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The Beat Goes On.

One of the items on my To Do list recently was to look up music shows.  It’s been ages since I’ve seen anything live (see above: May 2016!) and my heart is suffering for it.

I set aside money each month for “Entertainment” so that when events come up that I want to go to, I have the money ready.  The irony is that even though the money is there, earmarked for just such occasions, I tend to not spend it.  I tell myself, There may be something else you’ll want to do more, or This isn’t important enough, or, with a sneer in my own head-voice, Is that really what you want to be spending your money on?

Well, yes.

I’ve been compiling a mental list of all the live music shows I’ve been to in my life, and the list is long and vast, though of course not as vast as I’d like.  Which necessitates the question, Why then would I ever tell myself “No”??

I count a value of my life to be music—listening to, performing, viewing.  Yet, if in one breath I tell myself that music is a pillar of my life need, and in the next breath I sneer that I “waste” my money on it, then frankly it’s no wonder I don’t go as often as I want!

How is it “wasting” money, if that’s precisely what I’ve saved it for??

This habit of accruing money for particular needs and desires, and then putting them off is a common one for me.  It’s as though there is something sacred or pious in delaying what I’ve promised to myself.

Sure, Molly, you can see a music show, I know how important they are to you, just not this month.

*One month later, when even more money is in the accrual account.*  Sure, Molly, you can see a music show, I know how important they are to you, just not this month.

*One month later, when even more money is in the accrual account.*  Sure, Molly . . .

What is it that I’m attempting to protect?  What scarcity-mind bullshit am I being a sucker for?  How is denying what I have said is important to me keeping me “safe”?

 

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Whaddya mean I’m not fixed?

Those of you who read my previous blog will remember my howling about under the Blue Moon last Friday night and expelling from myself “embarrassing” truths, all my truths, in an effort to own them, to be bigger, and to “let go of being small.”  You will remember my feeling of exhilaration and self-ownership and silliness.  You will remember my expression of accomplishment, a mature releasing of old patterns, a sense that from here on out, I will not shrink in the ownership and embodiment of my truths.  **insert Xena Warrior Cry**

Therefore, it would come to you, as it did to me, as a complete disillusion as I drove home from an audition two days later in near-tears in reaction to the obviousness of my total and utter diminishment of self.  **insert the raspberry sound of a balloon deflating**

I thought we’d fixed this, Moon/Universe/Life?  WTF.

When one enters an audition room, one must go in with a confident demeanor.  One must own the room.  Pull focus. Be big.  And yet, as soon as I opened the door on Sunday and walked down the aisle into the theater before the auditors, I could feel the shrinking coming over me like a storm-threatened cloud, obscuring myself, my truth, and therefore my voice.

I didn’t bomb the audition – I know what that feels and looks like! – but I didn’t do well.  I felt insecure about whether I could move out of the light that was on the stage in order to do my monologue and song (Do I have to stand in this one spot??).  I felt insecure about the movements I had recently added to my song (Is this totally cheesey, maybe I shouldn’t do them?).  I felt insecure about the delivery of my monologue, having rehearsed it one way but a recent audition asked me to deliver it smaller to match that character (But, shit, Hair isn’t a small show – this isn’t the right delivery!)

I barely said hello to the auditors when I walked in, I was so overcome with nerves and fright.  And I barely said goodbye as I left.  What an impression for an actor to make, eh?

I knew immediately, no matter the outcome of the audition, that this was unacceptable to me – this was SO OLD, this habit of shrinking and being small.  I mean, why do you think I banged a damn tambourine at midnight to get rid of it!!

I drove home, went straight to a room of like-minded women and cried really hard about how powerless I felt over this knee-jerk reaction to being seen.  About how awful it felt to become such a shadow of who I truly am – and of who I am onstage when I’m not in auditions, when I’m actually acting and cast.

The next morning, in a funk and emotional hangover, feeling numb and reeling from my abandonment of self, I took some pointed action.

