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23 April 2015 @ 11:06 pm
It's been years since I last felt this way. 11 years, in fact. In 2004, I saw a concert that changed my life. Just ask me something about Butch Walker. I'll never shut up, and you'll know it's true.

Last Wednesday, April 15, it happened again.

The Gretch was going to a show, and she got an extra ticket. She gave it to me for free, because she just wanted someone to go with her. It was quite possibly one of the greatest gifts I've gotten in a very long time.

The band is WALK THE MOON (the caps are their choice, not mine), and they have a pop song that's racing up the charts, which somehow I'd never heard. I downloaded their whole discography (fairly small, at this point - 30 songs in total), and dug it - it had more synth than I generally go for, but the tempo and energy are at a high I always crave and rarely find. I put it in my regular music rotation for about a month.

A couple days before the concert, one of the songs - Sidekick - came up on shuffle, and I heard the words for the first time. It killed me. I listened and my heart raced and my brain screamed, "HELLO, THE YEAR I WAS THIRTY." It told the truth of my last two failed romantic attempts better than I knew it myself. I was hooked.

But I had no idea.

At the show, there were minor annoyances. Lots of people under 20. Young people wearing face paint and being loud. People my age that followed a beer vendor into the crowd and took up the space we'd squeezed to make for him, cramming us all far closer to each other than we wanted (or needed) to be. The Gretch and I rolled our eyes, snarked, drank our beer, and prayed the music would finally start.

And then. It did.

The band is delightful. Personable. Charming. Older than I expected, considering the age of much of the crowd (late 20s - just a couple years younger than me). Full of energy. Rocking their faces off and having so much fun.

After the first song, the lead singer said "I know you all have smartphones and cameras, but I think you should remembering tonight with your eyes, instead of your technology."

And people put their phones away.

I was immediately enamored.

But the really amazing thing happened about halfway through the show.

Nicholas, the lead singer, had everyone who was seeing them for the first time raise their hands. He said that everyone else was their family. It was exactly the same thing - with slightly different words - Butch Walker said at his 2013 show in NYC. And I looked around, and suddenly those face-painted people from 15 to 35 (to 55) weren't just people. They were part of a tribe. I got it.

And then he said that this family is about loving caring for each other. Everyone watches out for the members of their tribe, regardless of how they might be different. He said it was a place where we could all be ourselves, and look stupid, and not care because we were here to enjoy life and be happy. So let's all put our arms in the air and do this weird thing together and look stupid and not care.

He told us to gather all the things that were making us upset, or sad, or stressed, or tired, or angry, etc etc etc - gather it, with our hands, into a ball, right in front of our hearts. Then he guided us as we took that ball, and we lifted it up, up, over our heads and let it go out into the sky. He said it was gone. He told us to keep our arms up so we could do this next thing together.

And then we all lifted a car.
(click that link to get a taste of the experience. They even have little cars!!)

It was a beautiful moment. It was transcendent. It was a message that I love and try to live by and constantly need help to remember. It was beautiful.

I danced. I jumped. I sang until my voice hurt and then I just kept singing because my heart wanted to sing.

The next day my body was sore and I loved everything about it.

In the days since, I haven't been able to stop listening. The next Butch show is in less than 2 weeks, and even so I keep having to go back to WALK THE MOON every now and then. I look up lyrics (which are now almost entirely committed to memory), I find interviews, I watch videos of live performances. I bathe in the lesson of getting out of my head and living life for real.

And with all of the listening, and the reading, and the watching, I learn more about the band and the music. With every day, it just gets better.

And it confirms what I thought that night, surrounded by people singing their hearts out, with their arms over their heads:

That event was not just a concert. It was a ministry to those of us whose brains won't turn off, who are constantly seeking things that will give them a break from thinking and a chance to feel. It seems to me that Nicholas Petricca is one of us, one of that group of people, and he's using music to stay focused on the things that really matter. He's writing about everything - about sex, and about emotion (usually at the same time! How novel! But more on that later....), and about pursuing your passion, and about ambition, and about taking the time to really do and feel all of those things and experience the joy of them.

And then he's giving that to the rest of us.

As the press for their upcoming show in Central Park says,
"WALK THE MOON’s live show is not a spectator sport. Instead, it’s an interactive celebration of life and love, a communal commitment to joy and living in the moment. Onstage, Petricca leads audiences in a mass exorcism of the things that bring them down, casting out the demons of doubt and insecurity with hands raised to the sky."

That is their ministry. That is their message.

Let go of the things that bring you down. Turn off the negative voices.

Just Shut Up And Dance.
20 December 2014 @ 11:05 pm
I once decided that the perfect man for me would, among other things, ask me questions. "About my life, and about my day." For no discernible reason I was thinking recently about how dating is different for me than it might be for others because I always try to become friends with the men I'm interested in. I've believed for at least as long as it's been since my mom suggested it when I was a kid that I should "marry someone who's your best friend." The problem, I now know, is that I only tried to become friends. Now, I think, I'm a little better about also showing sexual interest, as well.

But I still want to become friends. I crave it. I need it. I don't want to be physically intimate with someone that I'm not mentally or emotionally intimate with. It's just not my thing.

So I ask questions. Because that's how you get to know someone.

