Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year, New Lucky Girl

I've never been one for New Year's resolutions. But with 2012 rapidly approaching and having started over in a new city, I figure it might behoove me to at least reflect on the past year and maybe set a goal or two.

2011 was a strange, stressful, adventurous, and revelation-filled year. It saw a break down, an intervention, a move to Chicago, and many new opportunities. And it's over. 2011 also saw me finally beginning to realize that my life isn't defined by what was taken from me; rather it revolves around those who give me more than I possibly deserve.

I left my hometown, my friends, my past, my safety net that also strangled me. I had fancied myself a hardass, a serrated soul with a penchant for social disregard. My low points had become a source of pride. I was the bluntforce barfly and I had ruled an insignificant kingdom of self-deprecation. And it was time to leave who I had become. My friends saw it before I did. And there are two friends whom I don't even know how to thank for sitting me down and verbally backhanding me back into reality.

So I moved to Chicago. And I began to see that my Lucky Girl status went far beyond the fact that I survived an eating disorder and various addictive behaviors. Honestly, I know the best people. I have family and friends that stuck with me when I was nothing more than a skinny shell. I have met people who have given me strength, laughs, and the means to keep going in a new environment. I have learned I have people in my life who fight for me harder than I fight for myself sometimes. And that means as shitastic as the world gets sometimes, I am never helpless.

So what does all of this mean for 2012? I suppose it gives me a reason to try to better myself. And in the new year (with the ominous 30th birthday in less than two months) I will hold myself responsible for accomplishing the following:

1. Remind myself of what I have instead of dwelling on what I've lost.
2. Quit quarantining myself from life when I don't want to deal with it.
3. Learn to persevere with grace.
4. Let some shit go. Whether it's injuries from childhood, rejection, or hurtful comments - holding onto it isn't worth the sleeplessness.
5. Realize that I've come an effing long way and it's okay to do things in my own time.
6. Drink more water.

A new year should be an opportunity to improve, move forward. Recognize your strengths, appreciate what you have, learn how to deal with the horseshit - that's really all you can do. I'll leave this post with my favorite quote from Christopher Moore (fantastic author, you should read him)-

“Don't drive drunk. Ever. Don't shag anyone you don't like, or who doesn't like you. Get a look at how people live in a place where you don't. Suffering is over-rated, don't pursue it. Ask for help when you need it, don't when you don't, and learn to recognize the difference. Don't confuse movement and progress. Be kind. Be forgiving. Pay attention.”

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What I Learned Today

It's been a strange day. Riddled with hope, early Christmas presents, anticipation, realization, and tears - today has kicked my ass.

And here's what I learned today (it's been a long 24 hours y'all):

1. It sucks to be a jerk. Why some people make a regular practice out of it, I'll never understand. Sometimes we have to hurt those we care about in anticipation of a better eventual outcome. Because lying to yourself is just as bad as lying to someone else.

2. It sucks to be on the receiving end of a jerk. But after thinking about number one, I realized some people I thought were jerks - well, they most likely weren't. They were just pulling a number one. However, my list of actual jackasses is still intact.

3. Things will not always happen on my desired timeline. I'll admit that I lack patience. I worry, I stress, I crave instant answers to uncertainties. But waiting is not a reason to lose hope. I can either keep my chin up, or be swallowed by the doubt. And doubt and fear have nearly ruined me before; I refuse to go back.

4. I miss Guinness (the canine) really, really badly. Living alone is more challenging than I thought without him.

5. I have a father. It took me long enough to realize "father" is not a biological term. There's nothing like coming home after a rough day to a box full of Christmas presents waiting in the lobby of your apartment. A box full of theatre supplies and chocolate. And Tom Waits posters. My dad is the shit. The Shit.

6. Life is going to be a complete bastard sometimes. But it's a complete bastard to everyone at moments. It's a good thing I have no qualms about kicking a bastard in the trachea and walking away.

7. This Christmas is going to be difficult. I will be alone. But it's my favorite time of the year, so I'll put on my best sweater and go eat Chinese, watch a movie, and find an open bar. Then I will write about it. And it will be epic.

8. Never trust Google maps.

That last one isn't particularly meaningful, it's just fact.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Today as I was getting my Facebook fix, I came across a site speaking out against the media's portrayal of women. Photoshopped images, completely flawless skin, perfect bodies... Images women strive for, but can never possibly attain. I always look at these sites, watch the clips, and reevaluate where I am.

I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa at the age of fifteen. It was the fall of 1997. Eating disorders were just beginning to get recognition as an actual illness that needed to be addressed. People often saw an eating disorder as a "right of passage," a sickness of vanity, a "diet" gone wrong. My illness actually did not form from seeing images of perfection, or wanting to be thin. I stopped eating as self-defense, to gain the upperhand where I could. And I recovered. For the most part. But like any addictive disorder - you never lose it completely.

Now that I'm no longer on the defensive, my struggle with self-image is sometimes fueled by the beauty I see portrayed and praised. My struggle is internal, but I know how much of an impact media wields over people. I've heard so many women complain about their bodies, I've seen young girls suck in their stomachs, listened to people discussing unhealthy attempts to lose weight. And I know - this is how it can start for someone. And once you develop an eating disorder; that's it. It stays beside you like an unwanted acquaintance. You learn to subdue it, you learn to pretend it's not there. So, it breaks my heart to know that something as simple as an advertisement, a retouched photo, can send someone down a similar path as mine. And I wish there was something more beautiful, more meaningful to say; but all there is that beauty can never be found in a mirror, in an image - it is what we share with others. Beauty is not a physical representation. Beauty is what we do with what we are given.

You can't airbrush a personality. You can't retouch humanity. You can't Photoshop grace. The media gives us illusions of physical perfection, that is all. They sell us an "image." I suppose what I'm trying to get at is this - the less we focus on physical perfection, the more beauty we will see. Advertising and media aren't likely to change, I think we just need to change the way in which they are viewed. The more unrealistic and superficial we know them to be, the less we will strive to attain such a definition of "beauty."

