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Posts Tagged ‘family’

Dylan has it all figured out. His goal in life is to feel good. Here he is showing me he’s ready for some belly rubs. (Warning: might want to turn your sound down, my voice is pretty high and loud in this).

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This will be a rambling post, not that the others haven’t been.  I haven’t posted in a while because things are happening and evolving and changing so fast, I can barely keep up.

Operation “Orange Flower Water” is sort of on hold, although Jeff has found a potential producer to whom is has submitted a proposal.  So, just like everything else these days, everything could change at any moment.  We’ve hit a temporary dead end with our schedule conflicts, as Jack quit Striphouse when I got back from Arizona (more on that trip in a bit).  New York is hard and easy.  Cruel and loving.  Ugly and beautiful.   Obnoxious and peaceful.  As my friend, Kim, said, it’s about figuring out where you fit, or maybe moreso what fits you, and then formulating a plan from that.

I mention this because restaurants are different here.  DIFFERENT.  It depends on where you work of course, but overall anything goes, there is no “HR Department” and you’re supposed to just take whatever is thrown at you like “water off a duck’s back” (also stolen from Kim).  Maybe I am generalizing, but that has been both of our experiences in the higher end establishments; Jack’s much moreso than mine, and to such an extent that I will not even grant that place the dignity of going into the details.  I will just say that Jack said it was the worst job he ever had in his life, EVER (worse than the C&O for our CA friends), and he is chucking the last 2 months up to very, very painful growing pains.

SO; perfect timing (as always??), an opening became available at Low Country (where Jack was before) and they were *delighted* to have him back and even gave him a better schedule.  This, of course, is the total opposite of my schedule, hence the (very)temporary halting of me, Jack and Jeff all working together (theatre-wise).

Arizona trip:  what to say.  There is a long, very deep, I-should-probably-write-a-book-about-it back story here, but the gist of it is my sister and I made the trip out to see our Grandpa, aunt, uncle, cousins, and cousins’ children at the end of March; this was long overdue, but suddenly had more urgency after a turn of events involving my mentally ill mother (and co-dependent father)…. Oversharing?  I don’t know; I brought that possibility up on facebook when the notion that a new blog post was overdue.  And while it involves others, this IS my life, my journey, my story, and my loves, joys, hurts, sorrows, and everything in between that goes along with it, and I want to be honest in it.

The trip was healing in so many ways, and it was so very lovely to see family after so long.  And to really feel like I HAVE family.  To just sit with my grandpa on his recliner leather couch in front of his big screen TV,  that CONSTANTLY has the weather channel on, and just talk about life; mine, his, ours.  Eye and heart opening as I heard and learned of so many things from different perspectives (and continue to do so from other family members; more on THAT later) than I had always been told otherwise.  At first confusing, and then clarifying.  Hurt, and then a deeper understanding and compassion.  I saw how the cycle of hurt was not only in my immediate family (hence the word, “cycle”), but went so far back and out and deep.  I saw how money, or the meaning and symbolism that others have given it, has been used to hurt or to feel hurt, to throw up walls and blockades, and to define one’s sense of worthiness.  It gave me a lot of clarity on where any of my own issues of money have come from, and how far and hard it goes back.

I left with such a deep love and appreciation for the family that I got to visit, and arrived back in NYC with a new-found strength and knowing that this cycle that has gone on my in my family STOPS with me.  It also left me in a place of needing space.  When you grow up, you assume, because you want to believe, that everything your parents tell you is true.  I mean, it was a seriously harsh reality when I found out there was no Easter Bunny, Santa Clause, or Tooth Fairy (believe you me, I remember that day well).  Joking aside, there were some serious contradictions in what I had always assumed to be true, and now I  had to face the fact that if there were contradictions in some areas, there was most likely going to be contradictions in other areas.

So after about a week being back, I emailed my dad and said I needed space, that I need contact put on hold for a while; and how long that “while” would be, I could not say.  Understand, this goes back further, as I halted phone contact with my mother about 1 1/2 years ago when the straw finally broke the camel’s back and I refused to accept and take in any more mental and emotional abuse.  While I sent cards and gifts at the appropriate holidays and birthdays (out of guilt…you can’t imagine how difficult it was to find a Mother’s Day card that felt sincere…and actually I think I may have sent a generic Seattle card with handwritten message wishing her the best),  I tried so very many times to make myself call since then, but the anxiety and pit in my stomach of what I knew was to come (as it always does) wouldn’t allow me to dial the number.  So I’ve had email exchanges with my dad, the last few being so out there I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone and we were having two entirely different conversations.  Because he doesn’t want to hear what I have to say; he just wants everything to go back to “normal.”  And that is no longer okay with me.