The funny thing is, I decided that the right guy for me would ask me questions because of a really wonderful one that does ask me questions. We became fast friends when we met, and part of the reason was that we both sought information. And yet, it wasn't until my experience with J2 that I realized how important it was.

I have a hard time confessing weakness. I struggle admitting to fear or pain when I think I should just be fine. Put more succinctly: I am uncomfortable showing more than a small amount of vulnerability. I have to feel as though I'm in a safe zone. I have to breathe and create space for it. And I need the person I'm with to invite it, to take me by the hand, to encourage me. That means asking questions. When I hint that I am upset or that something bothers me, I need my companion to say "why?" or "what happened?"

When J2 and I were dating, he asked me questions. He sometimes asked them even when I didn't especially feel a need to be heard. He invited me to let him hear. He sought information, tried to know me. It was scary, but it was wonderful.

I want to be known. More importantly, I want someone to want to know me.

It was really good.

And then we stopped dating. And whether it by a deliberate choice or just a change in the tide of things, he stopped asking questions. I would say something for which I craved real comfort or understanding, just start the conversation, and he'd respond by nodding, or with some kind of platitude. He didn't ask why it mattered, or what I needed, or how I felt. He took it at face value and didn't try to unpack it any further.

Unfortunately, it was the worst time to do that. I spent the two months after we broke things off suffering under the influence of a drug meant to prevent migraines that was also making me depressed. At the same time, a best friend started to kind of...slip away, reducing contact that I relied on to feel connected to humanity even when I was alone. I spent months feeling like the mechanism of me didn't work the way it was supposed to, and my comfort in such times was no longer around. It was a time in which I needed more than anything to be really known, so that I could ask for comfort. For relief. For care.

And I just couldn't find it. Because J2 was the most present person in my life, but he would no longer ask me questions.

It's that kind of loss that really teaches us how important something is.

It's that change that's made something so clear: The best way to attract me? The best way to woo me? Ask me questions.

A few days ago, I was at a bar and the bartender started flirting with me. He was complimenting me, flattering me by calling me beautiful and giving me a free drink. And even though I enjoyed being complimented, and noticed that he wasn't doing the same with my friends, I didn't feel as though it was a big deal. I remember thinking, eh, so what, I know bartenders - they flirt and comliment so they can get bigger tips. It's interesting that he was treating me differently from my companions, but I didn't think anything of it. His words and actions didn't really have much of an impact on me. And I know why.

He didn't ask me questions.

He didn't ask what I do, if I live nearby, or even if I was going to come back to see him.

And maybe that's why I've never found myself in a bad relationship, regardless of all my Romanticism and my long-standing desire for a partner. Because I'm just not interested in someone who doesn't ask me questions. I just don't get excited about someone who doesn't seem to want to know me.

I've spent a good deal of my life not thinking highly of myself, but there are certain things I do know are huge credits to my personality. I am smart. I am caring and loyal. Those are things that someone could fall for. And you don't find those things out about me unless you ask me questions.

So flatter me, touch me, flirt with me, and I might try a few dates to see if it goes anywhere. But I'll be on the fence about you until you show a real interest in me.
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14 August 2014 @ 09:13 am
The truth is...I feel broken by romantic love.

That's the best way I know how to say it. It's also not correct. I don't feel broken by love - I feel healed by it. I feel able to embrace my brokenness and work on fixing it. Love is what brings me here, much more than whatever breaks I feel. And I'm not broken by romance. I'm not really aware of it, to be honest. I don't know for sure what it looks like, or if I've ever seen it. I think I have. Glimpses of it, here and there.

I can't say that I've been broken by men, either. So many of my experiences, so many of my relationships, are littered with beautiful shreds of light brought into them by the men involved.


I feel broken.

And something about those experiences, about those relationships, is at the core of it. Something about the things that have brought light into my life has done just the opposite - something in them has put cracks in my confidence, and pain in my heart.

I can't really explain the pain, or the breakage. I don't know how to describe in logical words what I feel. I can only say it with some kind of poetry - whatever meager poetry I can muster in this brain of mine.

I feel angry and hurt. I want to cry or lash out. I want to scream on the rooftops. I want to open myself and allow myself to be eviscerated by it.

I'm tired of patching it up. I'm tired of building walls around it. I'm tired of putting on a happy face and some armor and going about the day searching for the happiness that I know is there if I just try hard enough.

I really do know it's there. Don't misunderstand.

But I'm exhausted from searching for it. I'm used to it making itself known. But this thing - this hurt - this brokenness - is too big right now. It's standing in the way.

And I'm standing on my toes, craning my neck, jumping up and down to see around it.

What I want is to stop looking around it and start looking at it. Stare it down and challenge it. Say "what do you want? Why are you here? How can I make you go away?"

And then do whatever I have to do to make it go away.

I read a beautiful "advice column" to a man with a disability who looks, as he puts it, like a "beast". He says that it's made him incapable of being loved. He is wrong. But there's no question that he faces a challenge. It will never be easy for him.

I read it, and thought, "I identify with this."

And suddenly, I was facing the hurt. I was looking at it.

And I was mad.

I am not a beast. I am not disabled. I am not ugly.

