It’s true, I’m running away with the circus.
People’s reactions to this are so interesting. About half are excited for me, the other half think I’ve lost my damn mind.
This post is my way of explaining that I didn’t lose my mind, I just might have different priorities than you.
I’ve been trying to think of the best way to simply explain my reasons for joining the circus. The best analogy that I came up with is this:
Some people become nuns or monks and join a monastery. I joined the circus.
To me, the simple bare bones lifestyle that is inherent to circus life is appealing. Not having a lot of Stuff is appealing. Traveling, working with my hands, caring for the lives of others, celebrating life with others, performing and entertaining, these are all appealing.
Caring for animals, especially horses, has always been a sort of spiritual practice for me. I am a very holistic-based person, I need to DO things. I love reading and learning that way, but for me to really feel fulfilled and to truly grasp a concept I need to experience it.
It makes me really sad when people who are close to me don’t trust my judgment, especially regarding my own life. I’m sorry if I’m not the person you wish I was or expected me to be, but I’m more sorry you can’t accept me for who I am. I think a lot of people have forgotten the meaning of life. What do I think is the meaning of life?
I think the meaning of life is to live it. That simple… but humans make it hard. To truly live is to grow, to take risks, to be authentic. That’s what I’m striving for and I’m sorry if there are people who can’t see that.
That reminds me of one of my favorite quotes on page 260 of Forever by Pete Hamill.
“I don’t know what that means. To truly live.”
Kongo paused again, his eyes wandering to the walls of the cave, to the blackness at the far end.
“To find work that you love, and work harder than other men. To learn the languages of the earth, and love the sounds of the words and the things they describe. To love food and music and drink. Fully love them. To love weather, and storms, and the smell of rain. To love heat. To love cold. To love sleep and dreams. To love the newness of each day.”
Though I have to say, a LOT of people have been incredibly supportive and I am so grateful for that!
Oh and for the questions I keep getting asked:
- I’ll announce which circus once it’s 100% said and done & I talk with the production manager about being public.
- There are no large exotic animals (no elephants, tigers, bears, etc.)
- I saw all the animals and met their owner (the trainer) and they are all well cared for and content. I would never take a job that sacrificed animal welfare.
So stay tuned…
I felt like writing down some things about me you may or may not know, things I deem important when calculating the sum of my whole.
I’m naturally inclined to take whatever route is off the beaten path. I realized that’s just who I am in 5th grade when I tried to explain to my class why I didn’t understand the binary gender system and that “love is love… so why does it matter?”
I feel like I’m perpetually awkward. Nothing ever comes out the way I want it to – words or actions. I’d like to think some day I won’t identify as “awkward” but that day’s not here yet.
For whatever reason, for a very long time I’ve been conditioned to not touch people. I remember my senior year of high school when a new friend embraced me in a caring, light-hearted hug and I was shocked…. I didn’t know what to do and realized I really never touched people. I’ve learned how to fake it… because NYC culture is full of people who hug and kiss at every meeting and leaving. I can always tell when my faking it doesn’t cut it, and now we’re back to awkward. Edit: It’s not that I don’t like hugs, I’m all for hugging! I just have convinced myself I “do them wrong.”
I got a massage, like a real one not just a shoulder rub from a friend, for the first time a few weeks ago. WEIRD. That’s a lot of touching. I was proud of myself for not dissociating, though I can’t say I enjoyed it. (No offense meant to S. who did a great job!) I mean, my muscles totally enjoyed it. The jury’s still out with my mind.
Ironically, (actually it’s probably not ironic at all), I’m fascinated by all things physical. I’m considering getting a master’s in somatic counseling psychology focused on body psychopathology. I should probably learn how to let people touch me first, eh?
One of the big reasons I fell in love with hoop dance is because it’s one of the very few times I can feel present in my body and enjoy it. The motion of the hoop, of my bodies’ movements to keep the hoop spinning, grounds me and connects me. When I stop worrying about learning new tricks and just let myself feel the flow I can feel my chakras open and the energy flow through me. Too often I’m worrying about learning new tricks.
I’m a really anxious person. I didn’t know this until my therapist told me. That literally makes me laugh out loud, because I’m usually very self-aware. I just had always connected my behaviors and coping mechanisms to depression… and because I didn’t behave the way I thought “anxious people behaved”… it just never occurred to me. But now I totally see the correlation between heightened anxiety and desires to engage in eating disordered or self-harm behaviors.
I’m really proud of myself for not engaging in those behaviors for well over a year, even though the feelings arise all the time.
The other time I feel grounded and connected to my body is horseback riding. Something I miss, so much, but am not participating in at the moment because it’s very expensive in the NYC area, and I also think I’m way too fat and ugly to even set foot near a horse right now.
