25 before 25

Inspired by the amazing Carolyn over at My Thirty Before 30 Journey, I decided to make my own list. I said I needed a change? Well, it's in my hands to make it happen. My half birthday is April 4, so I have a year and a half to begin these--to make them a priority. I've lost sight of how much fun goals can be (I say this now, we'll see how I feel three months, six months, a year from now {though I have a feeling I'm going to love these--how hard some of them are--how much of a challenge they'll present})

1. take a trip abroad

2. read 25 new books
3. fall in love with running
4. give up soda and coffee (and yes, that mean's saying goodbye to starbucks)
5. figure out how to get some swimming into my life
6. host a dinner party
7. finally start a book club (stop talking about it and just do it)
8. get a job that i truly love (even if it's only temporary)
9. see the elephants walk through manhattan
10. see the yankees play in the new stadium
11. explore and document different nyc neighborhoods
12. write a little. every day. stretch those creative muscles.
13. choose 15 of shakespeare's great female monologues. disect them. figure them out.
14. speak a little poetry--a little shakespeare out loud every day
15. improve my spanish speaking skills
16. stop buying tabloid magazines
17. unleash my inner fashion mavin
18. lower my cholesterol
19. figure out what my happy weight is
20. eat at least five fruits and veggies each day
21. treat my body with the respect it deserves 
22. get my finances in order
23. become a real--working--professional actor
24. say goodbye to ned. for good.
25. fall in love

What would you put on your list? Do you all have any suggestions?

To go.

I did it. I went back. Monday night to be exact.

I donned red lipstick and my Frye motorbike boots--things that would make me appear confident even if I felt less than so.

I smoked a cigarette on the walk to the subway. I never smoke. Not ever. Angela gave it to me. She felt bad doing it. Corrupting me, she feared. But I had asked, and in my state I was not to be denied.

I downed two glasses of wine at the reception preceding the start of the show.

Truth be told, I didn't need the wine. And I didn't need the cigarette. Heck, I didn't even need the lipstick or boots. It was fine. Lovely, even. Joyous.

Fear is funny that way. When you have your back turned to it, it's tremendous in size, casting an engulfing shadow that keeps you in a perpetual darkness. And then when you get just enough courage to turn around and face it, it vanishes altogether leaving you to wonder what you were afraid of in the first place. 

When I posted about the end of Ned (how it was getting worse before it got better) I think I scared my mom a bit (the getting worse part). So she sent me info about an upcoming support group that would have one initial two hour session and then an optional addition of three follow up meetings. I had been once before to the initial meeting. I went with my mom (that series had a friends and family focus) last March. I remember I cried. I agreed to try again. Why not? The meeting was much the same this go round, but I was different. I didn't want to cry. I wanted to talk. To say--to shout--I feel myself getting better, it's ending. But I focused on listening. Listening to the other stories. Unique and hauntingly familiar. I saw myself--my actions--reflected in their words. I opted not to continue on. I'm so close to the brink that I fear being pulled back in by others who were at very different stages. On the way out, one girl said to me "My biggest fear in coming today was that I would be the fattest one here." I know that thought, that sentiment. And so I chose not to hang around it. Not now. Dr. Bob says that's the biggest argument against eating disorder therapy groups is that they teach you how to have a good eating disorder, all the while telling you not to. 

However, I was struck most by one girl there. She spoke of her anger towards those around her. She was angry at those who said they understood--how they knew exactly what she was going through--they felt fat today too. No, she would tell them, you have no idea. How many times I felt that way. How many times I reached out, only to be told by those around me that they had the same issue. But they didn't. Not really. And so I got angry. I assumed they were making it about themselves when what I needed, for just a moment, was it to be about me. How many times my mom would tell me, they're just trying to relate--empathize in their own way. This would infuriate me. Why are you standing up for them? But as I listened to this girl speak of her frustration, I felt the anger literally radiating out of her. And I thought, huh, it's not that important--let it go. And that moment became the first step in the release of my anger--the realization that anger is an inward action. It affects you far worse than anyone (or anything) else. No, an eating disorder is not the same thing as an eating problem (though the media uses the two interchangeably) and those who have not suffered from an eating disorder will most likely never fully comprehend it. But they don't need to. And I can't fault them for that.