I know that I am not everyone's ideal. I know that there are things about me that people don't find attractive. That is okay.


Besides those things. Despite those things. I am beautiful. I am attractive. I am a catch.

There is no reason for me to identify with the letter.

But I did.

I've had a similar life experience. I've felt the emptiness of knowing I am loved fiercely by men who have no desire to be intimate with me. I've felt the falling from a mountain that is thinking something is starting only to find that he never climbed the mountain in the first place.

I've been alone and untouched.

And much of the time, I'm grateful even for the pain of that aloneness. I'm grateful for my independence and grateful that I've been saved the heartbreak of breaking apart from something that I didn't know wasn't right.

But right now, I don't feel grateful.

I feel broken.

I feel like there are things I don't know how to do. I feel like I've come to expect things that others have never even fathomed. I feel like I'm not beautiful or a catch.

I feel like a beast.

And I'm angry. And I'm sad. And I want to do something about it, but I don't know what.

I can't talk about it. I've made it almost impossible to have those conversations with the people I trust most by hoping that maybe they would be the exception that excuses the rule. I had tried to say "these things have happened, but they are not who I am." I tried to say "I am not broken, no matter how I feel." And despite my valiant effort, I didn't succeed.

So here I am in the arena. I've fought this thing hard, and it's fought back just as much. It's gotten harder.

I'm alone here in this arena, despite that fierce love. I'm alone against this brokenness.

Is there anyone who can help me win this fight?

I'm not sure.

But I'm here. I'm not jumping and craning and peeking around this thing. I'm in the ring with it. Life has made it necessary.

I guess the only way to overcome it is to fight it. I guess the only way to heal is to really feel the brokenness, instead of denying it.

For now, it takes all of my courage just to stand in this ring.

But I'm doing it.
08 July 2014 @ 10:31 pm
It's almost exactly a month after my 6 year anniversary in New York.

They say that one becomes a "real" New Yorker when they've lived here 7 years, so I'm almost there.

Ha. "Real". Makes me think of The Velveteen Rabbit. I feel like my fur is being loved off of me. It feels very appropriate.

So. What happened in my 6th year in NYC?

* I produced 2 full-length plays, 1 short play, and 3 readings; I directed 1 full-length, 1 short, and 2 readings, and assistant-directed on a full-length; and I learned how to take a back seat and use my Project Manager hat to its fullest potential, with extraordinary (if sometimes excruciating) results.
* I read a handful of plays that I chose to champion, and even more that I chose to pass on - a terrifying but important thing.
* I said no to friends, a frightful undertaking, because what's best for the show matters more than what feels good.
* I engaged in a theatre festival that was a little too true to its name with artists that were better than most I've worked with.
* I embarked on some truly exciting business ventures that may soon mean huge and exciting changes for me and for our company.
* I interviewed at a prestigious theatre and was relieved to find that I wasn't hired - not all impressive things are actually good things.
* I was simultaneously too hard on myself and not ambitious enough. That's something I see now, and am relieved by.

* I found a new allergist
* started acupuncture
* saw an ENT
* stopped acupuncture when the doctor refused to listen to me/my other doctors
* saw a neurologist
* finally discovered that the secret to all of my most baffling symptoms were migraines that I'd always thought were something else
* started new medications that may just solve some things that have been struggles for a very long time

* I met and bonded with new Brothers in Nashville and Philadelphia.
* I discovered a passion within my fraternity that has driven me to do my part to improve the world in a way I never could have imagined.
* I ended one leadership role in the fraternity in order to prepare myself to do something bigger - or at least something that can help more people
* I learned perhaps a portion of the extent to which my Brothers are changing the world, and started making strides to help them - to start, I raised some cash to help a few of them travel hundreds of miles to my former home in Oklahoma to make the devastation they suffered a bit more manageable, in a way I can't imagine having done 10 years ago.
* I volunteered to help a group of really cool college kids plan something truly awesome.
* I spoke to college students about the benefits of keeping in touch with alumni, who often are overjoyed at any chance to feel useful.

* I helped coordinate the wedding of my first ever best friend to one of the loveliest men I've ever met. I dj'd like a rockstar, emceed like a pro, and cried like a sap - all because my love for Marky-Mark is giant, and almost as old as we are.
* I went to the wedding of yet another of my oldest, closest friends, to yet another lovely man, on the beach in Puerto Rico. It was a beautiful weekend, regardless of personal challenges (like seeing an old enemy), because of the place and people that made it what it was.
* I went to the wedding of a newer friend and former roommate, which in a roundabout way wouldn't have existed if not for me. It was a lovely day full of Brothers I love and old friends I'd almost forgotten. And Batman Chucks.