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Sometimes it's just difficult to put words on a page. It's one of those nights where my brain has completely unhinged itself and my thoughts are sounding like a drunken gas station loiterer mumbling. Perhaps it's stress from the lack of a steady day job, weird realizations I've made, lack of sleep, or being taken off guard by people's extreme generosity - but it's been hard to write lately. But I want to write, because I know the words are neatly packed away in my psyche somewhere. I just have to figure out what needs to be said first. Which means this post might be a bit rambl-y and inspired by a myriad of events.

Sometimes I worry that my posts are overly honest. I put a lot out there. But I also keep quite a bit packed away. I'll never say it all. I'll probably never write it all. But after being so silent, so reserved, so numb for such an incredible length of time; it was time to put shit on the table. And I've always written my thoughts better than I could ever state them out loud. I let other people read them for two reasons: first, it forces me to deal and better myself; second - my struggles resonate with others. The feedback I have gotten from individuals with either similar back stories, or those who just enjoy reading my blog has been more rewarding than I anticipated. My intentions when I post are to discover something within myself and spark the reader to their own cathartic event; whatever that may be.

I discovered the kind of coincidence this week that makes you look skyward and say, "seriously?" I won't explain said coincidence, but it was enough to freak me out sufficiently. I don't know how much I believe in fate, destiny, blah, blah; but sometimes something happens or dawns upon you that makes you think about kismet (not the musical). I do think we all meet certain people for a reason. Relationships; however fleeting, remain intact in some form in each person's memory. And as hard as we may try to forget certain encounters, scars and symbols remain. And the only vaguely intelligent truth I can glean from that is - never underestimate even the briefest of relationships; sometimes the quickest heartache onset is the most beneficial.

I listened to gypsy guitar jazz last night and smiled.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Little Thanksgiving

It's the holidays, which always makes me a bit sentimental. Perhaps it's because I miss certain faces from back home, or how much I'm beginning to realize just how long I had been living in embittered victim mode. But as I sit here, next to my Charlie Brown Christmas tree and unable to sleep, I know that I am still a Lucky Girl. And for the longest time (I'm talking decades)- I let one man terrorize my perception on every person and every situation.

I was for so long under the impression that he killed whatever was loveable in me. My father left me a broken shell of a girl - ugly, torn, refuse. And I have been helplessly holding hostage this notion that all I could ever be was what he left me. I put myself out there with the serrated edges somewhat exposed so no one could shatter me further. And then it occurred to me that for all these years I had been giving him power. It was actually a strange realization. Listening to a stand-up comedian one night discussing women with father issues, I no longer wanted to be the subject of that joke. I thought, "Oh shit. My self-esteem is at the level of being so pathetic it has become comedic fodder."

But I can't blame my father anymore. I'm no longer twelve. I haven't even seen him in nine years. It's time to let the fog of the past go; and build my self-worth on what I've accomplished, the family I have that loves me, my incredible friends who put up with me - breathe life back into myself. I look at my tattoo as a reminder that I never have to be somewhere I don't want to be. I may be small, but I cannot be contained.

This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for finally starting to grow the fuck up and learning to be a stronger person. As I go into the holiday season, I will remind myself daily that I am lucky to have a family that supports me, old friends who continue to make me smile, new friends who have welcomed me to the wonderful city of Chicago, and a chance to start over.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Risque Business

Performing burlesque is the mutt's nuts (thanks for that phrase, Christopher Moore). Here are just a few reasons I love what I do:

1. Every weekend I become highly flammable. Between the Aquanet, spray on pantyhose, and "adhesives" - no one should light a match within twenty feet of my person.

2. I love to dance. I love to dance in my undies even more. I love to dance in my undies as part of my job a ridiculous amount. I'm a lucky lady.

3. I found glitter in my coffee the other morning.

4. It inspires me to find new ways to move. I forgot for awhile what it was like to push myself physically to find characterization, intriguing body shapes, rediscover flexibility.

5. Every show is an adventure. Will my pastie stay on tonight? Oh shit, I thought I had another 8-count to get my shirt tied. Where's my bra for the next number? Why is this audience member not pulling my tail?

6. I couldn't ask for a more talented, beautiful, fun-loving group of people to work with and for.

7. Shimmying in a dancer's thong and pasties is a pretty rockin' adrenaline rush.

8. It's an amazing workout. I love a performance that requires stretching, water bottle, and post-show peanut butter sandwich.

9. I'm effing Slightly Spitfire. I named myself after a Gaslight Anthem lyric and World War II aircraft. I've embraced my not-so-inner geek.

10. Burlesque is not only entertainment, but empowerment. The shows I've seen and the ones I'm involved with inspire confidence. It's sexy. It's fun. It's spectacle. If it doesn't make your day, then you might be dead inside.

I can't believe I'm fortunate enough to be a part of Gorilla Tango Burlesque. I know how incredibly lucky I am to be able to say I love this job. Now, go see some burlesque. See what all the fuss is about.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

And This Is Why I'm Single


I've never really done it. I'm not good at it. And sometimes I don't even realize when I'm on a date until the guy has to point it out. Yeah, that's happened.

-You did know this was a date?
-No. I thought it was dinner. And cookies. And "cookies" isn't code for anything other than cookies. I really like cookies.

Even I miss my own dating experiences. I could piss and beleaguer about my lack of luck in the department of love, but that's been done (by yours truly after a couple of glasses of red wine). Instead I thought it might be more enjoyable to share my awkwardness and generalizations on the opposite sex in different circumstances. Or what I like to call, "And this is why I'm single."

1. I'll start with the slightly inebriated guy who stopped me as I was walking to the grocery store this weekend.

-(Inebriated, yet attractive guy): Let's talk about these bags you've got. What are they about?
- I'm going grocery shopping.
- Oh. You're all green and shit... and I'm just that drunk asshole on a corner in Chicago.
- No. You're fine.
- I'm Dave.
- Rebecca.
(I continue on my merry way as I hear Dave as he exits into the Dairy Queen, something close to)
- I'd like to get into those bags.
(I poke my head around the corner because I'm neither deaf, nor drunk)
- What'd you say?
- Nothing. I just think you're really cute.
- Well, thank you.