I thought my release of anger would end there. For the time being, anyway. Well...go figure. When I returned to school I didn't feel a lick of it (anger that is). And when I said I had nothing nice to say about the school...that's just not true. I was reminded last night of the best Juilliard has to offer.  The people. And in going back I felt myself returning home. If I had to do it all over again, I still wouldn't. I still would  make different choices. I would change it all. Yet I don't regret any of it. Does that make sense? Doesn't seem like those two sentiments could co-exist. But they do. 

One of the school administrators approached me and confessed that he had happened upon my blog. Oh, shoot, I thought. He asked if I might sit down and talk to him because he thinks my experience might help others. Of course, what a complement. But as flattered as I was, when I returned home I quickly popped open my Mac to review my words and assess the damage. 

What I put down--what I published (if you will) here--that is exactly what I was feeling at that moment in time. But after last night, after allowing myself to feel something other than anger and fear--I re-read those words and thought, I have been just as close-minded as I accused that director of being. So he wasn't that nice to me...okay. I don't really know why that was--maybe he just didn't care for me--thing is, it's not my job to figure it out. Let it go. He's very good, the director we had. And the show last night was astonishing. Clear and striking and infused with hope (and I usually loathe Greek drama for the simple fact that I can't find the hope in it to save my life). This is my way of saying, I don't know what drives another person any more than they know what drives me. I have asked others to forgive me my faults all the while holding them to an impossible standard. Perhaps it's time I begin to forgive those around me as well as myself. 

I do have nice things to say. About the school. About my Greeks experience. About the director. Last night didn't make my Juilliard experience any easier, but it sure as hell put it in perspective. 

P.S. I'm on day ten of life without Ned.

Sunday night is no longer girl's night.

We had so much fun with Brian last week, we just had to have him back.

Angela made pasta and chocolate cake (with apple sauce instead of oil) and I just about ate myself into oblivion. Yes...it was that good. And then we watched American Idol, a show I've never seen. And so let me say this...I am a convert. Body and soul. That shit is funny. Okay? Seriously, I can't stop laughing. Two girls performed a rap that involved the line, "why to trying to stealing my cookie from me?" And I thought, yes girls, yes.

So the lovely Sheilia of Hawaii commented (and I quote) "I sometimes fantasize about being single again through your blog..." and so I sat back, sighed, and then patted myself on the back. Yes, yes, I'm such a good--such a model single gal. And then I flashed back on Christmas  break and my mom's loudly-voiced concern that I don't date enough. And let's be honest, part of being single (one of the best parts) is dating. And I just don't do it. Ever (besides the storied blind-date). 

So I pose the following question: Am I really, truly a single gal AND am I really, truly doing single gals justice if I don't shop around?

Let's look at the evidence:

1. Angela and I stayed in Saturday night watched Pride and Prejudice (love, love, love me the Mr. Darcy in the updated version) followed by Sense and Sensibility

2. I then  attempted to make oatmeal cookies using only splenda, real oats,organic puree pumpkin paste, and coffee-mate. I got sick about five minutes after my first bite (yes, Angela, you tried to warn me). 

3. As for Friday night... (a)I was something of a third wheel with Vic and Rob. (b) I cringed when Erin tried to introduce me to a boy (a very cute boy). (c) And I never got up the courage to introduce myself to the other cute boy I was crushin' on.

Okay, so that's a rhetorical question...of course I'm a single gal. But I'm tired of being the single gal who doesn't date. So ladies, hide your men because I'm hittin' the town. The good news is...I've gotten a job...at a restaurant...and it has a revolving door. A revolving door where men may enter perhaps? Oh boy, I sound a little raunchy. My point is...never too late to add an addendum to that New Year's resolution. 

I did the unthinkable. I got on the scale.

I have a modern day dilemma. It goes something like this: why would I want to enter into an industry where everyone has an eating disorder, where in order to succeed one must be beyond thin? Is it possible to be a successful actress and live in one's normal body? 

Did anyone catch the globes? Did anyone happen to see Sally Hawkins, winner of the Golden Globe for best actress in a comedy or musical? Oh boy. All I can do is slowly exhale when I think about it. She was so thin. Emaciated thin. I will be the first to admit that I, like so may others, consider a thin body to be at the apex of what is beautiful. Not because society deems it so, but because I consider it so (well, but then I have to think about what influence society has on my own beliefs, etc. etc.--a whole pyschological probe that I don't have time to invest in today (and probably don't want to)). The point is, even I, in all my distorted splendor, looked at her and felt squeamish. And then sad. So thin was she that my friend described her as saying, "do not pass go, do not collect $200." I asked someone in the know, about the actresses there, 

"please tell me what are they doing--are any of them healthy?"

