Notes from the Road
Part Eleven: San Francisco
Six shows left.
I have been trying and trying and trying to write something, but nothing is coming out. Which is to say, lots is coming out, but none of it is post-worthy.
I didn’t fall asleep until after 5am last night (this morning). When I was younger, my insomniac thoughts inevitably let to spiral of suicidal ideation. I’m happy to say that doesn’t happen anymore, but I still just lie there for hours on end, worrying over shit I need to do. Or things I want to do but “can’t.” Or things I should have done but didn’t. Or things I shouldn’t have done but did. And before I know it, it’s 4am and I don’t want to take melatonin because it’s too late, even though I don’t officially have anything to do the next day until 7pm and could easily sleep all day if I had to. And I know I’m supposed to get up and do something to make myself sleepy, but that always seems counterintuitive. So instead I just lie there.
I live in a constant state of panic that I won’t get enough sleep. When Saint WhoeverItIs meets me at the pearly gates, he’s going to show me a tally of how much of my life was wasted in sleeping or trying to sleep.
I have to keep reminding myself that I am working right now, and I’m preparing to be a full time single parent again, and I’m in the middle of the end-of-the-run panic; That panic that comes with the end of any job, but is compounded by having to pack up eight months-worth of crap (What do I do with loose packets of Throat Coat tea? And what does this random cord go with? And why are there so many pennies at the bottom of my tour trunk??). So, it’s not like I have endless actual or mental time and space for creativity. It makes sense that my brain isn’t creating during my “free time.” It would just be nice if it would shut down at night. Maybe that’s when I should be trying to write.
False Start Number 1:
I left my…back massager in Charlotte. I don’t know how I could have managed that. It’s a massive piece of technology that plugs into the wall. But somehow, I left it on the floor by the bed and got all the way to the airport before I realized what I had done.
One would think, after more than 20 flights in a year, I would know how to pack a suitcase. Inevitably, however, I’m standing with a TSA agent as they go through my carry-on, saying, “I don’t need that. Just throw it away!” I swear to god, if there were a zombie apocalypse, I’d be the one bringing up the rear with a Smarte Carte™, going, “Don’t worry about me guys, I’ll catch up!” That’s assuming I woke up in time to escape the zombies in the first place.
So, as the TSA agent is fingering my belongings in the Charlotte airport I’m suddenly aware there’s no “back massager” in my bag for me to be embarrassed about. I mean, we’re all adults here, and we all know that we massage our own backs from time to time, but still. And afterward, as I’m racing to the bathroom to relieve myself of the 16 ounces of water I downed in the security checkpoint line so I wouldn’t have to throw away another official The Humans Water Bottle™, I’m frantically looking up the phone number for the Air B&B host to ask him if he found my back massager. He didn’t.
He didn’t find a foot long VIBRATOR left behind in an otherwise empty apartment.
Hopefully whoever *didn’t* find it, cleaned it before they *didn’t* massage their own back with it. I mean, I have a very clean…back. But still.
Anyway, the point is, I had to buy a new vibrator. I did a bunch of research and settled on one I think I’ll be happy with. So, I find it online, enter all my info, spend five minutes deciding where to have it shipped (Tempe? San Francisco? Seattle? New York? Where the hell am I going to be when and do I need to add another thing to my suitcases?), and hit “Submit” and suddenly find myself wondering when I’m going to have time for that particular form of self-care. I will be spending at least the entire summer sharing a bed with my five-year-old. And yes, I know I have a shower, but the issue is more complicated than that.
At 38 I am just figuring myself out. I have a child to raise. I’m going to be living with his father. What am I going to do? Bring a parade of gender queer folk into our house and have super quiet queer sex and then get up and take my son to school and go about my day?
It’s been a super fun, interesting ride, guys. I started out kind of Bi and ended up full on poly queer. Polyqueer? Is that a facebook orientation choice yet? But I think the ride is over. I think I have to get off the carousel and watch from the sidelines. I don’t have $5 to ride again. I didn’t get enough in while it lasted.