I was actually highly flattered by this encounter. (And this is why I'm single).

2. I despise silence between two people unless I'm angry. My inability to cope with awkward silences with men I like lead to awkward phrases such as, but not limited to:

- I have had sooooo much caffeine.
- I have that dude's shoes. I really like sneakers.
- I dance in my skivvies on Friday nights. It's my job.
- Guinness. It's my favorite. It's like a liquid potato.
- My back up plan is to marry Elijah Wood and move to Hobbitton.

Ladies, all of these phrases are turn-offs. Even the third one. (And this is why I'm single).

3. One time I ran into a man I had a sizeable crush on at a bar, and he shook my arm. That's right, my arm - like it was a Magic 8 ball. It lasted twenty seconds, I said nothing while staring at him, and promptly went home.

(And this is why I'm single).

4. I have, on multiple occasions, been caught dancing with an inanimate object. I've also been busted playing in cardboard boxes, seeing if I could fit into certain tight spaces, smacking my own behind and saying, "good game Taylor."

(And this is why I'm single).

5. I gave my number to a guy. After (*cough*) beers, I'm not sure it was mine.

(And this is why I'm single).

And after reviewing this list (knowing I could easily list fifty things without stopping); I'm not disheartened. I realize my life is full of amusing qualities that keep me from jabbing coffee stirrers into my eyeballs on a daily basis. I say weird shit. I maintain eye contact. I go out alone. Is this why I'm single? Hell if I know, but it's kind of fun figuring it out.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

On Weeping

I moved to Chicago with the intention of starting over. Wiping off the cliched slate and attempting to move forward instead of in circles - it's a hell of a lot harder than I originally envisioned. I naively thought the move itself would remove my past, quell my defenses, and generally make me better. And while I know I am in a better place, feeling safer than I ever have; I realize I still have to deal with this shit. Distance is not my savior. Performing again on a regular basis does not redeem my personality. Finding a new home does not make every last nightmare evaporate. But I am dealing with my life. Finally. When you leave your home, leave your family, your best friends -you are forced to sit with yourself and cope.

Admittedly, I'm not one who cries. But I've wept more since I've arrived in Chicago than I have in years. And we're talking straight up wailing, heaving on the floor style weeping. And for awhile, I thought this meant I was weak and still stagnant. But then the realization trickled over the course of technical rehearsal week and opening night at the theatre - it's not weakness, it's just living. And I have been numb for a very, very long time. I'm no longer somewhere where someone can swoop in and pick me up off the floor. I have to find the strength in my hands again, push my pale face away from the cool of the linoleum and keep going.

The fatigue of fighting to gain self-confidence and being okay with what I see in the mirror is wearing, but I am not lost anymore. I am honestly coming to grips with how incredibly lucky I have been. I am starting to see what I have instead of what was taken from me. It's looking at the possibilities that is starting to keep me sane.

So I am starting over knowing that I still have work to do. But I am finding strength in what lies ahead of me, instead of trying to garner my courage from the fight of my past. At some point it will all become moot and I will only be myself in the present. And that's all anyone needs.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Boobs and Birds

It's getting close to the opening night of Temple of Boobs. I have done many a show that I've loved. But Temple of Boobs has become a show that I am both proud of and grateful for it's personal impact. Aside from being my first Chicago gig, it has started to give me a level of confidence I wasn't expecting. I have always had a wretched sense of self-esteem and skewed vision of my capabilities. Growing up as I did, developing and surviving with multiple addictive behaviors, and hitting a mental concrete floor on numerous occasions - I became abrasive, inexcusably blunt, and ugly. My past was my excuse for my behavior - I deserved to be an asshole and I deserved to do whatever I pleased with my own body.

Now, at almost thirty years of age I am learning how to be okay. Being with Geek Girl Burlesque is the first time I've had to be okay with my body; since I get down to only the essentials while I dance. Sure, it's a physical hurdle my formerly anorexic self is proud to have surpassed. But it has really become more about letting go of the bullshit I've clung to for all these years. I don't have to be afraid to the point where I am on a constant defensive; and I have a reminder that I never have to be in a place that I can't leave.

Coming to Chicago, being in Temple of Boobs - has begun stripping me of how unattractive I have felt since I was a little girl. It's not gone by any means, but the facade is cracking somewhat. I'm encouraged by the strength of my fellow Geeks, and determined to find my place while becoming the kind of person I want to be around.

My grandfather once had a sermon about always burying dead birds. And my affinity for sparrows grew out of retaining that lesson. I don't even remember why we were supposed to bury them, I just knew that even the tiniest bird deserved that much respect. And to be a bit trite, I've always felt as if I was that small, insignificant sparrow. And I'm content with that thought because they can fly. And you can see me fly (and dance) starting October 28 at Gorilla Tango.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Smartest Idiot I Know Revised

Somewhere, underneath dirty tank tops, pairs of Chucks, and copies of poetry collections I've been meaning to read, are the last remnants of my self-dignity.  I've decided this is as good a time as any to pick it up off the floor, run it through the delicate cycle, and let it air dry. Granted it may not fit like it used to; but at least it'll cover the necessities.  And like my favorite hoodie from high school, I'll keep wearing it till the zipper breaks and that shoestring thingie falls out. 

We are all allowed periods of utter stupidity.  Mine lasted many, many months after I got divorced. Like an episode of mono, my wretched bout with asininity just hung around.  It's amazing how much stupidity can feel like superiority when you're at your weakest.  I was sleeping with men whose intelligence level was so far below mine that I may as well have been making love to damp beach towels.  The conversation would have been better anyway.  I've now come to realize I was only seeking to feel a sense of normalcy and to fill a need for being desired.  And on my way to this conclusion I have been down every emotional road possible.  I like to think of myself as a Kia - functional, but oddly unpopular.  People see a Kia trucking along and think, "Huh. Wonder
how long that thing is going to hold up; maybe I should just rear end it now and put it out of its' misery." 

