My baby buys me ten points.

September 27, 2006 at 1:03 am (Bloom Status: Upward)

Saints preserve me. I’ve just suddenly joined Weight Watchers! My word, my word. I just went to my first meeting tonight. It’s weird! I feel like I’m on some gritted-down episode of Sex and the City! It feels like an anthropological experiment!


I could call what I got baby weight, and a little of it is, but what I really got is I-quit-smoking-seven-years-ago weight. I used to smoke like a forest fire. My old email address was I was the patron saint of the smokers, the first smoker who came to mind if you were mentally scanning your smoking acquaintances. And eating for me was like, have I eaten enough of this meal that I can quit and begin smoking now? The answer was yes, I have eaten enough. The fork was loaded up a time or two, headed in, came out empty, meal over. Smoked ’em ’cause I had ’em.

I am not ready to publicly tell the tale of how I quit smoking. Another time, ladies and gentlemen. I’ll tell it someday when I feel like I have too much dignity. Suffice it to say that in the spring of 1999, I was forced by circumstance to quit smoking suddenly. When that happened, I happened to be living with my dear friend Elizabeth. Have I mentioned ever that Elizabeth is a great cook? She is a great cook. A GREAT cook. I am not blaming Elizabeth for my weight gain, let me say outright. I blame my own interaction with her blackberry cobbler. After I quit smoking, I was instantly like, why didn’t anybody tell me how great dessert is? Dessert is what dinner is for. And over the course of the next year I gained, oh, 40 pounds. And I’m a five-foot-tall person upon whom 40 pounds is truly not fucking around.

For a long time, I was horrified about my new weight but also I sort of liked it. The new pounds dovetailed with a sort of personal groundedness and relaxedness and confidence that was just then showing up in my being. I was a bit of a nervous nellie during most of my smoking years. My hands trembled and I hated confrontation. I was a shaky little people-pleasing bird, at least inside my brain. And then after the weight went on I began holding my own, somehow. I sort of got here. In the last couple of years, though, some personal stress and my dear wee baby have added fifteen more pounds to the forty-pound-pile, so I’m here, already. I’m here enough. That’ll do, pig.

I’m not saying I’m a pig, by the way. Just referencing Babe there. I think I have…what would be the reverse of body dysmorphia? I don’t look at my body and think it looks worse than it does. I harbor the impression that I’m on the svelte and adorable end of curvy – even though I have thirty pounds to lose to be on the top end of the ideal weight scale for me. I have…body eumorphia. I seriously think I look pretty cute. Cuter than I really look.

At some point in the not-too-distant future, my husband and I would like to have another child. I want to launch the next pregnancy from an actually svelte position. Also, I’m in the process of making a one-person show for myself, and I think it would be groovy to look a little truly cuter while I do it. I would also like to try on pants and be like, hey ya, booty! Shake it, sugar! I would like to look at photographs of myself without thinking there has been some grave mistake somewhere. I pose for photos all hello there! and every time I think that’s going to be a corker and then I see the photo and I’m like, no. Nope. Mm-mm. That isn’t me. Something happened. I think that’s my stand-in.

Weight Watchers is going to be really weird and interesting and good, I think. It’s not my crowd in there. I haven’t met thirty-five of my new best friends. One of the ladies who ran tonight’s meeting…she and I will never be close. Also, the Duchess of York does not go to my meeting, I noticed. It would be excellent if she did. I am going to hope each week that she will be there. I don’t know if I can put into words why I think this is going to work for me. I think it’s just that the program is super-crazy-well-designed. It feels sound, tough, sea-worthy. There are all these mental exercises you do to augment the actual process of eating particular things in particular amounts. I like mental exercises. I am glad to put on my little mental jogging shoes. You can eat a lot of cous-cous. I like cous-cous. Since I’m nursing Finn, I get to eat more stuff every day, so I’m kind of grandfathered in to an abundant version of this whole thing.

