Archive | June 2012

 Confidence

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LB and Mali recently posted about self confidence and it really stirred something in me.  Something I wasn’t sure I particularly wanted to share.  Why?  Mmmm, well, I consider myself a confident, strong woman who knows her mind.  I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t work for me over the years.  I know who I am and most of the time, I think I’m the bee’s knees.  And  yet,  I’ve spent way too much time being insecure over the years.  Over my body, my abilities, my very thoughts.

I’ve had this lifelong tendency to replay every bloody mistake I have ever made and try to mentally fix it somehow as if I could come out mystically unscathed in the present.  Go figure.  I spent about a year in therapy when I was in my late 20s to get to the root of this and yes, I figured it out, but it blossomed again whenever I got into a relationship.    Self doubt, second guessing, trying to prove myself, feeling not good enough.  Sigh, daddy issues.  And so every so often I hit a patch of depression that sucks the wind out of my sails.  Even my choice of career sometimes has me shaking my head – what was I thinking?  I’ve been rejected more times than a ham sandwich at a bar mitzvah.  You could be super talented and have tons of experience and still be unemployed and penniless. Yep, sign me up.  That’s the life for me.

I read somewhere that a father is the one who gives his daughter confidence.  Mmm, well, if that’s the case, then it’s no surprise I always felt lacking.  My recollections  may not be entirely accurate, but I grew up with a constant stream of petty criticism from my father.  Nothing cruel, but just enough to make me feel that I could just do better, I would get his approval. Maybe he would even be a better dad.

Race was also another issue. I was taught that as a black girl, I had to be twice as girl to be considered equal.  Sadly, that pretty much seemed to be true.  In elementary school, I can remember certain teachers who would constantly overlook my raised hand or pleas for assistance.  But I also remembered the ones who went out of their way to acknowledge me.  I was always under some sort of scrutiny as a minority.  My mum taught me that I always had to be careful what others thought of me.  I had to be careful.  I had to behave.  Any misstep would not be overlooked.  I could never go browsing in a store without hawk eyes on me. I would be accused first out of my peers of shoplifting (yup), service would be denied (oh, you didn’t see me waiting here with a number?) and certain people would never invite me over to their house for a sleepover. The people who I thought had it all – well, they didn’t look like me. All I had to do was look at the TV to see the proof of that.

I did have the gift of the gab and I won awards for public speaking.  I was smart and learned quickly so academics were for the most part were pretty easy for me and I made friends.  I was kind to the underdogs and never picked on anyone.  Unless they deserved it, like bullies. I hate bullies. I’d sooner stick up for someone than myself.  I had a pretty sarcastic tongue when I was a teenager.  I think that all that powerlessness over my fate back then made me one angry girl.  Though all in all, high school was pretty good to me.  I had a preference for the medical field (but sucked in math and sciences) and for creative arts. I wrote pieces for our high school play and performed and people laughed, so I was hooked.  Finally, I felt I was really good at something.

I went to university and after my 2nd year, I got cut from the drama department.  Yep.  I was free to pursue my Fine Arts degree, but not as an actor.  Wow, the sacrifices that had to be made in order for me to go to school and I get cut from the one program I had dreamed about.  Next up was the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City.  After auditioning, I was accepted and one school year later, I got cut again ( though, I suppose for fundraising purposes, they still consider me an alumni).  That gutted me.  My mother had taken out a bank loan to send me to that school and all my savings had been spent.  I repressed my disappointment, found a job within 2 weeks and entered the regular work force.  So I did the 9-5 thing for years, wading into the theatre field in my spare time.  I got fat, fell into a depression (and I didn’t even realize it) until one day I just couldn’t take it anymore and quit my job and the dead end boyfriend.  Everyone thought I was crazy.  I felt free.  Then I fell back into another f/t job, finally moved out of the house and my life began again.  And when I finally left that job, I started to work in theatre and TV (doing office temp jobs for years), I never looked back.  Still insecure, but I am great at faking it.

By the time I became a Buddhist, I realized I didn’t have to repress any more.  I felt I had the tools I needed to strengthen my soul and my heart.  Oh yeah, anti depressants and therapy helped as well.  Buddhism is all about taking action in finding the right medicine and healer as well as lots of chanting.

And then infertility came along and sucked the air out of my lungs. I didn’t want to be in my body anymore.  I had no hope and every day contained a sliver of pain that I felt helpless to remove.  But I learned how to breathe again. Absolutely, having a child to mother helped me to heal, but it did not FIX me.   I am forever changed.  And since I have the privilege to life, I expect I’ll keep changing.

