We’re the song inside the tune, full of beautiful mistakes…

I got my wedding pictures back this week. I got pictures from one of the most fantastic days in my life, a day I felt absolutely lovely.

I got them back and the first thing I noticed was not that I was glowing and happy. It was not that my dress was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever worn. It was not even that my hair was exactly how I envisioned it.

Nope. The first thing I noticed was my chin. My terrible, horrible, no good, very bad chin. My chin that makes me feel like I am sloppy and unattractive and weigh about 4000lbs.

I mentioned this to my wife who called me crazy. I blocked many photos from being visible on my Facebook. The worst of them I untagged entirely. And then I talked to my mom.

My mom’s first reaction on seeing my pictures: “Well, everyone looks good except me for this particular reason.”

I found this ludicrous. My mother looked beautiful walking me down the aisle and at all points after.

Then my sister called. “The pictures are really great but I look terrible in most of them.”

My cousin. “Why’d you tag that awful picture of me?”

And I thought to myself, this is lunacy. These women looked great in those pictures. They looked well put together and happy and beautiful.

Oh.

And I thought about this a little more, but I still wasn’t ready to accept the connection that logically follows. If they looked beautiful despite thinking they looked terrible, what does that say about my own reaction?

And I continued on that path for a little longer.

My grandmother refuses to smile in pictures because she hates her teeth. And before she hated her teeth she refused to be in pictures because of her thin hair.

I’m certain that her mother before her must have had some “fatal flaw” as well.

And then I got really, really sad. Because the reality of this whole train of thought is that not a single one of us has any idea what we look like. We hone in on a part to focus our negative body image on and that’s the only thing we see. It pulls our entire focus.

And I recalled an article I had read recently. It talked to mothers of daughters. And what it said was, mothers, don’t talk to your daughters about their bodies in ways that refer to what they look like. And don’t make reference to the “flaws” you perceive in your own. Don’t let your daughter hear how you need to go on a diet and how your cellulite makes your legs look like cottage cheese. Don’t let them see you abusing yourself that way. And don’t comment to them about how they’ve gained or lost weight.

Tell your daughters they’re strong. Tell them they’re smart. Tell them they’re brave. Tell them they’re beautiful.

And show them the same is true for their mother.

It seems to me that we are in a cycle. That we have spent generations perpetuating this idea that whatever we are, we’re not enough.

But my legs get me where I’m going and my smile makes people smile back. It seems to me that that is something worth celebrating, not criticizing.

It’s time to end the cycle. It’s time for me to look at my wedding pictures and notice that my eyes are shining and my dress is perfect on me.

There are two little girls in my life that look up to me. There are two beautiful children who take in every word they hear me say. Maybe it’s time for me to think about that, too. It seems to me that they deserve a chance to grow up never cringing at their pictures and always smiling their biggest when someone says, “Say cheese!”

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Chimerical… unreal, magical, visionary, wildly fanciful, highly unrealistic…

Ten Years of October: A Retrospective

10/15/2003

So we’re getting ready for comp. in dance. We go to Tremaine on Nov. 22. I’m really excited about this, but I don’t really think my dance is that great. It just can’t measure up to MI’s choreography. She is amazing. I have so much respect for her, am really quite in awe of the talent she has. And yet, she’s not a snob. And she could be, quite easily. She’s really taught me a lot…not all of it dance. She kinda started the whole “Let’s corrupt Melisa” thing. But yeah, so back to dance. I’m doing a duet I choreographed to Jack Off Jill. That band so rocks. And I think the dance will be real cute when it’s done, but I’m kinda neurotic about that kind of stuff. I just want us to be as good as MI’s group and I know that’s not possible. I don’t have the talent to be that good, or the training. But someday…

 

10/20/2004

So, dance performance #1 is coming up for yours truly and it would make me one of the happiest girls ever to see all of my nearest and dearest in the audience rooting for me. I’m counting on y’all. Saturday morning 11am. I know it’s early, but just consider it a labor of love. (Plus, the way the outfits are constructed, I wouldn’t be shocked if someone accidentally gives the audience a not-so-G rated peep show. Whatever as long as it’s not me cuz I might cry.) I am in a freaking ton of dances and the one I choreographed myself is the first to go. It’s not quite finished, but it’s looking pretty good. I’m pretty excited.