What’s weird is that I’m afraid of getting cheekbonier. I’m afraid my personality will get cheekbonier, too. Please just know what I mean about cheekbone-y as a personality trait. Or, dag nab it, I’ll help you. Cheekbone-y = snooty, WASPy, chilly, self-satisfied, smug. I know many people with elegant cheekbones who are not like this at all, but it’s in there, this idea. And I’m afraid that if I lose the weight, I’ll be a nervous nellie again. Or just not me. Not this nice jolly earth mother I’ve sort of become. I like feeling solid and jolly.

Well, I’m just going to have to figure out a way to remain solid and jolly while being simultaneously svelte and dressing-room-y. Leotard-y. Leotardo di Caprio. Leotardo da Vinci. This is all a part of my dream of greatness, so onward about it.

Today: Joined mofoing Weight Watchers, mofos.

Ergo, bloom status: Upward.


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Plants, heaven, eggs, cake.

September 15, 2006 at 12:23 pm (Bloom Status: Upward)

I have this endeavor that I want to undertake. It’s new, and I can’t decide if I want to talk about it overtly here or not, but I know for sure that I want to talk about the process of nurturing a new shoot.

Yeah, I don’t think I can talk about it in a non-canned way if I don’t just tell you about it.

So, this new thing = I have just been seriously inspired to set up shop as a wedding celebrant.

Yeah, wait. Here’s the thing that’ll make it so I can talk about it. None of you were going to do this anyway, but listen: if you read this, and you’re like, “That’s dumb. Don’t be a wedding celebrant. That field’s all full. What do you know about it anyway?”, don’t say anything. Keep it mum. The dream is new and I’m trying to keep it alive. I’m aware that you weren’t going to say that, though. You’re probably more like, what is such a big deal about becoming a professional wedding celebrant that you’re like I CAN’T EVEN SAY IT??

baby chick

Well, did you ever have the thing in health class where you were given an egg and charged to carry it around for a set amount of time and not break it? The egg was standing in for a baby, but now my metaphorical egg is this wedding celebrant deal-y. I feel like both the egg and the caretaker right now, sort of fragile and vigilant. But also, I feel very excited.

This idea came to me a couple of days ago, in the wake of a fight I had with my mom. Not going to go into it, but it was one of those spirallers – down, down, down… – and afterwards I was sort of praying for some sort of way out of this mess. I had the feeling that I wasn’t properly planted in the universe. Like I was this plant* and my roots were cut off from the original source, and I didn’t know if I was a viable being. So I was praying to be well planted, so I could have some faith in myself, so that I could feel like I could sort of live off the fat of the land, as it were. Live off the fat of the land with just me, the earth and my skills.

*This just in! A friend of the family who’s a retired philosophy professor stopped by, and she happened to drop into the conversation a quote of Plato’s: Man is a plant whose roots are up in heaven. That’s it! That’s what I was getting at, Plato. My root problems.

I was talking to my husband after the fight, and trying to claw my way to some sort of positivity, and the conversation went towards musing about different careers I might be suited for. He reminded me that after I’d performed a wedding for some dear friends of mine in New York, the idea had come up for me to hang up a shingle doing just that. And something about it took root, or the idea of doing that grabbed my roots and planted them back in the source, and I felt very….sparkly. I felt drenched in inspiration – like some celestial gardener was watering me with a big, energetic spout. Ideas were rushing in – I would write people’s ceremonies, and offer guided writing sessions for their vows, and I could also offer myself as a makeup artist, and I could be a person that people could brainstorm wedding ideas with – not a wedding planner, but a wedding muse! – and I could draw pictures for wedding invitations – I’ve done that before, for my own wedding and other’s weddings – and I’d been planning on taking this 12-week course in sacred psychology/hypnotherapy, so I could offer pre-wedding counseling, even hypnotherapy for nervous brides….barrels of ideas were dumping themselves into my consciousness.

