To My Theater Peers

My Fellow Theater Professionals,

I have seen a lot of justified outrage and frustration following the “revelations” in The Hollywood Reporter regarding Scott Rudin. Your anger is righteous. We all have the right to safe workplace. Moving forward, I know it’s important to many of us that major changes are made.

I know that there are some who are relieved that this information is being brought to light (again), and hopefully that it adds tinder to a fire that is already burning. There are those of us who have been rumbling about these kinds of problems in our industry for years. Despite how much we love what we do, we have to admit that show business has been a boy’s club since the beginning. How many of us have put up with bullying directors in order to keep our jobs? How many of us have endured blatant misogyny and/or racism, homophobia, transphobia, queerphobia, from every aspect of our industry? From agents’ offices, to casting notices, to casting rooms, to negotiations, to rehearsal halls, to the stage, to reviews, and awards committees.

Ultimately our industry is no different than any other industry. Theater professionals rely on the people with money for their employ, just like everyone else. Most of us do not have the privilege to turn down work, or call out problematic behavior, because we need to keep rooves over our heads, and food in our family’s mouths. Those of us who have called out certain people in power have generally been met with silence from our peers and consequences to our careers.

While it’s true that there are some A-list actors who have remained silent on this issue, I want us all to pause and consider that those actors represent hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs. If the star of an up-coming revival (of a show that, let’s face it, no one REALLY needs to see again, and probably wouldn’t even go without a huge star attached) comes out in “solidarity” with the theater community, they risk closing a show that employs hundreds of people. Sure, Hugh Jackman probably doesn’t need the Equity weeks. But his stand-in probably does. His dresser probably does. The entire ensemble probably does.

Yes, we have known for years that Scott Rudin is (usually) terrible to work for. It’s not a secret. We know that there are quite a few directors who are abusive. That’s not a secret. But we have rents, and families, and bills. Acting work is always uncertain. Most of us can not afford to turn down a job because the boss is terrible. And these men on the top are the ones who employ us. Calling them out or refusing to work with them harms us.

And yes, I know that this seems like a selfish way to live, allowing the abuse to continue in order to survive. But that’s the way our system is designed. Pointing the finger at your peers, rather than at the ones perpetuating the abuse feeds into it perfectly. If we want to enact real change, we must turn our gaze from our peers to those in power.

I know that this statement will land me in hot water, but my ship has mostly sailed on that front. I didn’t do myself much good when I called Ben Brantley out for perpetuating rape culture and misogynistic, tired tropes about women. But I have the privilege (or naivete) to not care anymore. I can afford (at least for now) to alienate myself from those who have the power to hire me. Most of my peers do not, and I would never presume to blame them for keeping their heads down and keeping their jobs. There is no shame in saving your job. I would hope that those same peers are doing something to combat the toxic culture we live in, however quietly or privately they may do it. But expecting them to put themselves on the line because “David and Goliath” or whatever is unfair, unrealistic, and myopic.

It bears remembering as well, people have been speaking truth to power for decades without seeing much change. When someone’s abuse is made public and they are allowed to continue abusing by the powers that be, it’s easy to feel like speaking up won’t make a difference anyway.

What I want us to remember is that we are on each other’s team. Turning around and pointing the finger at other theater professionals for their lack of public outrage is exactly what the people at the top want us to do. It is no different than being angry at fast-food workers for demanding a living wage. Or being angry at sex-workers for providing a service. The fast-food worker is not the problem. The sex-worker is not the problem. Your fellow theater professionals are not the problem. Demanding that working professionals put their jobs, security, and health on the line because the culture at the top is toxic is not helping our cause. Blaming actors for being “complicit” is complicity. You are giving a pass to the people who actually make the decisions and directing your ire at the ones who need to work.

Our anger is justified. But is better directed at our union for allowing this culture to continue and not putting the proper measures in place to protect us. Or at theater owners for working with producers they know are abusive. Or at producers who insist on hiring directors with reputations for screaming at their actors. And it doesn’t need to be expressed publicly. Change can be affected in many different ways. It does not need to be tweeted to be valid.

We are all doing the best we can within a system that was designed to keep us down. Our industry is in desperate need of major change. Let’s keep our attention on the ones at the top and away from each other. We can start by lifting each other up.

In Solidarity,

Daisy Eagan

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A Piece I Wrote for/and Got Rejected by Modern Love

“Didn’t you used to be gay?” a reporter from The Observer asked me when she interviewed me for my wedding announcement in 2003.  We had run in overlapping circles in New York City in the 90s. The interview hadn’t actually started, and I assumed we were off-the-record. I told her I had had a girlfriend when I was 14. She wrote in my wedding announcement that I had had a “flirtation with lesbianism.” I had not come out to my very religious (and homophobic) future in-laws. I was mortified.

In truth, I’ve since realized, I had not come out to myself. 

Even, at 12-years-old, as I privately began experimenting with thinking of myself as queer, wondering about it in my diary, or with close friends who were also future queers, I couldn’t see myself publicly embracing the label of bisexual or lesbian. To make matters more complicated, my mother was dying of cancer. My struggles with sexuality were not a priority. 

Her name was Sierra. The girl I dated when I was 14. She had red hair down to her waist. I don’t think we ever did much more than hold hands. I broke up with her because I was worried what being out would do to my acting career. I’d been working since I was nine years old, and had won a Tony Award at 11. And while the musical theater community embraced gay men, I couldn’t point to a single out gay woman in musical theater. 