I know I'm a creature of comfort with a disturbing need for someone (anyone) else's approval.  Learning to feel self-sufficient alone is a trying and enlightening venture. I'm beginning to wonder how many times I'm going to have to claw my way out of a trash bag before I realize that I don't need to be validated by a man.  One would conclude that in twenty-nine years an individual would have "found" themselves. I don't even know where to start looking.

Here's how it works when Rebecca consorts with the opposite sex:

Say I meet a man I like.  A nice man.  An attractive man.  A witty man.  A "god help me if he likes punk rock and bacon half as much as I do" man.  Like the Olympic winner I am, I manage to foul it up in a matter of weeks.  My inability to maintain a sense of decorum; paired with my coarse humor and stout drinking mentality, leads to an inevitable Death Star-like explosion.  Nerding out might factor in as well.  It's like an out of body experience.  I watch myself sabotage what might be a damn fine little fling.  The whole while, I keep trying to stop myself.  But to no avail, I am waving my arms like a possessed nun screaming obscenities at the more stupid side of myself.

I look back on my idiocy, and as I approach turning thirty I feel less apologetic about my personality.  I effing love punk rock, I write better than I speak, I'm a recovered anorexic who loves cured meats, I like to scrap fight and get bruised up, I've got a filthy mouth and a scarred ankle.  I read.  A lot.  Maybe if I embrace that aspect of myself more instead of trying to be something beautiful and tame; I will be less likely to feel like the bottom of a shoe after a night in a Wrigleyville bar.  It sometimes seems I'm not a lady
worth keeping around to some, and that is okay.  I'm beginning to understand that concept.  It sucks epically, but I'm still alright.  I don't starve myself anymore to make amends for what I can't be or to make myself as physically unappealing as I feel.

With these words I realize I am indeed the smartest idiot I know.  I am simultaneously brilliant and utterly stupid when it comes to men.  I suppose if they weren't so damned attractive I might have better luck maintaining my sensibilities.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sometimes ... I Got Nothing

It's been a week of writer's block.  And a day of complete worthlessness.  I listened to the strained sounds of coffee brewing, spent a grey afternoon on top of cold sheets, and kept my eyes closed for as long as possible.  I attempted to hack out some poems earlier, but they all wilted on the page.  I thought about posting some old pieces, but that felt too defeatist.  So, these are the thoughts of the thoughtless.

I'm not really thoughtless.  In fact, I have far too many items competing in my brain blurred by recent rejection of the amorous sort.  It happens every time I face the self-doubt of not being what someone else wants.  I have so much I want to say only to have it take the shape of heartache hangover and verbal vomit.  Words attempting to capture brief and lovely moments - thinking the words on the page makes those moments real, permanent.  But what I typically end up with is an abstraction of what went wrong. 

I suppose if I learned to doubt myself less and discipline my writing habits more; I'd be more prolific and effectual.  If I learned to not take every slight personally, I wouldn't churn out drivel such as, "unlike the descents before, this one hasn't bruised or caused a minor concussion.  It has merely left me fidgeting with bits of loose gravel and pressing the rough edges into the soft spots around my knee.  Envisioning the trickle of blood and consequent rust tint around a future scar."

I'm hoping after a few more rehearsals I will have new inspiration for posts.  Posts about celebration of the female form, humor, shaking my "thing," and adventures at the Tango.  I promise to spare you all of self-deprecatory pieces about failed dates - unless they end up being incredibly humorous.  Which knowing myself, is a distinct possibility. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

On Time

I have always been overly obsessed with time.  Even when I was a child
I could never accomplish tasks quick enough, or grow up rapidly enough
to keep pace with outside elements.  I was stuck being forever too young.
I felt time had lost me and I would be continually trapped in my youth.

I remember the day time sped up. 

I was fourteen.  My grandmother picked me up from high school.  I recall
cursing due to embarrassment around my friends.  She drove a silver Thunderbird.
I got in the car.  It had maroon felt seats and felt like a hearse.
The words got lost and I shut down because I knew without hearing.
They had taken my father.

And in that car ride, I saw my childhood slip away.  I knew I wasn't an
adult, I was simply surfing a line between dependency and blankness.  Then
the years of being a lucky girl ensued.  It seemed before I could get
a breath in, I was going to college, getting married, working, playing
with my dogs, getting divorced, living alone, existing.  The
days passed after that, mesmerized by prescriptions and alcohol.  Somehow
thinking that was how life worked.  And one day they would take me
away too.

With the prompting of those closest to me; I started emerging from living
in the bottom of an hourglass.  I stopped feeling too old, like I had grown up too
quickly, missed all the opportunities of youthful endeavors, and I started moving
my ass.  And with no time lost, I was in Chicago. 

It has been one month.

And sometimes I still feel like I'm not moving quickly enough, accomplishing enough, or
I begin to panic about failing.  Then I remember that the better part of my life is always
going to be what is ahead of me.  I no longer need to measure time in years, achievements,
or the grey beneath my eyes.  In fact, I don't need to measure it at all; otherwise, I forget to
live.  Stop trudging through the past, cease to obsess over the future, just be here -

Saturday, August 27, 2011

On Becoming a Geek Girl

Well, it was my first professional audition in five years.  I almost vomitted on the bus ride to the theatre, envisioning tripping over my feet and landing directly on my face during my two minute movement piece.  After timidly walking onstage, I decided to dance barefoot.  The director asked if I was ready and all I did was give my customary thumbs up over the head, the music began...loudly.

I stopped shaking and just danced.  Every pocket of fear and intimidation went to hell and I danced.  And I ceased to feel too old, too unattractive, too short, too untrained.  It was me, the director, and Lloyd Cole's "Past Imperfect."  After my last series of leaps, I realized I had survived.  I also realized I hadn't sucked.  I felt calm, thinking I made it through my first attempt and I would go on to audition elsewhere with more confidence.  Then he said, "I'm calling you back.  Can you be here Saturday?"  And I almost vomitted from shock. 