"Very few" he said. "Look at the actresses that you really respect, who's work speaks for them--those, those are the actresses who are healthy." 

"Cate Blanchett?" I asked, "but she's so thin."

"And yet she doesn't suffer form an eating disorder."

Oh. Oh. Oh.

So this morning I had a lovely breakfast with Naomi...

(trying to fill the necessary picture quota)

...and I said..."how can I go into a business where everyone suffers from it, but no one opens their mouth to say anything?"

And in all her wise glory Naomi said the following: "People suffer from it in the business, as well as outside of it. You won't escape it by choosing another career path. You're going to face it everywhere, you might as well face it while doing what you love."

And there it was, God's miracle: infinite wisdom in the form of my many friends.

Dr. Bob once told me that the actresses who handle the issue of weigh the best, are the ones who recognize it's just a part of their job. Just as executives are forced to wear a suit, so are actors expected to go to the gym and look their best. It may not be right, but it's part of the business. This makes sense to me. I can do this. It's like wearing a suit. And I want to wear a suit that I feel comfortable in.

I've made great strides in coming to terms with the body I have. That doesn't mean I don't want to lose weight. I've hid from the scale for...oh, I don't even know how long now. I've asked to not have my weight measured when I go to the doctor (you can do that--did you know? though if it's been a year, they'll make you climb up there anyway). I've stopped wearing jeans all together. And I've avoided cameras at all costs. So the other day, in an effort act courageously, I met my long lost friend, the scale. Yes, I know, you're wondering about my choice of the word, "friend". Well, the scale is just a feedback mechanism. And whether or not I like the number I see, the scale is just letting me know where I stand. Good friends do that, they tell you like it is.

Well, I didn't like the number I saw. Not one bit. But I didn't fall apart. And for that reason, I get to rejoice. And take action. More vegetables, more fruit. Less processed junk. Because in the end it's not about a number on the scale, it's about my cholesterol, and thyroid function, and resting heart rate. I want to be healthier. I pledge to be healthier. Here and now I pledge to embrace the long-forgotten  fruits and vegetables (mothers the world round can now rejoice!). And water, I can't forget water. I embrace health. And the power of foods that give me the energy to keep fighting the good fight.

And if the number on the scale goes down at all, well then that would be one of God's many miracles too. But it's not the point. And that is the point. 

While babysitting I read an article that might just change my life.

She offered to show me how the television worked. I assured her I could figure it out. And so I tried for a good hour. To no avail. Channel three? No. Input four? No. Oh hell, reading it would be. So I picked up Vogue. Yes, I went right for the challenging material. Picture, picture, caption....sigh. And then...I came across this: Vicki Woods Follows Twelve Habits of the Healthiest People in the World. Hmmmm...I liked the sound of that. And Ned, sure as heck, didn't. Perfection.

So it goes something like this:

1. eat a balanced diet; 2 cups fruit, 2 1/2 cups veggies, 5 1/2 ounces meat, 3 cups low-fat or non-fat dairy (you get the picture)

2. exercise (30 minutes cardio daily to maintain weight, more to lose; weights 3 times a week; and yoga or Pilates once a week for flexibility) 

3. cut down on alcohol (one glass a day at most)

4. cut down on caffeine (yikes!)

5. cut out all nicotine 

6. brush and floss daily

7. wear an SPF daily

8. get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night (it helps ward off diabetes)

9. have regular sex with your partner

10. keep the mind sharp (puzzles, crosswords, etc.)

11. keep a busy schedule (this means socialize people!)

12. and finally...meditate daily 

So Vicki's goal was to follow these rules for a month, just in time to feel fresh and alive for the inauguration of Obama. I'm a bit late for that, but seeing as in about a month's time I've got some oh-so-important events (one of which is to retake my headshots and Lord knows I'd like to look fresh-faced and alive for those) I too will take the month long challenge. Each day I'll focus on something else and add in my own little goals (like making my bed--turns out it makes a difference) and I'll keep you all posted on how it goes and how Ned responds to the whole thing.