One of the reasons I stopped posting blogs for the last few months was that I had a rough time in August in Edinburgh. I was exhausted, discouraged, and disappointed. One of the people I was working with was a terror, and I allowed them to largely make my experience miserable. Every day I would resolve to not let them get to me, and every day, when I had to deal with them, my blood would boil, and I'd feel seething anger take over my body. I wish I could be the kind of person who could let shit slide. I'm not. I never have been.
The experience was akin to being in an alcoholic family. There's the one parent who has a massive drinking problem, the other one who is desperately trying to maintain some sense of calm and normalcy, which, unfortunately means doing a lot of covering and apologizing for the drinker. There are the kids who work to please everyone all the time and act like there's no problem, going so far as to laugh off the VERY OCCASIONAL apology, and being like, "You're right! I'm the problem. Please keep yelling at me." And there are the other kids who are like, "Fuuuuuuuuuuuuck this." That was me.
One of the problems with this kind of family is that when one of those kids who isn't buying it is like, "I'm not buying this," no one from the rest of the family steps up to be like, "Hey, me neither." Even the other kids who aren't buying it don't chime in because generally they're too checked out to bother.
I was triggered left and right. The only reason I didn't walk away was because I wouldn't have done that to my fellow cast mates. But, Jesus I wanted to. I was away from home. Away from my son, who was starting first grade without me there. Away from my career. Not getting laid. AWAY FROM MY THERAPIST. I would get back to the flat I shared with four other people, exhausted and angry, knowing I should be writing, and only use my computer to binge Schitt's Creek. It wasn't a good look.
It sent me into a depression. Because I suffer from chronic depression and anxiety, if my chemistry isn't right it can turn situations that are normally handleable into swirling holes of disaster. And because I've been on meds so long, sometimes I think, "I'm going to see what it's like to lower my dose!" and then my brain goes, "It puts the right dose in its mouth or it gets the depression again." I lowered my dose some months earlier, thinking, I GOT THIS! But, clearly I hadn't got it. So, rather than seeing a problem for what it actually is (someone treating everyone around them like garbage), my brain starts telling me lies. "No one likes you," "You don't deserve to be happy," "When you ask for what you want, you are a horrible selfish monster." The greatest hits. It turns an immediate problem into a symbol for my whole life. I begin to not be able to remember a time when I felt happy at all. I become convinced that I will always feel this way. And, when it gets really bad, I start thinking that Monty will be better off without me in his life.
It's not fun.
So, I've been battling that for a few months.
I've been thinking about chronic Depression (big "D" Depression, as in a chemical imbalance, not little "d" depression, as in a response to an upsetting or traumatic episode, that ultimately goes away) like cancer. You have to treat it aggressively and while it may seem to go away, it's more just that you're in remission. It could come back at any time. And if you have suicidal Depression, one could argue that you're living with a terminal illness that requires constant, aggressive treatment.
It's scary to be so open about these struggles, because I worry that it's going to effect my hirability (or that it already has). I worry that the powers that be will think that I won't be able to do my work if I suffer from Depression. The irony is, a great many actors live and work with Depression all the time, it's just we don't all talk about it. So, no. It doesn't generally effect my work. The last time it did was in 2013 when I had to miss a show because I had a panic attack and ended up lying on my living room floor unable to move. I tell myself that the right people will understand what Depression is, and that if someone doesn't want to hire me because of it, I don't want to work with that person. Authenticity is more important to me anyway.
Those of us with Depression know that our friends will be supportive up to a point. But eventually (and usually very quickly) they start suggesting ridiculous things like, "Get some exercise!" or "Pick up a hobby!" or "Write an affirmation on your bathroom mirror!" Statements like those do more harm than good. It's next to impossible to go to the gym when all you can think about is how much you want to die. No amount of crocheted doilies, or homemade cupcakes is going to change your brain chemistry. And there isn't an affirmation on the planet that will pull someone out of a depression. These people don't understand that making glib suggestions usually makes us feel worse. We already feel like shit for not wanting to leave the house. It compounds our guilt and makes us feel even more alone.
Usually the best thing a friend can do is listen. Offer to come over and binge garbage TV (in my case, documentaries about serial killers). Say "That sounds really hard." Download Candy Crush and play it while they cry over the phone. They won't know.