I called one of my good friends who’s an actress of many years, and said, “I think I need an audition coach.  Who can you recommend?”

Because although the habit of shrinking is based on internal beliefs of self and need to be worked out on an emotional and spiritual plane, that doesn’t mean that I just sit in meditation and hope it fixes itself!  That doesn’t mean that I shake a tambourine at it and believe it will just be relieved.  It also means that I must take action in the practical reality realm to help alleviate myself of these habits that are causing me pain and sincere distress.

Therefore, the highest recommendation for an audition coach in hand (and now with a salary that can support these efforts), I have an audition coach.  As I said to her on the phone for our consultation, I need to stop feeling embarrassed to say, “I want to be an actress.”  Because that shame is part of what keeps me from really committing to it. Part of what makes me only cram for auditions the week before they happen, scrambling to find a “good” monologue, emailing people two days before my audition saying, “I don’t think this song is right, what should I do?,” calling up my vocal coach in need of an emergency lesson.

If you (ahem, I) really want to be an actress, I have to admit that to myself most of all, and to the world/others by taking the actions someone who wants to be an actress would take. As with the other truths I shouted under the moonlight last Friday, I need to begin to own them aloud if I am to achieve them.

As I further said to my new audition coach:  Look, I don’t even know what kind of actress I am.  If I’m a mediocre actress, then I want to know that, and I want to be the best goddamn mediocre actress I can be. If I’m meant for ensemble roles, then I want to kick the hell out of them.  And if I’m meant for other roles, then I am ready to accept the help and do the work that it takes to get those.  I have no idea where I am on the scale, because I’ve never fully given myself over to embracing my passion and truth.  And because my mirror (like many other people’s) is clouded with self-doubt and self-judgment.

So, come, professional helpers, and help me see what I can’t see.  Help me admit what I cringe to admit, “embarrassing” (silly, inconsequential, flighty and ridiculous) as my fear tells me it is:

I want to be an actress.

And I want to be the best goddamn actress I can be.

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Hands in the air — Reach for the sky

When I first moved into my Oakland apartment 5 years
ago, I pasted up onto my refrigerator a piece of black-board contact
paper.  On it, I’ve written a chalk list of tasks with check boxes that I mark with a colorful chalk X when they’re
complete, and eventually erase with an old cloth.
At this moment, included on my multicolored check list
are:  Thank you cards, Laugh, CSET #3,
audition pieces, Fall teaching, and Own my Power.
“Own my power” has been on there for some time and this
morning, I was thinking about what that might actually look like.  Because perhaps it’s not something you can
check off on a box.  Perhaps it’s not something that you actually complete
I’ve been thinking about the difference between struggling
and striving.  I have tended to be
someone who struggles, mostly against myself, mostly in some twisted effort to
move forward that I thwart with habitual fears and paralyzation.  But I think these two ways of being may be one and the same, simply subject to a shift in perspective or focus.
There are so many check-list items that I’ve put on my
chalkboard, thinking them hard, impossible, and out of reach, but the fact for me has been
that each time I have reached for something I didn’t think possible, I had to
stretch beyond my normal scope, try a little harder, work a little deeper – and
in the end I have “miraculously” accomplished these goals.
Before I had written “audition pieces,” my task was “next
audition.”  Ages before that, it was “real
headshots.” 
Each of these seemed like Herculean effort, stretching my
own belief in what was possible and in what I could attain.  So what is the difference between striving
and struggling, if both are reaching in an uncomfortable way toward something
new?  A truckload of serenity, I imagine!
Striving seems to me to be born of a positive self-image,
whereas struggling does not.  You may disagree,
but for the purposes of this blog, let’s consider it so.
And in all of my strivings, as I’ve reached just that little
bit taller, higher, almost tipping over with the effort, not quite in view
of my goal, I’ve had to stretch, work, believe, try — and grow.  And here’s where the whole “Own my power”
thing comes in:
If I have gotten “bigger,” taller, stronger,
more breadth and depth with each of my strivings, then there is never going to
be a complete “owning” of my power (whatever I consider that to be: my truth, my voice, my wholeness).  Every time I grow a bit in my self-esteem, in
my confidence and competence, I outgrow a shell.  And the power that I am hoping to own grows with it.
There is
no end to it – you simply need to become bigger to fill the new proportions you’re
now striving to embody. 
Instead of lamenting that this striving is some endless Sisyphean
task of perpetually pushing a builder up a hill, this newer understanding feels
emboldening.  Widening.  It feels instead like a
miraculous series of open doors, from one room to the next to the next, each
holding that new space for the new bits of Molly that I acquire, uncover, and come to believe in along the way.
So maybe I need to modify my chalkboard task from “own”
to “embody” my power, and allow that body to grow with each ticked off challenge.
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So, I guess it’s update time?