 

10/9/2005

I’m not getting any younger and I feel like I’ve done nothing with my life. It’s unsettling, to say the least, to know that you’ve completely wasted your life and energy and talent. Performers have such a short shelf life and I don’t exactly have a fallback plan. And while I’m not the best dancer, I think I may be well rounded enough to at least be cast in some obscure off-off-off-off-Broadway show with a liberal director. I’m no Balanchine dancer, I know, I’m not built to be a swan, but I think given some time I could develop a strong Fosse style, which is really more my speed anyway. Funny how that works, to make money in a career you have to have money to train for said career. But I think I could do it. Hell, I’d live out of a car and shower at the Y if it just gave me a chance to get back on stage. I could go without everything else for just a little slice of the life that I want.

 

10/15/2006

I feel very good. I’ve been sad lately, but I feel like things are starting to look up. I’m trying to only see the bright side. I am working. I have a week paid vacation coming up. And I am starting a dance class tonight. Things are very wonderful.

 

10/3/2007

I read something intelligent the other day (in Cosmo of all the obscure places!). It said that you set yourself up for failure with very common ways of thinking. Or something like that. Point being, they gave an example that struck me. It said, we try not to get too excited about things we are going to attempt or things we are hoping for and such, but in tampering down our excitement, we are not showcasing our passion and commitment. We are setting ourselves up to be mediocre. So, rather than tell myself that I am going to try for something, even though I probably won’t get it, I am telling myself that I have just as much of a chance as the next person. Opportunity is what I make of it. I intend to get as excited and be as enthusiastic about something as possible. And if I don’t get it, I intend to allow myself the full range of emotion and deal with any disappointment or sadness. We really cut ourselves off from a lot of feeling, good and bad, and what’s the point? I’d rather be an emotional rollercoaster than just float through life in a gray haze.

 

10/5/2008

Reasons life is good:
*I’m in NY. Like one of the ultimate goals of my life and here I am. Granted it’s not the city, but I’ll be there in less than two years and I’m staying for keeps.
*I’m getting more involved with the theatre department. I got into a student scene and am also gearing up to audition for the spring musical, Into The Woods. Oh Sondheim, you twisted man, I kinda love you.
*It’s fall! The leaves are actually legitimately changing colors and it is beautiful here. Don’t get me wrong, when I’m so cold my eyebrows have icicles, I may be feeling less jovial about the whole seasons thing, but for now it’s not too bad.
* ❤ My little Maddie said Auntie for the first time! ❤
*My voice teacher is not opposed to belting, as long as it is done correctly! Yayayayay for FINALLY having PERMISSION to use my chest voice in lessons. I’m finally figuring out why lessons seemed to be going so poorly in the beginning.
*Halloween is coming up. An excuse to get up to no good…

Life is so good.

 

(Taking some liberties with the dates from here since I apparently wrote nothing in Oct. 2009, 2010, 2011, OR 2012. Geez.)

 

5/10/2009

It’s amazing how much good comes into your life when you stop focusing on the negative. I am ecstatically happy to be an OSU student right now. I love my life. I love my department. My friends are amazing. Psi is SO AWESOME. There was so much good waiting here for me all along… wish I’d have opened my eyes a little sooner… but now that they’re open, I’m loving just about every second.

I have SUCH a GOOD life and I am oh so very grateful.

 

5/25/2010

Sometimes I want to go back to Ocala and be a star. I know I could be there. But Ocala haunts me in the worst way and I know I can’t call it home.

I have no idea what I’m writing about or why I’m even writing. I want to get married and have babies and I want to go to NY and be a gypsy and not worry if my water gets turned off or I’m homeless for a couple days. My dreams are irreconcilable. There’s no middle ground.

I’m so scared that life is passing me by and no matter what choice I make, I’ll end up regretting something.

 

5/14/2011

And yet, maybe I’ve learned a lesson or two in my time. Maybe I’ve learned that people are what really matter when it comes down to it. Maybe I’ve learned compassion and responsibility somewhere along the way. Maybe I’ve learned that we don’t deserve the world on a platter, although it’s damn impossible not to be jealous of the ones that *do* get it, so I guess that lesson hasn’t completely sunk in. Maybe the things I needed to learn weren’t the things I would have been able to learn if I’d done it all the “right” way.

 

08/23/2012

I’m starting to accept the idea of not being Peter Pan. I’m starting to see that the worst thing isn’t growing up, the worst thing is refusing to grow. And with that thought the doors of life swing wide open. I want so much. And it’s exciting to know that it could all be possible, to know that my heart is healing and I am going to live a life that is good and that I am going to try to help people and that I am going to try and do my best although honestly maybe some days my best will be sitting on my tush watching Buffy reruns. And that is OKAY! I am okay! I am braver than I believe and smarter than I seem, maybe because I’m smart enough to know that I don’t know so very much. But I know that I am a work in progress and I know that that work hit a very rough spot, but that my jagged edges seem to be smoothing out and some of those breaks at the heart of the piece of art that I am, well, they’re getting better every day. I forgive. I try. I hope. I love. Oh I love. I love so very much that it feels like an act of faith. I suppose it is. I love enough to know that it would hurt if it all went away. That’s a pretty big improvement I’d say. I love. I love, I love, I love. And I am so grateful to have the opportunity, to have the absolute gift, to do so.