That said, go to therapy. I literally don't want to hear it from you if you know you have a problem and you won't go to therapy. There are free or very low-cost options everywhere. I don't have time if you don't go to therapy.
Anyway, this post is rambly. The point is, I felt pretty shitty for a few months, and I'm climbing out of it now. I have up days and down days. Life is hard. I'm working really hard to stay present (which is especially hard when you're almost always waiting to hear if you booked a job.). My meds are adjusted. Monty is happy. I bought a Nintendo Switch Online subscription so now I can play Super Mario Bros. 2 and eat cookie dough straight out of the package. Because that what normal people do, right?
If I can manage to post a blog a day for every weekday left this year, with a few days off for holidays, I can make 52 posts this year (see: intending on posting one blog per week this year).
I just finished reading The Courage to be Disliked, by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga, which I can not recommend highly enough. For someone like myself, who experienced the happiest period of their childhood in the public eye, and who makes their living entertaining people, the desire to please and be liked can be debilitating. Much of my adult life has been lived in fear of letting people down. I have some cockamamie notion that I owe something to people who remember me as Mary Lennox. I've gotten a lot better. And the times where I have dipped my toe outside the box of what I think is expected of me, I've generally been rewarded with recognition for my efforts, which, of course, is a double-edged sword. The goal is to find peace and happiness outside of public recognition. But, ultimately, my living depends on the acceptance of a broad swath of people, so getting positive feedback from an audience is directly linked to my ability to put food on the table.
This is the crux of the problem. My identity is so tied to my career, that when I'm not working or entertaining people I feel useless and empty.
Lately I've been thinking about a moment in 2002 when I had discovered knitting. I was making chunky wool scarves in rich colors. I had gotten so many compliments, I began making them to sell. I had custom iron-on labels made. I was selling them on my website for $25 each. Someone I knew (I would call him a friend, but, as you are about to see, he was far from friendly) commented on my website, "Wow, times are tough, huh, Daisy?" Like, what? In retrospect, I wonder if he was saying I should charge more, in which case he easily could have reached out to me privately and said, "Hey, girl, know your worth!" But at the time, I took it to mean that it looked like my acting career was so in the dumps I had to resort to making and selling scarves. So, you know what I did? I decided to donate all the proceeds from the sale of the scarves to charity. Know your worth, indeed. Instead of just being like, "Hey, that one person with no tact doesn't get to determine how I spend my time," I was like, "One person might think I'm a loser!" Just think, I could have a thriving scarf business today.
I'm aware that I'm not, nor have I ever been, Sally Sunshine. It's not like I've devoted my life to being nice to everyone so they'll like me. It's just that I've spent a lot of my life feeling guilty for being who I am. Showing myself and then immediately worrying that I've upset someone (like some morally conflicted flasher). That's the great irony of this. I am a salty bitch. I don't have time for nonsense. I have extremely strong opinions, and I rub a lot of people the wrong way. Nowadays, those are qualities that can make a woman very successful (see Lizzo, Lindy West, Maxine Waters, et. al.), but when you become known at the age of 11 as Mary Lennox, it takes a giant cognitive leap for a lot of people to see you as an adult, let alone one who will tell you to fuck off if need be (even though Mary is basically like, "Fuck off, guys.")
The point is, I have tried (mostly unsuccessfully) to hide my saltiness in order to conform to other people's idea of who I was. For many years, when I ventured to share my less-than-favorable view of the world, I was met with, "Wow, you're not Mary Lennox anymore!" But, weird science fact: I never was Mary Lennox. I was an actor playing a role. And people who actually knew me then knew I wasn't Mary Lennox. But also, Mary Lennox isn't a ray of sunshine, guys. She's angry, bitter, and lonely.
There's a reason I never wanted to play Annie. I had no interest in telling people they're never fully dressed without a smile, or that the sun would come out tomorrow. Because you know what? The sun might not come out tomorrow, and you've bet your bottom dollar on it, so now it's raining and you can't afford an umbrella, and they expect you to smile about that shit? Come on. There's a reason I played sickly orphans, y'all.
Add to that the fact that I felt the need to hide my sexuality for nearly 20 years, and you have a person who has essentially grown afraid of their own shadow.
