when you hear that song you haven't heard since high school


i feel like the older i get, the less i know, even though i see more and feel more and laugh more and hope more. uncertainty is terrifying, and i do my best to live in it without having a complete meltdown every night. my scheduled, driven personality often leaves little room for patience with the unknown, and it’s hard for me to live in the mess. my therapist says that health lives in the mess, and in acting school (god, i hate that term) we were always encouraged to live in the mess, because that’s where humanity and life and love and hurt live.

i saw my favorite painting for the first time two summers ago while i was studying shakespeare in oxford. it hangs in the penultimate room of the east wing on the third floor of the victoria & albert, my grandmother’s— and now my— favorite museum. danbury’s “disappointed love” depicts a weeping woman at a lake, with love letters dancing on the surface of a dark pond and a portrait of her lost lover dropped adjacent to her right hip. the painting is almost lost in a large room of stoic men, burning landscapes, dogs, and women caged in their own bodies. but she found me, and it was the first time my mind went quiet, the first time it pressed pause.

i stood in front of what felt like a reflection of an aching heart lodged inside of me, one wrought with guilt and, well, disappointment. for the first time, i was so attracted to a painting’s life that i wept and could not get myself to walk away from it. at the time, i was in an abusive relationship, one born from the tail end of another. i was far away from home with a tribe of new souls burning to make art and live in the mess, in a foreign country whose language i spoke and whose spirit seeped into my pores. i was going into my senior year of college and taking time off from acting to digest three years of training, a period of time i took advantage of to spend with horses, the only thing that got me through training and school and heartbreak and assault in what feels like a whole piece.

the dexterity of art to be simultaneously by the artist and by the viewer is incredible. i often spiral into a never-ending series of questions about art and its life and its value and its susceptibleness to becoming commercialized or devalued in some way: is it art because the artist said so, or because the viewer decided it was? when does art cross the threshold of commercialism, and who makes this decision? is art for commercial use still art? is there art in commerciality? is art still art when its forgotten?

when i went back to the victoria & albert this past thanksgiving while in london for a family wedding, i did not find the painting immediately. i’d gone back to that room with the playful dogs, stoic men, and caged women, and i didn’t find her at first. my eyes manically blazed through each row of paintings. i hadn’t realized how busy the room was, how the paintings on the wall seemed to push by each other like times square crowds to make themselves seen, to bring themselves to the forefront of our viewing to not be forgotten so that they were still art. i couldn’t find her. i worried that she had disappeared, that the museum’s directory had forgotten to tell me that she’d moved to a personal collection, that she was on a tour of sorts, or that she’d been put into storage to be forgotten by everyone who didn’t know her.

i wanted to drown in her world, to sit by that pond and smell the moss under my dress with a portrait of the relationships i’d finally found the courage to leave, portraits of partners who’d made me feel so small and friends who left without a single explanation, who’d made me feel like my heart was somehow flawed, that my mess and my health and my lack thereof were somehow subservient to the worlds they’d created for themselves where everything happened to them and somehow everything was someone else’s fault.

and then i found her. my panic subsided.

i did not weep. my mind did not go quiet. my life seemed so swell from the ground up into my face, and i was suddenly ripped from the present and thrown into the experience of who i was when i first walked into that room in 2017. i could hear everything since i’d seen her echoing in my bones and my heart. i thought of the girl i was when i first saw her, having felt so much already, and not knowing just how much she would feel over the course of the next year and a half.

you know when you go back home after going to college and getting your first apartment and falling in love for the first time since you were sixteen, and suddenly it feels like you never left that body, one that ached to get into your dream school or cried with laughter while you pulled an all-nighter with your best friend just to listen to the song of the sun rising in a purple, summer mist; the feeling of unmitigated fullness when you realized exactly what your heart wanted—and still wants— to do for the rest of its life? it’s like when you find your old ipod shuffle (ya know, an apple product you could plug a normal headset jack into?) and taylor swift’s “fifteen” comes on and you are transported back to a time when you weren’t overwhelmingly sad some mornings for no reason, a time when being an adult felt so exciting and way too far away, when your mom wasn’t sick and a friend you loved hadn’t left without leaving a note and you hadn’t watched your horse die.