False Start Number 2:
Something very strange is happening. Or maybe it isn’t happening. Or maybe it is happening but it’s not that strange. Or maybe it’s not strange that it is happening.
Or maybe I’m strange?
I tried on a button down the other day and Ryan told me to button it up to the top (universal non-femme Lesbian calling card). I turned to look at myself and got hit with a wave of feelings that were hard to grab ahold of. Looking at myself in this shirt buttoned all the way up I felt giddy, confused, unattractive, attractive, handsome, pretty, ugly. And turned on. And sad.
I saw a pair of knee-length, baggy shorts and thought they might look good on me and felt flooded with sadness.
I see sequined dresses and think how pretty they are but can’t imagine myself ever wearing one again.
Why is it making my sad?
I tried on one of Ryan’s binders and hated my silhouette.
When I was young I wanted breasts so badly. I thought breasts would be the signal to the world that was no longer a little girl. I was a woman. The ones I got are small, but they get the job done. And after nursing my son, I’ll admit, they don’t stand at attention quite like they used to. But they make a nice shape and I like them. I don’t want to bind them.
The concept of “gender nonconforming” is complicated. To say that you don’t conform to a prescribed gender is to implicitly admit that there is something normative to conform to. And I know we live within a system that relies on language to convey ideas, and in this system, we have generally operated under the assumption that women are one way and men are another. I think a more accurate term would be “nonconforming to made up gender ideals,” but economy of language is important, so we’ll stick with “gender nonconforming” until we can all agree that there is no such thing as a gender norm to conform to.
And in the meantime, I'll try to figure out what damn clothes I want to wear.
Maybe if I chose to write about a TV show, or food, or puppies I’d be having an easier time. But, no, I’ve decided that I need to have an identity crisis in public.
I need a nap.
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?
Notes from the Road
Part Eight: Cleveland
I can’t stop thinking about The Argonauts. I’m also reading Written on the Body, by Jeanette Winterson, which is all about queer love. I’m steeping myself in this stuff. I should be ready to drink soon.
As we all know, and let’s say it together: I never wanted a kid. When I got pregnant again, in 2014, I knew that even if I did want another kid, logistically there was no way I could make it work. They say babies are born with a loaf of bread under each arm, but honestly, getting a baby out who isn’t carrying extra stuff is hard enough. Also, as someone who used to suffer from chronic yeast infections, I don’t need bread up there.
When Monty was maybe two I went through a I-want-another-baby phase. The great thing about phases, like adolescence, is you just have to wait for them to pass. Could you imagine me with two kids? I can barely handle the one, and he doesn’t even live with me. Plus, I’m only going to be able to afford college and therapy for one kid.
One of my dearest friends is really good at selling the idea of a person. I would say she’s good at selling people, but she’s not a sex-trafficker. When her friends have birthdays, or other milestone events, she posts flowing prose to Facebook about their merits as people and friends. Either all her friends are superlative people, or she’s just a really good salesperson. Or maybe she’s the superlative person. Maybe it’s a virtue of her superlativity that allows her to see the best in people. Anyway, once or twice she has sung the praises of a pregnant friend, extoling the many reasons why this person and their partner are the right people to bring another person into the world. She tells us why these humans should be making more humans. It’s such a lovely concept. To love someone so much that you think “There needs to be more people like you in the world.”
Imagine if our bodies could only reproduce if we genuinely wanted to make people like the people we love (or, I suppose like ourselves, in the case of single-by-choice parents).
The day after I left my husband, I went into rehearsals for a play. The night before the final two shows I woke up covered in hives. Head to toe. (For anyone who saw A View from the Bridge at South Coast Rep on our final Sunday, I apologize. I was on a shit ton of Benadryl and coffee.) I had effectively avoided thinking much about the ruin I had made of my marriage (because I didn’t want to be married in the first place), and my body was like, “You think you can avoid your deep-seated shame and guilt? Cool. Here’s a physical manifestation of it.”
