Sometimes it hurts me when I am not included, even if I don't really, deep down, want to be.
Also, my mother just died. Suddenly and terribly. Very recently. I am not even close done with that.
Third, I never feel well. Tuesday, I head to Sloan-Kettering for my three year mammogram, results delivered as you wait. I hope to be cancer-free, but cancer is the gift that keeps on giving, for sure. I bore myself when I complain about not being able to breathe, running fevers, fatigue, nonsensical weight gain, lymphedema. And I bore others. I see it. Lots of people assume I should be over it by now. Me, too. I mean, so many patients have it much worse, are on the first steps along the path, have a tenuous future. How dare I feel bad? This is what I ask to myself. Then I feel worse.
I worry that people don't like me, but if they don't, they don't, and I know that, too. I care and really don't care at the exact same time, and...
Lots of things are over, including 2015. When I think about all that happened last year, it feels like a lifetime.
I went to India, and I met my treasured India tribe. I saw the world -- and myself -- through fresh eyes thanks to Delhi and A Fresh Chapter. I did things I never thought possible, and, ever since, have felt myself rising to the occasion, despite acute growing pains. 2015 was so often uncomfortable.
My new friends taught me to open up again, and my old friends were still there to be embraced. Life got richer.
But 2015 will forever be the year I lost my uterus and my mother. I had complicated, and formative, relationships with both. My Mom was everything, but not simply.
Now it's just me standing alone, and whatever contribution and legacy I intend to leave the world has to start from there. The blank page.
And stage. A few months ago, I admitted to myself and others how much I miss acting. Performing was at the center of my world for decades, and the theater saved my life...
I have practiced yoga for a long time. Still, certain asanas (poses) make me feel like an amoeba; others trigger my fear of death. I see my mat as a classroom.
I also see my mat as my space, which is why one of the greatest challenges to my yogic bliss is the inevitable yogini who races in to a packed classroom at the last minute and, instead of quietly taking an open spot on the fringes of the room, smacks her screen-printed Lotus flower mat in the sliver of open space dead center in the room, then, as fifty (on time) yogis readjust, she slaps her props behind her mat... on mine. I move them to hers. She moves them back. I move them again. She moves them back. I -- well, I can do this all day long. I win, of course. But I know how anti-yogic my thoughts are, so do I win, really?
I have been taking Rodney Yee's class at Yoga Shanti in NYC. Uh-huh. That Rodney Yee. Famous yoga guru and full-on brand.
The first time I went, I was filled with doubts about the celebr...
Recently, as I was stomping through JFK's Terminal Four on the way home from an eleven day adventure in New Orleans, I glanced left at a crowd of passengers lined up at a jetway. I looked up to read their destination: Lahore, Pakistan. My sense of adventure reignited. I slowed my roll and began to read the sign at each gate: Istanbul, Kingston, Johannesburg, Halifax, Tokyo, Mumbai, Havana. It was a Willy Wonka moment. There I stood in the irritating, hermetically-sealed (but massage chair-equipped) Queens airport, but behind every door was an entire world, a different life, inspiration.
My heart pounded hard with the possibility.
I am still cracking open the exoskeleton I grew to protect myself during the cancer years. Sometimes I can almost feel tiny pops and creaks in my rib cage as I breathe more deeply than I have in months. Yes, that is how literal it feels to be stepping back -- forward -- into Leslie 2.0. It's as if I've been oxygen-starved for far too long.
It's been a long road back to health. Bad mammogram, biopsies, lumpectomy and axial dissection, napalm-level chemo, radiation, third degree burns, (mud run!), tamoxifen, insanity, tamoxifen-triggered pre-uterine cancer, (life-altering trip to India!), hysterectomy, hospitalization for potentially deadly infection during which I hallucinated artisanal donuts and somehow still managed to finish the screenplay I've been working on for years.
I finally said, "Enough," and got back to my life, joined a new fight gym, wrapped my hands and began again. I took off for a weekend in Syracuse to reunite with old Drama Department friends, good for my soul, but forty-eight hours after I got home, I couldn't get out of bed. For days.