I hardly even knew of any out women in the wider culture or my own personal world. It was still four years before Ellen DeGeneres came out (after which ABC canceled her show). The lesbians I did know were either the members of the small theater company the Five Lesbian Brothers or Dykes on Bikes, and they weren’t exactly considered mainstream. I was equally fascinated by and terrified of them. To be an out lesbian in the early 90s meant being counter-culture, punk, or butch. To be an actor in the early 90s meant being a blank enough slate to fit as many kinds of characters as possible. There was no room for counter-culture or butch in my industry yet. We were still a few years off from John Cameron Mitchell’s boundary-pushing Hedwig and the Angry Inch. I couldn’t be a lesbian.

And forget bisexuality. Sure, I had heard of it, but… no one actually was bi. Not in my world.

Bi-erasure is insidious. Straight people often assume “bisexual” is code for “promiscuous” and that it’s just a phase. At times even members of the LGBTQIA+ community also tend to dismiss bisexuality (even though it’s literally a part of the acronym) either overtly or by ignoring it. When Cynthia Nixon ran for governor of New York, she was almost exclusively referred to as a lesbian, even though she identifies as bisexual. Even some bisexuals erase their own bisexuality, convincing themselves they are actually either gay or straight depending on who their current partner is. 

Bi-erasure is so insidious that I erased that part of myself, only allowing myself brief dalliances while away at college (and enduring “friendly” comments that I was a “L.U.G.”). I got married way too young, to a man, and forgot my queerness so much that I was horrified when a friend of mine said “vagina” out loud. 

Until my late-30s I almost exclusively dated men (for myriad reasons, most of which were not necessarily healthy or good for me). When I was 29, I met a guy named Kurt and we began dating. Neither of us were particularly healthy. Our relationship was held together with alcohol and cigarettes. We had already broken up when I found out I was more than 10 weeks pregnant. Despite neither of us wanting kids, we decided to have our son, Monty, and got back together. We made it another three years before breaking up again. It turned out having a child together was not a magic elixir to fix the problems within ourselves and our relationship. 

Less than a year after we’d split up, I fell in love with a woman. I felt beautiful in a way I hadn’t before. I felt authentic. I was drawn to her every curve. Her body was exciting. I actually wanted to look at her naked form, as opposed to every man I had ever been with whose body I saw as an impediment to basic attraction. Sex with her was deeply personal and political all at once. I was 100% certain that I was done with men. The thought of being with a man again was unfathomable. 

When I finally came out publicly, no one was really surprised. I guess I hadn’t been hiding my queerness as well as I thought after all.

The relationship was fraught and short-lived. But it was the final piece in the puzzle of my sexuality. My commitment to myself as an out and proud queer person was solid. In 2018, I was in a queer, polyamorous relationship. A friend joked that I had gone from “kind of Bi to full on Queer poly in under six months.” I was making up for lost time.

Once I felt my sexuality was sorted out, I began a journey with my gender-identity. I had always considered myself a tomboy. When I was young, I never felt I fit in with the other girls. I didn’t have much interest in fitting in with the boys either. As I got older, I began to feel less and less comfortable presenting in typically feminine ways. I always felt awkward in skirts. Most of the time I felt like a linebacker in a tutu. Long hair was always something I kept for career purposes. But I hated it. I hated dealing with it. I hated the way it felt on my neck. I hated how it made my face look. So, I cut my hair short and threw away all my skirts—I finally allowed myself to embrace what made me feel most attractive, no longer focused on the fear of what people would assume they knew about me because of it and what that would mean for my career. At close to 40, I finally decided that if I couldn’t be authentically myself, I would never truly be happy, or bring authenticity to my work. I was almost immediately rewarded with a job on a TV show. 

In an article in Teen Vogue, I learned the term “non-binary female.” Finally I found a gender label that spoke to my experience. Definitely not male, but not entirely female.  

Kurt and I, having been split up for three years, moved in together so we could both be in our son’s life. We weren’t a couple, but the three of us lived in a tiny two bedroom in Brooklyn. As Kurt and I co-parented, we found we liked each other a lot more than we had before we split up. He’d begun the lifelong task of putting down the drink and facing his alcoholism head-on. He was grieving the loss of his father. He had access to feelings he had previously been dampening. Our separate journeys had led us to adjacent roads leading toward similar goals. 

I watched Kurt make his way through an unfamiliar city which he loathed (Sorry, NYC), make it home from work each night in time to watch the end of Monty’s karate lessons, and spend countless hours pushing Monty on the swings on weekends. He made me laugh like no one else, his sense of humor sharpened without the blur of alcohol on top of it. And he was talking about his feelings for the first time in the 10 years I had known him.

I think we both found, walking our individual paths, side by side, a respect and admiration for each other that hadn’t been there before. It helped that the shroud of cigarettes and alcohol had been lifted. And one day, quite surprisingly, I looked over at him and thought, “I love that man.” That night, I reached across the divide and took his hand and have not let go.

At 12:45pm Wednesday, May 6th, after 11 years together, more or less, during a pandemic that had shut down all the local court houses, Kurt and I stood in the Honda Center parking lot in Anaheim waiting for a man from the County Clerk’s office to cue our vows from behind bullet-proof glass. Our seven-year-old son stood between us. 

Behind face masks I had sewn myself, we vowed to love and protect each other. In sickness and in health. In prosperous and lean times. To honor and cherish each other ‘til death do us part. 