If your subconscious and your body can conspire to punish you, shouldn’t they also be able to reward you? I don’t know. I’m having trouble with this argument because I realize it discounts single-by-choice parents. One would have to love oneself so much that they felt there should be more of themselves in the world. I’m all for self-love (both emotional and physical), but loving yourself so much that you think there should be more of you seems Hitleresque (even though I know the argument can be made that he actually loathed himself, but let’s try to stay on point, people). Loving someone else to that effect is beautiful and romantic. Also, I recognize that wonderful parents who have adopted children also end up on the losing end of this hypothetical journey, but let’s pretend science can figure it out. We can’t really think about this too deeply or it falls apart.
In the first episode or two of the achingly boring new remake of Lost in Space on Netflix, a voiceover informs us that traveling as far as they have defies all laws of physics, therefore “someone must have rewritten the laws.” Okay. Let’s go with that.
Could you imagine the heartbreak this would cause? Reproduction would act as a litmus test for the depths of love. “If you loved me enough, one of use would be pregnant by now.”
Anyway, my entire point is, I think I’m sad that no one has ever loved me enough to want to make more of me. And now that I’m solidly in my late-mid, early-late 30s (ssh, just go with it), my window for making more of me is closing, and I hear myself thinking that and then remember that I don’t even want to make more of me (or more of anyone else for that matter). But the point is not about having another kid. It’s about wanting someone to want to have a kid with me. And what if I do fall in love with someone so much that I want to make more of them and it’s too late? And no, I’m not freezing my eggs, because at this point they’re probably all pickled, and also, I believe in putting money toward adopting children rather than defying medical science to make brand new children. That’s my own personal belief for my own personal body. You go do whatever you want with your body. I literally don’t care.
Ultimately, I suppose adoption and surrogacy are where this hypothetical theory falls apart. I can’t even think of what the junky science voice-over to explain it away would be.
In The Argonauts, I don’t remember Maggie Nelson attributing her new desire to have a child with her love for Harry explicitly. She may have. But regardless, what I took from her story is that it wasn’t until she met and fell in love with Harry that she decided she wanted to have a baby. She loves Harry so much she wanted to make more of Harry. And it doesn’t matter that their baby won’t share Harry’s genetic stuff. Harry is Iggy’s parent. Harry is helping to create another human. Iggy will be representative of Harry regardless of genetics. That is enough.
Having Monty has been a lesson in “I don’t know where the fuck life is going to take me,” and realizing I’m gay as fuck at 37-years-old has been a lesson in “I don’t know who the fuck I’m going to find attractive tomorrow” (though, to be honest, I have a pretty good idea, because my tastes are pretty specific and pretty narrow). And maybe I will love someone enough to want to make more of them, and chances are good that we will have the same reproductive organs, making procreating impossible (until they figure out how to splice eggs together?). And maybe there will be a child in the world at that point who won’t be our genetic stuff, but who we can help raise to be like us enough that we see each other in them.
But by then, I’ll probably be in my late-early, mid-late 40s, and Monty will be an adolescent, and I’ll be spending most of my energy precisely getting him to not be like me that I won’t have the space for another one anyway. And I’ll be content with someone loving me enough to want to sit with me on the couch and not watch Lost in Space.
The following is a guest post from Melissa Howard, Head of Prevention Outreach StopSuicide.info. This piece highlights methods for recognizing and combating early signs of depression.
Photo Credit: Pixabay
Identifying When It’s Time To Seek Help:
4 keys to emotional wellness
Do you spend most of your days feeling content? Are you able to relax and enjoy your life? Is there a strong support group that rallies around you? Do you feel good about who you are? Can you say “no” when you need to without feeling a sense of guilt? And finally, can you easily share your feelings with a friend or loved one? If you’ve answered “no” to one or more of these questions, it’s time to consider ways to improve your emotional wellness.
According to the Office of Health Education and Promotion at the University of New Hampshire, these indicators determine your emotional wellness. They break down your emotional wellness into four categories: Stress Management, Mental Health, Communication & Relationships, and Sleep. Let’s take a closer look at each.
