February 14, 2015

You Know You've Been Single For Too Long When.... (Part 2: Valentine's Day Edition)

You know you've been single for too long when you wake up on Valentine's Day and have no idea what day it is.  You have seen it in the news and have heard people talking about it all week, but it doesn't compute in your single brain.  You see it as a Saturday.  A day for getting things done.  A day to be happy.

You go for a run, get ready for the day, get in your car, and as you're driving down the street you see a lot of pink and red but still, it doesn't compute.  Friends ask you what you're doing tonight and you say, "I don't know, maybe watch a movie?"  And they either look at you with pity or say "Good for you!"  And you are not sure why.

Then you get a package in the mail from your parents with chocolates and sunflower seeds and a card with a bunch of hearts on it.  And you think, my parents are amazing!  But still you don't realize.

Then you drive around some more, get a coffee, get some groceries.  You are having a really wonderful day.  AND a great hair day.  Your hair is a lion's mane today.  You swish it unnecessarily as you walk.  The bag boy at the grocery store gives you a small smile and you think, I look good today.  He looks surprised at your happiness as you buy dinner for one. You wonder why.

You notice a lot of couples in the parking lot as you leave the grocery store, walking hand in hand, but that's not new.  You're always surrounded by couples.

Then you get back in your car.   And Sam Smith comes on the radio.  That song, Lay Me Down.  It's beautiful and you belt it out in the car.  Then you decide you belting it is ruining the song so you stop singing and just listen.  The song makes you sad but hopeful, and you don't know why.

Then you go to the mall and get into an elevator.  There is a couple already in the elevator.  They are obviously angry at each other.  One of them is holding flowers.  The other is yelling.  You are uncomfortable and the elevator seems to be taking forever.  As the couple gets off the elevator continuing to argue, you hear one of them shout angrily, "Well happy FUCKING Valentine's Day."  The elevator doors close and you continue up.

That's when you realize.  Today is Valentine's Day.

A lot of single people hate Valentine's Day for obvious reasons.  But I think we forget there is a whole lot of love in our lives whether or not we are in a "relationship" or have a "valentine."  Anyone who has seen my most recent solo show (Refried) Bean or anyone who has read my blog will know that I have experienced some pretty weird and awkward relationships and dates.  I love that stuff.  I am always able to laugh and then I write about it.

There was one relationship I was in a couple of years ago that didn't leave me any room to laugh.  It turned me into an insecure, scared, and unhappy person.  Although we were only together for a few months, this person managed to make me believe that everyone who ever loved me was wrong.   He isolated me from the people who truly cared for me.  He said they didn't know who I truly was.  He then told me who I was by listing all of my flaws.  He tore me down with his words.  He told me that no other man would ever love me.  I was embarrassed that I had gotten myself into this situation.  I wanted to fix it so that no one would know.  But I couldn't.  It's terrifying how easy it is to fall apart.  It's ever scarier how another person's words and manipulations can take over your life.  I didn't know how to get out of it.  The story of how I did involves the movie Titanic and Leo DiCaprio.  But that is a blog for another day.

Now, two years later, I am happier than I have been in a long, long time.  I am chasing my dreams again and am excited about my acting career.  I am writing almost every day.  And the people I let into my life are loving and inspiring and challenge me to be better.  Anyone who wants to throw around their negative opinions fueled with jealousy and self hatred can take a hike.  That's a nice way of saying fuck off.

So, I'm sitting at home alone tonight, but I am not sad about it.  Because I am able to feel happy again.  Because I know it's worth it to wait for someone who truly respects and values me.  That might take a long time.  I may own a lot of cats at some point.  I'm not sure.  But everything will be just fine.

In the mean time, I will do all the things only single people can do.  Like dance around my house singing loudly using my hair brush as a microphone.  Like eating an entire bag of sunflower seeds and spitting them in a cup like a baseball player.  Like waking up on a Saturday, not knowing what day it is, and only doing what I want to do.  Like knowing that I will never give up on love.  Never.  And that's why I love Valentine's Day.

February 8, 2015

The Greatest Play Of All Time

My Grandpa taught me how to fall asleep with my eyes wide open.  It's no easy task, but it is very handy when I don’t want people to know that I am sleeping (like in a boring lecture).   It's also very creepy.