When I rode regularly, it was similar to hooping. When I wasn’t worrying about getting the movements right (regardless what discipline I was working on), when I let myself just enjoy moving with the horse our energies combined and it’s absolutely an empowering and beautiful experience.
I have no idea what I really look like. I know that what I see isn’t what other people see, and what I see is never the same. I’ve learned to trust those around me that I must look at least like an average person… otherwise I would never leave the house.
I have a really dry and dark sense of humor, and often I’ll say things that in my mind are obviously hilarious… but my delivery is such that it comes out sounding totally genuine. Most people don’t get it, and then I’m left frustrated having to explain myself. When I meet someone who gets my humor… I don’t even know. It’s freaking amazing, because I love to laugh.
People always ask why I named my cat Claudia, and the truth is it’s because she told me that’s what her name is. Who am I to change it?
I moved to NYC to be an actress and a writer. Oh hi, giant cliche, you were fun while you lasted! I still write, and I would love to act if the right opportunity presented itself. I just quickly learned I’m not into the lifestyle of molding myself into someone’s idea of beautiful cattle in order to get some chorus role in a show that might not even make it to the final stages of production.
I know that I am excruciatingly way too hard on myself. I’m pretty sure I deserve it, though.
I have big ass dreams. I want to be a celebrated speaker at a TED conference some day. Maybe by then I won’t be so awkward. Or I will, but people will think it’s charming.
Confession: I totally loved the show Charmed in high school. I know if I had any cool points up until now they just dropped a significant amount.
For the record Holly Marie Combs is now a mom on Pretty Little Liars, Alyssa Milano is famous on twitter and Shannen Doherty is…. EDIT: WRITING SELF-HELP BOOKS! LOL.
I was a page at the public library in high school and I have had my nose in a book (or several) ever since I could read. Probably before I could read. I wrote poetry and essays and really melodramatic livejournal entries. Yet somehow, I didn’t know who Dorothy Parker was until two years ago. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?
I think the internet ate my ability to concentrate on one thing for substantial periods of time.
I was a damn good flute player throughout high school. Talented I suppose to an extent, but mainly I worked my ass off. Not because I loved it, but because I really wanted to fit in with the “pretty popular” girls who all happened to be the best flute players.
I was a damn good vocalist a few years ago. Talented, yes. I’m naturally a gifted singer… but I totally didn’t practice in any correct manner so I always felt like I was winging it. Therefore I’ve never done karaoke, it makes me nervous.
I hate autographs. I just… don’t get it.
I read a lot of non-fiction. I just really love learning about stuff. I abhor the vast majority of fiction. It’s a whole lot of people kissing their own asses. But sometimes there is fucking brilliant fiction that I fall in love with. I just ended a sentence with a preposition, sorry.
I fantasize about owning one of every breed of dog. That’s a problem though, because then I’d be classified as a level 500,000 hoarder.
I really dislike when people need black/white definitions or labels, after they have just told me my thinking is too black/white and I need to chill out and see the grey more. So if I’m not perfect, that doesn’t mean I’m a failure… but if I’m not straight, that DOES mean I’m a lesbian. (no.)
I really love fruit smoothies. I also love broccoli, asparagus & mushrooms.
I hate that I’m such a fucking people pleaser. I HATE it. It grosses me out, but it’s really hard to stop. I’m working on it. I hate that when in new situations or meeting new people I revert to that behavior, and it’s completely not my natural behavior so people get the total opposite idea of my personality. Especially when it comes to dating.
Do you remember the show Wonder Years? It always really creeped me out as a kid, but I could never put my finger on why.
I hate when people talk about how ‘young’ I am. Fuck off, who cares. We’re all living right now! (And I’m not THAT young anymore. It made a lot more sense when I was 23 & fresh off the boat from Ohio.) I did not take a boat from Ohio to NYC, I actually took a train.
I simultaneously long to be a hardcore super buff kickboxer and a graceful lithe ballerina. I’m definitely neither.
I could go on… but that’s all for now.
7:45am walking the dog.
“you married or single?”
“you married or single?”
I turn and give him a look… it’s fucking 7:45am. I am in pajamas. My hair is down and all crazy humid-frizzy. No make-up. Are you serious, you dickhead, I don’t want to talk to you.
“I could do nice things to you, I know you’d like it.”
Walk faster, dog stop smelling everything.
“You know you should let those walls down, not everyone is out to get you!”
…….FUCK YOU. I hate that they always turn it around like that, “oh you won’t acknowledge my advances so I’ll tell you that you’re a cold bitch.” THANKS.
I am not your baby. I am not a baby. I am not a girl. I am not yours to label “beautiful”, “sexy”, “blanca” or “mami.”
I am not an object. I am not something to possess. I am not a prize. I am not a toy. I am not an image.
I am a human being, and my life is not a game.