 

10/2/2013

#sorrynotsorry

New mantra? Yes, I believe so.

 

10/4/2013

What I’ve learned from ten years of blogging:

  1. I have had an irrational fear of aging for an inordinate amount of time.
  2. Everything always comes back to theatre.
  3. I’ve been waiting for the right moment to take the big risks for a very long time.

I picked those particular entries because they made that point to me. They drove home the fact that I have never been brave enough to just throw caution to the wind and go for it. I’ve been a wishy-washy dreamer for TEN YEARS. And I’ll grant that I’m not very old and that ten years ago I was just a kid, but even as a kid I had lots of pretty dreams and no idea how to achieve them. Well, I’m not a kid anymore. And excuses aren’t enough. I can continue to be a sad little coward lamenting the loss of her opportunities and dreams, or I can “grow some,” for lack of a better descriptive, and do something about it.

When certain songs come on the radio my entire body tenses up. My shoulders un-slump and my knees plie just a little like my body still knows to be prepared for that awesome moment when it gets to take flight. My entire focus is internal and I know exactly what the next move would be. My arms hurt from the effort to keep them casually at my sides. Despite being grossly out of shape and despite not having been in a dance class for several years, I physically ache for it. I was never the most technically perfect in the class. I didn’t have the best body or the best feet. But I could hold an audience’s attention. Something bigger and better than me always took over and that part of me, the BEST part of me, wants nothing more than to be let back out.

That part of me has a voice, too. It keeps my internal radio broadcasting full time and it takes a very concentrated effort not to just lapse into song on a regular basis. I sit in class all day and by the time I get home there is music literally BURSTING out of me. It’s a rare moment at home that I’m not singing (in fairness, it’s usually because I’ve paused my song momentarily to talk or because it’s 3am and my neighbors would shoot me). A certain kind of artist will start singing and I swear my breathing changes so that I can join right in, even though I know that I’d probably be hospitalized if I started randomly singing in a law school atrium.

It’s intrinsic to me, this need to sing and to dance. It’s not something I can help. I didn’t pick it. But it’s something that I need and something I can’t keep ignoring if I value myself and my health and happiness at all. It’s like a whole new coming out. And in some ways it’s scarier.

I am an actor.

And that’s terrifying. I’m not a working actor. I’m not even sure if I’m still talented at all. I don’t know what the future will look like. I don’t know if I’ll be working part time schlepping coffee for the next five years to pay for dance classes and headshots. I don’t know if anything will ever come of it or if I’ll end up doing bad community theatre in Brooklyn. I don’t know. And that’s a scary thing for someone as compulsive as me. But there it is.

I’m an actor.

It took ten years of blogging about it and running away from it and trying to fit myself into any other niche that would have me. Ten years of spending way too much time suppressing the best part of me. It took me less time to come out as a bisexual! But as scary as it is, it’s a relief. I don’t know what’s next, but I know I have to figure out how to be my best me. Wish me luck.

“I’m sorry, if you were right, I’d agree with you.”

I watched an interview yesterday with an artist I’m quite fond of and she brought up the #sorrynotsorry concept in relation to her new single. And while I didn’t conceptualize it into the idea of relationships the way she did, I did stop to think about how it applies to me personally. It’s an intriguing premise. A refusal to continue a cycle of apologies. A firm stance on your own behalf. For a pop culture trend, it actually has some pertinence when given the right context.

I dig it.

I got to thinking about how liberating the idea could be if applied to areas of life where, for some reason, people tend to apologize for who they are. Sorry I’m introverted. Sorry I’m not the ideal body type. Sorry I have strong ideas that disagree with yours. Sorry I want things that are different than what you want. Sorry I don’t live in the sphere of existence that you’ve carved out for me.

Then I thought of all the things I’ve been apologizing for.

Sorry I don’t look like an ingenue. Sorry I have no idea what I’m doing with my life. Sorry that I want something more than what I am doing and haven’t gone for it because I don’t think I deserve it. Sorry I left home. Sorry I am older than most people who decide to pursue my dream. Sorry I can’t settle down and do something practical. Heck, sorry I would rather read YA vampire books than whatever is the pretentious “grown up” book of the moment. Sorry if I disappoint you.

#sorrynotsorry

New mantra? Yes, I believe so.