Our witness, my sister, was there for all the ups and downs of our relationship. Through the first break-up, the unplanned pregnancy, our move from Los Angeles to New York in 2015, our break up in 2016, our reconciliation, and our move back to Los Angeles last year. She had been my maid-of-honor at my first wedding 17 years ago and regretted not talking me out of that one. This time, she gave me a safe-word. “We can still get to Mexico,” she whispered as we approached the altar in the parking lot. “Got it,” I laughed. I knew I wouldn’t be needing the out.

After decades of denying who I was, I had made a choice borne of authenticity. We both found ourselves, and loved each other for who we were and who we will become.

On the evening of my 40th birthday, as Kurt and I walked down the street, hand-in-hand, I asked him if he was ever embarrassed to be affectionate with me in public.

“Why in the world would I be embarrassed?” he asked.

“Because I look…very gay. And I’m not exactly, you know, female.”

He laughed and reached into his pocket.

“I was going to give this to you at dinner,” he said, slipping something into my hand.

It was a refrigerator magnet that read “Just be you.”

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Very Exciting Announcement Coming Soon!

Friends! I know it’s been radio silence from me since August of the year which shall not be named. August just happened to coincide with full-time home-schooling starting AND the beginning of a new project that has required pretty much all of my free time (of which I have very little).

For those of you who have been anxiously biting their nails down to the quick, awaiting a new BRILLIANT missive from me, your wait is ALMOST over, though the medium through which you’ll be getting my writing will be different…

More info coming in the next couple weeks, I PROMISE.

Also, I KNOW my website needs to be redone. Honestly? Every time I sit down to work on it, I get overwhelmed and desperately need a nap.

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To Baby or Not to Baby

About a year and a half ago I thought I was pregnant again for about as long as it took me to walk to the drugstore and back and take an at-home pregnancy. I cried out, “Oh, god!” and Kurt, waiting on the other side of the bathroom door yelled, “What?!” I got my period WHILE peeing on the stick. Kurt let out the breath he had been holding for about an hour, and said, “I would do it all again with you, but you have more important things to do right now.”

When Monty was just over a year old, I got pregnant again. We were broke and I had experienced a massive hormonal crash when Monty was about five-months-old that almost sent me into in-patient mental health treatment. I felt overwhelmed and ill-equipped to parent the child I had. Bringing another one into the world at that time felt like the wrong thing to do. So, I had an abortion. It was the right choice for myself and my family at the time.

(Please don’t bother posting any comments or contacting me regarding your own political or social beliefs about abortion. I firmly believe that abortion is a fundamental right and is part of healthcare. Humans have been doing it since the dawn of time. We should all be able to make decisions about our own bodies and lives without someone else interfering. It’s not going to change my mind. Calling me a “murderer” is a) false and b) pointless. Go write it in your journal. Or blog about it. I don’t care. Nothing you say to me will change my opinion. Thanks. Also? Your republican “leaders” honestly don’t give a shit about abortion. They just know that misinformed people will vote for them if they claim to be anti-abortion.)

I wrote in my last blog about how hard I had been working to rebuild my acting career in the last five years. Having a baby when I did stalled the progress I had been making. I was making up for many years of disappointing results in my efforts to rebuild my career. But over the last year, every few months, I have desperately wanted to have another baby. Whenever it happens, I wait it out and talk myself out of it. A couple months go by, and I find myself again, with a deep longing to get pregnant again.

But this time it dawned on me that I might be robbing myself of something I truly want, and I’m not entirely sure why. What if I keep talking myself out of having another child, and then I hit menopause and I live the rest of my life with regret? And what if this is the best time to do it?

A vaccine won’t be available for another year to year-and-a-half at best. So, we’re going to be stuck at home anyway. My focus has been shifting to writing, which doesn’t require anything of my physical appearance. I understand things about baby-rearing that I didn’t when I had Monty. And look at Monty. He’s terrific! And he’s been saying how lonely he is lately. I know a baby isn’t a great playmate, but it’s better than nothing. Plus, he would be a great big brother. I have so many friends with babies, that I could probably get nearly everything I need handed down to me. I see photos of successful women I admire, nursing their babies while getting shit done and I’m like, I can DO that.

On the other hand. I’m going to be 41 in a few months. Kurt is 52. I suffer from depression and anxiety and take life-saving meds for it. I don’t know what would happen if I had to go off my meds, but history has shown that to be dangerous for me. I sometimes feel like I have no time for myself and have spent a good portion of my life extremely tired. Will I feel completely frazzled and exhausted with a baby? What if it’s sick? Not to mention this country is an absolute dumpster fire and I’m not sure if it will get any better. Or if it is going to get better, I worry that it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better. What if we have to flee? What if the country plummets into utter chaos? What if there are massive food shortages? What if I have a girl and I have to spend the rest of my life worried about her sexual and physical safety?

But I find myself spending a lot of time thinking about what it might be like to raise a gender-neutral kid. What names would I pick? How much energy would I be spending on explaining and defending my choices to people who have no business asking in the first place? When would they know their gender? I think about what I would do differently. I think about what personality traits I would hope for. I think about how it would affect Monty’s life for better or for worse.