So here’s my lesson for the decade.  Nothing will fix me – not a husband, not a career, not a child.  Nothing will make me happy but me.  I can’t undo the past. I can’t go back and change a damn thing even though I would love to erase some scars. It’s okay to cry, it’s okay to say NO and it’s okay to be angry.  It’s also okay not be hysterically happy and satisfied every second of the day.  That’s just the world of heaven or rapture and that’s not reality.  It is acceptable to not know the answer.

If you were Buddhist I would quote Nichiren Daishonin:

Suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy. Regard both suffering and joy as facts of life, and continue chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. no matter what happens. How could this be anything other than the boundless joy of the Law? Strengthen your power of faith more than ever.

And if you were not, I would say endure, surmount, never give up and enjoy.

The clock ticking…

Okay, I’m one year closer to being half a fucking century old.

Thank you to all those who wished me a happy birthday on FB – that was very cool.  Bless that auto reminder,eh?  I felt so popular.  Back in the old days, I would let everyone and their dog know when my birthday was with a countdown but this year, I’m not that into it.  That biological clock ticking away is not just about your ovaries, folks.

After the usual struggle to get ready, walk the dog and get out of the house, the Precious and I went to see my mum.  Her hair seemed okay for once so I didn’t have to take out the scissors and comb to get out the matted hair.  I told my mum that it was my birthday and I had returned to the scene of where it all began.  She laughed.  She used to be the very first phone call get in the morning and she would sing to me.   I got a video of the kid and my mum singing happy birthday to me.  Best present ever.  It was a little tough not crying when I was driving back home.

Later we went out for a terrific West Indian dinner downtown, it was pretty rushed (me who likes to linger over dinner for at least 90 minutes), but I still managed a couple of Dark & Stormy rum cocktails. Mmmm, delicious and refreshing!  Jerk sablefish – omg, it was good.  Yep, had to share it with the kid cause the chickpeas we ordered for him were too spicy  – I hope he appreciates the sacrifice.  Hubby looked at me solemnly and promised me a trip for my 50th.  Poor guy.  He’s worn out. I think he needs a trip  more than I do.  And then we rush back home.  I hope to return soon to enjoy dinner at a more leisurely pace, but when we’re with the kid, it helps to get him to bed on time.  He napped yesterday which gives me a bit of a break but it means he’s not that tired by 7:30.  And if he doesn’t sleep until after 8, he actually gets up at 6 or 6:30am.  And if he goes to bed on time with no nap, he sleeps in til 7 or 7:30 am.

Then I debated doing more transcribing work, I have at least 4 more hours of work to get done by tonight  cause I’m working tomorrow night and I have a Buddhist meeting to go to tonight. But it was still my birthday and I didn’t want to work, so I watched Hell’s Kitchen and tried to not be annoyed by my sleeping husband on the couch.  Reminded myself – appreciate the day you had – cause you have a husband that loves you, a child that loves you and friends who love you.  Life is good even when you are not in the spotlight.  Do the work of life.  You have so much to do.  Nam myo ho renge kyo.  The clock is ticking…

The glamorous life

Bah.  I didn’t hear anything back from the callback, which in this case, is not good.  I’m disappointed, but I had a feeling when I left that I just wasn’t that relaxed enough to really do it justice.  Crap.

I was on set on Tuesday, in a part I didn’t give a crap about, but at least it was some money, right? Everyone was really nice.    My ego was kept well in check by yet again for the umpteenth time in my career for being mistaken for being an extra.  I’m not going to tell you how much that used to piss me off, but at this point, I’ve learned to be philosophical. Yes, I’m black and I’m wearing a uniform but I’ve got lines, buddy, let me through.   And of course, I saw another actor who I did a small part with a decade ago and now he does big roles and I’m still doing bit parts.  Lovely.  I have a feeling that I’m just going to have to return to my rule of not doing small parts. I know there are so many actors out there who would love to be in my position, but it’s a little soul sucking for me. It felt good to be an actor, thinking like an actor, preparing like an actor and it just felt good to see my name on the call sheet. I didn’t complain, I just did my job and left with my dignity intact.  Sounds like I did a porno, right?  Nope, just another low budget TV movie – like the good old days.