the girl i was when i first saw my favorite painting felt so near to me again. she was standing right next to me, our arms practically brushing against the other’s. i suddenly remembered what it felt like to be her, the overwhelming feeling of not knowing how or who she wanted to love, how she let herself be sucked into a relationship that hurt more than soothed. i could hear her telling me that i would start to make careful choices for myself, that i would begin to love myself, to say yes to the mess and not be afraid to drown in it. she reminded me of how i’d learn to accept the things i cannot control and to change the way i love myself. i loved her for everything she was and the place she’d given me to start from; but i was glad i’d grown out of her, or at least from her.

the biggest question i’ve been asking myself recently is about how art evolves, how the way we grow from sown seeds planted in lives that were fleeting, from friendships that hurt, and from some of our most joyful moments changes the lives we give art. i believe art has an eternal lifespan, that it grows the way the girl standing next to me did. i know the answer to my earlier question about art’s life dying when it is forgotten and obsolete, because there is always going to be someone who remembers it; a grandchild who carries a picture of it with them because it reminds them of their grandmother who passed away the morning of their prom, like the photos of nana she keeps in her freshman dorm room because it feels like continuing to know her. there is art in the way breath dances off of a horse’s muzzle on cold february mornings, in the way strangers spend five of their seven hours on a plane to england talking about art, about hallucinogenic fish in alaska, about the blossoming relationships they’re excited for and scared of, about disappointed love. there is beauty in the friends— new and old— whose conversation transitions seamlessly from pictures of horses with human features to their synchronized love of art, their passion for it. there is beauty in breathing through the annoyance towards the guy on your long flight to england wanting to talk to you about his dissertation on hymnal music coming from hebrew text, and then talking for five hours like you’d known each other your whole lives, in staying in touch for months afterwards through long emails in lieu of the letters that you could not stupidly send between new york and sydney.

i imagine i will look back on who i am today in a year and feel her standing next to me in a café uptown she was twenty minutes late to the forty-five minutes she’d allocated for a first date with someone who made her feel more alive and comfortable than anyone she’d dated since the first time she fell in love when she was sixteen. i imagine she will stand next to me when i give myself space to miss a horse i lost too soon on march 12th of this year, unembarrassed of how much the loss affected me, careless of how other people perceive and judge my loss. i imagine she will stand next to me every time i thank fate that my mom finally listened to her body within hours of dying and gotten herself to the hospital, when i am grateful she went into remission, every time i get to go home and hug her so hard that i don’t even need to tell her how much i love her. i hope the girl i am in four years (or whenever) stands next to me the next year at my wedding, that she stands next to my daughter on her first day of kindergarten, and that who my daughter was on her first day of kindergarten stands next to me as i drop her off at her freshman dorm.

i used to be afraid of living in the mess. that is not to say that i enjoy it—it still sucks. there is nothing fun about crying on your couch, swimming in disappointment, knowing that things would have worked out if it weren’t for timing. there is nothing fun about coming to grips with giving a horse back, how it feels so different to share her, to only ride her three days a week instead of six, how it sometimes takes you twenty minutes to get out of your car at the barn to force yourself to do something you used to need more than breathing, how you still love it that much even though the clouded humidity of depression make it harder to breathe; no matter how lucky you feel to be able to still see her. there is nothing fun about realizing that sometimes you have to drown to remember how to breathe.

my heart has always beaten for art. i don’t want to do anything else— no backups plans, no fall backs, no second choices. living a life with art is incredibly fulfilling, and extremely difficult. in contrast to a, for lack of a better term, “real person job,” being told no on an audition is not your resumé hearing no. a “no” in art is, “you’re not the human being, the heart, the face i want for my project", and hearing that kind of “no” multiple times a week can sometimes feel disheartening.

however, a “no” or a “maybe later” can also light a fire so hot you are almost paralyzed by your passion and love and need for art. i knew in my bones that there was absolutely nothing else i was meant to do when a desperate need to create, to express myself, and to live in the mess was the first thing i wanted to do when i was aching this week. it was a profound feeling, and i suddenly wasn’t so worried about the things i couldn’t control.

i don’t believe in new year’s resolutions. i don’t believe in keeping score, of holding onto things you cannot control and blaming everyone else for your own folly. i believe in a life of wondering, in swimming in the mess, in a life of not giving second chances. i believe in art and love and hurt and hope. i believe in the full life i have ahead of me, and i look forward to meeting all of the women i am growing from.