* I got to meet three lovely little people: Otto, Aria, and Annabelle - two nieces and one "nephew", the son of one of my best friends and most valued colleagues.
* I got to see my favorite musician (Butch!!) with one of my favorite people (my brother) to honor that favorite's and my "70th" birthday.
* I drove (well, really rode) 14 hours in a car both ways to South Carolina with a new friend, to see some old friends that live much too far away. A long, exhausting, and delightful weekend.
* I got to spend serious quality time with my mom, and less serious (albeit equally quality) time with my dad. I was able to appreciate just how lucky I am to have parents who will go an extra mile for me when I'm not able to walk it myself, and who make me laugh endlessly. And, who are fantastic Cards Against Humanity players. I missed them both even more when they left than I had when they arrived.
* I started to dive way in to the topics of gender equality, Rape Culture, and the insidious misogyny that's been programmed into our culture. I learned to greatly appreciate a compliment on the color of my hair or my tattoos or any other thing that is a reflection of my taste and my choices, instead of my genetics. I learned that the conversations that need to be had are difficult because many men are afraid of how they might be accused of perpetuating it - which keeps them from being aware of the fact that they're being harmed by it just as much as we are, and that the fight is not women vs. men, but all of us vs. the way we've been purposely and/or inadvertently taught all our lives.

* I turned 30
* I got my second tattoo: a word that celebrates the valuable and incredibly valued friends that have shaped my life so much and help me live it when the chips are down and love it when times are good; adorned by original artwork by one of those friends, whose talent and friendship I appreciate in equal measure.
* I started hearing myself think "Okay. I'm 30 now. It's time to....." followed by many things I never really thought I'd find important, and some that I never thought I'd have to acknowledge.

And in ways I couldn't have possibly anticipated, my romantic life changed. Or really, the way I see myself in terms of relationships changed.
* It started with what I saw on the outside. Finding out that a former flame was engaged, seeing a former roommate/estranged friend get engaged, watching one of my best friends get married to a wonderful man who loves him for everything he is (including the things that still sometimes annoy me!), and then interacting again with that former flame for the first time in a year. And having to pretend to be normal in front of him and his fiancee. And failing at that, miserably.
* Then things got closer to home. I watched as one woman bonded with someone with whom I'd never had actual closure, and watched as another woman straight up pounced on him.
* And I was 30. And I thought to myself "Okay. I'm 30 now. It's time to stop wasting my time waiting for what might one day be, and just find out if it will already." And I imagined perhaps for the first time what my life would be like if it did happen - with anybody. And it was nice, but more importantly, it was very clear that it's exactly what I deserve.
* So I had the conversation. On Thanksgiving Day. I talked over all the fear and braced myself for horror and asked that man if anything would ever happen between us. And he said no - without hurting me or judging me. And during that conversation, I stood up for myself and my own agency in a way I'd never had the courage to before.
* And after the conversation, I mourned the loss of the crutch I'd been using during all my lonely times for most of 3 years. And then I wondered: What Starts Now?
* In the months after, strange things happened. First, I realized that maybe I'd put relationships on a pedestal. I thought about the bad side  - the things I'd have to lose, and hard conversations I'd have to have. I contemplated having to be as vulnerable as I'd been on Thanksgiving on a regular basis. And it was far from exciting.
* Then, a couple people had surprisingly prophetic-sounding things to say to me on the subject.
* And then....a friend started flirting with me. It was subtle and maybe it was misguided, but it happened.
* I ended the year in almost the exact opposite way as I'd started. The day before my 6th New Yorkiversary, a new thing started. It didn't last long - just under a month - but it was big and changed my perception in a truly significant way.

But that's a story for next year.

Next year, when I'll finally be "real."

I don't know....I'm feeling pretty real already. And it's painful and challenging and scary, but mostly it's wonderful.

Mostly, it's just completely wonderful. 
08 March 2014 @ 09:51 pm
My health has improved by leaps and bounds in the past year.

But I still have far to go.

I'm in the middle of allergy shots, that at one point were far too often canceled or skipped because of holidays, weather, vacations (mine and my doctor's). I'm on the way. And I feel much different. But I'm not done.

Today I stopped what I was doing for a moment to take a Benadryl. Thought for another moment, and decided to make it 2.

As I took them, I remembered the last dose, and tracked how long it had been. It was during brunch. I was talking to a friend about films and theatre and writing and art and using just a small part of my brain to determine how many of which pills I should be taking.

It's a common thing for me. Realize I don't feel well. Check in with my body to identify the symptoms. What's not working right? What's working too hard? What's straining under the stress of a life working two jobs and volunteering while I struggle to stay ahead of the allergies? How many pills do I need to take so I can do my job without the dust mites in the carpet causing my sinuses to swell and my lungs to constrict? Do I take the anti-inflammatory, or the antihistamine?

The truth of the matter is that, to an extent, my life has come to be about my allergies. And once the allergy symptoms are at bay, the other problems - the aches and pains that I've come to regularly expect - remind me they're there. I once refused for as long as possible to take any pills. Back when it was a sore back or dislocated wrist that was my biggest problem, I'd breathe through it, avoiding pain relievers as long as possible. Now, I can't remember for sure the last time I didn't take at least one Aleve, at least one Benadryl. I wake up in the morning and ingest a slew of medications. Stop at the medicine cabinet before bed to do the same.

This is the life I now lead.

I do appreciate the fact that the allergies have helped me learn to pay attention to my body and my needs, and to be patient with myself and maintain reasonable expectations. There is value in this experience in that way, if no other.

But that doesn't mean I need to continue to live this way.

I'm re-establishing my decision to start taking care of my body - not just in listening to it and treating it, but in proactively caring for it so that the symptoms, eventually, start to go away. I'm tired in a way I wasn't a few months ago, and I know it's the comparative lack of exercise and excess of expectations.

