Summer Stuff

It seems I can’t go an entire summer these last few years without losing my hearing at least once. My doctor looked at my ears two weeks ago after I told her of this issue and everything looked good. My ears are just that damn sensitive and now here I am on Labor Day weekend not able to hear anything. Doctor’s appointment on Tuesday cannot get here soon enough. So let’s do some writing about the summer, shall we? BECAUSE I CAN STILL WRITE. I’m all about being grateful for what I CAN do.

I spent December of last year all the way through the entire month of July fighting my medical insurance and ultimately I won. So this was both an uneventful summer, but it has also been a summer of getting stuff done. I have a new social worker, a new doctor, and a physical therapist now. Currently working on getting an optometrist and a dentist. My doctor has given me medication for things every other doctor I’ve ever had would not. Thanks to that, I am already feeling much better. This doctor is not messing around. I like her.

I had my physical therapy evaluation last week. I have two exercises I do at home for now and my first regular appointment is next Friday. To be honest, I am a little (ok, more than a little) afraid for my therapist to work with me. I had PT until I was three years old and my parents stopped taking me because my old therapist tore the Achilles tendon in my left foot. I may have been very small at the time, but I remember that day and that pain like it just happened yesterday. I’ve made the new therapist aware that happened so I’m going to be spending this week telling myself I’ll be safe with this person and it’s her job to help me. I’m sure it will be just fine. I am so grateful to even have this help. I’ve wanted PT my entire life and I’m so on top of it. Even though my ears are causing me to feel not so great at the moment, I’ve been doing my exercises every day. I’m so excited about all of it. And yes everyone who has said “take it slow” — I promise I’ll never overdo it. I’ve never been that person.

On the summer fun side of things, here’s a list…

 – I took a social media break and spent an entire month just writing. And reading. Mostly writing.
– If you’re a creative type, listen to Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Magic Lessons” podcast on iTunes. Trust me. Just do it.
– I’m obsessed with Inside Out because sometimes I am a child. Well done, Disney/Pixar.
– Bianca and I took the train to LA to see my Kristin get a star on the Walk of Fame. It was worth the longest, hottest day if only to hug KC on her birthday, truly. Also, Carol Burnett was one of the guest speakers and that really doesn’t suck either.
– There is now a couch in my living room. My Person is good to me and I am grateful.
– Speaking of My Person, Janice was back in LA for the month of August. We took the nieces out to play. We had our favorite tacos. We went to our favorite vegan restaurant. I was introduced to shaved ice. Basically, when Janice is home, we eat.
– My Jessica from Orlando booked her flight to come visit me for a week in November. Happy Birthday to me!
– I randomly won free tickets to see Kristian Bush and Rita Wilson in LA last week. That man’s music is soul-changing. And Rita Wilson is pretty classy too. Her new album is going to be fantastic. (Side note, B is now kicking herself for not telling Tom Hanks when we saw him that she played Woody at Disney World. I am just amused over it.)
– I am now mourning the loss of the mango black tea lemonade at Starbucks. Damn you, pumpkin spice latte… It’s barely September!
– I have the best cat on the face of the planet. Just a reminder.
– Playing House is the funniest show on television.

All is well. I need a nap.

City Love

There was something about looking out the window to this view for five days…

New York City and me, we were on a break for a few years.  It had been so long (nearly seven years) that I began to think we’d never kiss and make-up.  We did.  Thanks to my best friend and the best Christmas gift I’ve ever been given in my life.  My Person has always been big on giving me the people I love most for holidays and birthdays and sometimes for no reason at all.  This reunion with the City that I love was filled with so many souls I hold close – I think I am more in love with New York now than I ever was before.