So, I'm trying to have the courage to be disliked so that here, on the precipice of 40 (OH MY GOD, SHE'S FORTY? GROSS!), I can finally start to be who I am without standing in the shower later, thinking "I am a garbage human."
And if you don't like it, awesome.
A conversation with my six-year-old son:
“Mama, why do you have hair under your arms?”
“Why do you think I might have hair under my arms?”
“Oh, because you’re trans.”
“Nope. I have hair under my arms because hair grows under my arms.”
“You didn’t have it before.”
“That’s because for most of my life I was trying to fit into what other people thought I should look like. In our culture most people believe that women shouldn’t have hair on their bodies. But hair grows on women’s bodies, just like on men’s bodies. So, if it grows there, why shouldn’t it belong there?”
“Oh, we have hair to keep us warm! Like winter foxes, and bears!”
“I mean, sure.”
For the record, I have never told my son that I am trans. I’m not trans. He knows about it because of my former partner, who is non-binary, and because of a character in one of his favorite graphic novel series, The Backstagers (which you should all read regardless of if you have kids or not). He knows his grandpa wears women’s clothing sometimes, but I think he thinks it’s because Grandpa “likes to disguise himself as a woman sometimes.” I think Monty understands “trans” more than “crossdresser.” Now that I think about it, he’s not alone there. As unaccepting as our culture is of transgender people, I think it’s an easier concept to grasp than crossdressing. GENERALLY SPEAKING, transgender people tend fit more neatly within the gender binary than cis-gender or gender-fluid people who choose to wear clothing more typical of the “opposite” sex, or who don’t bind their chests, or shave their beards, or mask whatever secondary sex characteristics they might have. As for gender-fluid people, I don’t even know how my son tries to fit that in his head. It’s easier for him to understand that someone might have been born with the wrong body parts than it is for him to understand that someone might be comfortable with their body parts and also not fully identify with the gender assigned to them at birth, or even just refuse to accept the gender norms placed on them by our puritanical culture. Even I have trouble with that concept, and I am one of those people.
I’m very proud that my six-year-old has a concept of what “trans” means, but I also know it would never occur to him to ask his dad why he has hair under his arms. And he’s being raised in a household with a parent who is gender nonconforming, who has friends and family who are gender nonconforming, and who make sure that the media he consumes includes gender nonconforming and trans people. This is how absolutely insidious misogyny and sexism are.
Just a quick thought on a very complex subject. Happy Thursday!
We were at a Dodgers game last week, sitting behind a family of four; a mother, father, and two kids. It was a day game and the sun was, extremely predictably, blazing down. The mother in front of us was slathering her kids with sun block when a dude from a few rows down came up and said, “Can I ask you a favor? My wife is out of town. Like, my son slept in my bed with me last night. Can I use some of your sunblock?” Then another dad across the aisle chimed in, “Oh yeah. Me, too!”
First of all. What? Your wife is out of town, so your son slept in your bed and you forgot sunblock? Like, my man, aren’t you embarrassed? He might as well have just walked up and been like, “Hey, my penis makes me completely incompetent and unable to engage in basic parenting. Thank god there’s a woman here who can prevent my child from getting skin cancer, am I right? Up top! Let’s go Dodgers!” Do your kind a favor and skip the details and just ask for the fucking sunblock. You’re an embarrassment.
Our expectations of fathers are atrocious. The fact that there is an ad campaign reminding fathers to be fathers is…I don’t even know. Could you imagine a billboard picturing a woman and child that read, “Take some time to be a mom today?” It would literally cause car crashes. People would be like, what in the actual fuck does that even mean. But we don’t blink at reminding men to parent their own children. It’s unreal.
The insidious nature of toxic masculinity and hyper gender normativity is exhausting. It is so ingrained in our culture that people don’t even notice any more. It is considered completely normal and acceptable for women to huff and puff and roll their eyes as their husbands bumble around childcare and basic house chores. It’s a trope that’s reinforced in countless commercials, tv shows, and movies. Even though it’s accepted and expected (and, in most cases, necessary for survival) that both parents work. Even with her full time job, mom is still expected to handle the house and the children with effortless ease. She’s expected to be able to get her kids to sleep in their own beds AND she remembers the sunblock! It’s so gross. I have watched a woman insult her husband in front of their boys because of his “incompetence”, as a regular practice. Like, oh, this is just how I talk to my idiot husband! What are we teaching our boys in those moments? On both sides?