I’ve always said that I don’t trust people who make declarative statements about themselves. Unless they add “for now” to them. And I have publicly voiced my frustration with overpopulation and with people having multiple children when there are so many children already born in need of a good home. And I think mainly I’ve learned that it’s none of my business. Just as I would never question a woman’s decision to have an abortion, I should never question her decision to have a baby. It is such a personal and private thing. And life is twisty. And people have been having babies for as long as people have been people. In all kinds of conditions, for all kinds of reasons, in all kinds of circumstances. Mine are not unique or rare.

Maybe I’ll wait until after election day…

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Here We Are.

A couple of you reached out to me after my recent post about depression. You expressed gratitude that I shared my experience so openly, and said it helped you reach out for your own help. I can’t begin to express how deeply that touched me and how grateful I am to you for letting me know. The sole reason I share my struggles is to normalize them and to help others feel less alone.

So, thank you.

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When I was younger and feeling as though my career was stalled, I came to believe that I would be one of those actors who don’t really get going until their 40s. I thought at 40 I might actually start looking like an adult, and be able to dig in to some meaty roles. Book a big TV series, and then make a huge comeback on Broadway. Except for the three plus year break I took in my mid-twenties, I mostly kept my head down and kept pushing against the wind, thinking if I could just hang in until 40, it would all pay off.

I have looked back at my career (through the lens of depression) and felt largely like a failure. But recently I had the pleasure of being a guest on Marc Tumminelli’s Podcast “Little Me” and in his intro he listed many of my credits, and I was blown away by how much I had worked in my life. I have always thought of success as “not ever being unemployed” because that’s what the first handful of years looked like for me. So, to have stumbled along in my late teens through my thirties, with jobs scattered about here and there, I came to see myself as “not successful.” But hearing my credits listed was truly eye-opening. I realized how very much I have worked, and how very lucky I have been to have gone long stretches where I have only had to support myself financially with my art (and thank goodness, because I still haven’t figured out how to do it any other way…).

Still, I believed my 40s would be the start of my “real success” as an actor.

In the year leading up to my 40th birthday, I booked the longest TV gig I had ever had. I hired a spiffy new management team. I got my teeth fixed (again) and paid a very fancy publicist a lot of money (for me), to hype me and get the ball rolling into my 40th year. 40 was going to be my year.

Then my TV job went away. But no worries! Pilot season was coming up, and I had a great packet to send out with a reel and lots of shiny interviews and fancy photos. I spent the day of my 40th birthday flying to NYC for a last-minute callback for a Broadway show. My first audition for Broadway in… I can’t even remember the last one. Mama Mia? A long time. I got far enough along in the process that we were waiting to hear if I had booked the job. I hadn’t.

And then, the world stopped.

My industry shut down. The avalanche of momentum I had been building came to an almost dead stop. Overnight I became a fulltime stay-at-home parent and First Grade homeschool teacher, two things, I can assure you were never on my vision board.

I spent the better part of twenty years believing that 40 would be the year my career really took off. I spent the better part of the last ten years working toward that goal. I spent the better part of the last three years lining my ducks up just so; doing everything I could do to set myself up for success. And then “god” came in and said, “Nope. This ain’t your year. This ain’t anyone’s year.”

For the first three months of the pandemic, I was in a constant state of near panic. I drank every night and promised myself every morning I wouldn’t drink that night, and I would be drinking again by 4pm. I was terrified of what was happening in the world. I turned off almost all news sources. I kept the car gassed up just in case we had to make a run for it. I worried I would never work again. I worried my partner would never work again. I worried Monty would grow up without learning how to make friends. I worried and worried and worried.

One day in June, I decided to stop worrying. I don’t know why or how. Perhaps, in a small sliver a moment in which my brain wasn’t occupied with worry, I thought, I can’t keep going like this. I can’t keep living with my shoulders up at my ears and my jaw clenched.

I waved a white flag and surrendered.

I surrendered to not knowing.

I resumed my meditation practice. I finally started a disciplined writing routine. I stopped drinking into oblivion. I stopped drinking coffee. I take deep breaths throughout the day. I remind myself that there is no point worrying about what might happen, because I just don’t know.

This morning, after walking the dog, doing a meditation, having my tea and breakfast, and writing for an hour, all before 10am (an absolutely remarkable feat for me), as I stepped into the shower Ilooked at my body and appreciated the softness of my curves, the extra jiggle in my butt, and my belly that has grown bigger in these four plus months of staying at home. I wondered how hard I would have to work to lose the weight when the time came for me to audition for anything again. And then I wondered if I even wanted to put in that work.

What if the last twenty years wasn’t about preparing to have a successful acting career? What if all the work I put in wasn’t for my career? What if the last twenty years was about preparing to have a successful life?

What if 40 was the year that I finally began living?

Just here and now. In this moment. Sitting here, at this desk, with this cup of tea, with this dog at my feet, with this child watching TV all day because it’s his “free day”, with this husband who loves me exactly as I am, and who gives me all the room in the world to be who I am, with this belly, with this uncertain future.

Because this moment, this one, is the only one we have.

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The Depression of the Lambs?

Depressives tend to bristle at the advice that we need to go out and get fresh air, or exercise, or meditate, or drink more water, or smile more, get out of bed, go to bed at a reasonable hour, or any of the pat responses we get about our depression.

We know these things will help us. The issue is that when we are at our worst, we can not find the will to do these things.

