Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Few Lists

I've been keeping my posts private recently. I've been in a new phase of growth which has lead to a new level of self-awareness. (roll your eyes as you feel appropriate here.)

 It seemed like it would take forever to be done with the grief and pain of it all.  But as time has its way of working, the hours, minutes and seconds ticked away in their usual fashion, and here I am 2 and a half years later.

For the longest time all I could do was survive, get through the rough shit, survive some more, wait, grow, see glimmers of hope, be blessed, and begin anew.

I guess I shouldn't say "all I could do" because that's a fucking lot.  And you've seen me through it all, the good and the bad.

So, things are good.

I'm still growing and changing, but oh-thank-you-Jeezus, I do not grieve any longer.  I do not think sadly upon my life or feel burdened with a sense of loss.  I am changed, but I am no longer grieved.

What I feel is:

1.  Blessed
2.  Grateful
3.  Happy
4.  Lonely (only on occasion, not consistently or even that often)
5.  Yearning to grow
6.  Desire for the next breath
7.  Fear of the unknown, but it is not a crippling fear, just a dose of healthy nerves, really
8.  Curiosity for what it will take for me to reach my achievements (whatever they may be)
9.  Trust - I really trust the Universe.  Put it out there and the Universe will make it so, if you remain open.  I know, it sounds like mumbo jumbo hocus pocus hooey, but, Oh. My. God.  The lovely blessings I've received simply by being present and saying what I want.

I kid you not.



AND NOW FOR A SLIGHTLY OFF-TOPIC RAMBLING:

The thing I've been silently pondering (well the occasional Facebook post or Tweet, but mostly silently) is this notion of wanting a man.  

Here's a list of the top three things I used to think I needed a man for -

3.  Reaching the top shelf
2.  Business between the sheets
1. My sense of self worth

Here's a list of the top three things I think I need a man for now -

3.
2.
1.

Guess the point of this is that I don't really NEED a man.  And I'm doing okay without a partner.



I really LIKE men, though.  I mean they're so

1. hairy ,and
2.  adorable.  And
3.  they don't give a shit about how they dress (at least the ones I notice, anyway.)

Come on.  Why do they have to DOOOOOO that?  Why do they have to be so gosh darn lovable?

But...

For now...

BACK TO THE POINT(ish):

I am alone.

I've come to know that being alone is okay, and for me, as I work out my

1.  co-dependencies and
2.  issues,

sometimes it's downright necessary.

So I take full advantage of the silence of being alone.

For the first time in my life I just want to be the best version of myself.  THAT is the person who will be with someone worthwhile. With this in mind I've worked out two goals to help me achieve a deep sense of personal satisfaction and a fulfilling life,

1) focus on creating my career so that I can
         a.) support myself,
         b.)  send my daughter to college and
         c.) be able to retire when I'm too old to work.
(I've got a lot of focusing to do.)

2.)  Be loving.  Love
          a.) myself,
          b.) my family, and
          c.) send out the love.  Love, love, love.

It's entirely selfish.  My goals are rooted in the desire to feel satisfied, and for a girl like me, one who has to keep growing in self sufficiency, I know I must cultivate my assets -- and the two things I have to give are

1.)  my talents and
2.) my love.

I'm grateful for this mid-life reset.  I've been given the chance to be my best self.

Which takes me back to #1 in the first list of the day -  I am  1.)  Blessed.

Thanks for List -ening.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

A New Can of Worms

Sometimes life hands you an open can of worms.

I was pulling into the parking garage of my temp job and who do you think was walking down the sidewalk?  Yep.  My ex-husband.  I stared in disbelief.  He looked up, right at me, without an ounce of recognition.  I gave a little, stupid, oops-you-saw-me wave.  He kept looking at me like, who the eff are you?  Then I pulled into the garage.  He must have looked at the license plate - it's distinctively personalized - because when I got to work I had an email from him saying he was surprised to see me.

Yeah.

I know.

How long has it been since we've seen each other?  A year?  More?

So much bad blood.