This morning I got to read, do comedic voices, and talk about Indiana effin' Jones.  All while we drank coffee and ate donuts.  Can I say that a burlesque troupe that eats donuts is certainly one I can get on board with?  And the other "Geeks" that joined us were friendly and beautiful.  After an amazing two hours I heard the glorious words, "You are cast.  Congrats on your first Chicago gig."  And I skipped out of the theatre like an eleven year old girl and called my mother.   I still have an obnoxious grin on my face.

I was so painfully quiet and shy up until I graduated high school, it sometimes seems strange that performance is what I would chose to do with my life.  And after telling myself for many years that I was content to do it in my "spare time,"  I feel so amazingly fortunate to know now that it is no longer a hobby.  I may not have a day job yet, but I'm in a $&^)! show y'all.  

Monday, August 22, 2011


Well, Chicago, so far I've rediscovered faith in myself, found safety
in the uncertain, and now it seems I'm learning  how to not sabotage
myself in relationships.  This is probably fairly valuable, as I am 
divorced and relatively inept at dating.

It's almost as if I foul up any relationship prospects intentionally.  I anticipate
the forthcoming rejection either because I'm not young enough, attractive
enough, or I've just got too much "baggage."  Call me Samsonite if you
will, but we've all at least got a carry-on that comes with our
present personages.  I realize that it's a self-esteem issue I've carried
with me since I was a child.  Growing up in a household where I was
either the most remarkable little girl, or a useless, unworthy child led
me to believe I was powerful refuse.  It's a strange complex I've been
attempting to disassemble, and recreate myself without that part of my past.

My father would tell me I was the only reason he was alive, and then
he'd let me read his suicide notes.  He never literally killed himself,
and I naively thought I saved him.  But then the next day I was ungrateful
and he'd pull the car over on the side of the road.  And we'd sit there.

I'm sure it appears that I have "daddy" issues.  And sure, like so many
other women out there, I do.  It is the one man in your life who is
supposed to think you are the most beautiful and brilliant girl in the
world.  And I was only that girl on a good, less crazy day for my father.
A fine, tremulous line I walked because I hated the dark, but it
was unavoidable.  And I came very close to letting it devour me whole,
believing every man maintained a well disguised Mr. Hyde.  At some point,
they'd unleash the violence and disdain; so it was up to me to be the
saboteur.  And in the wreckage, I failed to find grace.  I became the one who
would cause the insanity.  I suppose it felt appealing for awhile.  Comforting
almost, as I disappeared into myself.

But, here, in this city of 2.8 million separate souls I feel less
powerful.  It's a power I need to let go of finally.  I am almost thirty years old
and I have been hopelessly digging my nails into the idea that I must
constantly be on the defensive.  I don't feel that so much now.  Maybe,
it's the physical distance between myself and my past; or perhaps it is that
I finally realized that whatever semblance of a father I had died a long time ago.
I let the manipulation and anger go with him, and I will cease to create chaos
where there should be only curiosity.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

I feel so safe tonight.  Walking down Clark and I can not find a reason
to cling to my self and it seems so different.  I am not afraid for the
first time.  Everything is as it should be.  Individuals moving beside me,
acknowledging my presence and moving on.  And I feel specific here, and
encouraged.  The people say, "hello," the bartenders ask about me, the patrons
look at me differently, and inquire.

I was looking for quiet acceptance, an acceptance without definition
and I believe I got it.  There is no judgement here, only curiosity.  I can
eat dinner and drink alone without preconceived notions; I am not
something to be pitied.  I am just another patron with a story.  And
I am not the only one.  Back in Louisiana I could feel the eyes.  The
people thinking how alone I must feel.  But I never really felt alone.

I know full well how to function independently.  I'm a survivor of sorts,
and I'm beginning to lose that identity.  And that's okay here.  Nobody
sees that in my eyes, they only see the blue-grey confusion and watch my mouth.
They listen to me here, and I feel less vulnerable than I should.  The
streets are accepting of me and don't ask questions.  I pass through, not
unnoticed, but acknowledged.  Like they know who I am and create
the path before me.

I suppose back home I felt like that my persona was nothing more than a dream
that left ridged memories in a person's sequence of bad dreams.  Chicago makes me
new, unjudged, and nothing more than myself.  Anonymity creates a drive to be someone
more than I've ever been capable of being.  Vague, yes, I know.  But, tonight I had
dinner at the D.O.C. and met the bartender and the people sitting next to me.  And
I never felt lonely dining alone. 

And then I walked home.  Down a relatively busy street and felt more safe than
I've ever felt shuffling through Louisiana.  And that's not a negative to my homestate,
it's just a different perception I've been unaccustomed to experiencing.  When noone
knows you, they just take you to be unblemished, new, and worthy of investigation here
in Lincoln Park.  It's a surprising lesson I was surprised to have defined in such a large city.
All you can do is inquire about a person, preconceived notions are of no value.  We are
what we are.  Not pitiable creatures, rather striking characters moving throughout space
waiting for just the right inquiry.   

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I have been walking without destination almost every day since
I moved to Chicago two and a half weeks ago; which is a foreign
concept to me since I have the most atrocious sense of direction.
I was never one to venture anywhere without having a specific route,
time frame, or pinpointed location endstop.  And now I'm
beginning to wonder just how many minute moments of beauty I've missed.
When you have no specific arrival, you begin to notice the complexities
of people moving through space.  Little juxtapositions, like the homeless person
standing across from the five star hotel, seem a bit more prominent
when your only intention is discovery.  Perhaps in the past I was
just too frightened to walk without "purpose," or maybe I over-attached
myself to the idea of always needing to know where I was going.

I'm getting awfully metaphorical here.  I mean, hell, I was just
exploring how to get downtown and establish where to get the best
deal on a pint of Guinness.  Chicago just keeps handing me more
than I anticipated - except a job.  There's only so much self-discovery
I can take on my life savings before it turns into a broke girl's memoir.