Everyone experiences stress, but the degree to which we successfully manage it tells us a lot about our emotional wellness. If you’re unable to cope with life’s stressors, you need to start to focus on stress management.
The American Psychological Association reports there are five keys to eliminating stress, they are:
Unresolved mental health issues are a major source of emotional wellness problems, so it’s extremely important to seek proper treatment for these conditions. And, when a person with a substance use disorder is also suffering from a mental health disorder, it is critical that they carefully manage both disorders to ensure that a relapse from one to the other does not occur. Once both disorders are fully active, the person’s condition can turn life-threatening.
Communication & Relationships
If we’re unable to clearly communicate our intentions, for example, turning down a drink if we’re struggling with an alcohol addiction, we leave ourselves open to emotional instability. So as we look for meaningful ways to heal, it’s important to establish healthy communication techniques.
Nothing can harm emotional wellness quite as much as being in a bad relationship. Any journey to emotional wellness will rely on your ability to have healthy relationships.
Emotional wellness can be greatly affected by our sleep habits, as poor sleep causes irritability, emotional sensitivity and a decreased ability to handle stress. And according to medical experts at Harvard University, chronic insomnia can increase the risk of developing anxiety or depression. If you’re experiencing sleep issues, work on some ways to get yourself back to waking up on the right side of the bed.
If you’ve made a committed effort to work on each of these and you’re still experiencing any of the following warning signs, it’s time for you to reach out for help.
● Talking about wanting to die or searching for ways to die.
● Feeling hopeless or as if life has no purpose.
● Experiencing unbearable pain.
● Feeling trapped.
● Increased drug or alcohol use.
● Feeling like a burden to others.
● Heightened anxiety, anger or recklessness.
● A sense of isolation or loneliness.
● Experiencing extreme mood swings.
Our lives are precious gifts meant to be enjoyed and lived fully, but each and every one of us encounters roadblocks. No matter what your obstacles are, it’s important that you personally focus on overcoming them. For some of us that’s a committed solo effort, for others it’s working with an experienced professional. Either way, remember it’s OK to ask for help. In fact, by doing so, you’ll not just be putting your life on track to returned happiness and joy, but who knows you could be sharing your story of hope and recovery to motivate others to get well, too. Imagine the precious gift you’d be sharing.
Notes from the Road
Part Eight: Cleveland
Yesterday was no good.
I haven’t been sleeping well. I’ve been getting to sleep past 3 a.m. and spending the few hours of sleep I do get tossing and turning. Even with a beer and a Xanax, my brain is like, “Psst. Psst. Hey. Hey, you. Hey, Daisy. What are you going to do with the rest of your life? Let’s figure that out right now.”
I haven’t unpacked. I used the fact that I only have four drawers in my room as an excuse, but why would I need more than four drawers? But also, the drawers are under the platform bed, so, you know, bending down. Instead, my three suitcases are just overflowing everywhere. That’s my solution.
I’ve just kind of given up with Cleveland. I think when it snowed a couple days after we got here I was like, that’s it. This is the winter of my discontent and it will never end.
Yesterday was Ryan’s birthday. I bought them an early birthday present before we went to Palm Springs, and I sent them copious amounts of cheese and accoutrements for their party the night before, but I hadn’t mailed their card, yet, and I think I was feeling generally awful that I couldn’t be there with them.
I try to be respectful of Ryan and Sam’s time when I know they’re together. Very early on, Ryan and Sam came to see the show when we were still in Seattle. After the show Sam went home, and Ryan came out for a beer with me. Sam realized she was disappointed that Ryan hadn’t come home with her, and she let Ryan know that. I couldn’t drive Ryan home fast enough. I practically threw them out of the car. I know there’s not a hierarchy, but I try to imagine how I would feel if my partner’s partner kept wiggling in on my time with them. So, generally when Ryan and Sam are together, I try to back off, and generally that’s completely okay. It’s comforting for me to know that Ryan has someone there, especially because I don’t live in Seattle and I have no interest in being there for someone 100% of the time.