But...

I had been dreaming a lot last week.  He kept showing up, kept appearing in my dreams.

Every time I went to work, I felt haunted by him.  I thought it was cyclical, tied to the anniversary of our divorce, but no, -it was actual proximity.  He works in a building near me I guess, because he was clearly on his way to work when I saw him.

So I saw him.  So what?  So. What.

Every time it happens, I feel kicked in the gut.  I feel raw.  I feel grief-stricken.

That night, for about two minutes, I found myself sobbing wretchedly and before I knew it I was punching the bathroom wall.  If you know me at all, then you know that's not a part of my character, but there's something about him, something about how we related to one another, that brings out a genuine fury in me.

Today as I edited some old films into a director's reel, I stumbled across footage of the two of us.  And I once again found myself heaving great gulping sobs.

But it wasn't anger.

For the first time in two years, I feel like I was expressing grief over the loss of the real love that existed between us.  I don't know when it died for sure - I believe his love for me died a long time before mine died for him, but for a while, for many years, that love was real.

Yes.  I know.

We are bad for each other.  He did some really awful and unkind things. And I did too.

But before all that.

We loved each other the best way we knew how.

It wasn't very good love overall, neither one of us knew how to do that.  But it was love.  And it was real.

And I finally find myself grieving that loss.

Everything else to this point was anger and resentment and hatred peppered with betrayal and injustice.

Now it's grief.  It's real, pure and painful.

I grieve the love that died so many years ago because if we had jigged left instead of right, or taken recovery seriously, or dealt with our problems at all, we might - we MIGHT- both have gotten what we wanted.

So fucking sad.

I can dwell on the daddy issues for a while and put the whole relationship into a neat little package, blaming my need for my father's acceptance, Aaron's similarities to my father, my desperation to be loved by a man who will never love me.  Et cetera. Et cetera. Et cetera.

But you know what?  Aaron did love me.  He did.  My ex-husband once loved me.

Even though I didn't love myself.

Now I'm working on loving myself, on doing what makes me whole.

That's supposed to be enough.

I have a feeling it will be.

Eventually.

But once in a while I remember how he loved me years ago and I wish we had done things differently.

I wish I had tried.

I wish he had, too.

Maybe we'd be exactly where we are now, but at least we would have given our love a chance.

If there's anything I regret, it's that I didn't do it right.  I didn't try hard enough.  I don't know how I could have, given the tool set that I had, but I wish it anyway.

I hope someday to find happiness.

But for now, I grieve that I couldn't find happiness with the man I loved.

What a missed opportunity.

And yet, that missed opportunity brings forth so many other chances in life.

Here I stand with an open can of worms, crying, sobbing, sniffling, being my usual dramatic self in the isolation of my own home.

I guess I'll dig out my fishing rod and put that wriggling can of worms to good use.




Sunday, April 6, 2014

Drill Down to the Details

I tell my acting students to drill down to the core, to the center of their motivations in every  single moment of their work.

This is no accident.  I find that being aware of the most seemingly insignificant detail provides the level of understanding necessary, not only to act well on stage, but to live well in life.

I love Phoenix.  It is a city that, on the surface, is not so pretty.  The architecture is a mish mash of incongruent themes and decades, but the detail -- ahhhhhhhh the detail of Phoenix is surprising and touching.

With this in mind, please allow me to present some details from my photo journey through Phoenix today.































Friday, April 4, 2014

Reclaiming My Space

Once in a while when I was married, my husband would take a hike in Papago Park with me.

The last time we did this, he was waiting to tell me he wanted to end the marriage.  He was waiting to let me know he was having an affair.  He wouldn't talk to me about anything.  He was just waiting.

The wait was so painful for me.  For years I had defined myself through my husband's eyes.  And for the past several years the distance between us had grown so great - he engrossed in his addiction, I in my own. His evenings were spent alone in his office, reading.  And when I was gone to bed, his nights were spent having phone sex or texting his mistresses.  I knew that we were in bad shape, but I somehow thought that eventually he would change. For me.