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a letter to the horse that saved my heart (and yours)

to the horse that saved my heart (or, chanel):

when i saw you first the first time, i immediately knew you had to be mine. i'd never seen a prettier face, and the light in your eyes shined brighter than any other's i'd ever looked into.

when we jumped around for the first time, we didn't miss a single thing-- every jump was smooth, every move up off of my leg was accepted, and for the first time since boo had passed, i felt happy, if even for a moment.

when i found out you were blind in your left eye, and you still jumped around like a pro, i was sure you were special. aside from the occasional scoot away from a shadow or look at a funny jump, you were so brave. you never said no to a chip or ran off with me after a flier. you never held it against me when i pulled up right before a jump, or when i pulled a little too hard out of frustration. you never said no, even when i was asking you to say yes to a terrible decision.

in the weeks following boo's passing, i felt like i was wading in a really shallow pool. as each day passed by, the pool was filling up quicker than i could cry, and eventually i felt myself treading water. all too soon, i was drowning, and my legs grew tired, and fighting the current became harder, and i finally understood what it meant to never see him again. but drowning was not an option.

thank you for giving me something to look forward to on my worst days. thank you for being there when i needed to make mistake after mistake after mistake. thank you for being kind to me at our first show even thought you were on the verge of a panic attack (new places are scary). thank you for not having 'second rider syndrome' when clinicians had to get on you because i just wasn't getting it. thank you for being perfect when mclain got on you and making me look bad. thank you for showing me everything i was doing wrong without being mean. thank you for being a teacher instead of a principle, and thank you for sharing your light with me.

sometimes i feel like going a week or two without riding, because grief weighs heavier with each day that passes. i've begun to truly understand what it means to lose a horse, and to have to go every day without hugging them.

i cry every morning on my way to a show because it's difficult to load a horse onto the trailer other than my golden unicorn. i cry every time i change into my coat and breeches because it's difficult not to put on a number with drambuie's name on the back. i cry every time we walk back to the trailer after a class, because it's difficult to be looking over different ears.

in the midst of it all though, when we're warming up, or on course, or walking out of the ingate to either a smile or a frown from our trainer, i forget all of that. and with each opening circle, i take a deep breath so that you can take a deep breath so that we don't both shut down. and with each approach to each fence, i'm grateful that you're waiting with me. and each moment we're suspended in the air, i swear i'm flying. 

it's difficult to forget the competing i wanted to be doing. without fail, we take home a blue ribbon every week. and that's fun and fine and makes the walls in my apartment look really beautiful. but as i say every sunday when we're schlepping ourselves to some strange town on long island: it's not about the ribbon, it's about the ride. to me, a blue or a red or a brown ribbon just means we showed up in the ring and got around (our first obstacle). and sure, each ribbon holds a different value to me. a yellow ribbon means i rode well but could have been better, a brown ribbon means i have a lot to work on, and a blue ribbon means i rode my best. they are not about how everyone else rode compared to me, or how many points i get with each one. at the end of the day, it's about having fun, riding better than i'd ridden the week before, and enjoying the ride.

accepting stepping down a level was a decision i made because you were waiting for me in the barn, and had come home off of a lease right when i needed you. a friend told me that something as terrible as boo's passing couldn't have happened if there weren't something waiting for me at the end of it, and you were that something. i couldn't stomach sitting on a dozen more horses, so i said no to looking for anyone else. sometimes the right one just falls into your lap, and you'll do whatever they need, even if it means not qualifying for a final or moving up in the eq. sometimes, for the slightest moment, i regret my decision to take on a different kind of horse, one that needed to be taught to slow down (even if we turn and burn sometimes, much to our trainer's disdain). but at the end of the day, when you're sticking your nose out of your stall begging for attention, how could i ever regret you?