Also, we were texting yesterday afternoon, and I knew they were planning on a hike, but it was getting late in the day, so I asked about it, and Ryan said they got a late start, and I instantly thought, THEY WERE HAVING AFTERNOON SEX! And I wanted to pull my comforter into the closet and curl up in a ball and never come out.
This, again, is out of keeping with my usual feelings. Normally I’m like, fuck away! But for some reason, yesterday it hit me different.
I took three melatonin last night. So determined to fall asleep at a reasonable hour, was I. And somewhere around 11:45 I realized I felt awful that I hadn’t called Ryan. I kind of tried to reach out and felt weird about it. Ryan, in typical Ryan fashion, was like, Hell yes! I’d love to talk! And the next thing I know it’s 3:30 in the morning and I’m wiping drool off my face and looking at texts from Ryan that are like, Hey, I’m home! … Baby? … Oh, I guess you’re asleep. I got up to pee and tripped over a sneaker I’d left exactly where I’d taken it off.
Yesterday was no good.
Notes from the Road
Part Eight: Cleveland
Cleveland is strange. There is not a regular grocery store to be found. I don’t just mean within walking distance. I mean, it seems that in all of the Cleveland one will not find an Albertson’s or Safeway. I wonder if there’s some kind of city ordinance that prohibits some major chains, because now that I think of it, I haven’t seen a 7/11, or a Gap, or a Dunkin’ Donuts (not that I’m complaining about that). As a result, the most comprehensive and nearest market to me is a place I call “Hymen’s” (which is not, in fact, called “hymen’s”, but the name is close enough that, you know, why not.), which is closer to Whole Foods than Safeway. The kind of place that when you get home from it, you’re $200 poorer and still don’t seem to have anything to just eat.
I did find a CVS where I bought an umbrella that I used exactly once before losing. I refuse to buy another one on principal. It is POURING rain and will be for the next two days.
I finished reading The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson tonight. I can not recommend it highly enough. I zipped through it and now regret that I’ve already read it so I can’t experience it for the first time again. It’s the kind of writing that makes me ashamed to call myself a writer. Nelson moves in and out of thoughts and concepts in a way that makes you feel like you’re sitting on her couch having tea with her. It’s conversational. But it’s conversation with someone way smarter than you. It’s about gender and gender presentation, and sexuality, and binaries, and becoming a mother and a step-mother, and being a daughter, and a wife. I think that’s what it’s about. I’m sure if you asked her, she would say it’s about something else entirely. But, like I said, she’s super smart. Honestly, go get yourself a copy AT YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE.
I’m also watching Ozark which is thoroughly enjoyable popcorn entertainment. In some ways it’s like Breaking Bad light, but the acting is terrific, and I would watch Jason Bateman clip his toenails. Honestly Jason, call me.
I watched Wild, Wild Country, which is about a fascinating subject, but, I think, tremendously poorly directed. It’s sloppy and confusing. They gloss over extremely interesting points in a maddening way. They’ll be like, “They lured a bunch of homeless people into their community under false pretenses, then drugged their beer one night, then had a dance party!” And you’re left going, “Wait, what??”, but by then they’re already onto the next fact they’re going to skim over.
As we approach month seven of the tour, I’m starting to get really tired of the sound of my own voice. I’m in the thick of the usual nearing-the-end-of-tour-WHAT-AM-I-GOING-TO-DO-WITH-THE-REST-OF-MY-LIFE panic. That thing where one job is ending and you’re certain you’re never going to get another job (and, at the same time, you’re like, do I want to get another job? Maybe I don’t. Do I really WANT to be an actor? Though this panic is more of the every-day-of-my-life variety). It’s irrational, but 100% common, and 100% fucking awful. I read an obit once for some famous, Olde Timey movie star whose daughter said he never stopped worrying that the phone would never ring again. It’s going to be okay. Everything is going to be okay, right? There will be other opportunities. Work begets work. Someone will have seen this show and would like to cast me in their next TV
If you’re reading this and you have occasion to cast me, please know, I will continue to be an actor, and enthusiastically so, for the entire duration of my contract. There isn’t an actor alive who doesn’t ONCE IN A WHILE wish they could do something else. It doesn’t mean we don’t love what we do. It doesn’t mean it’s not our passion. You could be married to the person of your dreams, the person who meets 98% of the criteria you have for a partner, and still find yourself OCCASSIONALLY thinking, “Why am I saddled with this person and what is the easiest way to dispose of a dead body?” (The answer, by the way, is pigs.)