I was wrong.  It was I who needed to change.  I needed to stop defining myself through him.  I needed to stop finding bits of self-esteem in the tiniest bit of attention I could scrape from him.

The evenings alone and the nights abandoned for masturbation and 1-800 numbers were only survivable because I had a blind faith that he would never do what I knew in my heart he was doing.  I lied to myself on a very deep level.  I believed in the good man I had married, not the man who was living with me.  I wanted the good man to come back, and I waited.

Now, living in the same town still, I find myself trying to avoid old haunts.  Not an easy thing to do, really.  I only live a few miles away from our old home.  So I pass places full of dark memories on a daily basis.

Since my divorce, I haven't gone back to Papago Park.  The last time we were there together was just days before we decided to divorce, almost two years ago to the date.  The desperate feeling of abandonment was palpable to me.  He was so angry with me and wouldn't speak a word of his anger. Instead he seethed it.  And I, being engrossed in my own fear, could not fathom what was about to come.

That hike sticks with me.  It was a typical happening in our marriage.  I was up at 7 a.m. in the desert in spring.  A perfect time to hike.  I had asked him to join me and he said he would.  He rose at 2:30 p.m.  A NOT perfect time to hike in the desert in spring.  By the time we were near the trail's end, I had heat stroke.  He was furious with me. I should never have been in the desert sun at 3 in the afternoon.  I am not capable of handling the heat.  But to him, my heat stroke was proof of my character flaws.  And he was angry. Not concerned.  Just livid.

I never wanted to go back to that park again.  I never wanted to remember the horrible pain of that final moment in our marriage. His disgust with me.  His hatred of me.

But today.  Today I needed to hike.  Today I needed to do something for me.

Where better to do it than the place I once loved?

Where better to do it than the place I felt so much grief?

I must reclaim my space.  I must no longer let myself be defined by the bad relationship I lived through.

I am my own self, full of possibility.

Today I reclaimed Papago Park as my own.  It is a space that carries memories, but it is not a space to be avoided any longer.

I am defined now, not by my husband's opinion of me.  I am defined by my own actions.

Today I took action.

Today I hiked Papago Park.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Five Percent Course Adjustment

I recently read this article about not setting goals because that's how we set ourselves up for failure.

Huh.

Then I thought about the biggest goals I've had in my life and how they've never stuck.  I had a goal to lose weight and live a healthy lifestyle.  Instead I became what I lovingly refer to as The Thousand Pound Woman having yo-yo'd my way through many dress sizes in my life.  Why?  Why didn't it work?  Because it was a goal.  I would strive momentarily for a goal and then I would achieve it and quit behaving in the forced manner that had gotten me there.  I could do step aerobics, a torture best left in the 80's, but only for a finite amount of time.  The community class I signed up for ended, the holidays arrived, the spandex-y glitterbomb of a teacher was dreadful -- you see, I can do anything for a little bit of time.  But the problem was that the goal was reached in a forced manner.  As soon as I stopped trying to force myself to reach the goal because it had been achieved, it was right back to the way of living that I knew best. It might not be what was best for me, but it was what I knew.

I tend to be a broad strokes, big sweeping gestures kinda' gal.  My friend Candy used to always say to me, "baby steps," to which I replied, "pish posh."

But now I am beginning to get the baby steps thing.  It's not the goal and a giant leap that gets me magically transported to The New Lee.  It's the system I put into play every day.

So instead of saying, "I want to lose weight and live a healthy lifestyle," I must simply put into play in my daily life systems that will create the space for happiness each day and that will point me down a healthy road.  It's NOT a GOAL though.  Got that?

Systems are not forced things, will power or regimes.  Systems allow you to find, in your own happy way, a lifestyle that is different, yet satisfying and joyful.  After they have been booted up, systems operate in a practically unnoticeable manner (like your pulmonary system.  See what I did there?)

Systems will not overwhelm you or discourage you or leave you feeling restricted.  Systems give you freedom.

