put them back up when the okJew was potentially going to come over, and I
    didn’t want a blank expanse of wall over my bed. I’m not sure if I’ll take it back down. 
  • I have
    not yet finished, but I have begun, the art project for my friend’s
    wedding. It sits on my desk, accusing me.
  • I
    bought cat food.
  • I graduated with a Master’s degree a month ago. And I was offered a weekend job at said pet food store. Generously offered (not the compensation), but no thank you. Not yet, at least.
  • I have
    art that I need to make for the September art show my friend invited me to
    join. I’m not sure what I’ll do, but it’s been backstroking through my
    psyche for a month or so.
  • I must
    follow-up with the boss at where I’m temping to ask her precisely what she
    meant when she said she would be happy to give me “a recommendation” for
    auction houses here and in the city (um, I meant NY city – I guess that habit still dies hard).
  • My dad
    will be closing on the sale of my childhood NJ home in the next month or
    so, and is planning to move with his fiancé to their new Florida home
    toward the fall.
  • I am
    eagerly awaiting June 20th, when the results of the daily
    sweepstakes I’ve been entering for a trip for two to Italy will be
    announced. You may be the lucky winner.
  • My
    writing style is influenced by who I’m reading currently.
  • At the
    moment, I just finished Nora Ephron’s new book, and began a collection of
    essays by David Foster Wallace, whom I’ve never read, but seen the
    author’s name so many times on my BART rides that I thought to give him a
    whirl. I’m not sure I will continue.
  • I will
    be art modeling this Sunday for the artist who I first worked for, and two
    of her friends. I’m not sure I will continue.
  • I have
    9 new voicemails I haven’t checked.
  • I went
    on the walk I’d planned to take on Tuesday evening yesterday evening, and
    it was glorious. I ate what must have been a small, cherry-sized peach,
    unless it was of course, a cherry, from a nearby tree which I jumped to
    pluck from the low hanging branch. I’m not dead, so it was not poisonous.
  • As
    soon as I get paid this cycle, I’m going to register for the summer acting
    classes at A.C.T., and I can’t f’ing wait. I looked up all manner of
    electronics yesterday that I could hypothetically use my more regular
    income of the next 6 weeks to purchase, and yet, I realized that what I
    really want are those lessons. And new shoes.
  • I’m
    now working one-on-one with a woman who’s found recovery around negative
    patterns of behavior with sex and men, and I’m infinitely looking forward
    to freedom around some of this.
  • I’m
    continuing to work with a woman one-on-one around financial recovery
    stuff, and am looking forward to being “placed in a position of
    neutrality” around money.
  • I love
    Patsy.
  • I haven’t
    yet played my bass with my friend with the drums up in Berkeley, and it
    too stares at me, not gently weeping, but with silent mewling.
  • I
    realized that most of the writers I’m reading right now have written as freelance
    writers, and it occurs to me, that I might be able to do that, if I look
    into it.
  • I
    haven’t applied to any jobs since last week.
  • I used
    my 3 lb weights yesterday after my walk for about 3 minutes. And began to dread the 3 hour posing/drawing session on Sunday.
  • Dr.
    Palm Reader’s office wrote to ask after me, and so I looked up my
    soon-to-end chiropractic benefits “in network,” so that I can get back to
    that kind of thing, without breaking my bank, or participating in a
    somewhat murky flirtatiousness.
  • This
    is the end of my list. 
authenticity · camping · community · confidence · hobby · honesty · laughter · music · responsibility · self-support

Chop Wood, Carry Water.

Two weeks ago, I wrote this in the Grownupness blog:
“I grasp at things I think I want, but I’m not willing to
firm the foundation to get there – to mix the mortar, lay the bricks. Chop
wood, carry sticks. That’s where I need to be at. Very simply, I need to lay
hold of qualities and actions that I have tried to avoid.”
And so, this weekend, I carried sticks.
The simplicity of camping, even in the complexity of “car
camping” the bastardized cousin of “real” camping, was so easy. It’s so easy
for me. What needs to be done next? Well, we’re heading out down the river for
the afternoon while others go river rafting (a luxury expense I couldn’t
afford), so what did I need to bring? Sunscreen, towel, book I didn’t crack,
hat, water. That’s it.