i am grateful for a horse with a heart bigger than my grief. i am grateful for a horse who lets me lean my head on her shoulder to cry while she's snacking on hay. i am grateful for a horse who put her heart in mine and accepted mine in return.

i don't know what my life looks like without you, and i know that time will come. but for now, i'm beyond grateful to have a horse that saved my heart, and made breathing a little easier.

thank you. thank you. thank you.

shelby

when you lose your horse too soon and how to cope

there isn’t a gentle way to start this post, so i’m just starting: two weeks ago, my horse passed away.

it was a monday, so the barn was closed until 3 pm. as you can imagine, i was concerned when my phone went off at 6:00 am and the barn owner was calling (for those of you who don’t have a life with horses, that’s never a good thing). she said he had a little tummy ache, and i drove illegally fast the entire way there in my pajamas and whichever coat my fingertips reached first.

i’ll save you the traumatic details of what followed and give you the spark notes instead. all you need to know is nothing that could be done at the barn was helping, so we ran to ruffian (the equine hospital). the last time i saw him, he was being prepped for surgery. all that followed was a lot of phone calls and trips downstairs, where we were told worse and worse news with each visit. eventually, euthanasia was put on the table, and i made a decision without a moment’s hesitation—when euthanasia is an option, there is seldom truly an option.

we left with an empty trailer, empty blankets, an empty halter, and a piece of tail taped at either end. i couldn’t breathe.

i spent the next few days in vancouver on a trip to see my significant other for the last time, with my phone going off every minute with condolence after condolence. that trip was going to be sad anyway and it somehow managed to be more miserable than i could have imagined. i appreciated the love people wanted to share with me immensely and i wouldn’t have gotten through that first week without all of it, but it was a lot to take in during such a short period of time. i managed to sleep more than i knew i could that week (entire days), and eating was very difficult. getting on a plane and going home was the impossible task, and i barely managed it.

when i got back to new york, the world i left behind still existed: everyone still felt sorry for me, my car still smelled like iodine scrub, and my horse was still dead. to add on to all of that, i’d seen someone who i truly believed would be the only person i loved for the rest of my life for the last time, and reality was hitting me like a baseball bat to the face. my aunt tolerated my morbid jokes and sporadic crying, and my parents always answered my phone calls. my friends were supportive of me (each in their own ways), and my boss let me take a week off from work. my significant other was incredibly understanding, and for the first time in my knowing him, he let me call him to cry whenever i wanted to. despite my mourning, though, all i wanted to do was get back on a horse.

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my first day back was overwhelming, as was to be expected. my hands shook the entire drive to the barn, and i thought of a thousand different ways i could say, “please don’t touch me,” without hurting people’s feelings. i knew i had a lot of hugs i couldn’t stand coming my way and wished everyone would kindly leave me alone. i had to give people the rundown of what happened every five minutes, and even people that didn’t come up to me were pitying me from a distance. being the girl with the dead horse really isn’t fun.

fortunately, my first ride back was better than i ever could have wished. i lessoned on tanner, who i’d leased the year prior. i made all of my distances, kept him together, and rode with confidence. it was like we’d never been apart. i finished my last course and cried like a baby, grateful that he was there for me every step of the way, as i knew he would be.

each of my rides thereafter continued to be better and better. i cried every time i got off of a horse for a week, including at a horse show my second day back in the states. getting to the barn got easier and my hands eventually stopped shaking, but it still felt like i was dragging myself there with cinderblocks strapped to my ankles. i weepily banked my horse’s stall and found myself uninterested in my photography; but i was never going to not get through it, because my friends and family were there to catch me every time i felt like i was falling.

