Friday, January 24, 2014

Food for Thought

Ok. Things are about to get weird in here.  I'm weird about food.  I don't know why I am, but that's me.  What does this mean?  Ugh.  There are so many things...where to begin...
While I have never been an adventurous eater, I was forced into eating fruits and vegetables when I was being raised. I never liked them.  Never. Ok, there were some that I liked.  I used to eat onions right out of my Dad's garden. I loved corn, of course, but that hardly counts...neither do potatoes. I can do carrots if they are cooked.  I can do green beans, but I don't really seek them out. 
Ok, I almost just put myself to sleep by writing this already - we get it, Steve eats like a ten year old (incidentally, if you google image search "eat like a ten year old", the picture above actually comes up in the results. Yes, you read that right...if you google "eat like a ten year old", a picture of me comes up. Tragic, no?

This isn't about the fact that I eat pizza and wings more than I should. This is about eating in front of people. It's not always something that I am comfortable doing.  I am not really sure when that happened. I'm not really sure why.  It isn't weight related, as internet research on the subject suggested. I didn't have some traumatic public eating crisis, where I was cutting my chicken breast and knocked my water glass flying, etc. And it isn't always...sometimes I am so hungry that I don't care. Sometimes the friends that I am around are so near and dear to me that I don't have the phobia (phobia? has it gone that far?) kick in.  

It's like when I recall a time when I never thought about dirt under my fingernails.  When I was unaware of what my hair looked like on a given day. Things that most people cannot even imagine not thinking about.  Not that I was unaware of any of those things any time recently, I am reaching far back with this one.  But there just came a day when I didn't really enjoy eating out in public. I don't know if it is food guilt at whatever I am eating, compared to what others are eating.  I don't know if it is fear of food being all over my face, or food getting stuck in my teeth (a constant source of terror...I travel with floss always). Whatever the cause, one day that I can't pinpoint, I decided that I would rather get food "to go", rather than dine in. I would rather take it home, or to a private place and eat than in front of others. 

Ok, before I sound totally crazy, follow me here.  You know when you walk into a restaurant, and as you are being seated, you look at what everyone is eating as you are sat?  You know you do it.  Every human does.  The curiosity sometimes spurs us to find whatever we thought we saw once we receive a menu.  "That looked good!", we might think as we unfold our menu. Well, in this tale, I am the dude who's food you just looked at as he was taking a bite. And something about that drives me batty. My hackles go up, and suddenly I am my dog, guarding a treat when another dog comes over. It's an almost primordial"don't look at what I am can't have it!"...I fully understand that this is an irrational reaction. 

Everyone has a natural curiosity to see what everyone else is eating, because as humans, we eat in a pack like style. From the dinner table, to picnics, to restaurants, etc. We gather around a food source, and we devour it together as a community. I get it.  I even like it from time to time when this weirdness doesn't float into my mind. Street fairs that are full of bite size food, galas that have bite size bits on tooth picks floating around on trays, small dinners with great friends, none of these trigger the weirdness to come on. 
"Whatcha' eating?" someone will ask, and my spine gets hot. Maybe it is food guilt, after all. Maybe if I could respond, "green salad things topped with glucose free tofu, spiced with guacamole and magic fairy dust", maybe I wouldn't be so sheepish about it. But no, it's not embarrassment.  I love what I love, I eat what I eat.  I go to the gym almost every day and never eat large portions of anything.  I hardly ever eat dessert. I have no reason to be guilty under the sun. But still...after heating up my dinner in the microwave at a theatre, and before I can get a bite in before retreating to the dressing room, or somewhere where I know no one will be, someone says.."MMMMM, what's that?", and I can't help but think..."Well, it was Peruvian chicken and sweet potato fries, but now it's something that you are adjudicating before I have a chance to enjoy it."  It is as if someone has had sex with my virgin wife before our honeymoon, and everything is spoiled for me after that.
Again, I realize that this is an irrational response to natural human curiosity. I understand that 99% of the time, there is no judgement being passed on me by anyone asking something along those lines. I get it. I get it. I really do.
I am trying to work through it. The other night, while on dinner break, I went to zPizza and had a slice, plus a few wings, and sat in the bar style booth that faces the window.  I ate as people walked by, every single one of them looking in as they passed, as everyone does while passing restaurants. My pulse increased slightly at first.  I dabbed my face and fingers with napkins after almost every bite, careful to also wipe the corners of my mouth meticulously - (MOUTH CORNERS!!! PEOPLE ALWAYS FORGET THIS AND LEAVE REMNANTS OF THE LAST MEAL THERE!).  My dad used to get food on his face, and when one of us (usually me) would tell him so while at the dinner table, he would respond, "I'm saving it for later." I strive to be more like my Dad in this way. No big deal, make a joke, move on. When I finished my meal, I headed back to the theatre, washed my face in the sink, and obsessively flossed. Baby steps.
Now, before I wrap this mess up, I am fully aware that those of you who read this might write me off as a lunatic. I would too.  It makes no sense. But they say to write what you know, and as I wondered what to write about next over dinner break, someone passed by and asked, "Whatcha eating?". And there it was.  
And yes, you can still ask me out to dinner. I will go. After a drink, I won't care who I am eating in front of. But please...for the love of God...if I have some food on the side of my face, please tell me.  I will chuckle, say, "I'm saving it for later!", and live inside a private hell for 5 minutes as I wipe my face like Lady Macbeth, but I would rather all of this than to not know. 
And by the way...whatcha' eating?