On one such occasion of wide eyed sleeping, I awoke with a start and didn't know where I was at first.   The roar of a crowd surrounded me.  I was in an audience.  People were on their feet.  Crying.  Hugging each other.  Stomping on the ground.  There was a stage and three actors were taking a bow in exultation. 

Like a bad dream suddenly remembered, it came crashing back.  I was at a national theater in Edinburgh.  I had just arrived in Scotland that day, jet-lagged but trying to adjust to the time difference.  When I arrived, I had immediately purchased a ticket for a three hour play that was described by critics as “life changing.”  I got the best seats in the house.  And I had slept through the entire thing.  The entire thing.  Now awake again, the energy in the room was deafening, the emotion buzzing in the air.  I stood up, joining the rest of the room in cheers and pretending that I had just seen the best play in the history of mankind.  A stranger next to me hugged me.  Real tears rolled down my face.  The stranger thought I too was moved.   However, I was crying because I was very upset that I had just spent 60 pounds to take a three hour nap.

Determined not to miss out, I went back to see the play again after a full nights sleep.  I watched all three hours intently.  I watched every breath and movement and beautiful poetic word from the three actors.  The play ended and the same chaotic rapture filled the air.  I had watched the whole play.  But still, I felt nothing.  I sat in my seat in shock, watching everyone around me gasp for air and scream at the top of their lungs as the actors took about a thousand bows.  A man near me noticed that I wasn't clapping, so I shot up in my seat and cheered a little too loudly and he gave me a nod of approval.  

Clearly I was missing something.  What was wrong with me?  I purchased the play in the lobby on my way out.  I climbed to the top of Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh and I read the play in full as the chilly Scotland air whipped around me.  It was the perfect setting.  But still, I felt nothing.

Finally I decided.  Either the theater gods had punished me for sleeping through the greatest play of all time and cursed me so that I wouldn't be able to feel its brilliance, OR my mind was too weak to understand its brilliance, OR this play was actually bullshit, but no one wanted to admit it.

February 4, 2015

You Know You've Been Single For Too Long When.... (Part 1)

You know you've been single for too long when you have to strategically plan how you are going to zip up a dress because there is no one there to help you.

I bought an adorable dress recently that had a long zipper up the back.  However, I realized when I went to wear it that I couldn't zip it up.  I got the zipper up a few inches, but then I was faced with a logistics problem.  My arm was not long enough to reach over my shoulder to finishing zipping.  Nor was it long enough to reach behind my back and zip it up.

I ignored this logistics problem for a few minutes, trying to reach the zipper over my shoulder and spinning in a circle as I did so (because that would make my arm grow longer.)

I finally gave up on that pursuit and stared at myself in the mirror for a long time.  I was determined to do this on my own.

I thought, I've got it.  I will turn the dress around the wrong way, zip it up in front, and then turn it around the right way and voila!  This was a grave mistake.  As I zipped the dress up in front of me and then tried to shuffle it around to the back, I heard the fabric starting to rip and the zipper was slicing into my skin.  I abandoned this effort.

I wish I had a wire hanger to fashion into some sort of hook, but thanks to Mommie Dearest my closet was devoid of any such tool.

Hm.  What would Indiana Jones do?  What would Katniss Everdeen do? What would Oprah do?

They would all do something awesome.  Indiana Jones would replace the dress with a rare artifact, Katniss would use a bow and arrow to zip up the dress, and Oprah would make the dress a multi-million dollar company so that it didn't even have to worry about having a zipper.  I, however, was out of these options. I decided the only thing to do was to walk out into the world, with my head held high, and ask the nearest, least creepy person to zip up my dress.

This lucky non-creepy person happened to be the hostess at a restaurant I frequent near my house.   She zipped me up and then informed me that I had lipstick all over my teeth.  Me for the win this evening.

I went off to a party in which I wore the adorable dress.  The dress was perfect and I was so glad I wore it.  I got home well into the wee hours, exhausted after a long night, and ready to climb into bed.  I went to unzip the dress.  I thought, maybe I couldn't zip it by myself, but SURELY I can unzip it on my own.  Nope.com.