But setting up an entirely new system can be overwhelming, too.  It seems so much like a goal.  I have a friend who recommends the 5% course adjustment.  This is a conscious decision to make a small change.  I've seen it work in other people's lives.  The 5% course adjustment is skim milk instead of whole milk, or walking an extra half mile on your constitutional.  The 5% course adjustment is saying yes to a sorbet and no to an ice cream.  It's the little things that add up to a lot of things.

I never understood this on a personal level.  I, being bold move Betty, thought, "If you're going to change, then change dammit."  But I discounted the fact that even a 5% adjustment to the path you are walking eventually will take you miles off the course you trod.  Ultimately the change that occurs, because it is barely noticeable, means that it is likely to be permanent.  And the battle of will power does not have to be your burden.

The dialect of all or nothing disappears with the 5% course adjustment.  It is no longer, "I MUST do this thing every day for the rest of my life." The dialogue between my choices and my habits is now, "Just do this little thing right now; no one's going to be much bothered by it." So I can walk that extra few yards, drink that extra glass of water, stretch in the morning, or walk around the block on my break.  It all adds up.

And change that takes place over a long period of time adds up.  You have a new system of living life.  It was not a forced conscious decision, it just happened gradually.

Without setting a goal.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What A Fluffer Wants In Bed

Yesterday I shamelessly threw myself at several men and got paid for it. They bought me drinks, they laughed at my stupid jokes and checked me out. They all wanted me.  A man with glasses and a wry smile sat in the corner and watched.  He quite enjoyed himself.  All the while I was being filmed by a close friend.

True confessions of a low-budget porn star?

Hardly.

I was working as a casting assistant for an indie film project, and part of my job was to be the person that the actors auditioned with.  The scene was a pick-up at a bar.  I improv-ed that scene multiple times and everyone -- EV-ER-Y-one had a good time.

I was quite skilled at being a vicious, quick-witted flirt.

It was the topic of the day around the water cooler -- Lee was unexpectedly good at being a sexual woman.

The situation is both painful and an eye-opener for me.

I realize once again that I crave two worlds.  I want to be respected and employed for my skills.  I want to walk into rooms and have my co-workers think, "there's that Lee -girl.  She knows what she's doing. She's got it going on as a filmmaker/producer/ writer/director/actor/etc."

But I also want to be someone that men see as desirable.  And I'm not. I'm just not.  I am 100 pounds overweight.  I'm at best a person men talk to about professional stuff, and at worst, I am truly invisible to them.

I am overlooked.

I am treated rudely, as if I don't exist because of my size.

Believe it or not, I'm still the same person I was when I weighed 135 pounds and all the dogs were barking at my front door.  I just happen to be a lot heavier now because I bear the true weight of my burdens.  I eat my woes.  I've emotionally eaten enough to put me very firmly in the obese camp.

And that makes me an unnoticed person.

Yesterday I had their attention on both sides of the dichotomous worlds I desire. Professionally I proved once again that I could act.  I could do the work and do it so well that a room full of people were enthralled by me. And at the same time I was desirable.

This left me quite raw. My two worlds ran fully into one another and it was a powerful shock. I was acting like a woman that no one would expect dwells in my body.  After all, the assumption goes, fat people don't flirt.  Fat people don't pick up men in bars.  Fat people don't do those things.  They don't deserve it.  And yet there I was, fat and flirting.

Mind you, flirting is not something I've EVER done, not as a fat girl, not as a thin girl.

I am at my best in my authentic skin.  I am a vulnerable and open heart.  Flirting causes my heart damage.  Flirting leaves me open to barbs and rejection and rebuffs. On the other side of the coin, flirting leaves me open to one-night stands and beer goggles and the walk of shame.  Flirting leaves me in a place where I can bear my heart and sole wide open and then have to pick up the shattered mess a few hours later.

I don't flirt.

But as I proved yesterday to my charming voyeur, the camera operator, and every man who came in to audition,

I am a man eater.

I am a vicious cock tease.

I know how to be a flirt.

