out of body (& free shows!)
in which we sing the body electric, remind you of the Chrysalis livestream this sunday, and the upcoming FREE shows in June
I just took a 5 minute dance break and I recommend it.
SUN 5/29 4PM: ‘The Chrysalis’ Livestream #62: ‘IN JUNE’
Subscribe here for a reminder
WED 6/15 8PM: FREE Cafe Concert Series @ Irish Arts Center on 11th Ave @50th
SAT 6/18 *1PM*: FREE set, ‘Porch Stomp’ on Governor’s Island!!
SAT 7/9: 7PM @Rockwood Music Hall The Annual Not My Birthday Show Tickets HERE
FROM THE CHRYSALIS
I remember the first time I “left my body”.
I was 6 or 7 years old, at summer day camp at our community pool. In what would be a series of mind-bendingly poor choices on the part of ‘adults’ throughout my childhood/adolescence, the counselors insisted that we all get changed for swim together in the same room. No stalls, no privacy, no girl/boy separation (this was a long time ago), no nothing. Just - get naked in a room full of other kids. Who were all old enough to notice and young enough to have no skills to deal with it. Long story short, anyone unfortunate enough to be post-bathingsuit/pre-shorts would be subject to merciless pointing and shouting and laughing from… well it can’t have been a stadium-sized crowd, but that’s what I remember.
Many questions come to mind. One is, wtf. Another is, why didn’t I just wear my bathingsuit under my clothes, which if you must know only just occurred to me right now.
I’m also pretty sure I asked a counselor if I could go somewhere else to change and they said no. (!!) So I just kind of resigned myself to regularly wanting to die of humiliation.
Until, at some point, I hit on what seemed like a great solution:
I’ll just pretend it isn’t happening!
This whole thing is admittedly pretty hazy but this one part is crystal clear. I made this decision, and felt myself kind of… float away. And it seemed to work! I could hear the kids hooting and yelling, but as if from behind glass. I felt numb and sort of peaceful and I just … left.
Which was then sort of my MO for a long time whenever I was in a scary or just uncomfortable situation: float away. Rather than do something, like remove myself, I would “remove” my “self”.
Whenever I look back on the Bathingsuit Gauntlet, I imagine an Adult from Now - usually myself - stepping in. Oh honey, “I” say to that kid with the glazed-over expression, This seems like a good idea but it is actually very bad. Let’s go get some ice cream and I’ll explain the word “Dissociation”. And also I have a story about this one River in Egypt. And also, next time just wear your bathingsuit under your clothes.
Because of course, the thing about this ‘solution’ is that it doesn’t work. Or - let me be clear - any numbing agent works… as a numbing agent. Thank god for those, I mean I’m certainly glad there was anaesthetic when I had minor surgery two years ago. But it didn’t, like, make the surgery not happen or prevent its effects. And that’s great, because those effects were good and I wanted them to happen.
But had I come out of it like what surgery? I didn’t feel anything or I can definitely walk home by myself, or no one needs anaesthetic, surgery doesn’t hurt, we might have had a problem.
But not only does it not “work” to erase the Thing, whatever it is, it unfortunately does work to erase .. us. And erodes not only our ability to make sane decisions or take right actions, but to experience anything, connect to others, or sanely perceive/treat them as well.
The topic of Denial is basically turning out to be my life’s work. But you also may have guessed that I’m having trouble articulating or managing my response to what happened in Texas this week. I started this post yesterday, couldn’t get through it, erased half of what I wrote, started over. And I’m certainly having trouble imagining the levels of dissociation and denial it must take to suggest that the school’s back door was the problem, or that mental illness is what’s setting our country apart, or that teachers should be armed or that this is the “price of freedom”, or that more cops are the solution or that masks harm our children’s mental health but that ‘active shooter’ drills don’t, or that anything, anything, anything, anything at all is the problem besides lack of gun regulation, or to tweet out condolences with one hand while taking money from the NRA with the other…
… what’s that ? i couldn’t hear you from up here by the ceiling fan.
I still do the Exit Stage Left routine. BUT it is possible to re-enter stage right!
To come “back” into our bodies.
Which was what I freakin’ WANTED this post to be about in the first place.
Two things that get me back “in” personally are: Art/Creativity (duh), and - though I resist this like crazy - Movement. Art that involves moving= bonus.
This week for me involved two experiences that fall well below "gun violence” on the Discomfort and Dissociation scale but are there nonetheless: 1) I attended a ‘showbiz’ industry event alone and 2) I got new headshots taken. (OH THE HUMANITY)
The Civilians Anniversary Gala was so beautiful and well-curated and nostalgic and I am proud to have performed with some great artists. At the same time, during the dinner service I found an actress I greatly respect holed up in the dressing room “because I just can’t talk about ‘what I’m up to these days’”. I get it. At things like this, I am basically a floating pair of eyes clutching a diet coke.
And getting pictures taken - ironic for a performer but not uncommon -is usually a miserable round of being told to “just relax!” while my Not-Face freezes itself into a Mask of Weird Apology and any emotions I have are so far “back” within the ice chest of my body that they can’t make it to my face. (Also, Ms. Casting Director from years ago, asking “Can’t you just like be a little more confident?!” =not helpful.)
But they both turned out to be great experiences partly because at this point I am dare I say a little more confident, and also I know my Warning Signs and what helps.
In both cases I got my hands on a guitar and started singing/playing. And I suddenly had both legs and the ability to swallow and smile. And this is not because ‘music is REALLy what I love’; I mean I would argue acting is actually my greatest passion, but it’s harder to just whip out a Hamlet monologue unless you’ve been asked to. (And sometimes even if you have.) I think it’s because it involved deep breathing, creating vibrations, moving my jaw, releasing sounds, using my hands, and - important - enjoying how it felt.
And, you know, I’m better at that than small talk, so that was a little boost.
This was easy at the Gala because they had, you know, asked me to sing. The next day I thought I should really bring my guitar to the shoot and play for them but then I thought ew, no one wants that, how pretentious, and I didn’t. And then I got there, and somewhere in the first 30 minutes I started to slide into the Deep Freeze. And then I noticed there was a guitar in the studio.
The photographer said you were like a whole different person after that.
Take a dance break. Or a hike. Or sing a song. Or build a sandcastle. Or stand on your head. Give me some suggestions.
& see you SUNDAY at 4 for the next Chrysalis livestream! (also on FB & Insta)