Notes from the Road
Part Ten: Tempe
I think I’ve written before about feeling like a vague person. I’m not sure if I have…
Once, when I was a teenager, a friend of mine told me what his favorite restaurant in NYC was. I had lived there all my life, but I couldn’t point to my favorite spots. To be fair, NYC is always changing, and restaurants come and go before you get a chance to love them most of the time. But still, I felt like, as a native New Yorker, I should have deeper roots. I felt like I was from there, but not of there. Is that a thing?
Anyway, that got me thinking about other things I could try to point to as being definitions of who I was. I am Daisy. I like… Did I have a favorite color? A favorite band? A personal style? I felt like loose kelp on the surface of the sea, just going wherever the tide took me. I am Daisy. I am like loose kelp.
Evidence of this vagueness can also be found in my knack for letting others’ reality become my own. In grade school the boys teased me for being weird. So, I thought I was weird. Kids called me nosy. So I decided I was nosy and worked to be so not nosy that I became the person who knew everything months after everyone else. A shithead I dated in my late teens told me I wasn’t the singer I thought I was, so I decided I was a bad singer, and then worked to make that a reality.
It works retroactively, too. A few years ago, I had a traumatizing fight with my parents in which my stepmother counted the ways I had made her life miserable when I was a teenager. She painted a picture of me that made me look like every “bad kid” in an afterschool special. Never mind that I had achieved the highest honor in my profession, stayed in school, still worked professionally, maintained…grades, never got arrested, generally came home on time, went to college early, and didn’t even live with her for the vast majority of her time in our lives. I was a nightmare, she told me. I was married and divorced, and a single mom in her mid-thirties who was asking her parents if she could stay with them for a few months because she was in crisis. I was a failure.
I reached out to the therapist I had been seeing during the period of time in question. She saw me every week through most of my teen years, sometimes twice a week. I told her everything my stepmom had said, and she looked at me with surprise and said, “That’s not at all how I remember you being. And I just reread your file.”
Thank fake god I had her. If I hadn’t had someone so unequivocally challenge my stepmom’s account of me, I would have let that narrative take hold. I would have allowed her to rewrite my history. From then on out I would have been convinced that I had been a hellhound of a teenager and a failure of an adult.
Let’s pause here for me to say that my stepmother has since apologized for her words and we continue to work on repairing our relationship. I am not sharing this story as a means of garnering sympathy or inciting rancor. It’s just an extremely acute example of the power of someone’s opinion of me.
Something I’m learning (in therapy with this woman who saved my life retroactively) is that when someone tells me something about me that I know to be false, rather than remembering that their opinion doesn’t matter, I get livid. When I was younger I got guilty. Someone said I was shitty, and I would instantly feel guilty for being shitty. Today, someone tells me I’m shitty, and I’m instantly like, “You’re shitty, you shitty shit shit!” Though not actually out loud to them. No, instead I just let it fester in my gut and I complain about it ad nauseum.
Who has time anymore?
As I round the corner on 40, along with establishing and maintaining clear boundaries, I am also doing my best to not give a fuck what people think of me. I realize I’m an actor, and my livelihood depends on people’s opinions of me. So, let’s say, short of anything having to do with my career, I’m waving the white flag, putting in earplugs, and forging ahead.
My job, anyone’s job, in life, is to try to go through the world with compassion and love. That’s what I continually strive to do. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt (sometimes to a fault). I try to honor who people are and give them space to be themselves (Which should not be confused with accepting them into my inner, or even outer circle. I can honor you from afar.) I try to not let anyone walk all over me. And I’m trying to not let anyone tell me who I am. I am not perfect at it. Hell, I’m probably not that good at it.
But I am trying.
Notes from the Road
Part Ten: Tempe
I didn’t post from Dallas or from my lay off week in Los Angeles. Ryan was with me for the first week in Dallas and Monty and my stepmom were there for the second. Los Angeles was a blur of Disneyland, seeing friends, and getting food poisoning.
Sometimes I wish I were blogging under a pseudonym. There’s a lot I feel restricted from writing because of respecting the privacy of family and friends. Not that any of my friends read my blog. But, that’s okay. Also, sometimes I’d like to write about super sensitive thoughts that I know would be hurtful to put out into the world, even though we’re all adults and can agree that sometimes we think “shitty” things about people we love. Or sometimes we want to throw loved ones off a roof, but we can’t publicly admit that because the next week, when they “fall” off a roof, we’ll be the first suspect. But come on, who among us hasn’t fantasized in great detail about staring deep into the eyes of those we love the most while we watch the life drain from their face?
Am I right?!
ON A TOTALLY DIFFERENT SUBJECT:
My family of origin is in crisis. Again. I am working really hard on maintaining boundaries. Boundaries in general were somewhat lacking in my house growing up. It’s taken me nearly 40 years to be tentatively okay with expressing what I am and am not comfortable dealing with and not feeling like a villain for it.
I worked for a PhD in Psychology at a university who, when I told her I was trying to establish boundaries in my workplace she said, “But not with me, right?” She was a PSYCHOLOGIST. And my BOSS. So, I guess I shouldn’t fault my layperson family for not being able to handle boundaries.
