Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Thanksgiving Prelude

Thanksgiving.  It's a fairly simple concept.  A time of the year to reflect upon that which we have been fortunate enough to receive.  It's a lovely little holiday.  And while I won't be going home until Christmas, I'm looking forward to my second Chicago Thanksgiving.  No real plans yet other than feeling more content.  I feel very fortunate that the past couple of months have been going rather well for me.  So it seems easy to enjoy Thanksgiving this year.  I suppose I could post day by day things I'm grateful for, but it seemed easier to compile them and bask in the view of such an epic list.

1.  New friends.  I firmly believe you meet people at just the right moment in your life.  Exactly when you need them.  Sometimes you meet assholes and you become a better person for not killing them.  Sometimes you meet people who challenge you and you become a smarter person.  And sometimes you meet people who make you forget you feel lonely and you become yourself again.  I feel so very, very grateful for a certain couple of ladies who have become my partners in crime and food.  Friends that not only literally shower me in glitter like possessed fairies, but bring me out of my reclusiveness and remind me what its like to be alive in a wonderful city and make me feel sparkly.  Friends who make sure I eat a polish hot dog at 2 am.  Friends whose energy is contagious.  Friends who still want to hang out with me after I do my Professor Longarms walk down a very public boulevard.  Thank you.

2.   Gorilla Tango.  They gave me my first performance opportunity and have kept me performing for almost 150 performances in my first year.  Every weekend I get the honor of making a new set of people laugh and become a better performer.  Where else do you get to dance around in sparkly underpants, do comedic stripteases to everything from "Holding out for a Hero" to the Doctor Who theme to "Highway to Hell," and hang out with some of the funniest people in Chicago?  Thank you.

3.  My family.  This seems pretty cliche, but it's just truth.  Honestly, if it weren't for my mother's intense love and strength there is a distinct possibility I would not be alive.  I've done some terrible things and I've done many terrible things to myself.  And the part of my family that I consider my true family have stood by my hospital beds, they've sat on couches and held me,  they've supported me when I couldn't support myself, and their pride in my current pursuits is something I often forget.  My family kicks ass.  Thank you.

4.  Doctors and medical staff who have had mercy on an uninsured me.  I have recently been able to get back on medication for my anxiety and depression due to certain medical facilities who make treatment affordable.  They have also been very kind and have gone out of their way to speak with me.  Thank you.

5.  Nice people.  Sometimes people do things for you that are unexpected but remind you that there is still quite a bit of good out there.  Customers who have given me cards, sang to me, and left candy at my station.  The two homeless guys that always compliment me every time I walk to the theatre.  People on the bus that pick up dropped items.  Fans who go out of their way to say they enjoyed a show.  The bank teller that genuinely wishes me a good day and lets me pick out the good candy from the bowl.  Thank you.

6.  Random awesome things.  Yusho gin and tonics, bacon, warm socks, Netflix, dogs, cheese, Gaslight Coffee and coffee in general, music, laughter, Guinness, Guinness (the beer), necklaces with birds on them, oatmeal cookies, the VFW, the tamale guy, hand sanitizer, books, puns, parks, hoodies, and I'm sure I'm forgetting several things...  Thank you.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunday Evening Lethargy

I spent the majority of today being useless.  Sure, I tidied up my room, went for a jog, drank coffee, and even ordered my first winter thermal t-shirt online; but after that I lost motivation and fell asleep for several hours.  I had every intention of venturing out and finding an aspect of the city to feel like home to me. 

After living in Chicago for just over a year; I'm still attempting to figure out what constitutes feeling "at home."  I have been missing my family and friends rather horrendously of late; despite never truly feeling content to just be home in my hometown.  I'm starting to realize physical location might not be my issue.  Moving halfway across the country was never supposed to be a cure-all.  I knew that.  I also know I have a tendency to live in the past.  And on my jog through Palmer Park on an almost perfect fall morning, I thought about moving.  Not necessarily moving home, just moving on. 

When I get depressed, I often revert to the self-destructive coping mechanisms I adopted as a kid.  And I wake up feeling like that seventeen year old girl in the hospital.  Lots of bright white lights, a numbness in the chest, the hollow howl of your heart when you realize you weren't able to let loose your grip on that which is holding you down.  Maybe the fatigues of memories mellowed by years of starvation, alcohol, and sleeping aren't necessarily for wearing anymore.  Maybe they're meant for packing away neatly; only to serve as reminders of why you're lucky - taking up minimal space until you figure out how to haul them to a side street and watch them being tossed with everyone else's emotional excess.

