Monday, October 27, 2014

Where the Hell Have I Been?

I'm sure a lot of Slayers have been wondering where I went or why. It has been so rewarding to share my successes with you all since I started posting, but last year, just around Christmas, I started to feel like a real failure, and not just with health.

Oddly enough, it was at that time that I got a really great paid gig to teach theater/voice at my alma mater, Tabor Academy for a limited time during the course of their Winter Musical rehearsal process for Legally Blonde. The experience was incredible. The kids were so committed and spectacular. It was a real Anna from Frozen "For the First Time in Forever" moment. By that, I mean I had been struggling to find a place for myself when it came to the performing arts since college and especially after the majority of my weight loss. Sure I was exercising my creativity through cosplay, but I wasn't necessarily doing what I had intended to do with my BFA in theater from Tisch School of the Arts. I wanted to perform and to coach others and getting to do that and getting PAID to do it gave me both a thrill and also the sense that I'd been waisting my time with excuses for a too long.

For all my claiming that "my major physique change" made my resume look ridiculous and my reel material unusable, I realized that I had actually been fearing whether people would even accept the "new me" professionally. I'd played the butch lesbian and the ridiculous and ridiculed fatty for so long that I didn't really know how to type cast myself and go out for roles anymore. Getting to work with the kids at Tabor and share my wealth of knowledge and experience with them should have made me feel better about what I was doing with my life, but it actually made me feel worse because I realized I should have been searching endlessly for jobs like that all the time instead of becoming an artistic cripple in hibernation waiting until she became a butterfly.

On top of that, my day job became really soul crushing during the holidays. It's our busiest time of year and it is basically a customer service job, even though my title is Tour Guide. It's a lot of traffic and a lot of pressure to make the holidays happen for thousands of people in the course of 7 weeks and it really took it's toll on me. It's not that I hate my job. I actually enjoy it. I just suffer, as anyone would, from dealing with all the negative aspects of providing good customer service to patrons flowing in on an unbelievably relentless scale. By the time the New Year came, I just wanted to go to sleep FOREVER.

So yeah. Cue the self loathing. And then cue the relationship problems. I'll spare you the details, but for the second year in a row, I felt let down by my significant other when it came to being present during the holidays. It's really hard during that time of year because I am so beset by problems at work that I'm not always the best partner either during that time. The anxiety and frustration with each other just accumulated at a crazy rate. With all the stress and the previous year of denying myself holiday treats, I decided to say, for lack of a better phrase, "Fuck it." I was going to enjoy the treats of the holidays when they were offered and I was going to enjoy the food. I didn't gain a lot, but I did gain the holiday weight we all dread.

These negative nutritional changes also followed a few episodes of fainting at work while doing a Whole30. I felt like a complete failure and like this system that I really enjoyed wasn't going to work for me. The high fat was a lot for my gal bladderless body to handle and there were a lot of factors but in the end, my disappointment was another thing that led to my "Fuck it" behavior. I can actually remember the exact moment. I had gotten woozy for the second time at work and my boss handed me a corn muffin and practically demanded that I eat it. That was it. After that, the age of "Fuck It" was upon me.

I decided my New Years resolution was going to be "Don't work for free anymore." Any artist will tell you that making that decision is a HARROWING moment. People tell you all the time "You may never work again if you do that." I decided that I had wasted a lot of time on theater companies that wanted more than just my acting skills and who demanded a lot from me while giving almost nothing in return. It's natural to think that those projects may get you in the front door when those directors get in a position to offer pay checks to their performers. What I'll say is that the one time that happened for me, I NEVER GOT PAID A SINGLE DIME despite having a contract because the director didn't have anyone advising him on the financial side of doing shows and he ended up making promises he couldn't keep- including promising us a certain amount and then getting the cast to take a pay cut so that he could pay the people coming in from Jersey and Long Island more money. How is that my fault? Why should I be penalized? I digress. These are old festering wounds in the form of lessons that taught me to choose carefully who you work with, to make sure the work is paid, and to accept that this may mean taking less work than usual. Frankly, doing all of those projects was keeping me from even attempting to find paid work.

My relationship nearly crumbled at the beginning of February resulting in a lonely Valentine's Day and a lot of stress due to some health scares that I don't want to get into. Suffice to say I was completely rattled. I felt alone. Instead of pumping myself up at the gym, I went less and less. That's not to say that I was completely sedentary, but it IS to say that I got heavily into MMO's again and my obsession caused me to cook less and less and order out more and more.