OR maybe I should move to a quiet town where the cost of living is low, and the population is starting to shift to a younger, more diverse crowd, and the schools are okay, and there are cows, and a little general store, and fireflies at night, and people ride bicycles, and there are flocks of wild turkeys, and a new, local brewery, and a cheese shop, and the nearest train to NYC is a half an hour away, and there’s a swimming hole, and a fishing hole, and trails, and an old railroad museum, and a candy store that an old lesbian couple just bought. And Monty can go to school, and Kurt can find a local music shop to work in, and I can…write for a living?
I don’t know where I belong. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt at home. I’ve never felt like I was part of a community. I never had the place I went to every day for coffee. Or my favorite diner. Or my local dive bar. I’ve never really felt connected to a place. I think I’d like to have that feeling. And what if it is somewhere really quiet and remote? What if it’s in the middle of the jungle in Costa Rica? Or somewhere in Northern Scotland? Or in Uzbekistan? Will the phone stop ringing if I move to Uzbekistan? Will I care? Will I even have a phone? Does Uzbekistan exist anymore?
You guys, what am I going to do when this tour ends??
I woke up this morning to a phone call from Ryan which I ignored because it was before 3pm on my day off. But I’m Jewish, so immediately I started worrying that someone was dead, also I have therapy in a little bit (which, why I scheduled that before 3pm on my day off will be the topic of the entire 45-minute session today), so I dragged my ass out of bed and called Ryan back. They had two pints of ice cream delivered to me. A pint of Vanilla Swiss Almond and a pint of Butter Pecan. Let’s file that under “I have impeccable taste in partners.” And before you think I’m being hyperbolic because it’s just ice cream, go back and read my last blog (which you should have done already because, a. I’m a good writer and b. I’m trying to make a living at writing and I need readers…) and consider what would have happened if you had compared your partner to ice cream and talked about wanting to try another flavor. Would they have had ice cream delivered to you? And if they had, would they have included the other flavor? My ex might have sent me 18 cases of their flavor with a note that said, “If I ever see you so much as look at Butter Pecan I will be disposing of your corpse in a pig pen.”
Oh, hey, what do you know? It’s time for therapy.
Notes from the Road
Part Eight: Cleveland
Important reader poll: The person who made my latte did NOT put a heart in the foam. Should I leave them my phone number?
I honestly have no idea how humans get together. I’ve done it thousands hundreds dozens of times, and yet, it remains a mystery.
Also, I worry that hooking up with someone else will effect my relationship with Ryan. I know that the point of polyamory is to be able to eat any flavor ice cream in the freezer without the Vanilla Swiss Almond getting jealous (I mean, I know that’s not the point of polyamory, but it’s a defining characteristic. It’s an “acceptable” behavior.). But what if I taste another flavor and it effects the way I feel about Vanilla Swiss Almond? Like, what if I’m like, Man, I really love eating Vanilla Swiss Almond, like, a lot, but I didn’t realize how much I would like Butter Pecan and now I want more Butter Pecan? I suppose only having three weeks in Cleveland precludes any chance of getting addicted to Butter Pecan. And who knows, maybe I could go back to Vanilla Swiss Almond next time and be like, There’s this cool other flavor I tried and I thought you might want to mix in some of its ingredients. Then I would have my favorite flavor with a swirl of something else delicious.