I don't feel so different anymore as I've encountered more and more people with similar scars.  But I still have that sense of feeling alone, which I admit is self-inflicted.  And the older I get, the more I'd like to lose that feeling.  And in order to do that, I have to decide the best way for me to move on.  That starts with remembering that at this point in my life - no one hurts me but me.  No pawning off of pain, no making someone else responsible.  I make a shitty decision, then I've made that shitty decision.  I don't have to be forever seventeen and half-dead; I never have to be anywhere I don't want to be. 

Because even the littlest birds were meant to fly.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Red Flag Article

I'm not much of a dater. In fact, I'm rather wretched at it. But seeing as I'm thirty and not wanting to die alone licking burned cheese off a Lean Cuisine watching "Battlestar Galactica" - I'm making a concerted effort to come across as more "available." And I've got to admit, there are some red flags that I'm just now learning are a testament to whether a guy is going to be a burlap sack full of donkey cocks or a genuinely decent human being. I feel like I should share what I've picked up on -

1. Do not go out with a man who uses emoticons. A semicolon followed by half a paranthesis does not make whatever you just texted more mischievous.

 2. Cut it short if he opens with how much he likes the Grateful Dead.

 3. I'm done with guys who still own and wear Vans. Get Converse like all the other hipsters out there. Vans make you look like a mental patient and their music tour line-up reads like highlights from a high school journal.

4. Guys who are willing to watch you consume ten percent of your body weight in red meat and/or bacon without being repulsed are awesome. If they encourage it - make sure you get their number.

5. Men who order "bombs" of any kind or anything with the word "panty" in it at a bar - go ahead and leave (with your Mace ready) ladies.

6. Make sure he's laughing because he finds you funny; not because he doesn't know what the word "twat" means.

7. Good banter is hard to find. Relish in it if it happens along.

8. Genuine gentlemen don't make you feel like they are doing you a favor by spending an evening with you. Frack that. Time is valuable, and if you think halfway through the date that your Saturday evening would be better spent eating Lucky Charms in your pajamas and listening to Social Distortion - it probably would be.

9. If there isn't at least one bookshelf (with books) in his apartment - just say, "No."

10. Nice guys will ask you how you are after your dog dies. They will also tell you to have a good week, send you funny pictures to cheer you up, and smile at your shitty jokes then call you out on them.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Little Storms

I could start this post with what a shitstorm the past couple of weeks have felt like. Between the overtime, hitting the wall at work, losing a dog that had been a huge part of my heart for many years, rehearsing and performing, throwing out my upper back - I got pretty tired. And depressed. I wanted nothing more than to go home, sit on my mother's couch with a glass of red wine, cry, and fall asleep knowing the coffee would already be made when I woke up. But it's not really a shitstorm at all. I have a job, I was forced to tell my employer how exhausted I was and stand up for myself a bit, I'm a better person for loving my dog as much as I do, I still get a regular opportunity to do the one thing that makes me truly peaceful, and I got my back fixed in two trips to the chiropractor. Having coped with depression and anxiety for over half my life - I know this feeling of failure and loneliness will eventually fade if I get off my ass and make the necessary changes. I've been so terrified that I will end up like my biological father recently that I've forgotten how far I have actually travelled. We all feel pain. But we choose whether we push that pain onto others. Either take a deep breath, change what hurts - or your misery will affect those around you. I have promised myself I will not permeate sadness. I have promised myself I will make at least one person laugh every day. I have promised myself to keep trying to figure it out.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