Those people above are just a handful of people who came to spend some time with me. (And a couple TONY winners  who don’t suck at their jobs or as human beings.)  I didn’t get photos with everyone, but that’s the thing, being in NYC is all about time.  Time. The thing that is most important to me when I’m with ANYONE is to be present.  Nothing bothers me more than when I am with someone and they don’t look up from some technical device.  I left my computer in LA.  In five days away, I only looked at my phone when someone was supposed to meet up with me.  When I’m with you, I want to be WITH you.  I want your time and I VALUE your time.  Everyone seems to just get that there.  It fills me up beyond anything just to see the people I love smile and laugh and cry happy tears when we are together.  Shouldn’t that be most important every day?  I try to live my life that way, anyway.

We went to see some shows, because theatre is how I connect spiritually.  When I see the beauty of art coming alive before my eyes and transporting me to another place, it just instills in what I’ve always known… there is something bigger than all of us out there guiding us to make the world a better place.  This trip?  All of the shows brought a kind of joy in some form or another.  (Yes, even the lynching, in a way I wasn’t expecting.)

Honeymoon in Vegas is the first Jason Robert Brown show I’ve seen on Broadway. This show is so much fun and so funny,  Also, if you get lucky, you’ll get lei’d!  That’s right, this show comes with props.  It was a most excellent way to spend an afternoon at the theatre.  Any show with a tap dancing Tony Danza is a good time in my book.

We then saw Jessie Mueller in her TONY winning turn in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.  This woman deserved that TONY.  This show was just that… beautiful.  It reminded me of every last reason why I love theatre so much.  It made me emotional.  I cried through a good portion of it. I feel so grateful that I got the opportunity to see it.  And then I met Jessie and she was just a down-to-earth, humble, spectacular human being.

Next up was the revival of On The 20th Century with my Kristin.  Where do I even begin with this show?  I am that person whose favorite shows are the old school classic shows and anything that has that sort of feel to it.  On The 20th Century was right up my alley.  I LOVED every last second of this show, and not just because my girl was fabulous in it.  When the promos and reviews are all calling it “a madcap musical comedy” that is no joke.  I snort-laughed at this show.  I laughed until I cried at this show. I laughed so hard my side hurt and had to shift in my chair. …And that was just by intermission.  That ensemble is INSANE.  Peter Gallagher can sing me all of the things all the time now.  Andy Karl and Kristin are the perfect pair.  I’m so proud of my sweet friend.  She’s working so hard and she was born to play this role.  I am so grateful I got to see her play one of her dream roles.  I am grateful that I got to shower her with the love she so deserves afterwards as well.

Ah, the final show on the itinerary… the Parade concert at Lincoln Center.  Parade was the first Jason Robert Brown show I ever saw on stage. I saw the production in Los Angeles a few years ago with T.R. Knight in the role of Leo Frank.  That production was fantastic, but this? This production of Parade was absolutely the most amazing thing I’ve seen on stage in my entire life. I am completely serious.  A full orchestra, a 200+ person choir, JRB conducting, Jeremy Jordan, Laura Benanti and the most incredible ensemble and musicians… It’s been a little over a month and I am still at a loss as to how to describe how it made me feel.  I’ve never left so inspired by a piece of art.  I do know that I walked out reaffirming that experiences like that are the reason I come to New York,  Something so stunning couldn’t have happened on that scale anywhere else.  Unbelievable.

It also has to be said that The Last Five Years movie was perfect.  Every frame.  Every moment.  Every note.  Perfect.  (Though selfishly I did miss the original “I hate these fucking shoes” line.)  Thank you to everyone involved with bringing something loved by so many to a different medium so we could keep it forever. It’s incredible.

So, that was basically my adventure.  There were people.  There was theatre.  There was food.  There was A LOT of laughter and A LOT of hugging.  All of it together revived my soul, as New York always does.  But this time it was like it took extra care, to make up for such a long absence.  That absence will never happen again.  Ever.  I need it way too much to ever stay away.

Thank you to all of you who gave me YOUR time.  I value your time and treasure you.  Every last one of you.  I love you.  And Janice, My Person, I don’t even have words for you.  Thank you for being the one who gets me.  Thank you for knowing what I need and just wanting me to feel all of the joy and love all the time.  No amount of saying “thank you” will ever express the gratitude I feel for all you do for me in life and in our friendship.  I love you.