I know how hard it is for people who have never experienced debilitating depression to understand how deeply in our bones can be felt the absolute hopelessness and despair that makes doing the things that will help us get well seem utterly pointless. When we are at the bottom of the pit, we truly can not remember a time in which we weren’t at the bottom of the pit. Someone might come peer over the edge and say, “You weren’t always down there, you know. Just last month you were up here with me.” And while we know we were “up there,” our minds tell us that while our bodies were up there, our souls were still at the bottom of the pit. Any attempt to drag us out comes across like Buffalo Bill telling us to put the lotion in the basket. What’s the point? Take care of ourselves just so we can inevitably fall back into the pit? The pit will always get us. Zapista Buffalo Bill Painting Fine Art Print Silence ...

There have been whole swaths of my life i spent at the bottom. If I wasn’t actually sleeping, I was certainly sleepwalking through my life. From 13 to 33 I was in and out of the deep pit of depression. Making bad choices. Choosing bad people.

I have spent the last seven years steadily climbing my way out of the pit. I’ve slipped a handful of times. But I believe that I am, at last, standing on solid ground, with the pit behind me (but always somewhere in my line of vision).

I wish I could say that I remember what it’s like being up here. I wish I could point to a time in my life that was spent up here. But I think most of my life, I’ve dwelled somewhere in that pit. Or at least, I’ve been sitting on the precipice, legs dangling over, with a very tentative finger hold on the ground beneath me.

I want to pause here to once again remind the reader that I share these things, not for sympathy, but rather simply because it is my story, and the only way to tell it is truthfully. It is what it is. I don’t want or need sympathy. If I were a diabetic, I wouldn’t expect sympathy for that. It’s a condition I have, and I am doing what I can to live with it.

It’s only once you’re out of the pit that you can begin to understand that all the well-meaning advice you’ve been given to take care of yourself, is finally something you might have the will to try.  Of course sleeping all day isn’t healthy. Of course exercise is good for you. Of course eating healthy is good for you.

I tried Transcendental meditation for a while, and I couldn’t get it to stick. Last year, in order to drag myself out of the pit, I decided to adapt that practice and make it something more manageable. But when the world came to a halt, I let the practice go. I was overwhelmed by suddenly being a fulltime parent and homeschool teacher, with my industry shut down, and very few prospects for work.

I slid back down and got pretty close to the bottom again. Everything felt unmanageable. My stress and anxiety would shoot through the roof the second Monty started complaining about whatever thing his seven-year-old brain was telling him was unfair. I felt like an absolute failure at everything. My parenting, my “teaching”, my partnering, my sistering, my writing. Everything. I felt myself sliding faster, and I was worried that once I hit the bottom, this time, I might not be able to even see the top, let alone crawl toward it.

In early June, amid the din of cries for racial and economic justice (and the basic human right of not getting murdered by the police), I found a wellness app called “Shine.” Founded by two women of color and 80% staffed with BIPOC, Shine offers daily meditations, readings, check-ins, advice, and mental health exercises. The meditations are usually less than 10 minutes long. When you’re done checking in each day, you get rewarded with a celebratory message and emoji. It’s nothing, really, but it’s enough to track your commitment to your own progress. I have checked in every day since I downloaded the app. 27 days. I do it as close to waking up as I can. Before I start getting into my day. One morning I didn’t get to it, and the day spun out of control, with Monty and I hollering at each other over something stupid.

I Clarice Starlinged myself out of that pit. I found myself at the bottom of the pit and was like, “Shut up! Stop screaming!” and I groped around in the dark for a while, until I found Buffalo Bill and I shot him a whole bunch of times. And then I hoisted my own self out of that pit and was like, “I killed the bad guy. You’re okay.”

I am aware that metaphor doesn’t really work, and I’m aware that another bad guy could surface at any moment, but I’m running out of time. I only get small breaks here and there to do anything that doesn’t involve Monty, and that’s my time, folks.

I’d like to think I’m putting some real distance between myself and that pit.

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You’re an asshole, but I love you.

My mother was a freelance writer. She worked from home on an early generation Apple computer she bought from selling her father’s grand piano (I think it had been her father’s). The only memories I have of the piano is that it was mostly used as a surface for stuff. My sister remembers my mother crying as she played the piano one last time when the buyers came to take it away.

Anyway, she had an early model home computer. She also had a printer that made a god-awful noise when it printed. It sounded like metal grinding on metal. Like a key being cut. And it took forever.

When my mother was in her study, it was understood that she was not to be disturbed. When I got home from school, I was to go to my room and read and take a nap. I don’t remember ever pushing back on this. Like all the rules in my house growing up, I don’t remember there being any room for push-back. Dinner was dinner. There was no claiming you didn’t like it and having something else made for you. Ever. The TV lived in my parents’ bedroom, and unless I home sick from school, I was allowed a half an hour a week. There was no, “I’m bored!” and expecting someone to fix it. I remember my sister would be up in my parents’ room watching The Facts of Life, Growing Pains, Cheers, or Family Ties while I was doing homework at the kitchen table. I remember hearing her laugh uproariously. I don’t remember ever whining that I wanted to go watch with her. I don’t remember getting a lot of help with my homework, although I’m sure I must have. My mother would listen to All Things Considered and drink red wine from a tiny glass that she refilled frequently as she cooked, and I would do my homework. I remember once asking her for help with my math homework. Her answer was, “You’re never going to need to know how to do that in real life.”