when i came home, i was anxious over whether people would judge me when i’d started looking for horses as soon as the plane had touched the ground. i remembered grumblings going on when another girl who boarded with us seasonally had imported a new horse recently after her young mare had foundered, and i became nervous about doing something people disapproved of. i knew, though, that if i took too much time off before looking for something new, i’d never come back strong, and i’d miss my chance at finals. the search began as quickly as i’d asked for it to, and we were in the car looking at a prospective horse two days after i’d gotten home.

my biggest fear coming out of ruffian was that i’d never love riding again. my second biggest fear was how long it’d take me to find something i really loved and could work with.

here’s what you need to know about boo before i go any further: he was perfect. i truly don’t say this because i think all horses are perfect (which they are). boo was my heart horse. he was kind and forgiving and took every joke i threw at him. when i slam chipped a fence or yanked on his mouth by accident (don’t panic—he barely had anything in his mouth), he would canter out without a fuss, like “okay wow mom you really screwed that up but let’s just try it again”. and we did. i would run him through a fence, and we’d try again. i jumped him over a standard and knocked the entire thing over, but he let me try again. i ran him into a wall once, and he walked away from it without a complaint. no matter the task, boo was up for teaching me, no matter what it cost him.

he was the cuddliest bear in the barn, and kisses were never far from you. he was gentle with children and loved dogs. he groomed my favorite pony and loved nuzzling the top of my head. he was generally kind to the horses and people around him, and he slowly became the most social horse in the barn. his face was always hanging out of his stall, looking for his next kiss victim. he let me take thousands of pictures of him and even let me put a hat on him. he stood for my graduation photos, and tolerated a tassel flying in his face. on my best days, he stuck his nose on mine and gave me kisses, and on my worst days, he hung his head on my chest and let me breathe through whatever i was dealing with. he was my best friend and my teammate.

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no one prepares you for when your horse dies, and there is no clear-cut program to making yourself feel better. i always knew death would be a part of my life with horses, but it was never supposed to happen this soon. i saw too much too soon and did more paperwork for vets and insurance companies by the end of my two months with him than most people deal with by their third horse. i had to balance crying when i couldn’t help it with being on the phone every day to answer detailed questions about his passing for half a dozen different people. my life was never supposed to go this way, and my biggest task became learning how to cope when everything felt broken, when giving up felt like a viable option.

what i’ve learned from all of this was there is no correct way to come back from a traumatic loss. i also finally learned the value of being able to ask for time away from my obligations (i.e. getting a week off from work or getting and extension on school assignments). i also learned that not everyone needs to know what you’re going through (sorry to the man i yelled at when he tried to get me to smile… but also please don’t ask me to smile for you?!).

mourning comes in waves, and i know that two weeks out i’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg. i think i’m through the roller coaster of sadness and anger, and through wanting it to be the only thing i talked about with people. i don’t cry unexpectedly anymore, but i still cry (a lot). i think i’m starting to feel okay enough to get through the day without feeling like i’m forcing myself out of the house anymore. i think i’ve found a new horse i love, one who will make me feel proud to be her teammate and companion.

so what have i learned? well, i’ve learned that life is really unfair no matter how much goodness and love you try to put into the universe. i’ve learned that no matter how many times you pick your horse’s feet or how long you spend poulticing and wrapping their legs, an anatomical error cannot be beat, and death is stronger than any fly spray you own. i've learned to be okay with anger, and cry when i need to. i’ve learned that people will feel sorry for you for a long time, but that they will also feel really happy for you when you learn to rediscover the love that brought you to horses in the first place. i’ve learned that people will wrong you no matter how much you’re enduring, and sometimes your horse dying can’t change how selfish and inconsiderate people are. i’ve learned that your significant other will do things out of loneliness right when you leave that will destroy every fiber of your soul, and that it doesn’t matter that your horse died to them, because your trauma doesn’t keep other people from acting out of their own selfishness. i’ve learned that despite being disappointed in people i thought i loved, i have an incredible support system, and that no matter how lonely i may feel, i will never be without love.