On Gaining Weight

Recently I went to the doctor's office where I was, by standard procedure - weighed. And I've spent the week beating myself over a number. A number I haven't heard in awhile. In other words (gasp) - I've gained a few. Now the rational side of me knows this gain isn't even perceptible to those around me and is healthy; but the 17 year old Rebecca sees this as a sign of failure. I haven't even had regular access to a scale in over ten years for this very reason. It's been awhile since I've truly restricted, even when I've gone through my ruts this past year - I kept eating. This is the first time in my life that has ever happened. And I'm completely frightened by the prospect of having beaten the anorexic side of me. I had become so accustom to being depressed and looking at a sunken face. And feeling better when my hands would shake with physical weakness. Anorexia is a strange disease. It's like any addictive disorder. It has a calming effect. The act of disappearing becomes a worn blanket fort for anyone who uses it as a self-defense mechanism. And I don't have my fort anymore. I suppose I pulled the blankets down; and now I'm just looking at them. On the floor. They appear faded, well-loved, and useless against outside forces. My gut reaction earlier this week was to restrict, and honestly part of me desperately still wants to take the rough past couple of weeks and numb it with the feeling of starvation. But I'm tired of my blanket fort. Afraid of hiding in it. I have to remember I'm 30 now, not 17. I have no reason to be frightened now. No reason to make myself ugly. No reason to be affectless. I know this uncomfortable feeling of being at a slightly different weight will pass. Just like when I would first gain weight back after a hospitilazion. You live with it and see that you are okay. It won't kill me. It won't make me any less funny. It won't make my friends and family love me less. It won't mean I'm weak. In fact, it might just mean I'm making progress instead of just moving...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Walk in the Park

I'm approaching celebrating my one year anniversary of moving to Chicago and I almost didn't make it. With an enormous amount of homesickness, my anxiety and depression nearly bested me in a decision to return to Louisiana. I wanted to go home. I wanted so badly to be rescued again. I wanted to return to being numb. It's just easier to stop feeling sometimes. Let someone else tell you they're sorry for you. It becomes simpler to resort to addictive behaviors and say it's excusable because you survived a shitty childhood. Sometimes it feels the older I get, the less I understand my life up until New Year's Eve 1999. Seventeen years and the only way I had figured to quiet my brain after years of starvation was to run away and overdose. I let someone save me that night. I remember the pill bottles and the telephone in my bedroom. I recall my hand on the receiver, the cool feel of plastic on my cheek, and spitting out the words. I remember freaking out when I thought - "what if one day you could feel something again, what if you miss out on being happy, what if you can accomplish something bigger than yourself?" I had been rescued before on occassion when my weight would get too low. I had developed a right efficient system of recovery into relapse that allowed me room for hope, and space for denial. But I always knew someone else would swoop in and I could cease trying too hard for awhile. I relished being the sick little girl, the malfunctioning smart girl, the quiet affectless girl. Sometimes I want to be her again. Because it is easier to be her. When I felt myself want to go home, I felt myself go back to that place of emotional dismissal. But I will not choose the easier route this time. It's about discovering strength. Knowing I can live my life without a safety net, knowing I can feel again and those feelings sometimes include less than desirable days. I have much to be thankful for, even more to be humbled by, and a healthier frame to carry me through. Today I walked through Palmer Park and cried. Parks are good for walking aimlessly and remembering there is more life than just your own. Today was just a bad day. But it doesn't need to be fixed by anyone other than myself. I have bigger plans for tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that...