The priorities I'm subconsciously setting these days are not right. It's time I start to make conscious ones instead.

My life will not cease to create challenges that try to stand in the way of self care. But I'll be able to face those challenges more efficiently if I'm not also constantly maintaining a running inventory of pill intake. The allergy shots will continue to help. Caring for my body will take care of the rest.

I can't wait for the day when I can go a day without taking a pill. Some may be in my life forever, but so many can be saved if I can be diligent about preventing the problems that necessitate them.

My life must stop being about my health. Because soon enough, it's going to have to be about so very much more. 
12 November 2013 @ 02:27 pm
I've been thinking about it, and I have free time because of my current sick day, so:

A few years ago, a friend shared a list of things she expected in whomever she would one day end up with. I decided to make one of my own. For fun and/or reference, here it is. I'll revise it later, so if you skip it, you won't miss anything:

Original ListCollapse )

A year and a half ago, I felt compelled to add to it. Here are my additions. Again, it's okay if you skip it:

AdditionsCollapse )

Like I said, I've been thinking about it. I took a look back today, and realized…it's time to make some revisions to the list. There are clear problems with the first list - specifically, that it was written at a time when I didn't think very highly of myself, and didn't even realize it. In the additions, I did a little trying too hard, and with perhaps a little too much outside influence. I'm trying now to be realistic. Not in the sense that I'm lowering standards, but in the sense that I'm skipping what just sounds good and only including what I actually want, need, and/or expect.

  1. He will be primarily logical. Not devoid of emotion, but not oblivious to or defiant toward reality.

  2. He will still be sensitive to the emotion of others.

  3. He will live by a strong moral code.

  4. He will believe that we have a responsibility to do good, and to love one another.

  5. He will be passionate, about at least one thing.

  6. He will be straightforward about what he wants and/or thinks, and expect the same from me.

  7. He will be patient - with me, at least.

  8. He will support me in reaching my goals, especially when I'm most self-conscious about them.

  9. He will be an artist of some kind, even if it's not how he makes his living.

  10. He will sing to me. (regardless of his singing ability).

  11. He will be comfortable with who he is.

  12. He will be able to find fun in little things.

  13. He'll have an appreciation for good movies and/or plays and good music.

  14. He will be smart.

  15. He will be willing to be vulnerable, at least with me, despite how uncomfortable that can be.

  16. He will make me a priority.

  17. He will make an effort and make plans, instead of relying on me to do so

  18. He will touch me. Hug, cuddle, physically interact regularly.

  19. He will ask me questions. About my life and about my day.

  20. He'll be charismatic.

  21. He'll like, and enjoy hanging out with, my friends.

  22. He'll expect people to treat me well, and challenge me to do the same.

  23. He'll come to me with his problems, knowing I'll be able to help.

  24. He'll come to every single one of my shows (unless legitimately impossible).

  25. He will be incredibly attracted - and attractive - to me.

  26. He will think i'm beautiful.

  27. He will be my best friend, and I will be his.

In typing this post, I thought about something. The friend that wrote the original list is now married. I can't help wondering how many of the things on her list were fulfilled, if any ended up being surprisingly insignificant, and if there are any things about him that she now knows totally should have been on her list.

Courtney, if you're reading - inquiring minds want to know.
08 September 2013 @ 10:01 pm
With the end of summer, I feel like I'm wrapping up so much more than the season.

It's been an adventure. It's been torture. It's been beautiful and horrible and sad and delightful.

Not just the summer. All of the things that are ending.

The summer has been about three things, primarily:
* My theatre company and the incredible things it's doing
* Travel to cities across the country to visit wonderful people doing magnificent things
* The continuation of the health saga, and the beginning of its end (I hope)


Since May, I have put massive amounts of blood, sweat, and tears (all of the above both literally and figuratively) into the most successful project of my company's existence. It's being wrapped up, but mostly just so it's still good when we unwrap it again in a new space. It's also lead to so many new opportunities and challenges that it feels much more like things are starting than continuing.

That project was more than just a milestone for the company, from my perspective. It was my first attempt since the health issue got really bad at being a real theatre professional. I essentially took the months in between off, in order to focus on being well. I've been reintroduced into the business after what has felt like an eternity, and am finally shaking off the dust and getting back into the rehearsal room. The journey to here wasn't easy. It wasn't just health. On that show, I was a producer. I wasn't the director or dramaturg. I know that the show wouldn't have happened - let alone been successful - without my work, but I also know that I felt like my role in the production was less than the role I usually fill. I've described it to friends this way: "Usually when a show goes up, I think 'wow, look at this amazing thing we did.' This time, it felt more like 'wow, look at this amazing thing I helped them do.' " It's hard to not play an artistic role in one of our productions. But it's what had to happen. For so many reasons.

But I'm ready. I'm ready to get back into the saddle. Let's do this.


In June, I went to Nashville, Tennessee.

I met a slew of incredible alumni from my fraternity. And I began to reorient my way of thinking about the organization and my place in it - in the best possible way. We're doing big things, and want to do more. I'm so psyched to be part of that.

In July, I went to Portland, Oregon.