I flew to NYC on my day off to sing at a fundraiser for an organization that supports amateur musicians. The youngest performer was an 8-year-old girl in a communion dress that Jesus would have been embarrassed by. I ran into her and her family in the elevator on the way to the concert hall. Somehow, over the course of the three-minute elevator ride her mother managed to inform me that her daughter had played a concert with Yo-Yo Ma the night before. By the end of the evening her mother had managed to inform me of this fact no less than five times. But always in this “non-braggy,” “she’s tired because she played with Yo-Yo Ma last night” kind of way. During the concert, after she performed, she sat backstage stock still, doing nothing. I asked her if she had fun and she gave an almost imperceptible nod. I didn’t pursue any further conversation with her. Her mother came backstage with her 5-year-old sister (who, incidentally, plays the cello, but didn’t play with Yo-Yo Ma last night.) and ran around for a while talking about how much her younger daughter eats. “She just eats and eats and eats! And she loves sushi!” And some other woman said, “Well, at least sushi won’t make her fat!”
She’s going to have to use the money her little cash cows make for all the therapy they’re going to need.
I’m not at the point in the tour where I’m starting to legitimately freak out about what I’m going to do when the tour ends. Who am I kidding? I started worrying about that the day I got cast. I was holding out hope that Sarah Steele would book the gig of a lifetime that would make her unavailable for the L.A. run, but that’s looking less and less likely. It used to be summer was a quiet time, but now with all the streaming services, there’s plenty of work to be had in the summer. So maybe something will come along. I’d love to take Monty on some kind of cool vacation. Like renting a van and driving around the country for a month. Or jetting off to Ireland or something. But I’m so terrified of being poor that I can’t bring myself to spend that kind of money. What if I never work again?
Notes from the Road
Part Seven: Des Moines
I spent most of last week in Palm Springs at The Dinah Shore festival, the “largest lesbian festival in the world.” It turns out I’m too old/introverted/shy/disinterested. Days were spent at loud pool parties with DJs and drinks, and nights were spent at loud dance parties with DJs and drinks. I sent our Brunch of Shame sizzle reel to the events director back in November to see if they might be interested in booking us. They had already booked their “comedy,” though. Ryan and I went to see the “comedy.” It was two women who are sorely out of touch with modern queerness, or even just basic lesbianism. They were sorely out of touch with modern anything, really. Fuck it. They were bad. The first one made “jokes” about sex “toys” and said that if you can’t “get the job done” with your mouth or fingers she doesn’t want to bother. It’s sex. Not an oil change. She also made tired jokes about lesbian bed death and how lesbians can’t have threesomes because they’re too competitive. Right. Because we all know how chill straight dudes are when it comes to proving their prowess. The second one has apparently been doing stand-up since 1987 but hasn’t learned how to write a set up. She went on and on about how she had rejected religion as a child and how she grew up so Christian she though other religions were Lutheran, Baptist, Catholic, etc. That’s funny, she then explained, because those aren’t other religions. Hahahaha. She also made a joke about how the desert is so dry that all the lesbians at The Dinah were probably finally using that 14-year-old bottle of lube they never use. We left in the middle of her set feeling sorry for the “comedians” and the women they were having boring, efficient sex with.
I'm not saying they should have booked us instead us, but...
I booked the trip in November when I was still single and met Ryan in December. So, Ryan joined me for the majority of the trip which worked out well because I would have been miserable there by myself (see above mention of being old/introverted/shy/disinterested), and the time we spent together ended up being far more valuable than any one-night stand with some random woman.
I was feeling encroached on and claustrophobic. I was feeling like I didn’t have the capacity for a relationship and everything that entails. I was remembering how comfortable I had been with being single before I met Ryan. I was annoyed at myself for not respecting my alone time and not making enough room for myself on the lay over before this one. I had (happily) spent most of my days with Ryan and hadn’t left myself enough time to write or generally take care of my own shit.
There are aspects of our relationship that are great and very meaningful, but there are some things that can be challenging and that make me feel trapped. There are ways in which Ryan and I are really compatible and ways in which we’re less so. In other words, it’s a relationship. I was able to identify and articulate for myself some of the issues I was having, but I was too scared to bring them up with Ryan.