To be clear (which is increasingly necessary in this age of minimal critical thinking), I’m not blaming mothers. What else can we expect of a woman who has learned through billions of messages over her life, that men are useless around the house and children? What else is she supposed to do when, for example, in an ad for a furniture company, a woman walks in to find her husband dancing in the dining room, and she seems annoyed by this for some reason, and he acts like he’s been caught? And I can hear you going, “Daisy, relax, that’s one ad. It’s not making or breaking our culture.” And to that I will say, Please don’t tell me to relax. It’s one ad in a sea of trillions of others that portray this same perplexing dynamic. The woman comes home to find the dumb-ass father making a raw chicken “dance” on the kitchen counter (because men know about food poisoning). The woman comes home to find the moron father has made the science experiment explode all over the kitchen (because I can’t even trust him to help them with their homework)! The idiot man has finally taken a hint and made dinner, complete with candles and music and flowers (when really all she said was, “please make dinner once in while”), but he’s left the kitchen a complete disaster in the process! And, inevitably, the woman puts her hands on her hips, shakes her head, and chuckles like, Men are so useless! Lemme grab the Bounty paper towels!
And the next ad is for a weed killer, or a pick-up truck, or a drill, and in that ad, the man is getting shit done. And his truck bed is fucking clean, even though we just saw him all-wheeling through the mud (like a man), so obviously he knows how to clean…
I JUST opened my email and found this article from Medium in it and it makes me want to fucking scream and throw my computer out the window. That is not a relationship based on mutual respect and love. It’s based on a woman setting her life aside to take care of a giant fucking child. What kind of MANIAC washes only their own dishes after someone else has cooked for them? What kind of MANIAC puts aside her aspirations and goals to clean up after her husband? Unless he is literally paying for their entire lives and she has zero marketable skills to be able to take care of herself, which I find doubtful. I have zero sympathy for her. Her solution is obvious.
Come on, people. Get your shit together. This is unacceptable.
Someone reached out to me on Instagram last week with a really lovely note about The Secret Garden and how my blogs about my gender journey have had an impact on him. I blog so infrequently for many reasons I have spent many blogs going over. Mostly I wonder if anyone is actually reading these damn things or if I’m just yelling into a void. But the truth is that if just one person gets something useful from something I say, or is impacted somehow, then it’s worth it.
I try not to weigh in on major cultural or political moments because generally I know someone else has already said what I might say and said it better. That said, I know everyone has their own voice and unique take, and mine is just as valuable as anyone else’s. But sometimes I feel like the internet has created a population of people who think they’re the foremost authority on every god damn thing. And if there’s one thing I’m learning as I get older (aside from the knowledge that everything is starting to ache), it’s that I know very little about most things and my opinion isn’t a necessary addition to the din.
Also, I put undue pressure on myself. It’s a side effect (I think) of winning a Tony at 11. Subconsciously I believe that everything I put into the world needs to be award-worthy. I have gotten better about that. Inevitably, over thirty years of acting, I have put out lots of content that isn’t award-worthy. And I’ve survived. So, I’ve relaxed a bit on my self-expectations. But, when it comes to my writing, I suppose I worry that if every individual piece isn’t terrific, I’ll lose readers. For example, if this is the first blog of mine that you’re reading, your eyes have probably started to glaze over and you’re thinking about googling cat videos. I see you.
But then I read blogs from people who have thousands of subscribers and are making money hand over fist just from blogging, and generally speaking the content is…not award-worthy. At all. And I think, this is what people want? I’ve written endlessly about my refusal to become a mommy blogger. Firstly, “mommy” is not my primary identity. I don’t think I’m good enough at it or doing anything innovative enough to warrant multi-weekly posts about diaper comparisons, or preschool research, or what form of non-violent, gender-affirming, vegan, free-range parenting I’m subscribing to. Who cares? You do you, I’ll do me, and (most likely) never the twain shall meet.
Not to mention the fact that people pay money and spend time watching other people play video games. I’m aware that most people aren’t searching for Pulitzer-winning material. So, I should maybe just chill out and post more and not worry that my writing isn’t exactly Virginia Wolfe level, but that maybe one or two people might see it and go, I feel seen. And that should be enough.