I do not exist for your enjoyment/exploitation/amusement/ego.
I am not here for you to narrate my walk from point A to point B with colorful commentary on my body.
Do not tell me to smile, mind your own business.
Do not tell me “own it” or “work it,” I did not ask for your advice.
Do. not. touch. me.
I am a human being, and I deserve respect.
ABC Family has a new show which aired Monday night: HUGE.
On their website they preface the program with:
At ABC Family, we believe that healthy living means living life to the fullest. In order to live your best life, it’s important to take care of yourself — physically, mentally and emotionally. Here you’ll be given tips on how to eat nutritious snacks and meals, add exercise into your busy life, and build a stronger, more positive sense of self — because living a healthy life means having healthy self-esteem too!
Interesting. Their site is full of interactive pages and information about healthy recipes, a Live Huge Bus Tour, healthy living panel questions… and of course information about the show itself: cast, music, network etc.
Huge follows the lives of seven teens and the staff at a weight-loss camp, as they look beneath the surface to discover their true selves and the truth about each other. [ABCFamily] I watched the episode, “Hello I Must Be Going” twice last night. First to just watch, second to take notes with my critical thinking cap on.
How did I feel about it simply as a viewer? I liked it! Okay, I readily admit I like a lot of ABC Family shows (Make It Or Break It, Wildfire, Kyle XY… I’m such a nerd) so, there you go.
The show brought up a lot of visceral feelings for me. When I was a kid I was a lot like Becca (Raven Goodwin) – almost painfully shy but well-intentioned, and as a teenager I was very similar to Amber (Haley Hasslehoff) – extremely self-conscious and desperate to “fit in”… but also aware that others gravitate toward her even if she doesn’t understand why. As an adult I can admire Willamina (Nikki Blonsky)’s self-conscious-yet-in-your-face attitude as well as her disdain for a warped system and misguided authority.
As someone who watches a fair amount of TV and pays attentions to the work actor’s get, I was excited to see Gina Torres as the camp director Dorothy Rand. I must say though, this is an odd character. Because we’ve just seen one episode I can’t decide yet if it’s Gina’s acting, the direction she’s given or the writing that is off. I get that the character has secrets which will be revealed as the show progresses. I already have a few guesses as to why she is so uptight and unnecessarily anxious when one would think a seasoned camp director (weight loss camp, even!) would hardly bat an eye at these typical camper antics. It seemed very forced in this episode though, so I hope it either makes sense in retrospect, or they work their kinks out as they continue filming.
Now, here’s the commentary through my Body Image & Eating Disorder Awareness Advocate perspective. (and FYI — shit tons of spoilers)
“You know, this could be a nice summer to gain weight. I feel like inside me there’s an even fatter person trying to get out.” – Will
Soon after she makes this provocative statement she performs a strip tease when Dr. Rand requires she take off her shirt & shorts for the “Before” picture. What I saw in Will was a frustrated girl who is at a weight loss camp against her will (no pun intended) and in order for her world to make sense she needs to control the situation. Gaining weight would be the ultimate “F You” to her parents and to society. When she’s literally facing off with the person who represents “the enemy” she again controls the situation by not only drawing attention to herself, but doing so in a manner that is meant to glorify and approve one’s body in the eyes of others.
I love the shots of the other campers’ reactions to Will’s strip tease. Especially the immediate clique of “cool” girls (i.e. the ones with the most mainstream-acceptable body types) who looked disgusted, nervous and threatened. I found myself simultaneously scoffing at their close-minded clique-ness and identifying with their reactions. At their age I would have reacted the same way to a girl with Will’s body type blatantly putting it on display seemingly unashamed. Why? Because I was (as these girls are) perpetually caught up in self-body-hatred, fat-hatred and life was all about losing weight and getting thin. Having someone defy that mentality puts a crack in it, it means that mentality isn’t 100% RIGHT. That’s scary!
Once the girls settle into their cabin, we see more of their personalities start peaking through. Caitlin, one of the “cool” girls, has a poster that says “Beauty Comes From Within.” Amber, the new girl who is immediately crowned Queen Bee by the cool girls because she has the most proportionate body and she is pretty and well-groomed, says how much she likes it. I appreciated how genuine her tone was, it was obvious to me this girl is desperate for some self-love. This was only heightened by her installation of “thinspiration” (cut-outs of magazine images) above her bed. I identified with this as well… during high school my closet walls were covered in those sorts of images. I kept a scrapbook full of them.
I look forward to watching Amber’s development. My favorite Amber scene was when the campers were jogging in the woods and the cute male assistant trainer, George (Zander Eckhouse), tells her she’s doing a good job. Then their conversation unfolds and the next three lines are imperative to understanding Amber’s character.
GEORGE: What’s your name?
GEORGE: Well keep it up Sandra you’re doing great.