And so, I asked for space, and while I said I wouldn’t read any emails, of course I did read his reply, and no of course it didn’t go over well.  But it is what I have to do for myself right now.

Which brings the next big thing.  While in Arizona and listening to others’ perspectives, I realized I was missing a lot of pieces to the puzzle of my younger life.  The big elephant in the room, being my biological father, Randy.  He and my mother divorced when I was 4, and were living in Alaska at the time.  When we left Alaska, it was the last time I saw him, and according to her, he refused to come to the airport to say goodbye.  We moved to CA for a short while, then Colorado for less then a year, and finally Virginia about 6 months before my 6th birthday, where we finally made roots.  While in Colorado, I received a few letters from him, which I had been hanging on to all this time until we made our move out here (and I did a massive downsizing and said “goodbye” to a lot of things from the past).  According to my mother, she got me and gave him everything (which of course wasn’t much at that time) in order to have primary custody, and via the military (as he was in the Army at that time, hence Alaska) he was ordered to pay $75/month.  She said he never paid more than $50, and only a few times.  I’ve heard the story countless times how he was supposed to pick me up one day and I got all dressed up (maybe it was even my birthday??) and sat by the window waiting for him and he never showed up.  I remember him sending me a knit hat and scarf set from Kmart and a bag of Tootsie  Roll pops one year for Christmas.  Or the time when he called and for some reason my mother wasn’t there, and my dad answered and just stood there 3 feet from me while I stood in the kitchen trying to have a conversation with Randy.  Randy said, “I love you.”  “I miss you.”  “I think about you all of the time.”  And wrecked with guilt knowing my dad could hear me and was watching me, all I could say was, “Me too.”  “Me too.”  “Me too.”

The last time I spoke with him, I was 12.  We took a family Christmas vacation to Las Vegas and California to visit family.  Las Vegas was where my Grandma Bien lived (Randy’s mother….yes, oddly I always kept in touch with her….not close contact, but we never lost touch).  One day during the trip, my parents left us at their house to go to the casino with a friend, and according to my mom, my Grandma was given strict instructions to not bring up Randy.  No sooner did that door close, did we start talking and before I know it, we are in a private room giving him a call.  I don’t remember too much what was said, only that we were both crying.  He asked how I was, that he missed me, etc.

My family did go through the legal adoption process a few months before my high school graduation.  I had used my dad’s last name most of my life, and it didn’t feel right to have my biological last name on my high school diploma.  We sent the papers to Randy, and they were returned within a week, signed, and with a yellow post it note that said, “Good luck!  Randy.”

I am sharing all of this now, because I no longer know what is true of what I was told about Randy and what was….changed “for my own good.”  I feel certain I don’t have the full true story.  One might say (as I used to think), do I need to know?   Does it change anything?  Will it make me feel better?  To that I say:  the answers I get may not satisfy me;  they may even hurt.  But what I discovered on that Arizona trip is that the truth FREES.  I cannot fully explain how or why, but I physically felt it in my being.  There is something about seeing all “sides,” no matter what they are, that clears the wrongs into understanding and compassion.  For others, yes.  But I think, as I am starting to understand, even more importantly, for myself.

So I talked to my Grandma Bien two days ago.  I had emailed giving her a summary of what she didn’t know about my life, my mother, my and my sister’s childhood.  I told her I see know I wasn’t given the whole story and asked if she could help me fill in some of the blanks.  She did to a degree, or moreso verified a lot of what I had already found out.

And then we talked about me talking to Randy.

Which is something I thought for a long time I would never do.  Scratch that; in my late teens, maybe early 20’s, I brought up the subject to my mother, who flipped out in all kinds of ways and back again, insisting I didn’t want to open up that can of worms, and how much it would hurt my father (who raised me) and tear apart my family.  And of course, well, I believed her.

But suddenly things are different now, and I don’t know why.  Only that if I have been hurting, no matter what his reasoning, he must have been hurting.  And maybe he needs to be given an opportunity to be heard.  And maybe I won’t like the answers or what he has to say.  But I don’t think that even matters.

On a side note, I have a half sister (Amanda) I have never met.  Which seems incredibly weird to say or type, because my sister (that I have spent my whole life with) is the dearest thing to me in the whole world, and I can’t imagine there be someone else like her.  Not that there will be or has to be, but just that word “sister” brings up those emotions for me.  Amanda had a baby six months ago.  So “technically,” or biologically speaking, I am an aunt.  Another “fun fact”:  Amanda and her husband have lived in Seattle for the past couple of years. (!)