And the more I talked about it, the more I wore the idea, the more powerful and happy and confident I felt. I felt like myself, only sharper and clearer and more together. Like some realized version of myself. Good grief! I stayed up until three in the morning, brainstorming and designing an image for my website and my business card.

I want to work on this all the time. I have this beautiful idea for my website, which I don’t want to talk about yet lest there be wedding website idea pirates lurking about in the nearby seas! But this work is so attractive, it doesn’t feel like work. It’s got so much in it that I adore: writing, speaking in front of people, aesthetics, time spent in the contemplation and invocation and atmosphere of love. I think that a wedding done really well sprinkles powerful mojo on everyone present.

Plus I love cake! I may not always be invited to stick around and eat cake, but sometimes I might! I sort of live for cake. A line of work that has a chance of cake, come on.

So now, the question is how do I hold this egg while it’s turning into a chicken? Am I like, hey, everybody, look at my egg!, like I am with you guys here on this blog where I hang it all out there…? Or am I like, don’t look at me. Don’t look at my egg. Look over there. Leave me ‘lone….? I don’t know which is kinder and more empowering for this fledgling plan. I will play that by ear, I think. And if things go awry – say I mention it, and the response isn’t like, “Holy shit! What a brilliant idea! Oh my God! You’ll change the world one wedding at a time!” – say the response is more like “That’s nice” or “Oh” – I will just have to guard against being like, that’s it! Here’s my towel! Screw it! I’m out! It was doomed to fail! For I have a tendency to do that.

But this is good, though. If I keep pulling out my inner compass, I’ll be all right, I think.

Today: Well, I wrote this post, so far. But in the intervening days, I’ve fleshed out a load of ideas, designed an image to take to a graphic designer, come up with a name for the business, and begun writing text for the website.

Ergo, bloom status: Upward, baby. Onward AND.

cake slice

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The lament and the antidote

September 3, 2006 at 7:39 pm (Bloom Status: Upward)

I just read this piece in the New York Times Magazine, about an actress called Vera Farmiga. I can barely write about this, my chest is all squeezed up. The piece called up all sorts of feelings that I’m very handy at suppressing, but I guess it doesn’t do me any good to have an all-suppression policy. So, out with it. Get the shovel in there, stomp on it and unearth this churning thing.

eleanora duse

(The above isn’t Vera Farmiga. It’s Eleanora Duse. So there’s no confusion.)

Bear with me, this won’t be fluid. I don’t know how to begin. So I’m going to come at it all sideways and erratically, lunge from here and there. Vera Farmiga is an actress whose work I’ve never seen, but she’s likened to Meryl Streep in terms of her talent. She’s very ambitious, but not for fame itself. She’s artistically ambitious. She says:

“I really don’t feel a need to be famous, but I do feel a need to make a difference, to shed light on human emotion through acting. It sounds strange, but I don’t recognize myself in the women in most films. And I should be up there somewhere. We all should.”

When she auditions for films, she takes it upon herself to make a video of herself as the character in the most fully realized way possible, with costuming and thorough, detailed characterization. She apparently has a pile of videos that she’s sent out, some of which have won her parts with directors like Martin Scorsese, and she pops in a few for the interviewer. There are Romanian prostitutes, drug-addled young mothers, all kinds of creations.

When Scorsese wanted her for his film “The Departed”, she had to go to the studio and do a ‘pretty pitch’ wearing a skirt and makeup, so they could see she was attractive enough to play the role. Anytime I read about a successful actress, I get a little twinge-y, because I love acting dearly but I certainly haven’t grabbed the brass ring about it. But the twinge really kicked in at the mention of the pretty pitch. Also, a point was made in the article that it’s more often the foreign actresses who are artistically ambitious, although Farmiga is American. And the twinge was turned up a notch higher.