But honestly, it's been invigorating shuffling aimlessly about the city.
I've discovered Dave's Records (where I want to go broke), found the
best burger since Sundown back home, and happened upon some really
phenomenal people.  I really thought I would feel so much more inept here
initially.  But even with my lack of geographical orientation skills, I have
yet to get confused or lost. 

In this city I am armed only with my curiosity and the ability to kick
someone in the trachea.  But I like walking just to walk.  Sometimes we
don't notice when the path we are trudging is circular.  It takes straying
and dismissing the old roads to realize that we're okay, even if we
don't know where we're going.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Lucky Girl

This is the series that prompted me to write again on a regular basis.  While Little Girl, Big City is focused on the present, here's my backstory in short form.  This is the Lucky Girl Series in it's entirety:

Part 1

It's really not often that I talk about this, but it seems to be problematic and I see the glorification of thinness around me.  I have radar for eating disorders since I've been recovered for some time now.  I spent my last stint in the hospital almost eleven years ago.  And I remember the tears that were never mine, the bright hospital lights, and being brought back to life at some point every day.  I suppose recently I've been staring down the barrel of the anorexic gun but I've managed to get my weight back up.  It makes me recall all the women, men, and children that I've spent time with during all my in-patient treatments; and that effing "Dying to Be Thin" documentary that occasionally comes on late at night and I see my thin face drawn up and on a camera next to people who may or may not still be alive.  Eating disorders are one of the most ill-interpreted and misunderstood conditions.  It's an effort at disappearance and not a vanity cry.  It's an addiction to make amends for outside forces and not an upper-middle class white girl's "right of passage."

I know how lucky I am.  I survived  four years being severely underweight and came through without many long standing health problems.  My heart is fine, I can still dance because my bones support me now, and I know how to pull myself out of the eating disorder mindset.  And it breaks me to see praise for self-deprivation or ignorance and insensitivity towards a person's physical build.  And if ever my past experiences can be a comfort or an education to someone, then maybe those bright lights will cease to glare and turn into something beautiful.

And I want to thank the friends, family, and medical staff that never let me go down.  I know I was vastly unpleasant and a fighter in the worst sense of the word back then.  But that scrappy, feisty side of me was the one part that had the upper hand on the anorexic side.  Luckily, it's still there.

 Part 2

People often talk about the bright light they see when they think they are about to pass out of this world.  I remember the fluorescence and the tall doctor.  I remember the feel of plastic pushing past my esophagus and the taste of charcoal.  I remember the questions asked in mid-stupor and the feeling of utter embarrassment.  Nothing like a catheter and the faded sounds of sirens to knock you back into reality.  And like the lucky girl I am, I can remember these events vividly.

What is so often surprising to people is how comforting an eating disorder becomes to an individual.  Its a means to combat an outside source of pain that is beyond that individual's control.  Whether you're too young to fight back, or too little in your mind; you cling to the one thing you can master.  And so very often food becomes the simplest form of control.  I have never been overweight, but I have envisioned myself for many years as being "fat."  It took me far too long to realize that feeling "fat" was a misrepresentation, and all that time I was really experiencing fear.  But since fear is unappealing, it was easier to make myself feel predominant by deprivation.  Superiority can be found in the most bizarre notions when you are blatantly ignoring your emotions.

Anorexia instilled the greatest sense of false pride I've ever had.  Because I assumed I was great at nothing else, I knew for a fact that I was supremely talented at restriction.  I was "one of the worst" the doctors had ever seen.  And still I never saw myself as that tiny, frightened bird that everyone else watched fluttering and on the verge of having her wings cease to support her.  There are no pictures of me from that time.  I have no need to remind myself where I was ten years ago.  I only have the desire to never be there again.  I missed years of high school, strained friendships, and remained speechless when I should have shouted.  Now I'm shouting.  But I know now how to shout with my voice, not my weight.  And this is why I'm still a lucky girl.

Part 3 

Jill gave me a blue Bic lighter that she used on her Marlboro Reds.  India bought me a pack of Marlboro Lights that warranted me a two page essay in the adolescent ward.  Dr. B gave me a toy dog that barked when you squeezed the underside.  I loaned Jen my teddy bear when she went in for shock treatments.  I suppose those were the more blissful images I took with me.

I've stepped barefoot onto a bathroom floor thick with Aquanet to cover the stench of my neighbor's vomit.  I watched Suzy pull her feeding tube out of her nose and suck the Ensure back up and out into the sink.  I've slept in hallways and isolation rooms with cameras because I managed to lose weight while on watch.  I went without shaving for months just so I could shower with the curtain drawn.  I've heard Brittni scream in the middle of the night because she couldn't sleep without feeling the gun on her.  I watched the "Karen Carpenter Story" so many times it became ineffectual.  These are the more disturbing memories I take with me, yet they are the ones that are firmly fastened to my brain.

For as terribly blunt and vocal as I can now be, I was for so very long - quiet.  I had the ability to piss off the medical staff by not speaking.  And if I did; it was vague, guarded, and with a guise of sarcastic humor.  To be perfectly honest, none of those hospitalizations "cured" me.  They did manage to keep me alive and for that I am grateful.  I know why I no longer need to protect myself by controlling what I eat.  That reason ran away years ago.  Sometimes I feel ridiculous that I am almost 29 and just now figuring these things out.  Better late than never some say.

There have been so many beautiful people who have offered me words of encouragement and shared their struggles with me.  And I am more than honored that my words are being viewed as signs of strength and not literary refuse.  Please keep sharing if you  would like.  I think it's kind of cool.