Sunday, May 27, 2012

No Retreat, No Surrender

Well, it's been a "long" week. And it's caught up with me. As I sit here with my glass of red wine, listening to a mix of music I compiled over a year ago - I'm being still. Except for the striking of keys. I felt like it was time to write again. I quit one day job and am waiting to start a new one - which is equally stressful and exciting. Attempting to put myself in the best position I can to remain in Chicago became an evident need when I realized I was returning to life in the "safe rut." For those who don't know, the "safe rut" is what I do when I withdraw. A safety measure of sorts. I've been lucky in that I haven't returned to the food restriction rut that often goes along with withdrawing, which means I've reached a level of actual recovery. This makes me feel kind of proud. Scared, but proud. Letting go of past coping mechanisms is fucking intimidating. So is realizing you need to let some things go, even if that means losing part of a serrated exterior. I also need to return to actively improving myself. I started full force a year ago when I decided to move. I left my family, my friends - in an effort to support myself, to grow up, to fight on my own, to perform again. And I've been homesick, and homesick for the familiarity of having somewhere to crash and fail. I think we all need to have that place or person we can break in front of and throw our fists about and generally splash about in our discomfort. I haven't found that here. And that's been the most difficult part of leaving home. It's even made me consider going back. But I'm not ready to retreat. I think I just need to start being a bit more social, a bit more motivated, and a bit nicer to those who have shown me kindness. So as my lease draws to a close, I will find a new place in the city to reside. I will take my first year in the city as a year of "training," a year of letting go. Year two will find me feistier, but friendlier; motivated and focused - healthier and forgiveness-seeking. Cheers, y'all.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Photo credit - K Leo. I haven't written in awhile. You're probably all curious as to what the little girl in the big city has discovered during the past two months. And in all honesty - I'm not sure I've grown up as much as would warrant a blog entry. Or maybe I hust haven't taken the time to think about what I've learned. It's much like the picture - I feel like I'm moving forward, but I'm still looking down. I work towards moving on every day. But somedays (especially the past couple of weeks)- I've just wanted to sit in my past. And that sucks. I don't know what puts me there; or what triggers me to start thinking I'm worthless and that I should just give up again. But ultimately I know - 1. I will never bring myself back to the point of hospitalization - I've come too far and I like being able to jump again. 2. I am responsible for how I feel about myself. No one else controls my self-confidence. 3. I make the rules now. I never have to stay somewhere I'm not happy. And with that, I'll get over whatever it is making me feel less than the punkster I've grown to be. I've lived a long time with depression, anorexia, and at times debilitating anxiety. But that's just it - I've lived. I'm still learning to cope, and most likely will always be learning new ways to deal. I know I can't withdraw or quit. I get a little too excited to see where I'll be in another year when I start thinking about what I've done since leaving home. And that's me looking forward. So, maybe what I'm trying to say is - while I've recently felt lethargic and anxious - it's nice to know that when I have these bouts I will still manage to come out on top. There's too much cool shit out there, y'all. Too many amazing people to meet. Too many opportunities left. Too much passion left. Too much for me not to look up next time I jump.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

On Motivation

Last month was eating disorder awareness month. I watched inspirational videos, read postings, even briefly watched bits of the Nova special filmed over twelve years ago just to remind myself that I'm no longer a face on an eating disorder documentary. My struggle with food has been a sixteen year battle. It's ranged from a control mechanism to a coping mechanism to an addiction to a superiority/inferiority complex. And it's never been about my weight.

Fortunately, I know when I'm letting my disordered eating tendencies compensate for dealing with day to day issues. I've stopped skipping meals because I had a shitty day, I've stopped restricting because I fucked something up, I've stopped seeing how long I could feel hungry just so I could feel something other than being hurt. And that in itself has been a trial. Sometimes I feel as if I don't deserve to be healthy, that I'm a better person when I'm withering. This comes from having put on a little weight. Muscle, actually. But muscle equals motivation. Eating healthy equals energy to accomplish goals I spent years missing out on. I finally feel as if I'm starting to move forward, and I know that regressing is not an option. I know that if I fall again, my odds of getting back up as the Lucky Girl are slim.

And I get tired. And I often feel that retreating back to silence and starvation would just be easier. I could shut down and let someone else do the work - save me. But I've lost the desire to be saved by anyone other than myself. I've received so much love and support, even when I fought it - it was still given to me. I lashed out at many people who tried to help me. I was a squawking, trembling mess of a girl for a long time. And I was angry at anyone who dared try to change that about me.

Moving to Chicago was like hitting the reset button. I'm starting to see a little closure on certain elements of my past. I've stopped wanting to hate myself. I've stopped wanting to wake up hurt. I've stopped a lot of things. I know that I will most likely have food hang-ups for the rest of my life. As long as I keep my head up, keep dissolving my past, keep pushing myself to be better - those hang-ups will become negligible. Because I'm finally motivated to be bigger than myself.

I write this blog to share. I also write to push myself. Because we all know that if it's on the internet, it's got to be true. Right?

Monday, February 20, 2012

On Turning Thirty


No meltdown. No panic. Or thoughts of becoming "old." It's actually been a celebration. Maybe it's because I'm more okay with where I am than I have ever been; or perhaps it's just that I'm realizing my worth isn't related to my age or weight. Those numbers are starting to become inconsequential.

It's almost as if I'm growing up and living the childhood I didn't have concurrently. In thirty years I've learned the following (in no particular order):

1. I'm happiest in a theatre. And I brag on Gorilla Tango quite a bit, but I am still amazed (after six months) at how much I love being a Geek. It's the greatest little theatre in Chicago I could have possibly weaseled my way into. And as tired as I sometimes get - it is my happy place. Period.