Sidebar: My therapist at the time was like, “Hey, good job finding your family at work!” And she didn’t mean, like, my Fam. She meant, my family. Adult children of alcoholics have a knack for repeating the past over and over and over. And over.
In fact, here’s a boundary: If my family is reading this, I’m not interested in feedback. I apologize up front if your feelings are hurt, but I promise I won’t say anything libelous or personally damning. I won’t reveal anything personal or private about you. I will only talk about my own part. K? K. I recognize that we probably have different perspectives on this. Let’s agree that we have in the past and continue to this day to hurt each other’s feelings, and disagree about fundamental things, like how to communicate. And I honestly no longer care whether you think I’m healthy. Take it to your therapists. In fact, maybe don’t read my blogs for a while. Let’s agree that this is my outlet and you guys don’t necessarily need/want to know any of this. Cool? Great! Look how much work we’re doing!
Isn’t therapy great? Are we so lucky to have people we pay to listen to our shit and *not* judge us (they are totally judging us. I’ve been doing therapy over the phone while I’m on tour and I’m 100% convinced my therapist is rolling her eyes and making BJ gestures while I whine about my family.).
There’s three weeks left to the tour. I am eternally grateful for this play, and for this experience, but I’m ready to break up with Brigid Blake. I’m ready for Stephen Karam to put me in another show. Stephen, I’m available as of June 18th. I’m ready to be auditioning again. I’m ready to live in my apartment that I hardly got to live in. I’m ready to unpack for the last time in a while. I’m ready to have Monty with me for the summer. I’m ready to be on Tales of the City. Lauren Morelli, I’m available as of June 18th.
I’m ready to be home.
Notes from the Road
Part Nine: Charlotte
(Composed in Charlotte. Published in Dallas)
Remember bookstores? I remember when Barnes and Nobles was opening stores everywhere causing small, independent stores to close. We resisted Barnes and Nobles for as long as we could, until our options were so limited that if we needed a book, more often than not, we had no choice but to put our politics aside and go to a Barnes and Noble just this once. But, look, there’s a comfy chair in the air conditioning I can curl up in for a couple hours. And, you know, I’m feeling a little peckish, I’m just going to pop into the Starbucks INSIDE the bookstore. And, oh right, I need to get some thank you cards, and my nephew’s birthday is coming up soon, I should get him a board game, and I definitely need this Hot Firefighters from the NYFD wall calendar, you know, this place isn’t so bad…
A few years ago, people were complaining on social media (which some of us cranks used to refer to as the enemy of true human interaction) about Amazon causing all the Barnes and Nobles branches to shut down. It was delicious irony (I think. I’m still not entirely sure how to use that word properly). I couldn’t bring myself to feel anything other than smug. Maybe I felt a tiny bit of dread. One company swallowing up all the others is…dreadful.
Oddly enough, the branch on West 8th St. in Greenwich Village closed in 2012 and that property has sat vacant for five and a half years. I wonder why the landlord decided having no rent income was better than reducing the rent to keep a business open. Soon enough I’m sure it’ll be a Whole Foodsmazon.
Anyway, now there’s no small or huge bookstores and we’re supposed to be boycotting Amazon, and where the hell am I supposed to go to buy a new book? (The answer to this question is here or here.)
I wanted to buy My New Gender Workbook: How To Become A Real Man A Real Woman The Real You Or Something Else Entirely for Ryan, so I looked up the nearest LGBT-friendly bookstore and took a long walk yesterday to a place called “White Rabbit.” I suppose I could have called ahead to see if they even had it (they didn’t), and I would have found out that it was less of a bookstore and more of a generic sex shop with a smattering of used books in the front, mostly from the early 2000s. But, had I known that, I wouldn’t have bothered taking the walk, and I would have missed the adorable clothing shop called “The Frock Shop” where I stopped in to see if I could find something for a wedding in Austin next month.
I suppose it’s precisely not ironic that I was looking for a book about gender identity and instead ended up spending a good half hour looking at myself in the mirror in a flowing jumpsuit and wondering if it properly represented my own gender identity.
Someone once sent me a link to a reddit thread (the first and last time I have ever looked at reddit) about my breast milk tweet. The discussion was mostly about how my tweet did or didn’t represent properly the current state of the U.S. economy, with a handful of comments about my looks, or that someone knew someone who worked with me at a survival job and said I was a pain in the ass. No, I did not read all 300 plus comments. But one I did happen to see said that I was obviously crazy and used another tweet as proof. That tweet was “If I leave the house in anything other than jeans, I feel like a drag queen.” Yep, any woman who feels uncomfortable in a skirt is crazy.
My reticence at wearing dresses and skirts has only grown since I sent out that tweet in 2012. The last time I wore a skirt was in November of last year. I can’t really imagine myself wearing one at all these days. I don’t know what it says about me. Or that it says anything about me. Or why it would say anything about anyone. But I keep wondering what it means. What does it mean that I finally realized I was GAY gay only a few months before I finally accepted that I hate the way I look in skirts and dresses? Am I subconsciously trying to signal to the world that I’m gay? And to be clear (because that’s what we have to do whenever we share any opinion on the internet now), I don’t think that lesbians don’t wear dresses. I’m not saying that. But, you know, stereotypes and all.
Who am I now that I’m becoming okay with who I am?