When you grow up in an alcoholic household, you learn that feelings are scary and have the power to destroy. Boundaries are rarely drawn, or respected if they are drawn. The concept of knowing what you might have the capacity for in a relationship is nonexistent. It’s all or nothing. Obviously a seven-year-old with active alcoholic parents isn’t going to have the wherewithal or allowance to say, “When you drink to excess I feel scared for my well-being. I can’t control how much you drink, but I can control whether or not I chose to be around you when you drink.” Good luck sleeping on the street, kid. So, you learn to hide your feelings, or disregard them. And you learn that you have two options, endure the behavior or…what? Die? Get punished for calling out bad behavior? Hurt someone’s feelings so bad they threaten to disown you? Your perfectly valid need for safety and self-preservation is at odds with the reality that in order to survive, you have to put your safety in danger. So, maybe your feelings and safety (i.e. comfort) begin to matter less. Your parents are the ones who are supposed to protect you, so when the danger is coming from inside the house, you internalize the idea that you aren’t worth safety or comfort. And as you carry this garbage with you into adulthood, it turns into an inability to tell friends or partners that their behavior makes you uncomfortable, so you learn to end relationships instead. Where you might be able to say, “Hey, there’s this thing you do that triggers me or makes me uncomfortable or that I just don’t have the capacity for, can we talk about it and find something that works for both of us in order to preserve the positive aspects of this relationship”, instead you cut your losses and walk away, leaving a wake of half-lived relationships behind you.
I was sure that if I told Ryan how I was feeling, Ryan would be destroyed. That’s how powerful feelings are. And so I was thinking I was just going to have to end it. Unpacking it now highlights the illogic of it, but in the moment, it seemed like the only right option.
I’m not even sure how it ended up happening, but I approached one of my concerns gingerly with Ryan on Saturday night. I braced myself for a tirade, which makes a ton of sense because Ryan is definitely known for their tirades… Very little of my anxieties are based in reality. At any rate, Ryan was like, “Yeah, cool. No problem.” And I was like, “Wait. That’s it?” And they were like, “Yeah, what you said makes sense and I totally get it.” So, emboldened, I went on to address a larger concern I was having, and Ryan, weirdly, didn’t scream, or melt down, or accuse me of abuse. Ryan said, “Thank you for trusting me enough to let me know how you’re feeling. Let’s see what we can come up with that works for the both of us.” And I was like… “Wait. That’s it?!”
One person cannot be everything. We have friends PLURAL because we appreciate different things about different people. One friend is the one you go drinking with. One you talk about politics with. One you cry with (I mean, hopefully not exclusively because that would be a pretty lugubrious relationship). Why do we expect our intimate partners to be everything to us? Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Just because my plate is extremely full right now, and I don’t have the capacity for certain topics of conversation, or I need more alone time than someone else might need, doesn’t mean I don’t have other things to offer a partner. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
There’s this weird thing called “communicating” that I’m learning about. You tell someone how you’re feeling in a gentle, loving way, and they respond in kind. Hopefully. If they don’t, maybe reexamine your relationship? I have never been good at it. Because of how destructive I’ve believed my feelings were, I learned to express them as anger. I’ve set boundaries like they were grenades. Pull the pin, lob it at the target, and then run the fuck away so I can’t see the destruction I’ve inevitably caused with my “needs” and “feelings.”
I’m going to leave it there. Except to say I keep thinking about that poor mouse who died in my kitchen. She probably ate poison somewhere in the basement and somehow made it all the way up here before she expired. It’s not like when you’re poisoned you just die suddenly, unaware that anything is wrong. It’s extremely painful. It’s usually preceded by vicious cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea. Where was all the mouse vomit and diarrhea? Poor little guy. She must have been scared. I wonder if she wanted her mama.
Also? I keep having this awful image of picking the mouse up by her tail and putting her in my mouth.