so when you lose your horse and you don’t know how to cope, start with breathing it in, and then take it one day at a time. i’ve learned to choose kindness, and to apologize when i slip up and act out of anger. i’ve learned to do things in my own time. i’ve learned the true value of getting back on the horse. i've learned to keep my favorite book, to kill a mockingbird, in my bag at all times, because there isn't a frown that scout finch can't lighten into a chuckle. i’ve learned that sufjan stevens only works for me when i’m at my worst, and i couldn’t be more grateful. i've learned to write, and write a lot.

you will falter and fall down a dozen times for every step you take forward, but the weight of mourning will only crush you enough to keep you in bed with the lights turned off for a while. it won’t kill you, and things do start to go your way eventually.

now playing: 'louise' by big brutus

 
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oxford: parting is such sweet sorrow

our revels now are ended. these our actors,
as i foretold you, were all spirits and
are melted into air, into thin air:
and, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
the cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
the solemn temples, the great globe itself,
yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
and, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
leave not a rack behind. we are such stuff
as dreams are made on, and our little life
is rounded with a sleep.
— shakespeare, the tempest
my favorite girls

my favorite girls

do you ever use a quote on an earlier post that you later realized is perfect for your farewell post? and regret it immensely? so you quote the play you kept quoting all summer because it's brilliant and you've wanted to work on it for months? me too.

*this post is really honest*

i left bada five days ago, and it feels like i never went in the first place. from the drive home from the airport, i felt like i'd never left new york-- everything was so familiar, and nothing felt different. i'm definitely not the same person i was when i left, but i wasn't reborn or anything profound like that. i wasn't expecting to be, but i didn't feel terribly new in my skin.

i can tell you one thing has changed-- my tolerance. for my friends, for the way i'm treated, and for the people i work with, whether i chose them or not. the longer i was in oxford, the shorter my patience became with people from back home became. i can't tell if this is because long distance makes me so anxious that i lash out at my close relationships, or because i was shown vast amounts of love that validated that i am worth more than i often give myself credit for. now that's not to say that i'm some goddess that needs to be put up on this pedestal-- because, trust me, i know that i am not-- but i came back with the clearest intentions to cleanse my life of people that made me feel like less of a person than i should ever feel.

fab group

fab group

i often stayed up late making big plans: plans to cut so-and-so out of my life, plans to call so-and-so up and tell them that i wanted or needed more from them, plans to produce this-and-that. in hindsight, 85% of these big plans were far fetched, and should definitely never be carried out. bad ideas, truly. however, 15% of the plans made sense, and still do.

times are a'changin', kids.

okay. bada.

i left england certain that i know more than i give myself credit for, but i also really don't know much. about shakespeare, about theatre, and about people/life in general.

i've always known how sheltered my life has been. i've always been conscious of my privilege. i've always been conscious of prejudice and sexism in the world. however, i can honestly say that i've never been exposed to it in my everyday life, though.

my parents are the best

my parents are the best

i grew up in miami, and then i went to nyu. now that's not to say that being the good wife who cooks and raises the kids isn't the unsaid rule of the city i grew up in, but i went to an all-girls school that promoted independence and dedicated our senior year to feminist literature. so the cooking and cleaning definitely wasn't left to me. (do i even need to tell you how liberal nyu is?)

*mom and dad, this will probably make you uncomfortable*

while in england, i was disrespected intimately, told off for believing in my rights, and grabbed when i didn't want to be. i don't need to spend much time on my disappointing hook up, or on being pinned against a wall because a drunk man needed to explain something to me. unfortunately, most women i know all have stories like mine.

i will, however, talk about being reprimanded for (this is not an exaggeration) 25 minutes by a guy who was upset that i defended myself when one of my classmates tried to shut me down. i was reprimanded for using buzz words in response to my sexuality being attacked. i was reprimanded for sarcastically using "cis-gendered male" as a retort to my classmate telling me to "stop caking all of that bronzing shit" on my face. i was reprimanded because, "he's from the midwest, so if he doesn't believe in abortion rights, then we have to cut him a break". and all i could get out in those 25 minutes was the word "no" in response to "do you have a problem with me being cis-gender?".