I have barely written since my retail job, since it sucked the life out through my hobbled feet and beat me with its fluorescent lighting. 
But, for the last 3 weeks, I have been working in a fluorescently-lit office environment. In my own office with a door. And a window that looks over the East Bay with a view of the Bay and Golden Gate bridges (on a clear day). 
It’s office work. It’s not Nobel Prize work. I’m not saving rainforests or unicorns. But my feet do not hurt. I know what a bypass tray is. And I can futz with the margins of a document until it’s pretty. 
This I know how to do. I’ve been doing it since I was 16. 
It’s simple enough. It’s a maternity leave temp assignment through mid-June. And most importantly to me, it’s a stable pay check. I’m concurrently looking at summer work I can take on after that, perhaps leaving something available to teach in the Fall, but unlikely. 
I’ve taken the CBEST test (oh, and passed!), which means I can register to be a substitute teacher, and I am working through my “Painless Algebra” book — which, though it began with the simplicity of negative numbers, works its way up to quadratic equations… so I’m not getting cocky yet. 
Yesterday, I finally looked into a community college class in Physics, so that I can bone up to be prepared for the more specialized teacher training tests (the CSETs), which, upon passing, will make me eligible to apply for a teacher credentialing program. 
It’s been strange to follow this avenue (teaching middle- /high-school math and science) and watch as I get a little low about not being able to follow other avenues. About a month ago, I was offered a role in the chorus of a very well-esteemed community theater company, and I turned it down because the time commitment was more than I have to offer with trying to study and look for more work. 
But I’m auditioning on Sunday for a short-rehearsal, short-run production that I would gladly take a chorus role in just to be a part of it. 
I’d also, in these last few weeks as I opened up from the shell of retail, reached out to friends by air and by sea. Namely, my friend who flies planes and my friend who sails boats. I’ll be going up and out within the near future. 
I have also been reconnecting with my friends and community. Seeing my preggers friend. Going to those fellowship places. I feel like I’m unconstricting. 
And. I’m still of course nervous and uncertain about the future — my employment, namely. 
That said, I guess I’m doing what I can. I’m going to the Farmer’s markets I missed so much when I was working weekends, and going to the gym a teeny bit more occasionally than I had been. I am cooking again. 

So, things are uncertain. But I feel better. And that’s a win for today. 
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Everybody.