Speaking of which, if you ever are moved by my blog, please feel free to share it on your socials. And throw me a line to let me know that you’re there. It really does serve as motivation to keep writing. Not to put that job on your shoulders. But, the job is now on your shoulders…
We have officially moved back to L.A. Over the four years since we left, I lived in 13 different places not including the eight-month tour of The Humans in which we visited 12 cities. Kurt suggested that we just tell people we spent the last four years travelling. It makes us sound very fancy and not at all like parents who were struggling to make ends meet and shuttling their son back and forth across the country four times in four years. I have largely lived out of suitcases for four years, and as I write this, I am looking at three suitcases on the floor that are in need of my attention. For someone who has moved as many times as I have, you’d think that I had this shit down to a science. But I loathe unpacking and will put it off for as long as I possibly can.
Kurt and I are back to sharing a bed. Our goal, eventually, is to have separate bedrooms, but for now, this is what we can manage, and we felt it best that our six-year-old have his own bedroom. Kurt knows that I’m struggling with the idea of being a queer person who is stuck in what is essentially a straight, monogamous relationship. He has made it clear that he sees me and has no intention of planting a flag in me. So, this is my life right now. I love Kurt very much. And I have come to terms with the fact that I am bisexual (after initially coming out as bi when I was 12 and then struggling with it until now), and am very much interested in having another relationship with a woman, but 1) I don’t have time for dating and 2) What woman over 30 is going to want to date me in my current situation?
It’s okay. I’ve had a good run.
In other news, I am feeling some major FOMO while the Queer Liberation March is happening today in NYC. I really wish I were there. It feels like an important moment in the LGBTQI+ movement and I’m missing it.
Something that gets repeated often in Al-Anon meetings is “keep your own side of the street clean.” Those of us who grew up in households with alcohol and/or drug addiction were self-taught from an early age to keep a close watch on everyone else’s behavior for our own survival. We listened for opening cans or bottles, gaged the droopiness of eyelids, and learned, with pretty keen awareness how many drinks it took for a loved one to go from jovial to terrifying.
Unfortunately, this tactic often translates as nosiness or judginess; “She is always up in everyone else’s business.” Another gross side effect is an over-developed sense of what is and isn’t fair. I’m not entirely sure how or if I’m right about that, but that’s what’s happened to me. I think it’s because I am so aware of other’s behavior that I often see how rarely people seem to go unpunished for being shitty. Or worse, how often people seem to be rewarded for or despite their shittiness.
This nosiness, judgy, self-righteous attitude is thus why we say, “Keep your own side of the street clean.”
I was struggling recently keeping my own side of the street clean, watching a few adults and children in my life being rewarded or at the very least not punished for behavior that I find egregious. Nonchalantly walking into work an hour late. Being blatantly disrespectful of elders or authority figures (call me old fashioned, I still believe we owe our elders respect, as long as they’re not being awful, i.e. racist, sexist, phobic, or gross). Being defiant for the sake of being defiant.
Sidebar: As I wrote that last paragraph, I was acutely aware of how often I showed up late to my university job and how little respect I had for my bosses. In my defense, I was younger, angrier, and was never rewarded for my shitty behavior. So, there you go.
I feel like there is a school of parenting that believes that children need to be given free reign to express themselves however they see fit (barring outright violence). From what I see from some parents, it seems like some parenting “expert” out there is like, “Your child needs the space to be a dick!” Not in my house, he doesn’t. If Monty wants to act like a dick on the playground, that’s his business. If he wants to alienate his peers with a know-it-all attitude, he has all the space in the world to do that. But in my house (or in this case, my friend’s apartment that I’m subletting), I know more and better than he does, and I am the one sacrificing my sex life to keep him happy and healthy.
I was complaining about these transgressors to my therapist and she was basically like, “So what?” but, you know, more therapy-like, and I was like, “It’s not fair!” And she was like, “So what?” And I was like, “I show up to work early all the time! I say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’! I’ve stopped live-tweeting shitty movies because I don’t want to shit on people’s dreams (even if they are really bad). I am teaching my child to be a good, respectful person. Where’s my reward?” And my therapist, in all her annoying therapist wisdom said, “Your reward is a child who your teaching to carry on a legacy of a life well-lived.”
God damn it.