I was there for the wedding of one of my oldest, dearest friends. Marky-Mark the Funky One was my best friend when we were 5. Since then, he's become more of a brother - and his family has become an extension of my own. And this year, he got married to one of the greatest, most fun and loving people I've ever met. It was just beautiful. Also a little frustrating (men aren't so great with attention to detail. Kate to the rescue!). But mostly beautiful. And I felt reunited with family that I didn't even realize I missed.

And I felt so connected to a family I didn't realize I was gaining.

And I felt inspired to take care of myself like he has learned to do. And to be my quirky, fun, frustrating and wonderful self, because I don't have to compromise. Marky didn't compromise, and look what he got.

In August, I went to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The national convention for the honor fraternity was yet another major inspiration for me. I got to see the amazing things that people are doing all around this country in the name of our Brotherhood. The men and women in this organization are changing the world. You may not be aware of it, but it's happening.

I can't tell you enough how very much (more) I want to be a part of that change.

Over Labor Day (That's the last weekend of August/first of September, Tom), I went to Charleston, South Carolina.

Spending two days with some of my closest friends from my Florida days was revitalizing. Spending another two days in a car with a not-very-familiar acquaintance to get there and back was enlightening. The positive kind of enlightening. It was also exhausting...add to that a weekend of too much unhealthy food and more alcohol than I've consumed in that amount of time in ages, and I got home feeling like I needed a vacation from my (completely delightful) vacation.

It was a summer that fed my soul and my sense of adventure.

Now I'm ready for a few months of people coming to me, instead of the other way around.

After I visit 'Nessa in a few weeks....


And the moment you've all been waiting for:

I think that the health crisis is on the way out. I've seen a couple new doctors who seem to know what's up, and are doing what they need to do to fix it.

Just for funsies, let's review what has taken place so far:
1. Saw GP to get referred to Allergist
2. Saw Allergist
3. Had allergy test (came back with only dust mites, a little bit)
4. Had Sinus CT. Results were normal.
5. Had allergy test again, after a week off of antihistamines and on prednisone. A few more things, this time, including major dust mites
6. Began getting weekly allergy shots
7. Saw cardiologist
8. Had multiple cardiology tests, including 24-hour heart monitor. All of which came back normal.
9. Saw pulmonologist
10. Did breathing test. Results were normal.
11. Started getting monthly Xolair injections for my irritant allergies
12. Started acupuncture
13. Found a new allergist
14. Re-did allergy tests, and tested various other factors, including thyroid. All but dust mites were normal. Dust mites were off the charts.
15. Got new level of weekly allergy shots prescribed. (have not begun yet)
16. Saw ENT
17. Got major therapy assigned for sinuses, which essentially look like a badly skinned knee that was never allowed to heal. For two years.
18. Chest x-ray prescribed (hasn't happened yet).

When I said last fall that I couldn't wait to get insurance, because I would be seeing "all the doctors," that wasn't exactly what I meant....


The new allergist referred me to the ENT, because of my daily nosebleeds. Oh, yeah, that's daily for pretty much the last two years, and pretty often before that. When the first allergist saw what was going on, she didn't seem that concerned. New allergist basically said "omg, you need to see an ENT nowwwww!!!!" The ENT says that the state of my sinuses is partly to blame for my allergy symptoms. If I have irritant allergies, you see, they're going to be worse when the tissue in my nose/sinuses is so raw and damaged - just like the air/clothing/etc irritates a skinned knee. I've been given an aggressive plan to heal said sinuses that basically includes having cotton up my nose as much as humanly possible, and neosporin all up in there when I can't. Also, neti pot 3 times a day, with a special saline-and-antibiotic solution. It's going to be intense, lemme tell you.

And it's going to make things better. So that I can finally figure out how bad my problems are, and hopefully - god willing - even get over them!

I have high hopes that this plus the Dust Mite shots and Xolair injections will bring me up to a solid 8, on a how-I-feel scale of 10.

And even though I was really frustrated with all of those normal tests, and just hoping something would come back severely off so that I would finally know what the fuck is causing all of this, I really am so grateful that the treatments are all nothing more than mildly irritating.

In a really messed up way, I have my health. I can't help but be ecstatic.

Baby steps now toward real health. Let's do this.
27 August 2013 @ 01:50 pm
Yep. I haven't posted in ages, and when I do? It's about Robin Thicke.

I know. It's ridiculous.

But I have something to say.

Before I heard "Blurred Lines," I heard the outcry against objectification of women and Rape Culture. I'm vehemently opposed to all of those things. Trust me. People are tired of hearing about it. So, I checked it out.

And I saw immediately that the video was in fact pretty objectifying...but not much more than many other music videos. And once the gender swap version came out, sung by a chick, I was over it. It's a larger problem - the music video industry - and I don't really see it as a burden Robin needs to shoulder all on his own.

But that's not it! I kept reading/hearing things. No, it's the song that's crass and rapey. I listened again, without watching the video, and honestly - I think a few zillion people might be missing the point.

I listened a few times, searching for the offending elements, and found...the exact opposite.