The flowers from my landlord. 
The offer from an old coworker of a place to live if I needed a bone marrow transplant. 
The flight miles for my mom from the synagogue family. 
The money from my brother’s high school friends so he could afford to visit. 
Socks from a dearest friend. 
Soap from another, because hospital soap smells like sick people. 
A fuzzy blanket from an acquaintance to hide the threadbare ones. 
A bejeweled travel cup with home-made green smoothies. 
The pumpkin bread almost daily from a hospital worker who met my mom in the elevator and let her cry. 
The stuffed duck from one of the rabbis. 
The prayer my two friends read over my bed. 
The lovingly worn book by my favorite poet, read by the Australian nurse to me and my friend who gifted it. 
The laundry. Oh the laundry. From a friend who was more like a mom, and helped me with my self-injections when I was too chicken. 
Pumpkin muffins from the friend going through a divorce, and I was happy to hear about someone else’s drama for a while. 
The woman who read a guided meditation to me, and held my hand while I got blood. 
The one who gave me Reiki and slipped me one of his favorite crystals when his guy friends weren’t watching. 
The games of Words with Friends that kept me connected when I wasn’t — and the trash talk because ‘xoj’ really shouldn’t be a word. 
There was the un-signed gift of chemo caps from an Etsy vendor with a card that simply read, “Someone wants you to keep warm.”
The strand of dried flowers I could hang in my room, since I wasn’t allowed to keep real ones, from a friend I’d only just met. 
The box of skin care from an old coworker, since she’d heard your skin dries out. 
The nearly-free trip to Hawaii with a dear friend’s flight pass. 
The home to stay there with strangers — complete strangers who welcomed me in the dark of winter when I needed a vacation from cancer. 
The nurse I met who took my cat in for a week while I was inpatient. And sent me funny videos of her.
The old friend who brought me a lucky bamboo, that’s still alive today. 
The donation from my fellowship they’d collected anonymously. 
The Trader Joes gift cards. 
The DVDs.
Home-cooked chicken with two old friends we all ate together like an almost-normal meal. 
The website set up by a friend, as I listed in my daze all the people I wanted included on my updates. 
The friend who sat with my mom while I slept, and the other one who walked with her to the paperwork office so she didn’t have to navigate alone. 
My brother, who sat at my bedside with a guitar and a camp songbook and we sang. And sang. 
My mom, who brought me coffee every morning she was there because I wanted it nearby even if I couldn’t drink it. My mom, who answered a long-beleaguered, 4-months-of-this-shit tired phone call by showing up in near-minutes. With an old coworker’s flight miles. 
My dad, who tried. Not well. But tried. And loves me, no matter the look or feel of it. 
Everybody. 
Everybody showed up for me. 
There were cards posted all over my room, it looked like a Hallmark store. 
There was art made because one of the nurse’s daughters bought me stickers and a stamp kit I still use. 
There was the mini-USB keyboard from my ex so I could get some of that emotion out differently. 
Everything. 
Brownies, and soups, and protein drinks, and sparking water (since regular water tasted like ash). Chocolates. And puzzle books. And texts and calls. 
The friend who sat on the phone with each of my bill companies and explained my situation. The same one who reminded me monthly to pay those bills. The same one who lay with me in my hospital bed and napped with me. And helped me pack up on the joy of release day every single time.
Everybody. Showed. Up. 
I had everything I needed. The rest was up to Fate, Science, and a grand thing called Luck. 
But, with only Fate Science and Luck, it’s a bleak proposition. I didn’t do this alone. 
It’s two years since I sat in a hospital bed with a tube in my chest and a cap on my bald head. 
Without all of them. … And those I can’t even name, I … 
I don’t think they’ve made words for this yet. 


Actually, no. They have: It’s Love. 


The hidden ingredient of life and survival and health is Love. 


Thank. You. For. It. 
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Tree.