Keeping your side of the street clean doesn’t just mean that you don’t cross the street to clean the other side because NO ONE ELSE IS DOING IT, SO IF I DON’T IT WON’T GET DONE, AND DO I HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING AROUND HERE???? And it’s not about having a clean street you can brag about it. You’re not striving to be like, “Look at MY side of the street. It’s clean. And look at theirs. Clearly, I’m a better person.” You keep your side of the street clean only so that your side of the street is clean. So you can look at your street and feel a sense of pride and accomplishment at having kept it clean. Not relatively clean. Just clean. You don’t keep it clean in the hope that someone gives you an award for it or makes you Queen of all the streets. And if someone comes by and points out what a mess the other side of the street is, it doesn’t affect you. That’s how they keep their side of the street, and that’s fine. It has no baring on you.
So, I’m keeping my head down and keeping my side of the street clean. I won’t expect recognition for it.
That said, if someone felt compelled to recognize me for it, say, with like, a steak dinner, or a spa day, or, like, my own TV series, I wouldn’t turn them down.
I am desperately trying to write, but I have a six-year-old who keeps saying, “Mom! Look at this!” and then doing something totally unremarkable and mundane, and I’m supposed to go, “Wow! That’s awesome!” but really, it’s not, and why, as parents are we supposed to validate every single thought and action our children make? Like, what if, in modern parenting, there were actually room made for the parents? I know it’s a radical idea. Like, what if, after playing trains for 10 or 15 minutes, a parent were allowed to say, “You know what? I’m done playing trains now. I’m going to do something else.” Or what if, and I know this is going to sound tantamount to child abuse, but what if, when our kids came in to our bedrooms first thing in the morning and started jumping on the bed, like they do in just about every commercial for “luxury sheets” (“luxury sheets”??!! Go fuck yourself), instead of instantly waking up with a playful smile, we said, “Please don’t jump on my bed!” I mean, just imagine that.
I am not known for my patience. I’m getting better. But anyone who knows me, knows that patience is not one of my strongest qualities. And I tend to expect way more of Monty than a child his age is capable of, so when he inevitably falls short of my unrealistic expectations, I get frustrated. It’s shitty and I’m not proud of it. On the other hand, some parents smoke crack and some, you know, abuse their children to death, so, on the scale of shitty parent behavior, getting frustrated is pretty low. But on the scale of parents in commercials for “luxury sheets” or plastic toys with grating voicing, I’m a monster. I’m sure that I’m psychologically scarring him in some irrevocable way.
You can take a quick gander through my Instagram feed and see that Monty is a pretty happy kid. You’d be hard pressed to find a happier one. But lately, he’s been turning on a dime and I feel like I’m living with a ticking time bomb. He jumped on my back without warning yesterday while I was bent over, and I almost bashed my head on the dresser. I had what I would describe as a normal reaction to being unexpectedly jumped on and nearly concussing myself; I raised my voice and told him to be careful, explaining what could have happened. By commercial parent standards I’m sure I looked like the wicked stepmother. What followed was about 20 minutes of Monty self-flagellating himself, saying he was stupid, and throwing shit around. It was maybe the sixth time in two days he had behaved like this and I was not having it. I said, “Nope. I’m not indulging this behavior. Pull yourself together.” I know, I KNOW, I’m supposed to sit down with him and calmly ask him what’s wrong and hold him til he calms down and blah fucking blah blah blah. I tried that. It doesn’t work. And even when it does work, 10 minutes later he’s back at it again for some small, inconsequential transgression (“Monty, for the 100th time, please don’t leave your legos in the middle of the walkway!” “I am the dumbest stupid head! I hate myself! I should go away forever!”) So, I’m now just telling him to get his shit together and stop saying horrible things about himself and I’ll be over here (drinking) when he’s ready to act like a rational human being.
Last night I actually tried to explain to him that I am not required by law to feed, clothe, or bath him (though I think technically I am), and that I’m CERTAINLY not required to spend $8000 to take him to see Aladdin at El Capitan and buy him fucking lollypops and toys he never ends up playing with, but that I do these things because I love him and want him to be happy and healthy, despite the fact that I get no alone time, and could REALLY use a day at the Beverly Hot Springs and a massage and a pedicure and a wax, and can’t remember the last time I got laid (I left that part out, but trust me, it was implied). He was like, “What’s a wax?” I think that explanation was what stunned him into silence. Later, while I was reading to him, he was like, “Mama, why do people put hot wax on them and rip their hair out?” and I was like, “Because of the patriarchy, honey. Now quiet down so I can finish reading you this adult graphic novel about two women who fell in love in 1963 and finally got to be together after 50 years.” (It’s a real book and it’s pretty good.)