As my boyfriend and I tried to mend the shambling corpse of our relationship, I attempted my biggest cosplay feat to date. I will always treasure my Daughters of the Eyrewood costume and the experience I got to have at PAX East 2014 because of it. I'm a huge Penny Arcade and I love those guys to death and I love their Eyrewood Adventures most of all. As you can see in our interview video with Nerd Caliber below, we ended up running into Mike Krahulik/Gabe, the artist who created our characters, and he invited us to play test his new game Thornwatch with the PA crew that night. He also showed off our costumes during his panel on the game. It was honestly just the best reception to a costume that I've ever had. To have your work truly appreciated by the original artist and to get to share the experience with them is really incredible. This was my first costume that I can say I completely made myself, minus my shirt, and it was the first costume that I used my new sewing machine on. It was also my first time wiring LED's into a costume. If Mike hadn't invited us to the play test, we never would have made it there because we got mobbed for photos all the time, something that really surprised me because these characters are so obscure. I think anyone who knows about the Eyrewood loves it immediately and I also think having costumes that light up, really rakes in the attention, FYI. This experience did a lot to repair the relationship issues that my boyfriend and I had been having and we really treasured and continue to treasure this experience. We got so close as we experienced our dream of what the best PAX ever could be and no matter what has happened since, I don't think we'll ever be able to top it.

We even got featured on the front page of Penny Arcade in Mike's post about the Thornwatch playtest at PAX East. Guys, when this game comes out I'm gonna run it for ALL THE PEOPLE ANY TIME ANYONE WILL LET ME. It's so badass I can't even. I cannot. Even.

Then I went to Italy, which honestly started out very physically. I hiked every high altitude path connecting the beautiful towns of Cinque Terre with my parents and my friend Passion, who happened to be visiting at the same time. These hikes were super challenging, but I was really glad to see that I could do them because I don't think I would have enjoyed the experience as much at 250 lbs. It was stunning and I felt great for the beginning of our three week trip. It's not that hard to eat healthy in Italy if one avoids pasta. I managed to do that for a while, but then the gnocchi devil got a hold of me near the end of the trip and I put on everything I lost on the mountainsides of North Italy. Also wine. I drank lots of wine with dinner because Italy. Sorry not sorry about that one. It was vacation.

The only problem was, I didn't really get back on track when I came home.

Photo by Adam Jason Photography

Photo by Ron Frary
I auditioned for and got a role in the New York Renaissance Faire as a part of the Sirens of Sterling, an all female six lady a capella group. I feel so blessed to have had this experience. I am in awe of my fellow cast mates and their improvisational and stage combat skills. We all had so much to learn from each other and I made friends that I really hope last a life time. It was also nice to know that I could still work creatively and get paid for it. Huzzah, indeed! On the flipside, I made a lot of poor food choices because I was walking, skipping, and May Pole Dancing for a distance of about 20 miles every weekend according to the pedometer I kept hidden in my waist pouch. I drank plenty of alcohol to lull myself to sleep in the freezing campgrounds and I made the most of the treats on site, including delicious morning pastries and Butterbeer once a weekend. Suffice to say, I may have overestimated how many calories I could burn in a weekend and I certainly wasn't keeping track.

Then, the coup de grace. My boyfriend of two years decided to move in with me after hemming and hawing for about nine months about where our relationship was going. He took two months to prepare for the actual move in. Every time I asked if he was ready, he made an excuse. He was going through a lot of life changes at the time so I didn't pressure him. I was trying to be understanding. After a while, I finally felt like there was something wrong. He admitted to me finally that he didn't want to move in and that he felt like his feelings for me had changed and that I didn't have my life together amongst many other complaints. In a fireball of shock and pain, I relied on my friends, new and old to get me through the last weekend of faire and upon my return, he landed his final blow and we broke up. Words cannot express how sad I still am and how worthless I feel all the time. It doesn't seem matter at all to my self esteem that I'm still acquiring paid creative gigs both as a performer, teacher, and through cosplay commissions. I still feel his doubt in me hammering away at everything I accomplish and it makes me wonder why I wasn't good enough? I should know that I am enough and that it just wasn't meant to be, but as anyone who has suffered through something like this will tell you, it's easy to question yourself even if you know you shouldn't. I have to accept that what he said was his truth and we're damn well better off apart if he feels that way.