So I emailed Randy on Tuesday, and he emailed me back late that night.  It was a start, awkward and rambling.  And I maybe still don’t know how to feel about it (did I make a mistake?…it felt so right at the time…).  I haven’t emailed back yet, not because I don’t intend to, but rather the last couple of days have been busy, and I am still formulating what I want to say, ask, etc.

And then he called me tonight.  About an hour before I started this blog post in fact.  My ringer was turned off, so I didn’t hear it, and thus it went to voice mail.  How strange, surreal…there is no actual proper WORD…to hear his voice.  He sounds so much younger than I expected.  And nicer.  And smarter.  And yes, I know these are all judgments of no basis whatsoever, but they are just my feelings now at this moment, and the reaction to my surprise; the surprise at my surprise.

So.  Major stuff going on.  And actually, that’s not at all even it.  I am taking  a Technique/Scene Study class at HB Studio in Manhattan.  It is based on Uta Hagen’s teaching, and I am DEVOURING, “A Challenge for the Actor.”  At first I was apprehensive about exploring a method different from Meisner, but here is what I get now:  you don’t exchange one for the other;  it’s just another layer and a new route to go even deeper into the work. LOVE.

I also put my two week’s notice in at Dock’s.  !!!!! Serious celebration.  I am missing a spiritual community like I had at CSL in Seattle and NEED Sunday’s off.  Plus Sacred Center NYC (similar to CSL) is evoking a new “Art’s Nexus” which I very much MUST be a part of.  It will involve using theatre and arts in different arenas, including working with “at-risk” kids and prisons.  What I AM doing instead is embarking into freelance work.  I will be doing freelance banquet catering work, SOME office temp work IF needed, and then building up my freelance nannying work;  I rediscovered my love of working with kids during my visit in Arizona with my cousin’s kids, Lizzie and Dylan.  And I realized how much *I* had changed and grown since I last worked with kids, no longer carrying the burden of my own childhood pain when interacting with them (which up until that visit, I never even realized that I had done…SERIOUS revelation).

Ok I think that’s it for now, seriously. OH! I don’t think I did say in the last post.  We already found a new home!  We decided on another sublet after all, which we move into mid-June in Astoria.  We got a 2 week extension at our current place, so the timing works out perfectly.  We get to stay in the new place for 12-14 months, and it is an entirely different area of New York.  When we went to look at it (and the first place we looked it), it felt so very right to both of us.  While we were leaning towards a permanent place initially, we decided to take advantage of the fact that we don’t have much to move around right now so that we can experiment in different areas until we decide where we really want to settle before committing to a lease (and buying furniture, etc, etc, etc).

Ok, that’s really really it for now.  Sorry if this appears as a complete rambling session.  I had a lot on my mind and heart that needed to just get out and thrown up onto the page.

P.S.:  I am realizing one of the themes of these post is about space.  Allowing for the Space In Between (ha, Jeff!) for what is trying to emerge and be born.  I need freedom of space in my schedule (which is one of the–although not the only–reasons why Dock’s and that exact work no longer “fit”).  I need freedom of space to explore in my relationships (and where there has been lackthereof) both externally and internally.  I needed to give MYSELF the space to delve back into acting and exploring my process, which I have been so very very very hungry for.  We are at six months here in NYC now (as of April 1st), and it feels so very much like a lifetime through the myriad of experiences, growth, and emotions I have delved into.  How fitting, too, that I find myself in week 12 (the final) of The Artist’s Way.  The end of one journey, that just continues on and expands into the next.

And so now is the time for the space to stop, breathe, see “what’s up,” and then allow. Scared, excited, happy (as weird as that sounds), and (even more strangely!) at peace.

If none of the entire post above made any sense (or even if it did), here’s a little video that perhaps sums the entire entry up much more clearly:

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That’s a little how I am feeling right about now. Just finished Week 4 of The Artist’s Way (so perfectly titled “Recovering a Sense of Integrity”), which included among many things, “no reading” for the entire week. TAW was written quite a while ago, so I have taken it upon myself to update that to include anything I use as a distraction/escape (TV, internet, email, facebook, texting, etc). A few “needed” slips here and there, but overall I stayed true to the course.

What is so powerful about the “reading deprivation” week is that while it can be terribly uncomfortable at first (what do I do? sit and stare at the wall…stare…stare…stare…hungry?…eat…stare…stare…), you quickly start venturing out and playing. You also have NO CHOICE but to listen to your own voice because you no longer have anything else drowning it out. This can bring up a myriad of emotions (excitement, fear, anger, grief, joy) as you start to realize how you really feel about your work, certain relationships, habits, the color blue….And here is the most awesome part of all: all emotions and thoughts are TRANSITORY. Holy crap, does this mean you can’t even trust yourself?!!?