Part 4 

As a recovered anorectic, amidst other things, I've been fortunate enough to glean insight into my own brain.  If this doesn't make sense, let me explain.  After enough hours of therapy, one on one observations, and changes in prescriptions; one can actually discover how insanely normal they manage to exist in extraordinary circumstances.  And in almost twenty-nine years I'm finally realizing why I coped the way I did, and why the desire to retreat back into old comfort zones is so appealing.  I've never thought of myself as "crazy," since I am always cognizant of what I am doing.  It's just that my brain had managed to form black holes and a strange wasteland in which my body learned to coexist.  The black holes made me cease to eat in an effort to fill an infinite void; and what was left made me a submissive, silent, and shrunken china doll.  But as I hearken back to years ago, the Lucky Girl inside me realizes I was never once shattered.  At 29, I do not need someone else to glue me back together like I've so long thought.  Mostly because my pieces are still relatively intact and the survival mode type of existence is finally starting to fade into actual living.

I don't know if its irony or just my inevitable stumble into adulthood that is allowing me to realize these things at this point in my life.  Either I'm wildly fortunate or unequivocally beyond repair.  I prefer to think it's the former.  Apparently, I finally figured out it was time to quit waiting to be rescued.  Because I don't need to be anymore.    Therefor, I will keep lifting weights until I am as inwardly strong as I am outwardly.  Let it be known that I do indeed fight like spider monkey.  And the amazing friends and family, that I still can't figure out why they still stand beside me - are a formidable force.

There are some truly remarkable figures in my life.  Some I've known forever, some I've recently met.  In a most simplistic statement - they make me happy.  They make me realize that the past is just that - where I've come from.  And where I'm going can finally let that go.

Part 5

Now that Thanksgiving has past, I remember the holiday I spent in the DePaul Tulane eating disorder unit and the holiday I spent at Our Lady of the Lake adolescent unit.  At Our Lady of the Lake I got a pass to go out to dinner with my family who had sacrificed their holiday to come visit me and take me out to some hotel buffet.  At DePaul, I had to eat dinner on premise and then I got a four hour pass to leave the hospital and go to my sister's boyfriend's parents' house.  We watched Austin Powers.  I can for some foreign reason recall laying on the bed in a pair of green corduroys and a striped sweater thinking how Thanksgiving had lost its appeal.  It's a terrifying realization at seventeen that you don't feel thankful, or that you can't feel anything at all.  As Christmas approaches, I remember seeing the decorations going up on different hospital walls and wanting nothing more than to be home for Christmas Eve. There were always trite banners in red and glitter green trying to compensate for the overcast fog that seemed to hang about the units.  But no amount of sparkling Santa faces makes up for the sound of weeping, or the sound of wretching.  But somehow, I always made it out just in time.  Whether I said what they wanted to hear finally, or they just said, "good riddance" - I never had to spend a Christmas in any of those desolate dirge holes.

Eleven years later and I shared last Thanksgiving with my immediate family and there was no time limit, or mandated amount of food I had to consume.  And now I'm putting up my own holiday decorations; albeit they are very Charlie Brown this year, but dammit they're mine and no one's crying down the hall.  And that's reason to be thankful enough.

Part 6

It's been several weeks since I've turned my past into verbal meanderings to share with those I know and individuals who only know my story.  I suppose I've been rather distracted , but in that really grand and serenely smiley kind of way.  And in this absence from writing I've realized even contentedness fuels creativity.  I was for so long under the impression that the only motivation for my words was the wreckage that constituted my childhood.  Now, as I write the words to push past the sludge with greater strength than I've ever had; I can see how possible and beautiful it is to write from a place of acceptance.  I may never find closure, but I have the fortitude to fend for myself without disappearing.

When I was at my most ill, I would often write in journals with outbursts of inadequacy and self-doubt; followed by calorie counts and exercise regimes.  The numbers made me feel like there was a sane equation to my existence.  Four hundred calories minus a three mile run equaled Rebecca gaining the upperhand on outside forces.  It made sense on the page.  Words have always been my first line of expression as I was painfully silent up until that night I was hospitalized prior to turning eighteen.  As I felt the words not form when the questions were asked and the tubes were pushing down my esophagus I knew it was time to fight back.

And for many years I thought fighting entailed stoicism by starting over and forgetting.  It took another ten years for me to open my mouth, scream, cry, begin to remember, and grow the fuck up finally.  And I'm not proud of the time I wasted, the people I hurt along the way, and the opportunities I watched disintegrate because I couldn't move past certain events in my life.  But as I see each day a little bit brighter than the last, I can allow myself to be knocked off my blunt force barfly barstool I've been so fond of sitting atop.  No, I'm not an angry little girl like I was so often called.  I'm just a lucky girl whose relearning how to write.

Part 7

It's been an interesting week for this self-professed "Lucky Girl."

As the year comes to a close, I've realized that perhaps I haven't traveled nearly as far as I thought I had.  I felt that I was putting everything into a pleasant, precise perspective and picking up the pieces.  It's been brought to my attention I hadn't quite done the bang up job I wanted to pat myself on the back for.  And I needed that bluntness so to speak.

"Time was talking, guess I just wasn't listening."

I've looked for acceptance, approval, control, and superiority in self-destructive forms that make me ashamed.  I've starved, I've cut, I've burned, I've hurt people I cared about, I've purposefully overdosed and still I'm here.  I suppose there's a reason for my existence after all.

That broken-winged sparrow finally needs to be put to rest.  It's like I'm flailing around wildly and clawing at those I don't mean to scratch.  And this is the part of this series where I realize I'm not the grand force I thought I was.  I share my story to reach others; I share my story to grow.  So, I suppose "Lucky Girl 2011" will be frequenting your walls if you want it.  It's a journey to self-discovery and subsequent acceptance.  Thank you deeply to those who have joined me, cried with me, drank with me, and shared your amazing experiences.  And to those who have come out on the sharp edge of this particular Lucky Girl, I apologize with everything I have left in me.  Everything.


It's time to close out the Lucky Girl series.  As my move to Chicago approaches, I'm attempting to completely shut the shoebox lid on certain elements of my 29 years of existence.  Scraping snapshots off the bedroom floor and fitting them between ceramic knickknacks and old pillowcases - it all seems to furiously fit.