Once I was home from school because I forgot my bus pass. When my father and I got to the bus stop and I realized I had forgotten it, his form of punishment was to send me to my room for the entire day. It was hardly punishment. I hated school. And in retrospect, I guess I kind of get it. There have been times with Monty where he has lost or forgotten something for the umpteenth time, and I’ve been tempted to cancel the rest of the day. I was a forgetful kid. And I was sloppy and not careful with my stuff. Part way through the day I remembered a nightmare I had had the night before, and I got very scared. I went down and knocked on my mom’s study door. I told her I was scared. She gave me a quick hug and told me to go back to my room. That was it. No stopping what she was doing to help me process. No cuddling on the couch. She was working and that was that.

I’ll tell you one thing FOR SURE she would not have put up with: Captain Underpants. That shit would not have flown in my mother’s house.

I can not begin to imagine what my parents would have done if the world had ground to halt in 1987 the way it has today. Considering the overall health of my family at that time, I don’t know how we would have survived. I don’t see my parents scrambling to find activities for me to do in lieu of camp, for example. There was no internet, and there weren’t activity boxes you could have mailed to your door monthly. But I didn’t even get Highlights magazine. I wonder if my mother would have thrown up her hands, turned on the TV, and locked herself in her study for months. We didn’t have cable, so I would have been watching a shit ton of soap operas, I guess.

As it was, I spent a lot of time alone in my room. Reading, drawing, playing make-believe. I would take apart clocks and telephones to see how they worked and put them back together. I listened to records over and over in my room. I entertained myself.

Monty has no sense of boundaries. When I tell him I need to get some work done, his response is a panicked, “What am I supposed to do?!” When I open the door to his room and point out the plethora of toys he has that he never plays with, he claims they’re all boring. When I tell him I’ll go ahead and donate them all then, he flies into a rage. He wants to play video games or watch crap. If I have the mental, emotional, and physical fortitude to stand my ground and not hand him his tablet (leant from school, by the way. I’m not buying a seven-year-old an expensive personal computing device…), I know he will stomp around for a while, wail and complain, slam his door a few times, say some weird shit like, “Fine! I’ll never have fun for the rest of my life!” or “You don’t want me to ever have fun again!” and I will try and fail to not raise my voice, and if it gets really bad, I’ll end up slamming my door, and calling him selfish and entitled, and threaten to throw away all his toys, and take away screen time for a month, and say some weird shit like, “You are being such an asshole! My mother would have hit me by now if I was like this!” (which is true, but also, like, what?).

Parenting is not my forte.

Eventually we will both apologize to each other (he will usually initiate because he is a god damned gift). I will explain to him that I need to have time to get my work done, and he needs to try to respect that. I will gently point out all the sacrifices I make for him every day. He will seem to get it in that moment… I will tell him I’m sorry I called him an “asshole.”

We will cuddle on the couch for a bit, and then I’ll ask him to help me make dinner, to which he will enthusiastically reply, “Okay!” He will help me for a few minutes, and then he will wander off to put an 80s playlist on Spotify and play drums, and I will silently chastise myself for not making him make dinner with me (so he can develop a useful skill and learn the valuable lesson of being helpful and blah blah blah).

At the end of the day, he will insist that I do bedtime with him, even though we have spent every waking hour together and I called him an asshole. He will ask for a bedtime story (his current favorite one is the one where Sonic the Hedgehog gets his powers by sleeping in a drainpipe of a nuclear waste facility after a logging company cut down his forest. He then has to go join society, which means he has to go to the DMV and get a non-driver’s ID, and then apply for citizenship. There are a lot of forms he has to fill out, usually in triplicate, and sometimes he uses a blue pen instead of a black pen, and he has to make a new appointment, and wait another six weeks.). I will give him squeezes and hugs to last him through the night, and sometimes listen as he yells for me from his room while Kurt is trying to put him to bed.

I will lay there and marvel at the bottomless well of love he has for me. I feel completely undeserving. I am sure that I’m raising him to believe that it’s okay to call someone you love an asshole, as long as you show contrition afterward. I am sure I’m raising a sociopath. I can see him years from now saying, “You always folded and let me play video games, and now I can’t self-motivate to get a job AND THAT’S WHY I HAVE TO LIVE IN YOUR BASEMENT!” Oh god.

If my mother were alive, I wonder if she would have softer ways with Monty than she did with me. Obviously she wouldn’t spank my child. If she did it would be her first and last time, and she would never see us again. But I wonder if she would say things like, “Oh, he’s just a kid. Let him play videogames,” or “He’s only seven, of course he eats like a complete slob. At least he’s cute when he does it!” Or would she be like, “Daisy, you have got to put your foot down and put an end to this shit. He can figure out how to entertain himself. And why does he eat spaghetti like that?!”

Right now, Monty is in his room with the door closed doing god-knows-what on his tablet. Once, when he was really little, hhad figured out how to use voice command on my phone, and he was whispering, “Google, show me videos of big bellies.” I’m not kidding.

Hopefully, he’s playing PBS games. I suppose worst comes to worse, he’s watching those stupid videos where the kid opens toys and plays with them (honestly, what?). And I have had an hour of quiet to write. Should I leave him in there and enjoy some more quiet time?

Maybe he’s watching videos of big bellies. That’s okay, right? Right? Like, he’ll be okay, yeah?

In twenty years, when he’s living in my basement and slurping his spaghetti one noodle at a time, flinging sauce all over the place, I will be reminded of this morning and know that this one hour of peace and quiet was his ultimate undoing.

