Tag Archives: passion

Mad Skillz.

You know what my husband is really good at? (Don’t be a perv.) I mean, like, he really excels at this. (Seriously, stop being a perv.) He’s really good at falling asleep. He’s like a high-functioning narcoleptic. Within mere seconds of turning out his light, the man is snoring. Now, me? I have to take a pill, wait an hour (during which time I read until my eyelids become heavy), then turn off the light and lay there. And lay there. And lay there. And I think about all of the things that I should have done, need to do, could have done better, things I said, things I shouldn’t have said, things I should have said better—and then I worry about not being able to fall asleep. And eventually, sleep comes.

Some people can just, like, do things. I have a friend from high school who literally decided to become a sculptor and became one. And he’s no chump sculptor—he’s extremely good. Guitar? No problem. He just went out, bought a guitar and taught himself. I went out and bought a guitar (purple, electric, in honor of Prince), and while I can play Horse With No Name like a motherfucker, I gave it up, because it hurt my finger pads.

I don’t like things that hurt.

My mother is extremely skilled at not trusting the post office. This is one of those things that, over the years, she has perfected, and really honed her skills at. At first, she would mail something and just trust that it would arrive. And then . . . I’m not sure, but I have to assume that one day that thing that was supposed to arrive never did. And now she has PTSD. Over the years, it has morphed from casual calls (“Honey, I sent you something today. Next time we talk, will you let me know if you got it?”) to an extreme tactical operation (“I am sending you a package. I will let you know when it is on its way. The minute it arrives, please release the flock of messenger pigeons that will confirm its arrival, text me, call me, and also send a vial of your blood so that I know it’s really you. Make sure you send it FedEx.”). She’s amazing at a lot of other things, too. Like suddenly she’s a watercolor artist—and she’s becoming too good for us, she’s so talented! But this post office thing? She’s wicked good at that.

Then there’s Rowan. He can spell better than a Harvard graduate. He’s all over it. No word is too hard. He’s also really good at protecting the “girls’ area” in the playground at his school from the boys during recess. (Never mind that he himself is a boy, and so by all rights should also be excluded from the girls’ area.) I can see why he relishes that role. He gets to be near a crowd of girls and allow them their space while at the same time being a part of it. Genius. Oh, and he gets to act like a dragon while he’s doing it, so it’s a win-win.

Luca is really good at talking about poop.

Then, alas, there is me. I’ve spent the last year searching for that thing that I can be really good at. It’s been a year of learning and trying a completely new role professionally, and for most of it, it’s been, er . . . really uncomfortable (Oh! And super fun!). Recently, when a friend asked how I was, I replied, ominously, “different.”  And it’s the truest response that I could have given at the time. For the last five months, I have been working full time at a place I love, with people I care about, doing work that has been challenging, but . . . not me. And while I have been hyper-aware of it not being me, I have been judging myself and trying to make it work, trying to adapt. I’ve been waiting to get used to a 50-hour-a-week office job, used to computer work and to doing things that I simply don’t know how to do. And while I am trying to make that work, I’ve been wondering, what is wrong with me that this is so hard? Why can’t I adapt? Why can’t I become this other person? Why can’t I manage stress better? When all along, I should have been asking myself, what is it about me that makes me unable to accept who I am?

Sure, I’m sensitive. I move slowly and need time to process things. I don’t like stress. And yes, I’m not a traditional person that is comfortable with a more traditional profession. I want to connect, and take time with people. I want to engage and offer people a different way of being in the world. I’m comfortable with that. I’m good at that. It’s important to me that the time I spend away from my family is of equal value to the time I spend with my family. And then, with the force of the proverbial smack on the forehead, I realized (yeah, yeah, I’m slow) that I’ve had it all along. That the career I thought I should leave was the career that was a perfect fit for me.

Dear SIPNEL.

So, now, I surrender. I know who I am. I know what I love and value. I know what I’m good at. I know that, no matter what, at the end of the day, I want to feel satisfied, and I want to feel peaceful. It doesn’t matter what other people want me to be, or what I assume other people value and expect of me. None of that matters. None of that should lead me. And truly, genuinely, I know that I can do anything. I just choose to return to my life as a massage therapist, a mother, a writer, a friend, and a colleague.

I just hope you’ll have me.

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Filed under Confessions.

Revolutionary Road. Post #3, from Guest Blogger, Erica.

The audition room is very warm and has beige carpeting. It smells vaguely like potato chips. The wall I am facing is covered with tall windows, and there is a long table in front of me with four people sitting at it. Their coats are tossed over the chairs, and there are papers stacked in front of each of them. They each have a copy of my headshot and resume. I have 2 minutes to show them that I can act; that they would want to call me back to read for roles in the plays their companies are producing. The monologue begins, and I laugh, and see his face in front of me. I say the words, and they taste like sharp edges on my tongue. I get a twitch under my chin, and my chest tightens. My arms contract, and I throw my eyes towards the windows in front of me, hurling words at the glass like rocks. I can just imagine the cracks forming where they land, and I wish deeply to hear a shattering. I realize I’m flushed and hot, and there is a ringing in my ears. I’m not talking anymore, and I take a breath. The monologue is already over.