i could go on, and on, and on about this. but i don't care to. i think i've made my point. i've already spent hours writing about it. i've already spent hours not sleeping because i was buzzing with anger, both at him and at myself for only being able to say "no" in response to "do you have a problem with me being cis-gender?" because i don't deal with being reprimanded very well.

i was really excited to come back to liberal-minded new york, to say the least.

my last week in oxford was somewhere between euphoric and chaotic. i was at my wits end with a lot of people. i have very little patience for complaining and unprofessionalism (do you really need to get up to go to the bathroom right now while your classmates are working?). i never understand why actors in school complain so much about being actors, or about being in acting school-- if you really hate it, why are you here? you have the choice to leave. no one is making you become an actor. i promise your parents would prefer that you became a doctor or a lawyer or something that will pay your bills.

but anyway. i digress.

shopping during the last week of school was so much fun. i found a new brand that i love (jack wills!!!!), and i got an adorable dress at topshop that makes me feel like a flower sprite. i also had fudge for the first time in my life from fudge kitchen, and it was unbelievable. i finally stopped eating at the dining hall, because it was seriously messing with my digestive system, and i got a good dinner with my parents, cousin, and granny when they came into town for my share day.

my last lesson at old manor was kind of all over the place. i felt scrambled, and i wasn't sure where my brain went. i started spiraling at the beginning of my lesson, and i never picked myself back up. we had to end the lesson on a low course with one big jump at the end. i think i spent too much time chasing heights in the lesson, and rushing to putting the jumps up higher and higher, and not enough time thinking about me and my horse. but i learned my lesson and i'm trying to keep staying patient and humble. i'm definitely not looking forward to keeping the jumps low back in the states, but i am looking forward to seeing tanner.

share day went fairly well, though not without its hiccups.

jack wills is bae

jack wills is bae

the tempest was such a joy to perform, and although i didn't get where i wanted to with it in the two weeks we had to work on it, i still felt good walking away from it. the deep blue sea also went well, despite someone opening the door in the middle of my scene and hitting it against me to get in the room twice before almost knocking me to the ground. i wish my scene partner hadn't needed so much prompting during my second scene, and i wish i hadn't rushed into my first scene. but it wasn't a show. it was an open rehearsal, and a learning experience.

it was strange to come home and feel like i never left, because oxford was the cleansing experience and wakeup call i needed. i still get scared of playing roles that i think are perfect, and i'm still not scared of auditioning. i need to keep reminding myself that no matter how much research or table work i do on a role, no matter how many lines i can quote or relevant facts i can spit out, i can't act how knowledgable i am. i still have plenty of blocks, but i've also learned how to be much more open than i ever was at atlantic. i've learned to share all of my parts-- good and bad-- with the people who want to share them with me, because the bad stuff doesn't scare away the good ones, only the ones who needed to be scared away in the first place.

rupi kaur, milk and honey

rupi kaur, milk and honey

more than anything, though, my best moments at oxford came when i watched people learn and grow. nothing beats the feeling of watching someone to care so deeply about fail, and fail, and fail... and then succeed. nothing beats watching the quietest girls you sit with at dinner roar with a fire unimaginable when they step on stage. nothing beats watching your favorite people play kate, lady ann, lady percy, beatrice, benedick, macbeth, constance, or macbeth. there is no greater joy in the world than being able to give your attention and life to someone for their brief moments on stage, while they throw their hearts over the fence and jump over it to the other side, where they have no idea what they're going to encounter.

this career-- this craft-- takes heart. it takes grit and bravery. it takes stamina and a willingness to give everything you have for as long as it takes to tell the story.

mom and dad-- thank you so much for trusting me to go away and work my butt off in another country. thank you for sending me abroad for the second time. thank you for always believing in my passions, and supporting me in everything i love. thank you for always letting me go where i want, and trusting me to be an adult. thank you, thank you, thank you for letting me be an actor.

thank you to my company. thank you bada. thank you midsummer.

i had to write a farewell speech, and i didn't know how to, so i wrote a song instead.

sonnet 87

oxford: it's 5:36 am right now and i have not slept yet

we are such stuff
as dreams are made on, and our little life
is rounded with a sleep.
— shakespeare, the tempest

mom, i promise i haven't been doing this every night. it's just, tonight, i couldn't sleep.