(and i don’t care how sappy this is. f.it.)
I picked up my coffee mug to refill and looked out my kitchen window. 
I looked where I have for 4 winters, across the roof of the apartment building next to mine, toward the 4 trees that grow 50 feet over the roof of the building. 
I’ve looked to these trees in each of the seasons, the only trees in my landscape to actually shed and rebuild their leaves each year, marking time, creating messages, like the green buds peeping, Spring is coming, or the yellow ones waving, I’ll see you after Winter. 
In the Winter of 2012, I asked the trees if I would see them bloom again, uncertain about my mortality and health. In the Spring of 2011, after a horrible season of wintery break-up, I eeped, “Oh,” at the surprise green buds, their note of hope and the healing power of time. 
I look at these trees as confirmation of something greater. I watch for their sway to remind me there’s something more than the drama in my life. I wait to see which patch of leaves will begin to flutter first, knowing, eventually, a bundle of them will shimmer, waving happily, omnipresent, and perhaps spread like the wave at a football game, across the face of first one and then all of them. Bundles of green rippling, undulating. Alive.
This morning, I looked out my kitchen window over the roof of the apartment building next to mine to mark the time according to their barren branches. And the trees were gone. 
There is one, right now, sliced roughly from most of its solid arms. It has the few speckles of small branches left at the top of what must be a hundred foot tree. Right now, the sun is peeking over the hill to the North, and just the top of the tree is colored with a rust. The small spreckled branches at the top, lit like a burning bush, a shock of ginger hair. 
And by this afternoon, I imagine, the last tree will be gone. 
In California, time is marked differently. My childhood memories all are time-stamped by the landscape, busty with Spring blossoms, chattery with the sound of fallen leaves. 
A friend native to San Francisco told me once when I asked, that yes, indeed, her memories aren’t marked that way. The years and seasons sort of blend. 
I love my markers. I love the cycle of it. 
I love that I am reminded that there must be a fallow season for there to be a lush one. That retreating and retracting for winter is a normal part of life; that the desolation of a leaf-less tree is only temporary. 
These trees marked my time, and offered solace and an anchor to the turning of the earth. 
When I looked out this morning, and saw a different desolation, I whispered, “Tree.” Tree, my apology. Tree, my gratitude. Tree, my anger. 
Tree. One last standing tree. One last marker of where I am on this earth and lifetime. 
Tree. Your upper half lit so brightly now, your bark shimmers like white birch. 

Tree. I’m so sorry they did this to you. Tree, I will miss you terribly. Tree, Thank you for being my anchor and my hope for so long. 



view from my kitchen table
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Writing Vows on my Couch.

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We won’t be perfect. We won’t like each other sometimes.
For months even, as we take turns, unevenly, cleaning up
after the kids.
We’ll forget, for possibly years, how we loved the
laughter in each other’s eyes, and the soft graze of your fingertips on the
back of my hand.
We’ll forget the nestling and nuzzling, and how that made us feel safe against unknowns and inner demons. How we felt known to each other, seen by each other in a way that had made us actually whisper we’d “never felt this way before.” 
We’ll forget what that inside joke was, and only remember
the shadow of it that time we’ll pass a fire hydrant painted green. We’ll be too tired to say anything about it. 
We won’t be happy. Not always. We’ll trudge sometimes and
just fall into bed, with maybe a peck, and maybe just rolling over.
I’ll remember that time I lay on my couch in my studio
apartment knowing that this decadent solitude wouldn’t last, that I would share my
space with someone eventually.
I’ll know it’ll be worth it. The irritations. I won’t
clean my dishes, it’s true. But I’ll make the bed. And you’ll tell that story about the thunderstorm at basecamp until I harden against hearing it anymore.
I’ll know when I forget the moment of falling that it was
meant to happen. And there will be small pocket-, breath-sized moments
when I won’t remember, but I’ll be introduced to it again, new.
We’ll change. Our bodies will age. I will want to have sex
more than you. I’ll notice how the skin on your face begins to sag forward when you’re on top of me. And there will be no helping my breasts.
We’ll each look with lust at other people, because we’re married, not dead.
And I will be jealous, but I will be human, too.
The way you don’t discipline the kids will bother me, and sometimes
we’ll talk about it. The way I am more strict with her than I am with him will
bother you.
We won’t be perfect. We’ll forget how falling in love feels
like a satellite burning a reentry through the atmosphere. We’ll forget the
tentative and amazed way our faces looked when we first came in each other’s
arms.
We won’t have aloneness. We won’t have privacy. We won’t
have independence.
We will evolve into creatures we ourselves don’t know, and
so can’t understand in the other.
But we will, we will,
stay the course. Unless it’s truly burning down, we will hold tight during the
less-so times, we will try to remember the intimacy of small moments: to hold a
door, to whisper a thanks, to hug and be still with one another.
We will try to be in love for 3 seconds each day.
Because it will have saved us both.