“Thank you”, I say.

I turn and walk out of the room, the door making a heavy CLICK behind me. I know the words landed. The heavy thud as they dropped all around my feet was so real to me, I look down to see if there are marks on my shoes.

There are a thousand (more! so many more!) ways to begin. I wonder if there is a bad time to begin. We can choose moments of importance. Of distraction. Of love. But on the subject of beginnings…there is a foggy mess where that rattles in my ears. I can hear the crunching and rustling of words like dead leaves about to crumble and blow away, but I try to hold them delicately so that I don’t lose them. Perhaps it’s not about the beginning, but choosing which is the moment of importance.

Perhaps it was the first time I read that monologue. I had seen the film. Revolutionary Road. Alone, one night, I watched it. Heartbreaking. Beautifully written, acted, directed. I sobbed. I knew this woman. I felt her. I watched the interruption of her career as an actress to move to the suburbs and become a mother and wife. With a heavy heart I watched her get stuck. I recognized a more extreme version of a story I watched all around me a million times with women I knew, and women I didn’t know; women who were interrupted. Who chose but who also felt like they had to choose. In a dark, dark place, I hated that I related to her.

I learn her words and repeat them as if they are my own, and I believe them. Because I know where I meet her in the middle. I meet her in front of my washing machine. I’m taking the heavy wet clothes out and putting them slowly, deliberately, into the dryer. I know in about an hour they will be ready to come out again. They will be put into a basket. I will meet her next to that basket. The clothes dumped onto the bed. The heavy vibration in my ears as the word “drudgery, drudgery, drudgery” repeats and rings over and over again. I will meet her in front of the sink. I am doing the dishes and my hands hurt from the hot water, they have dried so much this winter. The skin is cracked and the water stings. I meet her there and finish scrubbing the pan from dinner. I don’t feel myself. I am not finding the joy here. I meet her here.

I meet her in the theatre, where I try to maintain a sense of ME; where I do my best to do good work, and continue to perform and continue to be inspired by the community of theatre creators and theatre-goers that I adore so fiercely. I meet her on my son’s bed in the evenings, where I get precious and rare time to read and snuggle this incredible little human being, a child who is my favorite human in the universe. And I wonder how soon he will come to resent me for being away so many evenings in the theatre, at rehearsals, at performances. How soon until he learns to hate me for leaving him for six weeks at a time to go perform in a city far away? Will he? Will he understand? Will he know that I am a better human, a better mother because I go? Maybe. Someday. And he hugs me and tells me that he loves me to another galaxy and back, Mama. And sometimes I cry when you go to New York City, Mama, but I know you always come back. And I close his door softly and let the tears come. And I think about how full and amazing my life is. And how much I have. And how I want it all. And how I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

A moment of importance that I choose, a part of the beginning, a moment that feels shiny and hard like glass is the moment I really saw my unhappiness on the wall of our bedroom, scratched there on the blue paint, invisible, but for the vivid picture I had of it, there in the dark. I knew I had to find out what was wrong with me, this terrible flaw, this deep canyon of regret. Regret? No, denial — denial and fear. That’s it. Fear. It is too hard to go on alone; too painful to forfeit our family; impossible to hurt our golden son. Our son! But there it was. My life had stalled. I used the word stuck over and over and over again. My career felt incomplete. My patience was paper thin, ready to disintegrate at the slightest provocation (or at no provocation at all). My son was not getting the best of me. I had no best.

Then I began saying the words. The monologue I had chosen because I knew her. I met her in the middle. I went into a room of strangers and I spoke someone else’s words and I believed them. I felt myself start to fill. I began to step over the edge of the bed, at the shiny glow of dawn, hardly able to wait each morning to begin the rest of my life. I made the decisions that I didn’t have to forfeit anything, especially my own life. The leap into the abyss and the weekly trips to New York City and the newness of life where I felt like I was maybe getting it all, maybe—well, that is where I stand now. I stand in the center of the rest of my life. And I make a little quiet promise not to make any more decisions based in fear. I promise to always work on being a better mom than I am today. I choose a moment of importance, and that’s this moment. Right now. Because it’s the most important one I have. I am here, now. This is what is happening. And my son will see me as a full soul. I will see myself in the city, and in my small town. I will remember how I denied and denied and denied. And how that no longer was possible. I hope he sees how happy I am now that I am making my own way and making my own rules about what it can all look like.

And often it looks like a room with hardwood floors and a wall next to me covered in mirrors. Always a table at one end — sometimes a piano. Sometimes I sing. Sometimes I talk. Sometimes I speak the words that feel pointy like glass and make my eyes prickle. And I see that really anything can happen if you really want it to.

And that is for my son.

And I also promise to pay for therapy.

 

 

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Filed under Erica.