So, before I brought myself to post this, I wanted the opinion of my husband and a few friends.  I wanted someone else to read this and discuss it, Because I was afraid that this whole thing made me sound crazy. My husband summed it up for me in a few sentences. 
"Why is the whole world interrupting your world?", he asked. 
And this is why I write these things and ask these questions, because I don't desire or want these characteristics, but want to investigate and find out why I have them. 
Natascia Diaz came to see me perform in the role of SHRDLU in Adding Machine; a musical at Studio Theatre about 5 years ago.  After the show, she told me. "I understand you are a laser.  You are a fucking laser beam. Your laser focus on something is so intense and scary and perfect, and when you focus your laser, it is the most powerful thing I have ever seen."
In my life, I have many projects that I am working on, constantly. I laser beam on them when I need to get them done.  When I do, nothing else exists. When I tend bar, I am efficient as fuck, because I am focusing on it. When I am on stage, there is nothing else. When I write, there is nothing else. (Witness, a third blog in a row after I have lasered on the fact that I have not blogged in awhile.)
So maybe it isn't so much a food thing as a focus thing.
When I am keyed into what I am doing, I only want to do that, with no exceptions. You see, my husband is a Rolodex, and I am a laser. This is how half of our fights happen.  I focus on one task as he focuses on 20. While I am in deep thought about one task, if something breaks my stride, I am undone. When I am focused on eating, that is what I want to do, with no hindrance or interruptions.
This, again, goes back to ADD. 
While we were writing Night of the Living Dead, I had the entire script in my head.  Matt kept asking me when I would write it out, and I kept telling him that I was working on it in my head. One night, he persisted, and out of frustration, I sat down at the keyboard and wrote the entire thing out in one sitting.  Laser. 
So my husband's insight of me has explained this weird trait. I can focus solely on one thing at a time, and when derailed, I can't deal. I don't like this trait, but it is great to know that I have found the cause. 
When you are my friend, there is no other friend.  When we are hanging out, there is no one else in the world. When I am making love, there is no other love in the world.When I am eating food, there is no other food. When I am writing this blog, there is no other blog. And now it is time for bed...and there is no other bed.


Thursday, January 23, 2014


Good morning, Ecuador!
I have to share something with you that is driving me insane.
Back in August, Buddha was diagnosed with Spinal Ataxia, a degenerative disk disease that is causing what they call "drunken walking" in his back legs. Instead of going ahead with a spinal surgery, which I refused to put my 11 year old best friend through, I did some research to find alternative treatments. That's when we found Dr. Jane, pet acupuncturist.
Dr. Jane deserves her own blog post that is just about her and her work, because she is magic. She began aggressively treating Buddha with needles and a machine that hooks to them, sending minute electric vibrations through them. Before we started acupuncture, Buddha would fall down several times during a walk.  He couldn't lift his leg to pee. It was getting very sad to watch. The difference has been night and day, and he now lifts his leg to pee again, and though now and again he will lose balance, he gets around so much better than before.  He continues acupuncture with Dr. Jane every couple of weeks.
One of the recommendations to make egress easier for him in the house was to replace our thin leopard print rug with something shaggier, so that he could get better traction. Though we love our Norma Desmond rug, we saw exactly what she meant, as Boo was much happier on any other surface than that rug.

I went to Home Depot and found what looked to be the perfect fit for our house.  A white shag rug that looked like it was straight out of the 1960's. Four hundred dollars later, it came home with me. I brought it inside, and Matt and I moved Norma Desmond to the downstairs bedroom, which Buddha seldom is interested in visiting. As soon as we unrolled it, and put the coffee table back, Buddha was in heaven. He LOVES the shag rug, and moves much better on it. Dr. Jane came over for a session and LOVES the shag rug, and thinks that it is the perfect rug to give him more padding and traction in the room he spends a majority of his time in. We LOVED the rug for the first couple of weeks. LOVED it.