Please don’t call CPS.
Monty and I are watching Bill Nye The Science Guy for the first time. We borrowed two episodes from the library. I’m wondering how high the writers of this show actually were. It is, hands down, the weirdest educational program I’ve ever seen. It’s like if Monty Python or The Kids in the Hall wrote a science show. We’re very into it. Though I am concerned about how entranced by the screen Monty is becoming. How the hell is anyone in his generation going to be able to sit still and doing “nothing”, which is vital for, you know, “creativity”? This is what happens when I hand him my phone in the morning so I can have an extra hour of sleep. I start fretting over the future of humanity. So much for the extra sleep.
We’re in L.A. for the summer. Just me and Monty. I’m working on season two of Good Trouble (thank you TV gods), and rehearsing the shows I’m going to Edinburgh with in August (thank you Theater gods). Kurt and I went back and forth about 100 times about whether or not we were moving back here. He got a promotion at work in NYC, and we decided that since our country seems to be on the precipice of collapse in one way or the other (sidebar, 28 states have proposed laws banning all abortions, eight states have banned abortion at six weeks or earlier, Alabama has banned abortion from the moment of conception, and the Senate is holding hearings on a nationwide 20-week abortion ban. I don’t even know where to start about how furious and terrified I am about this.), the safest option is to stay put, and add as many pennies to the piggy bank as we can (though we are terrible at actually saving money). But it looks like I’m going to be back in L.A. after Edinburgh, and Monty starts first grade this fall, and it turns out that working full time as a single parent is…hard and…expensive. Unless you live with grandparents or on some kind of syphilitic commune, which we don’t.
So, the “where should we live” discussion is back on the table. And honestly, there doesn’t seem to be any good options. Everywhere is expensive, and if it’s not expensive it’s in an area we would be helping to gentrify, which I can’t do because I already live with enough guilt over how white people have systematically brutalized and oppressed people of color for countless years. I met a guy whose family had lived in Queens for decades and he got pushed out because of rising rents and because he got a job working at the cheese counter at Whole Foods in White Plains. The cheese counter. I mean, hooray for cheese and everything. No one loves cheese more than me. But that can’t be much more than minimum wage. I don’t want to be a part of the white wave that pushes people out of their neighborhoods. And yes, I know it’s pretty much unavoidable at this point. Poor people are being pushed out farther and farther all over the world. And the truth is, I can only afford what I can afford (see aforementioned not-good-with-saving-money), and I have to live somewhere, I just want to be a smaller part of the problem than I already inherently am because of my white privilege.
On top of that, the mountains keep catching fire, the coasts are going to flood at some point, and honestly, we should own land with a fresh water source on it for when the shit truly does hit the fan and Nestle buys the rights to all the public water sources (don’t laugh, they would do it if they could…). Incidentally, stop buying Nestle products. It’s an evil, evil company.
Everywhere is a mess. Though right this moment, Monty is actually playing quietly by himself with toys, so maybe there is hope for humanity?
And this is why I wish I could smoke pot…
I threw a rib out of place this morning while squeezing oranges for Monty, who is home sick from school for the seventh day in a row counting the weekend and the Lunar New Year. Ironically I was supposed to go to the chiropractor today, which I would have had to cancel anyway because of the aforementioned child home sick from school, but would have had to cancel if he was in school because I can not move because of the aforementioned rib out of place. It took everything I had to lower myself onto the couch and then the rest of me to lower myself onto an ice pack. I also can't take a deep breath, which I'm calling the cause of my flipping out at Monty and telling him I was going to send his guitar back to Santa if he doesn't start playing it soon. He cried that he couldn't follow the instructions on cord fingering because he didn't know which finger his middle one was, so I held mine up at him... I am ravenously hungry.
Thank the fake lord above for Broadway Babysitters, who sent an angel over to watch Monty. She sat on the floor with him, and somehow got him to do a school project that I have been fighting with him about for days.