I haven’t pursued acting with the vigor I could have, for various reasons. I don’t enjoy the feeling of being scrutinized, which is certainly a handicap. But one of the biggest reasons I haven’t pursued it with Vera Farmiga’s kind of verve is that it seems to me that I’m not pretty enough. And I’m a perfectly decent-looking woman. I’m not remotely glamourous, but neither am I particularly haglike. But the consciousness is drummed so deeply in me that my efforts would likely be in vain because I’m not anywhere close to the neighborhood of bombshell territory. That part about American actresses not being as artistically ambitious makes me cringe – I imagine that there are hordes of gifted actresses out there who either aren’t given the chance, or, like myself, pre-emptively don’t give themselves the chance to go out there and make themselves known for quality work, all because they’re not physically stunning enough. And actresses, with few exceptions, aren’t required to be pretty. They’re required to be off-the-charts, pants-poppingly gorgeous.

This really makes me ill when I allow it to. There’s room for the John C. Reillys, the Philip Seymour and Dustin Hoffmans, but there just isn’t the female equivalent. This isn’t groundbreaking news, here, but it shocks me freshly every time I consider it. And this isn’t just the case in the Hollywood. A version of the same thrives here in little old Seattle as well.

Vera Farmiga’s quote up there about shedding light on human emotion through acting – I feel the same way, very deeply. I’ve noticed that nearly every night when I go to sleep, I spend my dream time acting and learning about acting. And I could really cry when I think that I’ve let such a deep part of me wither a little because I’ve internalized some hostility towards my looks, towards my gender.

I’m jealous of Vera Farmiga, and proud of her. Anyone who owns their place as an actor both pisses me off and has high respect from me, because that’s something I’d like to do and haven’t. I love her selectivity, and I’m impressed by the lengths she’ll go to in order to let people know what she can do. I’m boggled by her self-confidence.

Some of my happiest times being alive have been on stage, involved in productions that tap into something deep. I love the feeling of being asked to go to daring emotional places, being asked to project myself into some human being’s life-shaker of a moment. I’ve had times on stage where I felt like I was swimming in this effortless way – like I described in my dream of greatness posts. Acting is for me what sports must be for sporty folk: the rush of adrenaline, the feeling of being forced into the present moment. I know that I’m an actor in some fundamental way, and I kick myself for all the times I’ve disbelieved it.

I’m all over the map, here, I think*. Sorry.

This is all a classic actor’s bitch, that external and internal forces are working against us, and what are we to do?? It’s a favorite pastime of a lot of actors, I think*, this lament. But it’s tiresome, isn’t it? It’s good to diagnose the problem, it’s good to get mad, but then you’ve got to do something else or really shut up about it, I think*. It’s easy to get mired in negativity, which is a totally uncreative state.

*Somebody likes to say “I think”.

What I want to do is find the antidote. I want to get that part of myself up and running. I want to own the talent I have, and get busy using it, no matter whether I’ve got the backing of some amorphous establishment or not. I want to approach all of this positively. I don’t want to read articles like that and get all tense and weepy. If there’s something I want to share with the world, I need to just plant it and grow it and set up my own roadside stand. Making my own show is going to be one part of that, so that’s good.

Hey, I started with soil and digging, and I’ve ended up with a planting metaphor. Well, all right.

I think I want to start a thing here in Seattle, a little play-reading series that would take place in my living room or somewhere private like that, where actors get to cast themselves in whatever roles they’d like, and they cast the rest of the play in a way that makes them happy, and have the joy of hearing the play out loud that way. It’s one actor’s night to go nuts. Maybe do this once a month or so. Make an evening of it. Make an occasion of it. Everybody gets dressed up. We make a good ambience. We have refreshments. Maybe it’s just the actors, or maybe each actor could invite one audience member. We build a little satisfaction just for ourselves, give the art in us a little pot to bloom in. I feel like that could be the first domino to fall in a long row of dominos that leads I don’t know where, but somewhere good.

I love this idea. I’m going to do it. Ha ha! I’m happy again, suckers.
peter brook's hamlet

Bloom status: Upward! Ba-boom!

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