This has never happened to me. I didn't want to eat (which most definitely never happens). All I wanted was to read a good book, but the stack of work staring at me kept calling, and I couldn't concentrate enough to relax or even watch an enti...
She's my fourth since I began two-wheeling my way around the NYC streets from place to place. The other three were rust-covered creatures, so grungy that, when the frame of my first was bent in half by some feeling-deficient truck driver in front of the 42d Street Library, the dudes at the bike shop gave me another one for free. I was once the Fagin of unadoptable orphaned bike frames. I loved (but never polished) them, and rode them hard through midtown traffic, finding meditative bliss in the stiletto focus required to not die on my way to work, or not kill on the way to yoga. My second bike was stripped of usable parts while I processed other peoples' words; my third vaporized from a midtown bike rack.
Now I have a bike that taunts thieves with her insouciant style and all-over... pinkness. I envision myself riding down the street in a pretty sundress, with a straw basket full of fresh manuscript pages, and maybe some photogenic fruit. The realit...
Like many, I wanted True Detective, Season Two, to be a masterpiece to match Season One. I wanted it so much that, like a horrible boyfriend with a superior intellect, I made excuse after excuse for the impossible-to-track plot. "His intentions are good!" "But I loooove him (TRUEly)." "It's leading somewhere" -- NOT to me twitching and checking my cellphone as if I have Tourette's and blurting "You don't understand him" at inappropriate intervals. And not to me cribbing Slate's plot synopsis before the finale, because I could not remember who was who, where we were, and why. When I watch The Wire, or any of David Simon's work, I relax into the confusion, because I know Simon has everything in hand, and, if I trust the storyteller, it will pay off. Omar is always coming. With TD2, I tried to live in the story moment, but, much as I hate to say it aloud, I wound up with a mind full of meh.
Disappointment is flabby and cruel. TD2 is done, and I feel as if I ate a hunk of pa...
I woke up this morning with a sentence reverberating in my head from a two-day-old conversation with someone close to me (genetically-speaking). At such times, my mind has a built in digital delay. I hear the remark later, sometimes years later, and then the what-the-fuck kicks in when it’s too late to say, “Hang on. What?” Growing up in a seen-but-not-heard-and-if-you-can-manage-it-not-seen-is-even-better household has left behind vestigial failsafes.
“India’s not a good place to go.”
That was the remark. I know, right?
To add context, this person had recently seen photographs of my transformative trip to India, where I met, taught, and was taught by a group of young Delhi-ites at the NGO Magic Bus. Where I spent time with Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, and an extraordinary group of cancer survivors – American and Indian both. Where I was privileged to dip my toe into one of the world’s oldest continuous civilizations. Where I saw the sun rise over the Taj Mahal.
"We are defined by the lines we choose to cross or to be confined by." A.S. Byatt
I writhe when I feel trapped.
I grew up in the Seventies with parents who embraced a Fifties-ish ethos. I don't know how, but Mom and Dad missed the Sixties. The dirty funky realness of humanity was anathema in my family. We didn't sit; we perched. The house was vacuumed and bug-sprayed and Endusted enough to foil the efforts of a crack forensic investigator.
So I turned to thought crime.
It started with brackish daydreams fueled by my mother's Pocket Book copy of The Sensuous Woman and my dad's cherry issues of Penthouse purchased "for the articles".
It's no mystery that I prefer reading erotica to watching porn.
I committed nightly thought crimes, accompanied by explicit Kathleen Woodiwiss novels where pirates overcame serving girls, peppered with a little Sidney Sheldon, chased with Judith Krantz's Scruples. Oh, how I wanted to be overcome.
In my family of origin, turning down corners in...
I'm a perfectionist. As a result, much goes unwritten. Not just essays and movies and thank yous and status updates, but the tiny appreciative epistles I string together in my mind as I roll down the street for a coffee or a sparring session, the observations that flit through my head between sentences, the pretty/ugly ups and downs that I file in the "write later" folder in my brain. That lost folder. I think I threw my invisibility cloak over it by accident, and now...
Welcome to Badass Betty and the Industrial Inferiority Complex.