2. I know so many phenomenal people. And those people outweigh the bad. I can't let one horrible individual ruin the love and respect I get from others.

3. Only I can move myself forward. Staying stagnant breeds self-loathing. No one is responsible for making me happy other than me.

4. If it hurts - stop. This is true on several levels. Whether I'm dancing or whether I'm with a person - if it is painful, just stop. Avoid the injury early.

5. I like being a little Spitfire.

6. If I drink coffee after 5pm, I will be awake until 2am.

So those are my turning thirty revelations. It's been a grand birthday and I'm glad I'm wrapping it up with a post. Thanks to all of you who keep up with my shenanigans and meandering thoughts. And a friend sent me this quote today from Neil Gaiman - "To absent friends, lost loves, old gods, and the season of mists; and may each and every one of us always give the devil his due." I think that about sums it up...

Sunday, February 5, 2012


I've now been a Chicago resident for six months. And I've been welcomed by both the people and the weather (so far). It's finally beginning to feel like my new "home." But that doesn't mean I haven't been homesick as hell. I really didn't anticipate just how much I would miss my friends and family when I pulled out of Ruston, Louisiana.

The one drawback to living in a city this size is that no one knocks on my door every day to talk music, drop off a pound of bacon, or split a bottle of wine. I miss that. I knew the greatest band of assholes in my little town and life without their presence has been trying. They also knew it was time for me to leave and encouraged me to go. In fact, a few of them actually kicked me out. I had sat in my own lethargy long enough and begun wasting away again. And for that, I am grateful. I shouldn't even be sad I suppose - I'm in a much better place physically, emotionally, and career-wise. But I'd sell my Joe Strummer t-shirt to have school night/pint night back or another sushi/Sundown Saturday.

What does this mean? Nothing, really. Chicago has won me over. I will stay here indefinitely. But distance makes me appreciate the people who supported me, laughed with me, smacked me when I needed it, and stayed with me when I couldn't be alone. It's just made me think about how I define being "home."

I happen to perform with some of the most phenomenally talented and downright nicest people in Chicago. And they've seen me very tired and downtrodden this week, and if it weren't for the kindness of several Geek Girls I would be a hot mess. The theatre is my home. Even when I'm frustrated, depressed, functioning on too little sleep, and missing my dog - being back onstage and working alongside so much talent reminds me that I made the right decision. As chintzy as it sounds, I'm always happiest in a theatre.

Now I just have to learn how to deal with my homesickness for those I had to leave, and remind myself that my new home is where I've always needed to be.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Burlesque Bit...

I moved to Chicago five months ago. I settled into my snug shoebox and fell in love with Gorilla Tango Burlesque. All I knew when I got here was that I had to return to performing. And I stumbled upon an audition notice for an Indiana Jones burlesque show. Unbeknownst to me, that audition and subsequent casting and rehearsal process would benefit me more than just providing me an opportunity to perform.

I am a trained actor, dancer, combatant, and vocalist to some degree. I have also struggled with an eating disorder for fifteen years. So delving into the world of burlesque seemed an odd route to attempt. But after watching my first burlesque show, "Fellowship of the Boobs," I was enamored at the confidence and empowerment that radiated from the performers. It was clever, funny; and while boobs made many an appearance - the sexiest thing was the talent and confidence. I realized it wasn't about physical perfection or having the perfect set of ta-ta's. It was about what you did with them. And I wanted in on that.

I'm still learning to look in the mirror and see talent, not a body. What Gorilla Tango Burlesque shows epitomize are beautiful, confident women whose sexiness is exuded through their skills; not just their bodies. It's character, it's dance, it's humor - all with shimmying boobs.

And while I'm starting to flex my performing muscles again, I'm also developing a desire to take better care of myself. I want the energy to perform, to scale doorframes, to stretch - I want to eat better so I can be a better performer. It's not about restricting what I eat to fit into some ideal; it's about obtaining the actual muscle strength to last through performances and give the audience the show they deserve.

I'm proud to work with a company that promotes smart, sexy comedy. And I'm honored every single time I walk into that theatre and I am give the opportunity to do what I love with a remarkable cast and crew. That's my inspiration. And I'm thankful every time I walk on that stage and I have the strength to dance. That's my blessing. And I'm a lucky girl to know when to claw back the bullshit and eat a peanut butter sandwich. That's my resolution.