Here is where the tale begins to unravel.
We started to notice that the rug was shedding little white threads.  Just a few here and there.  No big deal. That's what the vacuum is for, right? Right.
I go to NYC for a week to workshop a new musical, and notice that I find a few threads of the white rug in the apartment where I am staying.  I laugh, and mention it to Matt on the phone. He laughs, and agrees that it really is starting to get worse, the shedding. It's a phase, we both agree.  It will pass. I board the Amtrack train to come home and find another white thread on the floor of the train by my boot.  And I had been hundreds of miles from the rug for a week.

As the weeks followed, the rug began to shed more and more.  We were about to throw a party for New Year's Eve, and were busy cleaning the house.  We gave the whole house a good vacuuming. We had to pause several times to unclog the bristles of the vacuum from the tenuous white threads. Finally the carpets were clear, and all looked good. One hour later, and before company even arrived, Matt said, "Look at the rug. I can't believe it! We just vacuumed!"
 The crawling tendrils of thread had already creeped back onto the other rugs. We both slumped our shoulders, feeling defeated by the rug and it's millions of creeping children.
But Buddha LOVES it.
 And Dr. Jane LOVES it. Now we LOATHE it.
I have found the tiny white threads everywhere that I have been, and sometimes in places that I haven't been. Friends who visit soon find the threads in their own homes. This rug is trying to multiply and make other little rugs in other homes, and will no doubt try to conquer the world within the month.

I can't help but think of the vignette from the 80's film, Creepshow, called "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill"In it, Stephen King himself plays a man who finds a comet that has crashed in his back yard, and what does he do? He touches it. I mean...people...have we not learned our lesson from The Blob?  When something falls from the sky, LEAVE THAT SHIT ALONE! Before you know it, he begins to grow a plant like moss all over his body.  Anywhere that he walks, anything that he touches, the green growth spreads. By the end, he is barely recognizable as a human, and shoots himself out of misery. I'm not at that point yet, but I reached a breaking point when I got out of bed this morning to pee and found one of the threads...oh yes.  Just where you think. I hear them now, mocking me.
They are even here, at Ford's Theatre. They have followed me. Watching.  Waiting. Slowly observing when the best moment to strike will be.
We continue to fight. Like Sisyphus, we vacuum the rug, we vacuum the rug, we vacuum the rug. We muse to ourselves that we will rent a rug doctor and that will REALLY get all of those threads for good. Then we are weary that it might only make it worse. So as we lose our minds in a never ending cycle of madness, the threads continue to multiply. I just found another one on my leg.  My mind is unraveling along with the rug, and as I empty the vacuum bristles from their tangle of white threads, I can hear them laughing at me, very softly.
Pray for dawn.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Life got in the way.

Hey readers! (all 3 of you, inexplicably from Ecuador) I know, I know, I know. I mean...I KNOW.  I never write on here anymore. I get it. I want to, know...Buddha suddenly hits my leg and demands luvins, and I can't focus. Or the phone will ring, and suddenly I am engaged in a conversation about the latest howling puppy video I saw on facebook (the eater of time, the eater of worlds). Or I am engrossed in a movie that I am streaming from my Roku player on Netflix, called Sightseers that is REAL depressing. I could write on here and tell you about it, but...I tweet. And to tweet is easy. I do it on my couch all day long. Tweet, tweet, tweet. But there was a time when I really liked doing this, and wasn't distracted by all of the five million things that distract me in 2014. I am ADD as it is, and this modern technotweety world isn't helping.

And then there is the fact that I am writing other things...things that want to be musicals. They are trying really hard to exist.  And it's almost like my brain thinks that it has an allotted number of words, and I better not waste any here. Which is ridiculous. Contrary to Pat Sajak, you don't really have to "buy" a vowel, they are one of the only things still free.

I also started this place in a pre-facebook, pre-twitter world. This was one of the only cool things that I ever used to do on the internet. And I loved it for the connection to all of you. But somewhere about five years into this block, something changed in the world, and no one left comments on anything anymore. You could argue that it was the content that caused people to refrain, and you might be right. It could be that this blog became a crass commercial announcements page about all of my upcoming shows.  I know it did, actually.  The thing is, it's hard to not talk about your shows, when your shows are some of the only things that you do.

But no, I am not going to take this little piece of cyberspace off of life support. I'm too stubborn for that. I'm gonna grab it by the balls and shake it up a bit. I will be changing my links on the right, because some of them don't even exist anymore. I will be adding new ones that make me happy. Will I get better at writing on here? Yes. Will I do it everyday?  No. But I will do my best to write when something strikes me funny, floats my boat, or tickles my fancy. I will do my best to come here before I run to that cheap and tawdry floozy, Twitter. I will come here first.  Because here was first. Yes, I promise to hold in my tweets.  I will hold in my tweets.

So welcome back, to those who've been before, welcome to those who have not, thanks for the solid support, Ecuador. Love you.  Mean it.