Friday, February 22, 2013

The Public Eye

So, the other day I was chatting with my therapist about my new blogging endeavor (why do I still live at home guys? ‘cause in NYC, therapy is cheaper than rent.  Bu-dum-ching.  Also my parents are still willing to pay for therapy.  I guess they figure they screwed me up, so now it’s their job to pay someone to fix me? They will not pay for my rent.  Though really guys my parents are great, pretty sure I managed to do most of the screwing up on my own, BUT ANYWAY I DIGRESS).

So, we were talking about the blog and the responses I got from people between posts one and two (ok I know there are more posts on this blog before the one I'm calling post one, but we're going with this as post one) and she cautioned me to think about how public I actually want this blog to be.  Yes, the point is for me to be all raw and exposed all over the internet, but maybe (probably) sometimes I want to talk about SEX or DRINKING or whatever and while these things are perfectly normal parts of most peoples’ lives, does my grandmother/aunt/former boss/future boss really need to hear about these things from me?  Probs not.  Do I expect them to click and read if they see a link pop up on their newsfeed?  Grandma yes, old boss probably no.  But then there's the whole issue of what you put on the internet staying there forever, and while I'd like to think the things I say as a 23 year old won't come back to haunt me in the future, who's to say?  I particularly like to think that we are all evolved enough that I will never be judged on my personal life in a way that will affect me professionally, but isn't that a rosy and optimistic view of the world?  And also a hypocritical view 'cause c'mon, I'm a master of self-judgement!

They're watching.
C (my therapist) posited that I consider blocking all family and professional contacts, but I protested that there is no real way to do that, especially considering how closely intertwined some of my friends and professional contacts are in this industry.  I do think it is important to navigate a split; I get why people have different facebook pages for personal and professional purposes, but it's really such a fine line.  Some of the things I have to say here are about my art and the industry and these things might be relevant or maybe even interesting to some of my more "professional" acquaintances, even if they don't also need to hear about the OkCupid date I went on the other night.  (Though knowing a lot of them, they might be amused by that too.)

Anyway, I really haven't come to a verdict on this issue, but I do think I will try to make sure links to my blog posts aren't popping up on my Grandmother's newsfeed.  I mean, don't make me tell you the penis cake story (we'll save that one for another day).  Also, I make her sound way more facebook savvy than she is.  She really doesn't know how that shit works, it's pretty entertaining.
I spent way too long on this hamster I don't even want to talk about it.
(Look you guys this is turning into a blog about blogging and I haven't really even blogged anything yet.  How boring meta!  Don't worry, the hamster wheel inside my head is turning and formulating posts about clothes and food and online dating so I promise you’ll get to see me discuss other frivolous topics soon.  Also maybe I'll actually post some pictures other than my awkward hand drawn doodles.  Are you excited?  Oh I bet you are.)

Monday, February 18, 2013

If a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound?

After my post the other day, I got a few responses, and I think I was a little surprised. Which is quite silly of course, because if you post something on the internet in a very public way, well, someone is bound to read it. I don’t know that I thought anyone would. My gut reaction was to jump to defend myself, but then I realized, there’s nothing to defend, and having my thoughts on public display here is entirely the point. And if it makes me a little scared, that’s entirely the point too.

Writing in a private journal doesn’t have the same effect; that’s not putting anything on the line or anything at risk. That’s not opening up. If a tree falls in a forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound? I have spent too much of my life trying to be perfect and right and I am here to be open and honest and vulnerable and flawed. We are all human beings, we are all deeply imperfect. I am here to embrace that and to start being me.

And while yes, this is a whole lot of talk about ME and MY FEELINGS, I want this blog to be about you (all four of you) too. I don’t want what I write to read like an angsty twenty-something’s emotional ramblings.  (We won’t talk about how while drunk-drafting part of this post last night I just realized that emo is short for emotional.)  I want to create in a way that makes people think and respond. That’s why I act too. I won’t deny the enjoyment of being in the spotlight, but I act because I want to affect people, to reach them. If I ask you what you thought of a performance I’m not looking for praise or validation – ok, maybe a little – but what I really want to know is how that performance affected you, changed you. Granted, not everything is quite so profound or serious (and I don’t plan for this blog to always be quite so serious either) but even if something was light and silly, well, I’m hoping it made you laugh or smile.

And isn’t that why all artists create? It’s about expressing ourselves, sure, but it’s about striving to connect with other human beings through that expression. To show people, and to show ourselves, that we are not alone. That’s all we’re really doing as human beings, aren’t we? Constantly striving to connect. And here we are, I think we’re already succeeding. I had some thoughts, then you had some thoughts, and now I am having some more. We’re connecting. A dialogue is forming.