For the past 24 hours I've felt torn and scraped.

The idea that flirting is harmless does not apply here.  What happened to me was a good metaphor for the expectations we place on women.  Be pretty; be thin; be willing, but not too willing; be there for me, beside me, but not separate from me.

There's a personal metaphor in play, also.  I can paint myself to be what men want.  I can walk the walk the men are asking me to walk.  But I am certain that I will never be a fully evolved me if I turn into this woman.

It occurs to me that doing any of that crazy, kinky stuff that someone might expect after my performance as a flirt will only solidify my place as a second - class citizen.  I would be placing myself in the passenger seat -- woman to serve and service man.  Yet I know that my heart can be open to a man, that I can be as sexy as I feel with someone and let it be about being authentic together.

I can remove the pornography from my actions and just be graphically beautiful with someone.  We can do whatever we want as long as we are authentically sharing, in the moment, a passionate physical moment, eye to eye, toe to toe.

We will not be objectifying one another.

We will not be playing a game in which there is an inevitable winner and loser.

Instead we will be dancing.  We will embrace, body and soul, heart and mind.  We will enjoy each other's touch and lustful grunting.  We will be to one another what we cannot be to ourselves or to the pornography that we re-enact in hotels and dark alleys and the back seats of cars.  We will not be the sex-full act that lacks intimacy.  We will be the intimate action that is beautiful sex.

And it will be me, the complete person I call The Thousand Pound Woman, who breaths authentic love in and out and looks into his eyes and sees that he is not simply getting off, he is having sex.  With me.  WITH me.  It is not something he does to me.  I am not a thing that is seen briefly then becomes invisible.  I am real.  I am authentic.  And we are together for that moment, in one another's arms.

No one needs to sit by and watch.  There doesn't need to be a camera.  It doesn't have to be the talk of the office for a full day.  It is simply lovely.

This is what a fluffer wants in bed.

I deserve that.

We all do.


#flirting  #feminism #selfesteem





Monday, March 10, 2014

The Universe's Smackdown

Last year was an amazing roller coaster ride, this year is more like a merry-go-round.

When my life turned upside down and I had to face the painful truth of a bad marriage and my denial of my circumstances, I got a really good dose of living.  I cried a lot, I laughed a lot, I pursued dreams and accomplished things.  All the while I was doing things like winning major screenwriting awards and graduating from an MFA program, my ex-husband was busy getting hit by cars.  That's right, that was plural.  He was hit by a car a few days before I left for China last year.  He broke both legs, his pelvis and an arm.  Ouch.  And a few days after my birthday he was hit by another car whilst crossing the street. These two accidents mark the sixth and seventh times in his life that he has been struck by a car.

My take on the whole  ex-husband-as-a-car-magnet thing is that the Universe is trying to get him to learn a lesson.  And the Universe will keep dishing out the same "opportunity" until he wakes up and smells the coffee.

Now it's my turn.

This morning I found myself face down on the carpet, having thrown my back out, once again, while picking up a cat.  While I examined the worn down fibers of beige encrusted in something like mac 'n cheese, I had to ask myself,  "What is the lesson the Universe is trying to impart?" Here's what I came up with.

I've been plagued my whole life by underemployment, financial woes, and my weight.

What does it all mean?  How can I veer away from these issues? What is it that I need to change?  How must I grow?

I GET IT, UNIVERSE!  You want me to take care of myself first.

Okay.  I can do that.  But first I just have to make sure that my daughter/boss/friend/pets/landlord/....

Ah.

Taking care of yourself first is no easy task.

Where do I begin?

it might just be that loyalty is my downfall.

I have this core expectation that if I am loyal to someone, that they will reciprocate.  The plan that I have acted on throughout my life is that I will put others' needs before my own and then they will do the same for me.

Oddly, that hasn't worked out so well.

Today is the first day.  Today is the day, driven home by a back wrenching episode of cat lifting. Today begins a journey into Me First Land.

Today I am getting off the merry go round and walking towards my future rather than repeating my past.