Ok, slow down, cowboy. No, it does not mean that, and in fact, quite the opposite. It means give FULL FAITH to that Voice within, knowing that while you listen deeper and deeper and deeper, you have COMPLETE permission to change your mind about ANYTHING at ANY given moment. And nobody else gets to say diddly squat about it. Not that that will necessarily stop them. But that doesn’t have to mean anything to you. Unless you *choose* to LET it.

So what did I do this week? I had an incredible extended Artist Date. It started with hanging up white string lights in my space. Then I enjoyed one of the guided meditations that I have on CD that I have been meaning to do forever. I enjoyed it so much, I immediately followed it with another. Then a meditative sea salt bath (no book!). Then the (solo) party really began as I cranked up a “cheezy mix” cd my sister made me for my 36th birthday back in September, while I simultaneously made dinner and baked a Funfetti birthday cake. Pilsbury of course. The birthday cake ingredients were bought on impulse earlier in the day, and while no nearby birthdays were on the horizon, I didn’t see that as any reason to stop me. Oh, and as it was “no reading” week, I attempted to get the necessary ingredients without actually reading the box. Only to discover AS I WAS MAKING the cake that it called for “3 eggs *OR* 4 egg whites” not “3 eggs *AND* 4 egg whites.” Oops. Looking inside my bowl of mostly liquid with some batter mix, I shrugged and said what the heck…it’s a done deal, let’s see what happens. Well, let’s see what happens turned out to be one of the best happy accidents ever, because holy momma this was one moist and delicious cake if I do say so myself (and I just did)! So let this be a lesson: if you are in mid-creation and you think you screwed the whole thing up, don’t necessarily scrap it altogether. Try considering to just keep on going and see what comes out in the end!

The rest of the Artist Date included a candle lit dinner with yours truly, followed by streaming, “Exit Through the Giftshop” on Netflix. Great great great great movie. Great.

Work was this weekend. And here was where the Voice could no longer be ignored. The satisfaction with my job went quickly South, and this left me with a lot to contemplate. Being that I couldn’t read or go on the internet after a long 12+ hours at work, I found myself writing after work. And writing and writing and writing.

Side note, speaking of writing, that Creative WRITING class I took via Gotham=complete crap. Nice teacher, but boy does the class NOT AT ALL follow the description. The class should have been called Creative Reading and Discussion of that Reading and Listen to the Teacher Talk and Talk and Talk and TALK About Movies and Everything Else He Finds Interesting Especially His Own Writing. I’m just sayin’.

So, re: my job, of course the plan has never been to work there forever, although I truly had no idea how dissatisfied I was with it until last weekend. So what am I doing about this? I don’t know. It’s not like I have any plans to leave or look for another job. It’s just where I am right now, and I’m acknowledging it. If anything, it is catapulting me into more “outside of work” work that fulfills me.

And, re: Integrity…what is also so interesting is the synchronicity of The Artist’s Way work, this week’s work in particular, and how I am looking and listening and stepping into and owning the integrity of my own voice around a situation with my family. Examining this fine line of being open and having compassion and willing to give, yet also not crossing the line of it being at one’s own expense, at the expense of one’s own mental and emotional health and wellbeing. Because if you aren’t taking care of yourself first and foremost, you’re *not* listening to what is True, and you’re not really good to anyone else anyway. The PLUS side to this (and which coincides with that god-awful creative “writing” class) is that there is a nudge (and also from Jeff W) to perhaps starting writing some sort of memoir(s)/personal essay(s)/one-woman piece(s) around my experiences. Letting that simmer for now, but ideas are boiling.

Hardest news for last. My sweet almost-17 Lucy girl (who has been treated for CRF since last May, (and very successfully so) became blind this week. I don’t care how many cats you have known in your lifetime, you have never met anyone else like her. She is almost human. She might actually be human. Emotional, smart, (manipulative, haha!), demanding, beautiful perfect little creature. And so to watch something so innocent and that loves you so totally unconditionally (and not only because you feed her, although you better feed her when she demands it) suddenly lose her bearings and not really understand what is going on…just completely breaks my heart. I took her to the vet on Tuesday (which, you know, she LOVED), and her CRF numbers are up, although not terribly so; and so we are on a new regimen with her fluids. She was very depressed all day Tuesday, but has been more active and upbeat since then. The vet says cats adapt very well to blindness and that it is harder on us humans than it is on them…which I am sure is true. Does that make me feel any better? Usually I embrace change. Sometimes, though, I hate it.

Despite the up-and-down-ness of this post, we (Jack and I) are in a very good spot. It feels a bit like the storm before the calm before the storm of getting ready to settle into the next big thing. We are focused and ready and grounded.

Listening.

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