Today is Juneteenth. Find a local celebration or peace rally and go to it. Wear your mask. Today and every day, educate yourself. Be kind to your neighbors. Don’t call the cops on ANYONE (especially not a BIPOC) unless you literally see them wielding a weapon or their own strength at a person, or plowing their car into pedestrians. If you see someone in need, ask if there’s anything you might be able to do to help them.  Ask yourself, is what I’m doing helpful or hurtful.

Juneteenth Celebration | Happening @ Michigan

Thanks for reading!

Posted in Black Lives Matter, parenting, work | 1 Comment

Frankenstein Bunny (Monty came up with this title)

Listen, I’m not going to lie. One of the reasons I haven’t been writing as much lately is that when I have a free hour or two (when Monty is visiting with Aunt Mo, or going for a ride with Kurt), I’ve been spending that time either playing video games or watching “Married at First Sight.” I’M NOT PROUD, OKAY?

Watching a show where toxic heteronormativity is rewarded, and shooting zombies has been a balm these days.

“I just want the man to be the man.” Shoot a zombie! “How many men have you slept with?” Shoot a zombie! “When they see that ring, they know you belong to me.” Kick the ever-living shit out of a zombie! “He knows how to cook?! Teeheeheehee!” Explode a gas can on a hoard of zombies.

Smash the Patriarchy" Canvas Print by serpentsky17 | Redbubble

But Monty and Kurt are going to Target (with their masks on because we’re not monsters), and here I am, doing this! Go me!

I’ve been thinking a lot about an interaction I had back in 2016. We were staying with my friend’s parents in Newburgh, NY (long story), about an hour and forty minutes on the train to NYC. On the way to the train station in Beacon I noticed a man and his child walking down the street. The child was about Monty’s age, about 3, and was wearing a backpack shaped like a teddy bear. A couple hours later, on the shuttle from Grand Central to Times Square, I saw the pair again. The man was really good-looking, which may have been part of my motivation for striking up a conversation. I told him I had noticed him and his son on the way to the train station. I told him I had a son his age. He told me they lived in Newburgh. I asked if his son went to pre-school and he said he did. I asked him how they could afford it (there’s no free preK in Newburgh). What I didn’t say, and what I should have maybe said was that I had looked into preschools around there and I couldn’t afford any of them, and I didn’t know how anyone could afford them. They were prohibitively expensive. I think what I meant to say was, “I looked into programs there and was shocked at how expensive they are. I’m trying to figure out where to put my son so I can work.” 

I noticed he has a very faint accent that I couldn’t place. I almost always ask people where they’re from originally if I hear any regionalism. I have a weirdly keen ear for accents and dialects and can usually tell where people are from. I can tell the accents of Brooklyn, The Bronx, and Long Island apart. I can tell if someone is from south Jersey or Philly. I can usually tell what country people are from even if their accent is almost undetectable. So, I asked him where he was from and he said New York. And then I asked him where he grew up. I saw something shift in his face. Like a wave of disappointment. I was a little confused. We parted ways and I spent the next few days (and years) thinking about it.

I realized pretty quickly that I had, in essence, asked him “But where are you really from?” And even though my intentions were completely innocent, I hadn’t taken into account that people of color field this question a lot. As if they couldn’t possibly be from the United States. It doesn’t matter that I’m also a native New Yorker, and we tend to always ask where in New York a fellow New Yorker is from. It doesn’t matter that I’m just interested in dialects. What mattered was that I should have checked my privilege, and considered that that question, coming from a white person, wasn’t going to come across the way I wanted it to, and it’s not like I was going to have time to explain myself.

Add to that, the way it might have seemed like I was asking him how he could afford preschool.

I think about this incident a lot. I feel shitty about it. I wish I could go back and fix it.

I have made worse missteps in my life. I know I have.

All I can do now is try to be smarter moving forward. Read and listen. Try to understand microaggressions and do my best not to make any, and if I do, promptly apologize.

I don’t really have a way to end this blog. I’ve been sitting on it for a few days. I just want to get it up. So, I’ll end with this:

If you have a moment today and an extra twenty bucks, consider going over to to buy a book by a black author. If you’re into dystopic fiction I recommend Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler. For nonfiction So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo or How to be Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi.

Posted in Black Lives Matter, work | Leave a comment

Lies I Tell Myself

Why our thoughts turn negative before we go to bed - ABC Life

I don’t know where to begin, so I’ll just begin, and we’ll see where we get.

I’ve been told recently by a few different people that they’ve always enjoyed my blog and that they admire my openness and honesty. It’s flattering and validating, but my depressive mind ends up wondering why I’m not farther along. Why more people don’t share my blog, pass it on for others to see, shout it from the rooftops. My rational mind knows the reasons. People are busy. People are easily distractible. People like to be complimentary. But more than all that, I haven’t been disciplined in my posting for years and years. I know the missing puzzle piece is my own work. I’ve read enough books on writing to know that I’ll never get anywhere unless I sit down every day and do the work. And I have excuse upon excuse as to why I don’t. But none of those things mean anything.

What troubles me most about this is that I want to be a successful writer. When I realized I wasn’t passionate about being a singer, all those years of not taking my lessons seriously, or putting in the work, made sense. I didn’t put in the work because I didn’t really want it that badly. But I really do want to have a career as a writer. I want to sell my book. I want to write books. I want to write for television. And so, my reticence to do the work is confusing and frustrating.

What if it isn’t that I didn’t have a passion for singing? What if what it really was, was fear? What if what stopped me from putting in the work was a great fear of failure? What could I have achieved if I had put in the work?

If I show up every day, and put in the work, and then I don’t succeed, what then?