i was all set to tuck myself into bed at 8:30 pm, but then i started watching a movie, and then at 10:45 pm i desperately needed to go for a run, and then i kept running into my friends on the streets (who were all going out to or coming home from a night out), and then i ran for 45 minutes, and then i decided to hang out with a friend (whom i'd been too busy for earlier because i was apparently going to sleep), and then i called mike, and then mike called me, and then i talked to tori.

and now it's 5:40 am.

and the sun is coming up.

and it's really cold outside.

and i'm sitting on a damp bench next to the deer park. which is literally a park filled with deer.

but i have my pink sweater and a red rain coat and i kind of feel like paddington bear, except his coat is navy.

i wrote in my last post extensively about how i wasn't missing all of the places i missed my friends from. but then yesterday, i started to miss home quite terribly. each one of my homes. (i have many)

i've often been impatient this week, and i can't tell if its because the food at the dining hall is still terrible and i am still only eating tomatoes and potatoes and i am dizzy because of it, or because i genuinely miss being home.

isn't there something said about how quickly the romantic feeling in a relationship wears off determines the quality and longevity of the relationship? maybe not officially, but it's definitely something people panic about. like, if you have your first fight within the first month of your relationship, or something, then it's not going to last?

i don't think england and i have had our first fight, but i think my need for the comfort of home is greater than my need for romance. i think i ran away from home too quickly to this program, and i put a lot of pressure on it to heal something that cannot be healed by escape alone. escape is a fair prescription when the illness is a rough week, or a bad business call. but i think whatever i'm trying to fix i much larger than that (and i know it is).

*mom and dad-- i'm fine. i'm just musing.**

being 21 is very strange, because it's a romantic age that has a lot of pressure put onto it. i'm on the cusp of coming from being naively young, to just being young. i'm supposed to be an adult and manage myself, but my dad still pays my rent and helps me when i need it. i don't think i should ever feel that i need to be without my parents-- because i definitely never will be able too-- but i do know there comes a time when calling them too much for the wrong reasons is frowned upon, even if my dad never gets sick of the sound of my voice.

i want so much to be my own adult, and pay my own bills, and buy my own horse, and do everything for myself. howver, this program has taught me one big thing: i know very little.

i don't panic about auditioning and getting jobs and supporting myself, because i know i can do all of those things.

i will have the career i want to have, because i have no option but to; if i don't, all of this will have been for naught, and i'm not one to waste time. the aesthetic of my headshot and the expansiveness of my resumé are the least of my worries when i walk into an audition, because if that's when i'm most concerned about in that moment, then i shouldn't be auditioning in the first place.

my shakespeare teacher-- who is one of the wisest, most empowering women i know-- told us this week: when you say yes to a character, you birth yourself into the part; you automatically become enough for it.

my biggest fear is not getting the part, but being enough for it once it's given to me. i'm working on miranda from the tempest right now, and i constantly do not feel substantial enough for her. when i was assigned the scene, i was filled to the brim with joy-- my cup was overflowing. i attacked the scene, full force.

but, miranda is perfect. she's wild, and curious, and simply complex. she has a life inside of her that burns so bright, that you cannot help but fall in love with her. she hasn't touched anything bad in the world, because she's been hidden from it, like a treasure, her whole conscious life. she's uninhibited in everything, and scared of nothing. she doesn't know what a miracle she is. she doesn't understand other people, because she has only ever truly known herself.

that's terrifying.

i'm not too smart to play her, but i know too much to understand her. poetry spouts out of her, because she speaks from her heart. i don't understand what that feels like.

i wish i did. 

it's 5:59 am.

this is an abrupt ending.

it's cold outside (51 degrees) and i'm starting to feel tired.

the porter was out, bright and early, smoking a cigarette. i told him before he could even ask that i was up so early to write, and not because i was doing the walk of shame.

the bells are starting to go off, so i think i'd better sign off.

6:12 am.

cheers

now playing: 'sigh no more' by mumford and sons