I was so tired and the dress was so tight that I considered using kitchen sheers to remove the dress.  But, knowing I would regret this later, I decided my only option was to try to unzip the dress as much as possible, and pull it over my head.  I got the dress around my shoulders with my arms in the air, but then got stuck.  Now the dress wouldn't go up or down and my arms were permanently flailing above my head.  I was so tired, I plopped onto my bed in this awkward position and fell asleep.

The next morning, I woke up, and somehow, miraculously, the zipper had unzipped enough in my sleep to allow me to get out of the dress.  I had a fairy godmother un-zipper out there somewhere.

I am not ashamed to say that later that day, I went to Home Depot and bought some materials to craft an extendo-arm for zippers (made of a small wooden closet rod and a tiny hook) so that I may never be in this position again.  So give me all the zippers, world!  I will zip them, and it will look weird, but I will do it on my own!

February 1, 2015

The Secret Shoe Box

I found a shoe box from my childhood in my closet.  It was marked "Top Secret - Do Not Open".  It was wrapped with many layers of duct tape.  A hole was drilled through the cardboard where a metal lock was placed.  The lock was absurd because the smallest pressure on it would have ripped it through the cardboard without having to unlock it at all.

I racked my brain to try and remember what could have been so top secret that I needed to take these precautions.  Perhaps this shoe box contained information about my past.  Perhaps I was once a child spy or superhero but my memory had to be wiped, and I stored all of my memories in this box for safekeeping.

Or perhaps I would find a note from the Queen of some land saying that I am royalty.  I think that might be the plot of an Anne Hathaway movie.  I didn't rule it out though.

Or maybe it was something special from one of my ancestors, passed down for many generations and only made visible to me when I was ready to see it.  Like a magic jewel that allowed me to time travel.

I wished that whatever was in this box was something that was going to send me off on a great adventure.

It was time to open it.  I ripped out the lock and cut through the duct tape.  I threw open the box and inside was...

...a single cassette tape.  My heart pounded.  I must listen to the tape.

Then I panicked.  Where was I going to find something that could play this now antiquated piece of plastic?  I realized I still had a Walk Man somewhere in my things.  I ran to my desk and dug through my electronics drawer.  I pulled out my old Walk Man with orange headphones.  I said to it, "Hello, old friend."  I slammed some batteries into the thing, ran back to my Top Secret Shoe Box, and pulled out the tape.

This was a big moment.  I placed the tape in the Walk Man, put on my cool ass orange headphones, and pressed play.

A terrifying sound emanated from the headphones.  It was high pitched and loud and...it was ME.  It was my childlike voice.  I was singing.  I listened to my warbling tones for a few minutes and realized that my childhood self had sung the entire score of Beauty and the Beast into a tape recorder. With gusto.  And then placed it in a box marked "Top Secret".

Unfortunately even at a young age, my voice was at its best only when I sang Gaston's parts.  Throughout the tape, I did a new voice for every character without missing a beat.  I was uninhibited.  I was singing the score of Beauty and the Beast at the top of my lungs and I didn't care who knew it.  I was not afraid.

I had forgotten what it was like to be truly unafraid.  So much fear builds up in us as we grow up.  The little kid on the tape recorder had not yet been told that her singing voice wasn't perfect.  She hadn't been told yet that she would never get cast in the pretty parts.  She hadn't yet been poisoned by negative comments and bullies.  She merely wanted to put on a show, and sing at the top of her lungs like a crazy person, so that she could make people laugh.  Because it made her happy. Because it was her dream to do so for the rest of her life.

The tape ended and I pulled off my orange headphones.  I don't remember making the tape, or putting it in a shoe box and wrapping it with duct tape.  Or putting that pointless lock on it.  But I wonder if that little kid took such great care of this tape because she knew that she would need to hear it again some day.

That little kid turned big kid has faced a lot of rejection, uncertainty, and all around bullshit from controlling, negative, and judgmental people.  As Frank Sinatra said "some people get their kicks  stomping on a dream."  Sometimes you have to shut those people out of your life.  And when you can't, all you can do is sing a song loudly and off key until they leave you alone.  And also keep working every day to prove them wrong.

Maybe this Top Secret Shoe Box didn't contain a magic jewel or a secret letter from a queen, but it was most certainly the beginning of an adventure.