The Pink Blanket

A nomadic sort of life makes me not so much a “stuff” person.  I don’t have an over-abundance of belongings.  I’ve never been a “stuff” person.  The life that I’ve had is cause for material things and even memories in things like photographs to be lost.  I am okay with this because life has never been what I own to me, it’s always been about who has stayed with me on this journey.

However, I want to tell the story of my pink blanket.

It was Christmas 2006; my first Christmas with my heart family. My Kristin was in NYC doing a revival of The Apple Tree and that Christmas, my Fancy Nancy had gotten me a winter outfit and accessories along with a pink blanket and the poster from Kristin’s production of The Apple Tree.  After opening all of the gifts, she surprised me and told me she had gotten me front row tickets to see The Apple Tree in February.  I had never seen Kristin in a show before, let alone sat in the front row, I was beside myself with love and gratitude.  How I’d been blessed with people who just like to see me happy, is still a concept I adjust to.

In the month and a half between that Christmas and the trip, I broke in that pink blanket and grew quite fond of it.  When I was a baby, my grandma crocheted me a blanket and over the span of my life, someone in my biological family stole it and I never saw it again.  So to now have a blanket that came from someone else who truly loved me, it meant the world to me.  The blanket traveled with me to NYC.  The trip itself was like something out of a storybook, because NYC feels so much like home, being there never feels like real life.  When I came back to LA from this trip, every time I used that blanket, it felt like I was wrapping myself in the magic and the memories created at the time.

Nine years later, my Fancy Nancy isn’t with us any longer. In that time and consistent instability that is my life, I’ve also lost all the things she got me for that trip, including the pink blanket.  The things are fine, because like I said, I have the memories, but something about losing that blanket gets to me whenever I think about it.  Maybe it’s a protection thing, I’ll never know. And that NYC trip is probably the only one I can tell you every last detail of if you asked me, that’s all that matters.

Christmas 2014; my first Christmas on my own. One day in December, My Person who now lives in NYC full time, called me on FaceTime to tell me she was going to fly me to NYC in February so we could see The Last Five Years movie together.  I started bawling my eyes out right there on FaceTime.  When your best friend moves across the country, getting on a plane for something as simple as going to see a movie together is extremely important when you miss them as much as I miss Janie.  We are also going to see some Broadway shows and I get to see my east coast heart family who I haven’t seen in six years.  It also happened that Kristin’s newest Broadway endeavor, On The 20th Century, begins previews the night I land back in that city with the people I love, so we’ll be seeing her at some point while I’m in town as well.  All of this was so overwhelming for me, I couldn’t stop crying. With the way my year had been going, just knowing that the person who gets me, who I love so much I can’t ever explain it in words, wanted to do this to be with me, to let me be somewhere that felt like home, to see me so happy, was a lot for me to handle. The gratitude I feel is off the charts.

From the second I was given this news, I’ve been in a constant state of preparation.  I haven’t been to NYC in the cold in eight years.  My body is completely different than it was all those years ago.  I want everything to go smoothly so I get the most out of my time.  I don’t want my body to struggle in that pending kind of cold. The goal is to keep as warm as I possibly can.  So a couple of weeks ago when My Person emailed me and said: “Bring a blanket for your chair, to sit on and cover up with when we go out.”  I knew exactly how to remedy this.  The pink blanket would get replaced.