It’s turning darker, what do we need to do? Get more
firewood, build a fire, refill the water, not at the mercury-laden river’s
edge.
There are things that I know how to do, and this weekend, I
got to see that very clearly. I know how to build a fire, I know you need something
like paper or brush to catch under the kindling to catch under the wood blocks
that were neatly chopped for us in a bundle wrapped with plastic. I know that I
need to slather sunscreen on myself and wear a hat because I’m paranoid of skin
cancer since my encounter with the Australian sun – the sun won.
I know how to make coffee, and put up a tent and roll my
sleeping bag and to remember to bring earplugs and tarot cards 😉
I know how to camp. At least, I know how to car camp.
When I unfurled my sleeping bag, in it was a long-sleeved
shirt I hadn’t seen in two years, since I was in that tent, with someone else.
I played Ghosts of Camping Trips Past this weekend.
Remembering acutely who I’d been with and when. Each and every one of the even
mildly significant and more significant relationships I’ve been in over the last six
years, I’ve been camping with that person. I haven’t slept in that tent alone
in a long time.
This particular camp grounds, I’d been to maybe 3 or 4 years
ago, when I’d been newly dating someone. It’s a beautiful spot on the American
River, up past Sacramento, and almost to Tahoe. It’s amenitied out the
yin-yang, but that’s alright. I remember the photo of me and that person in
that very landscape, I remember the release I feel when I’m out there. Not with
the person, but out there, knowing and feeling confident that I know even that
little bit.
I haven’t roughed it. I haven’t hiked out into the woods and
set up camp since I was 19 and leading a camp group overnight with our packs
into the Appalachian Mountains. And even then, it wasn’t roughing it – That’s
alright. I know it’s something I still want to do.
I wondered why it was, as I went through my previous
camping trips over the last few years, that each had included a man I’ve been
involved with. Was this my test for them? For “us”? Was I only able to be there
with someone else?
No. The reason, I realized, is because I love camping. And I
happen to go and be invited, and then I happen to invite the guy I’m with.
That’s all. Turns out, camping is a hobby, I suppose. It’s likely the only same thing that has occurred with each relationship I’ve had over the last few
years. The only “adventure” or “event” or excursion that has happened in each involvement. It just points out to me
that this is an important thing for me. Something I love.
A way that I don’t feel I need to be any different than I
actually am.
I feel confident out there (yes, even with the general store
and port-o-potties nearby). But I feel like myself. I usually look like a
wreck, and I don’t care. My hair matted and loved by the sweat and dust and
river mist. Caked in various layers of SPF lotions and supportive sneakers. I don’t
look like Xena, I look like me. Like the me I am in private, with no one to
impress or stun or mesmerize. Like the me I am when it’s just me. Whole, and
unabashed, and unprotected. And capable. I usually feel like a leader, or at least like a competent
person when I’m out there. Something those of you who read this blog with
any consistency can attest is not my normal M.O. out in the “real world.”
I needed that. I needed to feel worthy and valuable simply
for who I was/am. Not for how I looked. Or for how much money I had. Or for what kind of job I worked. Or what cell phone I carried. Or degree I had. I could be valuable for my
contributions to the group, be it building a fire, or fetching the water, or
going off to sit and do my Morning Pages out on a rock in the middle of the
rushing river so that I could be more present and emptied of my junk when I
returned to the group. I could be valuable by bringing Madlibs to do by the
fire at night – which led to so much hilarity, and stupid good fun. I could
be valuable by making coffee the first morning when everyone was still asleep
or grumpy. I could be valuable by breaking out the guitar one of us brought for
a little while, and later, sing along harmonies with her, and remember that I
have a voice.
I felt purposeful. I didn’t question who I was or where I
was going or what I was doing with my life. I didn’t have any profound
judgments or insights. I simply “chopped wood, carried water” (no chopping this
trip, but you know what I mean). If I can take that simplicity, and that
confidence, and that sense of pleasure from being precisely who I was/am into
the world, I think I’ll be alright.
If I can dress nicely and put on makeup, and remember
that it’s just a lens through which to see the whole that I am.
If I can breathe in the fire smoke scent of my balled-up clothing and
recall what it feels like when I’m just me, then I think I’ll be alright.