Now, don't get me wrong. There are two things that I definitely can see as perpetuating Rape Culture. First is the T.I.'s rap, which I'd say pretty closely toes the (blurred?) line between offensive and just ridiculous. So, basically, it's every guest rap in every pop song ever. I don't think anyone would be complaining that much if it was just that section. No one is making a big deal about Big Sean's rap in Fall Out Boy's "The Mighty Fall." Objectifying women? Sure he is: "I let her climb on top / I'm either fuckin' or workin', so the grind don't stop." Maybe it's just because it's not a single, but I think mostly it's because this is how it is. Rappers come onto pop tracks with the goal of portraying themselves in a way that isn't true to them as people. I don't know much about hip hop tracks, but from what I'm familiar with, that seems to be what half of them do the rest of the time, too. Just like Eminem's not killing people, T.I. isn't probably hung like a horse. Music has always been a good place for hyperbole, and rappers seem to make the most of that.

So then there's the lyric: "And that's why I'm gonna take a good girl / I know you want it." I'll get to that in a moment.

First, I want to suggest one thing about this song:

What if this girl really just wants to have some freaky sex, but is holding herself back because she's been told that that's not what good girls do?

From my unique perspective, that's what this song seems to be about. Here's a girl who's been told how it is - how she's supposed to be - but her desires and what she's been told aren't really lining up. Our friend Mr. Thicke is witnessing that, and encouraging her to do whatever the fuck she wants with her body regardless of what some former flame (or alternative male influence) said she's supposed to do.

And for that I say, hell yes, Robin Thicke. Sing that song.

If we let ourselves look at the song with that interpretation, Robin Thicke is actually the Antiobjectifier. He loves that she's not plastic. He loves that she's a good girl, even. He just happens to be suggesting that good girls might also like sex. WOAH. I have to say that seeing outcry about this song right next to posts of that dad's letter to his daughter, wishing her good sex, is just plain surprising. I'm gonna go ahead and say I'm certain there are good girls who like to get nasty (although they most likely prefer to do it with a monogamous partner that they trust).

I'll even go so far as to say that Robin Thicke is suggesting all of this, based on whatever messages he feels like he's receiving, and encouraging her to choose to act on it.

Now here's where that one line comes in. He's "gonna take" a good girl. One could argue that he's outright saying that he intends to rape her, and in that debate I definitely would not be able to 100% dispute it. I'm just going to say that the way I hear it is that he's voicing a preference. He's saying that when it comes down to it, faced with the choice between your everyday casual dater and a "good girl," he'll take option B. He'll take the good girl.

Perhaps that's a convenient interpretation, but you know what? That's what music is. Music isn't math. Math is true - Music is what we get from it.

And what I get from this song is that I hate the blurred lines, too. Let's just get rid of the lines altogether. Let's stop assuming that a good girl necessarily wants to be domesticated. It's just holding everyone back.
07 April 2013 @ 09:47 pm

A couple months ago I mentioned that I hadn't said much because I've been busy being sick, and I had no real reason to write or be introspective about that.

A few weeks ago, I changed that because after so long, the being sick was enough of a weight on me that I did, in fact, need to write about it.

Even that, though, was mostly a rant/vent. Or, I guess, more like a purging of negative emotion.

For the most part, since all of this really started, I've been more than capable of finding the silver lining among the ominous clouds. Sure, it's been on my mind, but I've had no problem breathing through it, acknowledging that it's a little scary and a little annoying, but temporary and something I'm slogging my way through toward an ending.

But the past month has been really tough. With each new doctor, I have a little less hope. I feel a little less confident that this time there will be an answer and I'll actually be near the end. After finding out that the cardiologist had found nothing - even though I was fairly certain he would, and that my problem had nothing to do with my heart - I was so disheartened. I was so sad. I was downright depressed, feeling like there was no solution and there was no hope...feeling like I'd be handicapped like this forever.

As a result, I pushed harder. I have discovered that I am capable of feeling defeat, but not capable of accepting it. Rather than resign myself to it, I became like a bloodhound. I call doctors, make new appointments, push the issue wherever I can so that something (anything) else can be done.

Last week I felt that way again. Days before I'd found out that there was a doctor who cared, who knew what was going on, and knew how to fix it! All I needed was this one medication. And all I had to do to get it was have this one breathing test. And then, on Tuesday, I got the call. The doctor had seen the test results, and...

Everything was fine.

Even though nothing had changed, I still felt like it would be a mistake to try anything that required physical exertion, like I shouldn't make any real plans because who knew when I might have another attack, like I hadn't really lived in months. Regardless of the medicines that had been switched out. Despite being put on steroids twice in the past month (causing me to gain 10 pounds in that amount of time).

Nothing had changed. And nothing was going to change. Because according to this one test, like all the ones before it, there was nothing wrong.

And I thought, "how is it possible that despite all of the things I've gone through, despite the fact that the pulmonologist saw the welts on my skin from the electrodes that had been removed days earlier, despite what he saw and heard while I described what had been happening, even this thing isn't going to result in any change for the better?"

And even though I called to make another appointment, to push for another solution or to get the medicine anyway, I still felt hopeless. I started wondering if maybe I was getting the symptoms wrong. I considered the possibility that maybe some of it was psychosomatic.