A few months ago, one of my angel girls sent me a few gift cards as a housewarming present so I could get some things I needed.  One of them was for Pottery Barn, and I took someone’s suggestion to use that one sporadically whenever I discovered I needed something while trying to live this new life. Little by little, I’ve been using this card, but yes, I did use it to get a blanket for this trip since I don’t have extra blankets yet.  And yes, as you can see in the photo above, it had to be pink because it wouldn’t have felt right traveling to NYC in the winter with anything other than a pink blanket.  It’s just an added bonus that it came from one of my favorite humans on the face of the planet.  I’ll break it in now, as I did the one before, and it’ll be like she’s with me.  We’ll go on an adventure together, my blanket and me, and I’ll come back to reality with the reminder of memories yet to be created every time it is wrapped around me once again.  The best part is, the new pink blanket has a home and is in no danger of ever being left behind.  I realize this whole story makes me seem to be a little bit like Linus van Pelt with such fierce attachment to a blanket.  I know it’ll sound crazy to most who read this and that’s okay.  At least I have a Sally Brown in my life who loves the Linus in me, so that’s comforting.

Sometimes the simplest things have the deepest meaning in the world.  I am grateful for the past, for the now and for what’s to come. Blessed to have the ability to let the smallest things fill my heart.  Something gives me the feeling this adventure is going to be one for the record books. Soon, away I’ll fly.

(…Also pictured: The headphones I got for the plane for my super sensitive ears.  They feel like clouds and the sound that escapes them feels like it crawls its way into my brain,  This must be what music is like in Heaven.)

Almost home

It’s no secret to anyone that I’m really struggling right now. This morning I had a ton of apartment drama that will remain unresolved for what could be awhile. Instead of having a complete meltdown (that waited until I got back to my mother’s house) I walked in my living room, put Pushing Daisies in the Blu Ray player, and decorated my walls a little bit.

As I was doing this, I started to feel this warmth come over me like someone was wrapping me in a giant hug. In that exact moment, Olive Snook was singing “I know you’re lost and drifting, but the clouds are lifting…” from Candle on the Water on my TV. So, if you’ve ever needed any indication why Kristin Chenoweth is my earth angel, this is the kind of unexplainable thing that happens to me. All the time.

I started to think about how today is her birthday. I looked around my apartment and noticed that she is, in some capacity, in every room of my apartment. (Except the bathroom, that’s just weird.) From the daisies in the Pushing Daisies flower pot mug on my dining table, to the parade of desserts photo held up on my fridge by my Hollywood Bowl magnet, to the giant 30×30 poster of my heart family that Annie made me that’s waiting for a frame in my bedroom closet…

She’s there. My family is there. No wonder it feels like a warm hug when I walk through the door. This is it, this is the feeling of home I’ve always wanted.

I went back to my mother’s house and the negative energy consumed me, no matter how hard I tried to keep it away. Pending meltdown occurred. I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t function. Then three things happened:

1. My person called me and talked me through it. And though I am apparently an embarrassment to peppy people, I was listening and she always has a way of soothing me in a way I don’t know how to do for myself.

2. My baby Canadian niece called me on FaceTime because she wanted to say goodnight. Then she sang me “Let It Go” from Frozen. She’s only a year old.

3. I got to have Skype time with my Jillian, who recently moved to the other side of the country. Jilly’s happy sunshine personality is always such great comfort and relief for my heart.

I would have none of these people and none of these things and so much more if Kristin Chenoweth didn’t exist on this planet. I am grateful. This woman changed my life, saved my life and then gave me a life and the strength to find the courage to build it into something beautiful. She is my most precious blessing. And I’m lucky that she gave me the people who understand just how important that is.

Happy Birthday, my angel. I love you to the moon and back and beyond the stars. Thank you for your friendship and shared heart.

Surprises and Joy

There’s a thing that happens when you become so self-aware, you watch yourself grow in mind, body and spirit in a way you never could before.

On June 21st, it was Opening Night at the Hollywood Bowl and my Kristin was being inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame along with The Go-Go’s and Pink Martini.  When something like this happens for her, it makes me so proud and it meant so much that it was happening in a place that has become so special in the time we have known each other.