I think it's time to give up the persona, the survivor-style facade I wear and just move on.  I too often let my past define me; and subsequently, it's become my identity.  This past week I was forced to let that identity die.  And I was floored to find it is far more painful to part with that part of myself than cling to it wholeheartedly.  I suppose it feels like I'm not as tough-skinned and brave as I thought I existed.  And perhaps, it makes me negligible without that serrated edge.  But I figured it was time to either let the past that I've been holding helplessly hostage die, or continue to live and be cyclically ruined by it.

I will most likely always be a sarcastic, somewhat self-deprecatory realist.  It just won't necessarily originate from a place of melancholy.  More like a place of legitimate snark and contempt.  I will always have that shoebox with me.  But it will just have to stay in the closet beneath layers of sweatshirts and old Skechers.  I have to admit that it is terribly frightening losing an identity, even if it is an unhealthy one.  I am no longer the Lucky Girl; I want to be a bit more simple than that...

You Never Know What You'll Discover at the Zoo

Earlier this week I wrote a piece entitled "I lost god today in the Lincoln Park Zoo," anticipating it as my second installment in the Little Girl/Big City series.  I didn't post it.  I suppose it was either fear of judgement or a potential onslaught of comments aimed at saving my eternal soul.  Religion is a subject I rarely broach.  It makes people all bristly and agitated (generalization).  I was raised in a Christian household, but adopted deism and kept that fact to myself around the time I started college.  About a year ago, I thought about what it would be to attempt Christianity again.  I made a couple of attempts at understanding; but honestly, it just never seemed to work for me.  And for awhile I thought this meant I was either a bad person or completely religiously dense.  And Tuesday afternoon as I was walking through the Lincoln Park Zoo, I had a bit of a self-revelation, which was the above noted piece.  I'll never be a religious person, or even overly deist for that matter.  And that's okay.  Doesn't make me right, but it doesn't make me wrong either.  So, I'll go back to the belief system that works for me.  And if you aren't familiar with deism; in my interpretation and brief summary - There was a Divine Creator that provided man with the faculties of reason and compassion, then set the world in motion and walked away.  God does not play into the everyday, there is no divine plan to follow; you only have your reason, your compassion and you must live your life utilizing those abilities.  Prayer is of no consequence, you create your own definition of miracles, and god can neither be condemned nor praised in the affairs of humanity.  And with that said, I think I can now post the "I lost god" story and have it make sense.  Hopefully.  I expect a certain amount of disagreement, but that's alright.  But it's really more about understanding and peace than anything else.

I lost god today at the Lincoln Park Zoo.  Somewhere between the
Kovlar Lion House and the Regenstein African Journey, I realized
I could no longer pray.  It was neither a religious meltdown or
a convoluted pressure point of self-assessment.  Staring at the
African wild dogs, I just figured it was time to stop waiting
for the god of my childhood to rescue me and bring resolution for
every moment up until this fragment of time.

You see, god and I had always maintained a tumultuous relationship.
As a child, I went to church every Sunday- sang the hymns, memorized
scriptures, and prayed every night.  Or at least I tried.  But they
were empty, airy words and floated on a ceiling fan breeze.  Little
prayers sent for protection that never showed.  It just got black.
And there we stayed - god, myself, and every fear that faded numb
in the dark of forgotten memories and cold sheets pulled tight.

And the years passed in that state. He could not save me; so I put him
back as a lovely idea of peace and compassion dissolved over time.  There
he stayed, neatly perched between picture frames and empty vases.  Moving
with me from apartment to home to apartment.  Occassionally I'd talk
to him and attempt to find that quiet and forgiveness of self that
my more religious family and friends seemed to embrace.  But there was
nothing miraculous, no long awaited peace of mind, no knowledge shared,
no feeling of unconditional love - and I spent evenings questioning the
idea of god, throwing glass, and despising myself for not understanding
the mysterious ways of a savior.

I tried to bring him with me to the city.  Thinking perhaps, here, in
this space, the glory of the lord would finally make me lovely and loved.
And in my unguided journey through wildlife in near downtown Chicago, it
calmly occurred to me - it's not about god at all, it's about me.  And the
only way I can find a sense of completion is by trusting only myself.
I decide where these dirty feet want to travel, I decide what this even
dirtier mouth speaks, and I decide how to save myself without being at
the whim of god's blessings or dismissals.

I smiled for a little while and wandered on.  The only time I stopped
to look at a map was to find the seals.  Seals and otters always make me
exceedingly happy.  Perhaps if the bible had been as easy to navigate as the
zoo map, I would have found my inner sea mammal display earlier.

The Arrival

I made it to Chicago relatively unscathed.  The only casualties were a picture frame housing Carrie Fischer's autograph and a soup bowl.  Not a bad body count for a fifteen hour trip of all my belongings (except the bed - it was either the bed or the books) crunched in the back of my stepfather's pick-up.  So, I'm here perched on my inflatable bed looking out at fire escapes dimly lit and listening to the faint sounds of traffic further north.

My studio is twelve by fifteen, but I somehow seem to have nothing but space- like a shoebox that encompasses most of a lifetime.  I walk up five flights of stairs and can see the lights of downtown, smell Lake Michigan, and repeatedly fall in love with the endless visage of opportunity.  It seems that I have always been here in some metaphorical form or other.  Maybe it's that sparrow my grandfather always talked about; and she finally flitted back to the big city with a powerful beak burgeoning with some strange new song.

It's rather lonely here on my second floor.  Still.  And I can hear everything all the way back home.  It resonates on the breeze sifting through the windows.  A music I've never been able to hear before.  I suppose it's to be expected.  A repose and chorus of memory that circulates through this small space.  But it's still warm and I know I'll have trouble falling asleep.

People often write to remember, unearth what is hidden in lost caverns of the psyche, and then to forget.  At least I do.  But sitting here in Lincoln Park, I'm writing to discover.  I haven't the slightest what I'm trying to find, but I'm almost certain there is something waiting, sparkling and pulsing, for me to uncover in these words.