But more than anything, I felt like there was never going to be an answer. I had been stripped of my final shred of faith that this thing is temporary. There I was, heavier than I'd been in 6 years, hating everything about my stupid broken body, from the inside out.

Then, of course, I started taking time to think. And here are some of the things I've been thinking. Here is some introspection:
* The spiritual journey I seem to be on - the consideration of being a part of a religious community - has been immensely helpful through this. It is not, however, enough. Because sometimes I can't make it to the group meetings. Sometimes they get canceled. But even though I don't yet feel like I actually am part of this community, they have helped me so very much.
* I am definitely a part of another community. Or a few other communities. Some of them rather tiny - but all of them feel like home. Without the people in them, I don't know where I'd be right now. A year ago, I was really learning how to give things like love, and acceptance, and support to myself, instead of waiting to find them from other people. And now here I am, simultaneously benefitting from my ability to do so and to bolster my own when I do get them from others at some time or another, and trying to navigate how to get through something that I can't get out of on my own. On one hand, I've become better at asking for help (which, to be honest, isn't exactly saying a lot, but it's still something) because I really and truly feel like I deserve help. On the other, I'm so aware of the fact that no one I'm going to for help can actually fix me - because for every doctor I go to, there are 5 friends I'm reaching out to for emotional support. And the fact of the matter is that the most any of them can or have an obligation to do is hold me up for a couple seconds while I catch my breath, and then leave me to slog again on my own.
* Theatre training teaches so many things that are key in day to day life, if in an abstract sense. For instance: you can't play the ending. More than any prayer or reassurance or whatever, being told that by Joel the other day has motivated me to keep perspective on the situation and not let it defeat me. I can't know the end of this thing - I can't know when or how I'll get better, and I can't know that I won't. For that reason, I have to keep slogging through and believing that there might be an answer to this madness.
* I have no idea if I'm being conservative enough in my choices or too conservative. Should I have passed on that show, or this gettogether? Should I have had that many drinks, or spent the whole day sitting in my apartment? Have I signed on for too much, or am I allowing myself to be lazy? I feel like I'm trying hard to avoid situations that aren't good for me right now, but also trying really hard to pretend there's nothing wrong at times when there totally is. Should I be making other changes? Going to yoga? Getting acupuncture? Changing my diet? Will those things help me feel less tired, or just exhaust me even more?

I can't wait to run again. I can't wait to get drunk. I can't wait to spend every possible waking moment working on the show I'm producing, and worrying about nothing as much as I worry about whether a press release is done on time or the poster artwork is fitting the bill. I just hope that this is going to help me appreciate those things more, and not act as inertia that will keep me on the couch even after I start feeling human again.

And I guess I have to focus more on living with this health issue instead of just looking toward the day when it's gone.

Don't play the ending, Kate. Just do your best with this part of the story.

21 March 2013 @ 10:27 pm

What's wrong with you when often - once every two weeks, for sometimes 2 or 3 days at a time - you can't breathe?

What's causes your headache and congestion?
What makes the veins in your hands distend or your fingers turn blue?
Why is your vision blurry or darkening? Why do you get dizzy?
What's the cause of the shaking hands?
What's making you so light-headed and sleepy?
Why do you have this chronic headache?
What's the reason that you can't walk and talk at the same time without getting short of breath?

What is happening to make you so disconnected, your reaction time so much slower, and your consciousness seem so very temporary?

Why have you been unable to enjoy weddings, dates, frienddates, major holidays, shows, your birthday, and so many weekends (without LOTS of extra medication)?

What is it?
What's wrong?

Apparently the answer is: Nothing.

It's been 7 months and 10 days since the first really bad attack. Just over 7 months of not knowing if I'd be able to enjoy this hangout or that event. 7.3 months of frequently wondering if I should be seriously worried. And/or just *being* seriously worried.

It's been almost 4 months since I finally got insurance and started seeing doctors.

I've seen an Internist once.
He referred me to an Allergist, who I've seen 7 or 8 times.
She referred me to a Cardiologist, who I've seen 4 times.
He recommended I see a Pulmonologist, who I'll see tomorrow.

Since January, I've:
Been tested for Allergies. Twice.
Had 2 rounds of allergy shots.
Had a CT of my sinuses.
Had an EKG.
Had a Cardiac Echo (sonogram of the heart).
Worn a heart monitor for 24 hours.
Done a cardiac stress test, sandwiched between 2 more echoes.

I do have allergies. Four, it appears - besides the perfumes, which can't be tested for confirmation. And those aren't very severe.
But hey, I'm having asthma attacks about once every two weeks that knock me out of normal life for up to 3 days. So we're doing shots anyway.

The other tests have all had the same result:

Everything is fine.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm glad that my heart is fine. I'm glad I don't have to stop eating anything.

But as the person who's been living in this body for the last 7.3 months, the one and only thing I'm 100% sure of is that I am far from fine.

I know that something is wrong.

I'd just like to know what it is. And in the meantime, I'd really like to be reassured a little bit. I'd like just one doctor to say "we'll figure out what's going on," or "I understand how terrible you must be feeling," or "Dr. _ is really great. You'll be in good hands."

I'd even just settle for the confidence that my doctor (any of them) doesn't think I'm a hypochondriac.

It's getting hard to not feel crazy.