I used to put in little to no work on my auditions. I would glance through the sides when I got them, and glance at them again on the subway on the way to the audition. And it worked. Not every time, obviously. But I got work. I booked plays and musicals, and TV gigs. I booked my first guest star role on a TV show (as an adult) after a night of illicit drug use, not realizing that my audition was first thing in the morning. And it’s not that I got cocky about it. I learned many, many years ago that my shit stinks just as bad as everyone else’s. It’s just that that’s what worked for years. Skating by on instinct. Not only that, but because of my very early success, it took me longer than some to learn about hard work and tenacity. I was taught that I would either succeed, or I wouldn’t. I was either good at something, or I wasn’t. Training had nothing to do with it. I believed that if something didn’t come to me easily, I would never be good at it. I didn’t know how to try and fail and try again. It took many years, and some pretty big failures, for that lesson to finally kick in.

I think, in retrospect, that habit of not preparing was a self-protection mechanism. The less effort I put into something, the more I could say, “Well, I didn’t really try,” when I failed. Because when I did put my shoulder into it, if I didn’t get it, my depressive mind would tell me it was because I wasn’t good enough.

It takes a long time for the lesson that not booking a job rarely has to do with talent, and usually has to do with look, or how many followers you have on social media, or whether the producers daughter wants to be an actor that day … If you’re at the level where you’re reading for the production team, or the network, you have the talent (or you’re Ruby Rose and everyone is blinded by how insanely beautiful you are), so not booking the gig doesn’t have to lead to a shame spiral. It takes a loooooooong time for that lesson to kick in. And it takes constant reminders.

Nevertheless, the less you try, the more you can blame your failures on your lack of effort, rather than your lack of talent.

I have to remind myself that I have been trying (and succeding) at this business for 30+ years.

My depressive mind lies to me a lot. In my more rational moments, I know that. It tells me I never stick with anything. It tells me that all my ventures are failures. It tells me I have nothing to show for my 40 years on this earth. It diminishes all of my accomplishments. It turns all compliments in to, “yeah, but…”s. It tells me that all of Monty’s “good” qualities are due to his nature, and all of his “bad” qualities are due to my terrible parenting. It points to all the gaps in my blogs posts. It believes the trolls in my life who have tried to knock me down.

It does not recognize how many times I have gotten back up. It does not recognize my career achievements. It does not recognize the ways in which I help my family and friends every day in small ways and big ways. It does not commend me for getting out of bed every day to show up for my son. It does not commend me for feeding my family every night, almost always from scratch. It does not commend me for trying to learn, and grow, and be a better parent, partner, sister, friend, person, and ally.  

In my worst moments, it tells me that everyone would be better off without me. It tells me that I am fucking up my child somehow. It tells me that my partner has settled for me out of necessity. It tells me I should have more friends and more success. It tells me everything I do is a failure.

Here is a great irony: I am sharing these thoughts, not for sympathy, but because I have heard from readers that my openness about my depression and struggles with mental illness have helped them in their dark moments. So even as I write this, I know that my words have value, and yet as I write this, my depressive mind is telling me it’s worthless, self-indulgent, and self-pitying.

Someone recently asked me when I made the decision to be so open and honest about my life. I never made the decision. I don’t know any other way to be.

So, that’s where I am this morning. My PLAN is to share more often. I’m having a lot of thoughts and struggles with my identity now that I am a full-time stay-at-home parent. There is no guidebook for how to hold on to your Queerness when you are in a “straight” marriage, and you’re suddenly a full-time stay-at-home parent with no idea when or if your career will ever have the opportunity to pick back up. No one has written that book yet. So, I’m navigating a lot of this alone, and I have plenty to say about it.

In regards to the social and political unrest we are now experiencing, I hate to say “I told you so,” but I did, in fact, tell you so (please see a recent blog for evidence of said telling-you-so). I have long thought that one of the ingredients of “successful” capitalism is keeping a population working more than they should/can in order to prevent them from thinking too much. So, when the economy comes to a grinding halt because of a pandemic that everyone should have seen coming, it stands to reason that now, with more time on our hands, people will have more capacity to look around and see that what’s going on is unjust and inhumane. Then, what choice do we have but to revolt?

For my fellow white people, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and impotent in a time like this. Remember that for the vast majority of their time on this continent, Black people have felt overwhelmed and impotent. Moreover, they have been abused, erased, beaten and killed (literally and figuratively). They have suffered generations of trauma from systemic racism and white supremacy. They are still being lynched in the streets. So, we white people can stand to be uncomfortable for a while. There are tons of resources. You have no excuse for not doing your part. Follow black activists, writers, and artists on social media. Listen. Dig deep and look at your own biases, racism, and missteps. Resist the urge to defend yourself when you see people share their pain about their experiences with white people. It’s not about YOU (I mean it is, but it’s not about your ego). March in the streets but wear a mask! If you can’t march, for whatever reason, do your part by amplifying the voices of black people, and sharing information on marches, protests, rallies, and campaigns to reach local lawmakers. Donate and volunteer if you can. Teach your children to be anti-racist. FUCKING VOTE.

Here is a list with a tremendous number of resources for you, including where to donate, what books to read, and legal help. Save it to your desktop.

Posted in Black Lives Matter, depression, work | 2 Comments

Safer at Home

Written and Directed by me.

Starring me and Monty Eagan-Bloom

Shot by Kurt Bloom

Edited by Luther Creek

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