Hubby took the day off work, though it turned out my call time was in the afternoon, so we spent a little family time together.  When I came home, after a perilous rainy drive on Hwy 1 (what the hell is it with this province and the condition of the highways?!  Can somebody put down some white road lines that are actually VISIBLE  at night?!!!), I came home and hubby was passed out on the couch, toys and bones strew around our tiny living room.  This is a habitual thing; I can still manage to walk the dog, do laundry, vacuum,do errands, take care of the kid and the dog, make  a passable dinner  but 2-3  hours with the kid and  he can’t clean up a small area before he passes out.  And it bugs me, cause I’m the one who ends up tripping over something.   I know, I know, he’s tired, too, but it just makes my day seem like never an end to it. (I hear you out there OHN:  Deathstar, there isn’t and end to your day now.)

So the first thing when I get home is can you help me pick up a few things?  It just flew out of my mouth and I just really wanted  to talk about my night and how I felt, but he was totally bagged and I felt sad and lonely. So groggy hubby picks up a few things and I finish my bedtime routine of making sure the heat is off and odd cups and glasses are in the kitchen. And I have the sad thought that even though I worked, everything seemed the same as it was the day before.  There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

There’s a lot of anxiety in the house about where we are going next.  I know hubby is really down about it and I’m doing my best, but it’s disheartening.   It’s not like we have a deadline or anything looming over us, it’s just that our choices are so few and I know sooner is always better than later.  And he wants ME  to pick one.  Once fall hits, it will be leaf raking time and I don’t think hubby can go through that again at the same house.  It’s tough to think that we both never dreamed we’d be where we are right now.  It seems as if the economics of our family building have put us about 10 years back. And did I mention my 49th birthday is  5 days away?

I remember the days when getting the gig was the goal for me.  Now getting an actor role is just about making a couple of bucks towards a goal for my family.  The bigger the role, the faster I can contribute to buying our own home.  I need to chant.  I need to be hopeful.

We are both being so much kinder to one another, and I need to demonstrate my commitment to my husband even more.  I vacuumed the basement yesterday. The dog hair was everywhere.   I know that sounds weird, but I NEVER  do it.  He always takes care of downstairs, but I think life is really getting to him and I sense his life condition is also in the basement.  He’s really miserable about this place. (I’m not sure if he gets that it’s just a metaphor for his life.)  I’ve been in a constant state of anger for months, but the one thing my Buddhism has taught me is that it will become my environment.  And it has.  So I need to change.  Hubby acknowledged and appreciated the fact that I cleaned the basement ( and now that I don’t have to watch the kid every second, just every other second) he actually mowed the front of the house.  Not that I cared  but he thought I did, so he did it, unasked.

Is it just me or do you find it irritating when your man complains he is tired because he gets up early to go to WORK. And he’s not a construction worker.  True, I do not get up when he does, but he gets to sit on a bus in peace and quiet and work in a quiet environment with adults and when I call  I frequently interrupt his GOLF game with the boys. They make phone calls is what they do.  I’d like to see how tired he gets when he has a toddler at you, who objects to a request /demand to change his stinking diaper before you gag, who won’t put on his socks and shoes voluntarily or who cries  and pitches a fit when you try to get him to his scheduled activity that you paid good money for.

An actor’s life. Yep, full of glamour.

I’ve got a Klingon

Okay, who the hell is this tiny terror who has taken over my lovely little boy?  And he only acts like that with me!  In public, he’s wonderful, doesn’t run off, listens to me and is quiet.  In private, he is constantly pestering me, demanding this and that, defies me every single time we have to leave the house, stomps his feet, slams doors in my face, refuses to use the potty unless it’s his idea and it’s usually to delay us leaving the house.  I’ve had to “disrespect his Buddhahood” and carry his screaming, twisting, clawing at the door body out to the car to make an appointment.  That’s always lovely.  Planning to get him out takes an hour which usually means I look like hell and usually forget one thing or another. 

I’ve had two stress free drop offs at his play group and that’s it.  Usually I have to sit in little tiny chair at the with one or two mums whose lovely darlings can’t bear to be parted from us.  At first it’s cute, and then it’s like prison for 90 minutes..  A couple of the mums have been in their workout gear, sullenly checking their smartphones, muttering under their breath.  Yep, I’m one of them. The Precious was literally holding onto me and I had to walk him to the teacher to get his name label.  He wouldn’t even hang up his coat for fear of letting go of my hand.  Ah, separation anxiety!  Well, he’s bonded to me all right. 

Oh, by the way, the big audition I had a couple weeks ago?  I got a callback tomorrow!  Wish me broken legs!