Growing up on Long Island, I used to go with my mom to Mary and Lil's Corsetieres in Woodbury to get fitted for custom bras. The frequency with which I'd go to Mary and Lil's was about the same as my combined doctor/dental visits for the year and I looked forward to the experience with about the same amount of positive anticipation. Picture a bunch of mostly middle-aged Long Island women (at least half were overweight if not obese) waiting in a small sitting area that was adjacent to the "dressing rooms" which were really just partitioned sections of the store set off with curtains. Kids and teens like myself who were there for their custom fit bras looked like they were waiting outside the principle's office, guilty of something but not sure what and reluctant to own it. 4-5 seamstresses would buzz around with bras and tape measurers strewn across their necks and arms, going in and out of the dressing areas with the drama of actresses making their entrance -- swoosh! -- and you can overhear each conversation between customer and seamstress where the former is beyond stressed out and the latter is trying to comfort her with endless bra options and an assuring voice. Well, you're a 38 E but these run really small...
I ended up there because in my teens I was about a 34-36 D and even as I was very athletic and muscular, I always had a large chest and the custom sports and regular bras actually were much better for me than anything I can find on my own at Macy's. The answer to my needs was a bra, let's call it a bra genre, The Minimizer. Aptly named, a minimizer shrinks the bust about a size and is the antithesis to any kind of Victoria's Secret inspired piece of lingerie which lets a woman pour out of her cups like the tide coming in. I was pretty messed up in the head about it all and felt 'going custom' meant I was too fat for the regular styles but in actuality I wasn't fat, just full chested, something which never diminishes for me unless my weight plunges to unhealthy, low numbers.
I mention this for two reasons. The first is because the monologue I performed last night at a staged reading of the new play Ideal Beauty by Danielle Sonnenberg (it went really well, YES!) is the story of a woman who grew up feeling pressured by her mother to "show off her best assets" and wear the kinds of clothing that drew attention to her body. After an experience as a teenager during which a construction worker took her in while she was laying out in her backyard pool on her back (this being the first time a stranger, a man, stared directly at her chest) she became extremely uncomfortable with her body and drawing any attention to it at all. So, she grew to hide her body from people and settle into a non fashion statement identity of baggy clothing and comfort. Fine for her -- she didn't care to lead with her looks AT ALL -- but also not fine because it was a layer of defense under which existed a great deal of self-hatred about her looks. She never felt beautiful. She just didn't see it in herself.
The second reason I thought of The Minimizer this early morning is because of the interesting tension I am feeling with respect to this acting accomplishment. On the one hand, and for reasons I can't fully describe, it felt like a BIG accomplishment and I feel very, very proud of myself. I am only 3 months since my surgery and my energy, full health and strength is still coming back in my ankle and the rest of me, I haven't worked on a piece in months, we didn't have much rehearsal time but I put in a lot of work on my own, the piece was one I really connected to and I feel I made the emotional investment, I was working with professionals and there were about 40-50 people who showed up to watch up last night. Yay, yay, YAY.
Then, on the other hand, I hear this voice that is just minimizing it all. It wasn't a big deal, just a staged reading, only 5 minutes, not paid work, an easy monologue to perform, you didn't have to get off book entirely, it should feel easy by now and it doesn't, blah blah blah. Maybe I am trying minimize this whole acting thing -- when I was out with family and friends at the diner after the show and watching the 33rd and final Chilean miner get rescued, what I just did felt like a pebble next to a boulder. Try living 2000 feet underground for a few weeks! My gosh. But, you can't do that, it's not a fair comparison. Anyway, the true way I felt, or, how I feel about this Whole Acting Thing is that it is one of the coolest fucking things out there in this world to do and I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT and I absolutely find it one of the hardest things to do, still, even after doing it 10 years. I don't want to admit and wish weren't the case, but it is. It's like hitting notes with an awareness of pitch, sound, tone, length -- I feel like when I act I just want to strike it PERFECT even as there's no such thing. I can get so neurotic that it makes me want to freeze up but then I keep going and things break and shift. I know that I have a drive to act with brilliance and excellence. It is what I deeply desire and I have every intention to keep doing it and reaching the pinnacle of my potential.
Speaking of which, I'm going to take intenSati now, put in a full day of work, take a voice lesson later, and come home to crash and SLEEP. It's going to be an amazing day.
I think what I most want to Minimize for us this morning is any negativity, self doubt or criticism. I'm not about boasting all over the place but if you're going to pump up the volume metaphorically, then Maximize on who you are and what you love to do, right? AH, yes indeedy, in the words of J LO "You gotta do it, you gotta do it your way! You gotta prove it, you've got to mean what you say! Let's get loud!!"