I am not the world's greatest parent.
In my defense, I always apologize to him.
I got tremendously good news yesterday, the details of which I can't fully disclose, but suffice to say, the TV show I did a bunch of episodes of last season is having me back for a bunch for season two. My first date is less than a month away and of course, it shoots in L.A.
This is where I admit that Kurt and I have been seriously talking about moving back to the west coast. He wants to buy a place, but our budget is quiet small. We can't afford much in New York that isn't garbagey, and honestly, we are sick and tired of living somewhere garbagey. He came home from work after it had snowed and made a bitter joke about someone experiencing their first NYC snow and how magical it seems until they slip on frozen vomit. I think we could all survive without ever experiencing another polar fucking vortex again. And this is not the NYC I grew up in. I know every generation says that. And NYC in the 90s has nothing on NYC in the 80s, 70s, 60s, 50s, etc. But at least in 90s NYC wasn't a luxury mall that smelled like pee in the summer. And unless I manage to inherit my parents' row house in south Park Slope before March 1st, it looks like we're pulling up stakes (again) and moving back to California.
I know it sounds crazy. Or maybe it just sounds crazy to me. We just moved to NYC in 2015. And poor Kurt and Monty already moved to Seattle and back here since then. I told my therapist that my career only took off (again) once I moved back here, though, ironically, 97% of the work was not in NYC, and my therapist, in that annoying therapist way she has, reminded me that actually I took off (again) since I moved back here. And, as the old saying goes, where ever you go there you are.
She also said maybe I threw my back out because it was the only way I would slow the fuck down for a minute. She didn't say fuck. God, she's so annoying. I love her.
And since I wrote that last paragraph, I spoke to my manager who was like, "Uh...We're really gathering speed here. You're going to move now?" And he's got a great point. And it highlights the many bad decisions I've made career-wise.
So, here we are at the end of the day. Monty is in the bath crying that his mama and papa are mean to him because Kurt took the Nintendo Switch away for five days because he rolled his eyes at him twice. I still can't breathe. I have a potential job, which is awesome, but as per usual, my immediate future is one, giant question mark. I have an audition for a pilot tomorrow for which I'm going to have to be like, "Hey, so, imagine this performance, but I can move and breathe like a normal person." Which not to say that people who can't move or breathe aren't normal. I mean, people who can't breathe are...dead. But certainly people who can't move are just as normal as people who can. Some are even normaler. Certainly normaler than me, even when I can move. But, I have to be able to joke or I'm going to throw myself on to the garbage pile my landlords have collecting in the backyard.
I want to talk about this photo.
I was writing a whole philosophical tome on what this photo means to me, and what posting it in public means to me, and on the cultural implications of why I would WANT to post this picture in public, and why I would hesitate at all the post this picture, and how many men I see all the time with all kinds of bodies with their shirts off, and how people react different to women's and men's naked bodies, and how people react differently to the sizes and shapes and colors of different women's bodies, and what it means to be a woman alive in this moment in history, and what it means to be a female actor, and the pressure I felt to lose weight after I had my son and the consequences that had on my ability to feed him, and the struggles I've had with my weight, and with muscles that grow "too big," and with my "gymnast's build," and about how many strangers have felt comfortable commenting on my body, and what it means to be objectified, and about being catcalled by firemen when I was 13 years old, and how exciting and demoralizing that was, and the shame and pride I feel at how my body looks, and what it means to feel shame or pride in how one's body looks, and how I have felt like my body belongs to anyone but me for most of my life, and what all that says about the Patriarchy and how invasive and destructive it is.
But here's what I'll say instead: If I didn't know this woman, and I brought her home, and she got undressed for me, I would worship at her feet, and thank her for the PRIVILEGE to be anywhere near her, and I would spend the next few DAYS focusing on each inch of her body, and tell her how much beauty and magic was in it. I would run my hand along that crease in her back and thank it for being there. I would marvel at her broad shoulders, I would weep at her ass. And if she shared with me any of the shame she has felt over the years at her body, I would take it all away and hand it all to the next shirtless man I came across and tell him to live with it.
This is my body in a pair of ridiculous and wholly impractical underwear. It is mine, and I am determined to love it as though it were not my own. And even more than that.