I've gotten so much support from my friends and I feel like such a drag for still being sad, despite a month having passed. I feel like I owe it to everyone to try and pick up the pieces and get myself back to normal because they've put so much time and energy into making sure I'm going to be ok. They've cuddled me and counseled me until they were blue in the face and it has been so appreciated. I still sort of don't know how to be single. I've tried going on some dates just to help myself move on, but it just feels so pointless. I'm ready for the real deal and I'm ready to be appreciated and supported by someone who's all in (Thanks new Gilmore Girls obsession), and to give that to a partner in return. All of this dating BS is horrific and I just can't seem to let go and have a good time. It's hard to even have fun because I don't want to just "have fun." I want something real. It's a vicious cycle of convincing myself to take a chance, followed by a sadness spiral that I'll never find what I'm looking for, followed by telling myself not to look and just let things happen, followed by crippling loneliness. The hole in my heart makes me feel like someone died. I guess the person I thought my boyfriend was did die when he let me down. I know that seems over dramatic but that's just how it feels right now. Going from feeling like you're finally about to take that next big step with someone to losing them and having them tell you all your failings have made you less attractive to them is a real shock to the system. I know I'm strong and I can get over anything, but this really does feel like an insurmountable tragedy. I don't know how to go on. I suppose only time will help heal that.

I know this is post is super emo, but it's really just meant to honestly share with you all what my deteriorating mental state has become. I'm not that girl who ran a half marathon right now. I'm not Rainbow Dash. I'm not the elf rogue. I'm not any of those strong people I was transforming myself into for so long and it hurts so much to see myself in such a horrible light. I feel confused and lost. I feel restless. I feel like the problems won't go away. I just want to do something crazy and pick up my life and move across the country to LA or Seattle and just start over. In my heart, I know I'd just be trying to run away from what's gotten lodged inside me- which you can't run from anyways because it's an inside problem. Also bills. Jesus. New York is SO EXPENSIVE. I think sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can get your ass in gear to make good choices and that's sort of what this ticking down of events felt like. The contrast of seeing a better life for myself creatively mingled with the grief from the loss of someone who I thought was my biggest champion and the slow deterioration of my health is just crushing me and I need to get myself back in order. There are things you can't control in life and there are things you can battle. I chose my health long ago and I'm realizing that no matter what, I can keep choosing it, and in fact, I'll have to keep choosing it.

I started at New York Comic Con by focusing not a cosplay character who I felt would help me physically, but one who would help me mentally. I had to start getting myself out of the dumps. I chose to work on Pinkie Pie because I needed desperately to feel happy during my first cosplay/con experience since losing my boyfriend and cosplay partner in crime. It definitely wasn't my best received costume, but it is a start. I made a lot of people smile, true to Pinkie's style, and I discovered that despite my inner pain, I could still have fun, which was a big relief in a lot of ways. I still missed my ex, but I relearned how to experience a convention with friends and even by myself from time to time. It wasn't so bad. I saw a lot of really cool things and all the other costume artisans inspired me to step up my game for PAX East. I haven't made any final decisions on what I'm doing, but it may be Star Wars themed. More on that later.

For now, one hoof at a time.

Day 4 Food Log
Eggs, Bacon, Onion, Peppers, Mushrooms
Espresso, Almond Milk, Stevia

Sautéed Onion, Peppers, Mushrooms
Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil.

Pistachio, Cranberry, Agave bar

1 comment:

  1. As someone who has been through the break up ringer a few times, I can empathize with a lot of what you are feeling. Break ups suck. Feeling rejected sucks. Especially when the person you break up with attempts to use personality traits or beaviours as reasons for the break up. It is had to know take that personally and feel negative. I've been there. At the moment I am still getting over some of my negative emotions from a break up this summer.
    It takes time. Keep choosing you. Keep choosing health. Breathe. ind ways to re-invest in your own happiness. In time the pain will go away.
    Never forget that you are enough. You are amazing. having a relationship not work out does not mean that there is anything wrong with you. You are amazing, powerful, beautiful and talented.
    If you ever want someone to chat with, feel free to connect.
    Sending you positive thoughts and internet hugs.
    Welcome back. <3