AMBER: It’s Amber…
[George runs ahead]
This shows how she is a sweet, insecure girl who will go so far as to not make sure her trainer/crush get’s her name right. Yes, she does say it, but in such a meek, unobtrusive manner he doesn’t hear her. She doesn’t think it’s (i.e. she’s) important enough to warrant calling out his mistake. I felt like this was a key insight to her character because the writer’s set her up in the eyes of Will as a vapid, self-centered potential Mean Girl which, clearly, she is not.
Amber’s sensitivity is shown again during “Sharing Time”. When Dr. Rand asks Will to express her feelings she says, “Sorry, I’m down with my fat. Me and my fat are BFF. Everyone wants us to hate our bodies, well, I refuse to.” Dr. Rand replies after a beat, “No one here wants you to hate yourself. Our focus is on health.” This doesn’t fly with Will who retorts, “Oh right, our health, you want to tell me she’s here for her health?” Pointing at Amber who snaps back, “Don’t say what I’m here for!” A typical Mean Girl would have an inflated ego and either not bother responding or agree… of course she’s here to get thin/improve her image, which was what was insinuated.
Clearly, I like Amber. But I was also quite interested in the development of Caitlin and was rather disappointed the reveal of her eating disorder happened in the pilot episode. That seemed rushed, a trying to hit as many quotas as possible kind of deal. But what’s done is done, and I do appreciate that it was written very realistically and the gravity of the situation was well portrayed in the scene where the girls discover she had been sent home and have to deal with their own feelings and unanswered questions.
In a situation like that emotions are intense and when you’re in a room full of virtual strangers it is very easy to start attacking which is of course what they did. Amber (who we later discover is the one who told on Caitlin) snaps at Will, “You’re the one who gave her all that crap to eat, what’d you think was going to happen?!” To which a shocked Will responds by climbing onto Amber’s bunk and tearing the clippings off the wall, “And you’re the one who made her stare at all this crap!”
Both girls are not wrong. They each contributed to Caitlin’s bulimia. What is important to differentiate is that neither of them (nor what they represented: junk food and photoshopped magazine models) caused her eating disorder. I think the complexity of an eating disorder was implied through the hushed, confused, intense dialogue that went on during that scene but I’m not sure the implication was understood by the general public. I can see how the average viewer would decide to side with one of the two girls and come to their own conclusions on why this character had an eating disorder, what it meant and why she was sent home. This is why I wish they had prolonged the reveal and developed the issue over several episodes. Hopefully Caitlin returns in some capacity and the issue of eating disorders is not simply swept under the rug “now that we got that over with” so to speak.
I was glad to see that in the end Will and Amber come to a truce and are able to see each other’s humanity beyond their differences. The last scene was very “typical camp” which I appreciated, as a former awkward camper. The two girls whispering after lights out, bonding through their mutual internal conflicts related to identity, cultural expectations and new rules in unfamiliar territory.
I noticed that my blog is kind of depressing. I don’t mean for it to be, but those “uncomfortable” topics are the ones on which I generally have the most opinions. So today, on a whim, I decided to lighten it up a bit!
I am a bit of a hoarder. In the sense that I like to know I have things, but I don’t like to deal with them. So I let them sit in boxes and forget I have them, until I get so annoyed that I have boxes cluttering my room and I go through them. That’s when I discover MAGICAL THINGS!!!
- an envelope full of baby pictures and things I made when I was a kid
- a $15 unused gift card to itunes
- my contacts prescription (!)
- 15 books of music + loose sheet music for voice and flute, some from THE 8TH GRADE.
- riding spurs
- and an art project…
…from a class I took at Cooper Union a few years ago where we had to cut out pictures from magazines and write a story based on them.
I must have been in fine form that night, because, well, here I’ll share.
Once upon a time there was a girl. This girl, like all other girls she knew, loved Jesus. She prayed to him, sang to him… she even got his name tattooed on her body without her mother’s permission – that’s how much she loved Jesus. She also, like all other girls she knew, loved to be beautiful. Being beautiful was imperative in the town she lived in, much more important than being intelligent. (But not as important as loving Jesus, of course.)
Now, this girl did a very, very good job at loving Jesus and being beautiful. But she had a weakness: cake. Especially chocolate cake. She would often walk (in disguise) to the cake shop across town. Everyone was so nice and friendly there, but she always had an ache in her heart. She knew, because her Bible School teacher in 1st grade told her, that Jesus hates cake and it makes you ugly. Her Bible School teacher also happened to be her mother, who reminded her every day that her sinful desires for thick, moist, sugary desserts would lead her straight to the fires of hell.
Today is her 16th birthday and she celebrated with a wheatgrass shake that her mother had shipped all the way from the big city 50 miles away. They all lived “happily” ever after.