 I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this came up on my newsfeed while I was writing this post. 

A dam has opened within me, and I am so happy to share whatever flows forth with anyone who might come across this page.  Even if it means my computer savvy grandmother thinks I need help getting out of a funk (hi grandma!) Even if I do need to navigate the line of what really belongs in this space.  I am finding my voice and you, however many or few, are helping me do it.

Yesterday’s post inspired one of my best friends to reach out to me. He wanted to connect and to tell me that I made him think. My initial response was a little defensive towards his desire to see if I was ok, but I realize, wasn’t this a success? I reached someone and affected them, and if part of that effect was that another person wanted to reach back out to me to let me know that he is there for me, well, aren’t I lucky to have a friend like that?  And he left me with a beautiful quote, and left me to think some more.

“There is no distance too far between friends, 
For friendship gives wings to the heart.”

(I also got to think really hard about my affects vs. effects while writing this post.  So there's a bonus grammar lesson in there too.)

(P.S. I just started watching Bomb Girls and it is the BOMB.  And by just I mean I apparently managed to watch the entire first season in one day.  Hey, it was only 6 episodes.  I don't need to defend myself.)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

On opening up

Sometimes I feel that since graduation I have been living only as an extension of other people.  I was M’s girlfriend and I am A’s friend or S’s friend or J and O’s friend but there are so few people with whom I am simply me.  I continue to find myself in situations where I am the new girl and I’m afraid I don’t stay in any one situation long enough to allow anyone to know me. 

When there is no one in a group that I am an extension of, when I have to just be me, I close up.  I make myself small, try to hide in my own skin, become nobody, inconspicuously invisible.  Like I am afraid if people see what’s really there, they will want to walk away.  Have I always been so guarded, so paralyzingly shy, so incapable of opening up? Did I simply used to be better at denying it?  A false extrovert, putting up a front?

I think I was always drawn to the theater, to acting, because of the mask, because it’s about creating an illusion, and to my dismay I realize that in order to succeed you must break down those walls and be open and honest and oops well now what am I to do?  I have no practice at openness and only practice at masks.  My whole life has been about masks.  I spent at least four years hiding my sexuality and another four hiding an eating disorder.  And I am still, intentionally or not, hiding these things every day.  Just by walking down the street as a pretty, feminine female of average size, I feel like I am hiding.  I am my own mask; an impenetrable layer that cannot be seen through.  And in order to pursue my passion, in order to get a job, I must stand up in front of strangers and be open, be honest, be me?  Impossible.

Sometimes I wonder why I didn’t pursue science, or something to that effect.  I was good at it.  I was good at a lot of things.  Maybe I could be discovering universes.  I always dreamed of outer space.  But the theater was romantic and it seemed so much better, so much cooler, to be an artsy outcast than a nerdy one.  And theater was where I found my friends.  Theater was where I found a place to fit in.  Well where do I fit now?

Not that I can think of anything else I want to be doing.  And there’s the rub.  Is this something I ever had a natural capacity for, or something I forced myself to do because it was a challenge, because people told me no?  I have always been good at taking the path of most resistance. 

I feel the same way about writing.  At least it’s a creative outlet not reliant on another’s willingness to cast me in a role.  But I have the same problem.  My thoughts are a big jumble all tied in knots and I can’t get them out, so instead they swirl around inside me and the knots just get tighter and tighter and tighter.  I can’t be open.  And the knots just make more knots which makes the blockage worse.  Like arterial plaque.  The blood can’t get through.

So here we are, at a cross roads, it’s time for open heart surgery.  It’s not easy performing this kind of work on oneself.  Some days the blood flows freely and other days the blockage is so tight I feel like I might burst; I feel like I can’t breathe.  But I have to do it.  Because we all know what happens if you forgo surgery when you need it.  So it’s time to put it all out there, everything on the table.  Stop editing and cut the crap.  Mix my metaphors and go.  Sure, the procedure is a risk, there’s always a risk.  But they say the reward is greater, don’t they?  Or is that the other way around?   There’s only one way to find out.

Today I was on the subway, changing trains, and I noticed myself in my usual closed off, tuned out state: book in hand, ear buds in ears -- typical of so many New Yorkers in transit.  I decided to take a moment to open up, to really look around me and breathe life in, and a man running down the stairs slammed right in to me and almost knocked me off my feet.

There’s my poetic justice.