Stephanie had gotten us pretty spectacular seats, and I couldn’t wait to be there with her, drinking boxed sangria and enjoying the music like the classy broads we are.  It doesn’t get better than a summer night at the Hollywood Bowl.  My only wish was that the rest of our family could have been there to share in such a special night.  And then this is a thing that actually happened:

My Person surprised the hell out of me, and she brought Annie and Anne with her.  The moment that happened the rest of the night went out the window.  I couldn’t concentrate on what was happening on the stage.  I couldn’t stop crying.  I could only laugh and hold onto the handful of precious family sitting right next to me completely baffled that they were there. Six weeks of secrets, lies and decoy social media posts came down to these moments.  Moments of real, tangible love.

We had a sleepover, watched an unhealthy amount of television, ate junk food, gathered around the fire pit and then Anne and Annie spent the whole week here.  These moments are why I understand when Janie says she wants someone to write the story of our family, and I swear one day I’ll be the one to do that if it’s the last thing I do. The week was truly like magic.

There was also an unexpected balance to the week –  people telling me I needed to be doing other things and not spending time with my family.  People telling me my happiness upsets them.  People disrespecting my angel girls to my face.  This all happened with several people and then the self-awareness kicked in and I realized that none of these people could take my joy from me.  My life has been one giant stress ball as of late and I was allowed a week away from it to recharge.  I needed it.

I emailed one of my angel girls last night and said the following:

[As all this negativity was happening around me], I watched as I stepped outside of the situation and told myself it was ok to hang onto this happiness and I didn’t need someone else’s darkness to steal my light. I watched my own growth happen. To realize that light is so precious and rare in my life and I have every right to own my joy. It’s mine and nobody else’s.

Last night My Person said to me, “Own your joy.”  And you know what?  That’s what I’m doing.  I’ve fought my entire life for happiness.  I’ve fought my entire life to be able to say “I love you” to other human beings and truly know what that meant.  I’m not going to apologize or feel bad because my happiness can sometimes be an inconvenience to someone else.  In my current situation, there is absolutely nothing I can do right now, it’s a lot of waiting.  Waiting and stress.  So when joy and love stopped by for a visit, I had every right to hold on as tightly as I could without having to justify it.

Life is too short to be unkind and bring people down.  Find something to smile about.  Go out of your way to do something kind for a stranger.  Be grateful to the people who love you.  Be happy for those you love when something beautiful happens to them.  There’s no room in the light for darkness, and the light is warmer anyway.

Own YOUR joy.  You’ll make the world a better place.  Thank you to my family for being the people you are. You are everything I wished on stars for as a child.  I love you.

Happy Birthday, Kimmie.

Today is my first birthday.

My sister Jamie has dubbed May 8th my birthday.  Why?  One year ago today, I walked into a social worker’s office and I asked for help.  I’ve done this before, but this time it took the stripping away of my dignity and someone telling me they just wanted me to be comfortable to push me over the edge.  I deserved to be comfortable.  I deserved so much more than what I had.

I was terrified.

It’s been exactly one year.  I am still terrified.

However, this is a completely different kind of terrified.  One year ago I was terrified to ask for help because I thought someone would hurt me.  And though the weeks following that first meeting were some of the most difficult I’ve had to endure, I’m still here.  One year later and tomorrow, May 9th, I am signing the lease on my very first (accessible!) apartment on my own.

The difference now?  I’m terrified AND excited.

I’ve had a lot of deep and meaningful conversations about this journey with my heart sisters.  I’ve thought about all of the things that have happened to get me here, and all of the people who have pulled me through it.  Jamie and I were talking specifically about my earth angels the other day (because we were discussing how Cady McClain and her memoir swooped in there right at the end) and she said something that is true.  She said: “Kristin gave you strength.  Susan gave you wisdom.  And Cady has given you peace.”

She’s right… But you know what?  I did this.  I did all of this and I did it by myself.  Though I am always told that I am a survivor and I am strong, I’ve never really realized how strong I actually am until this point.  Maybe it’s because I have just become so self-aware of my surroundings to the point where I can acknowledge what’s not okay and what is.  I’ve finally learned that I deserve everything I never grew up with as a child and everything I should already know as an adult.  I’m sure all of this isn’t going to hit me full-force until I am sitting alone in my living room, or cooking in my kitchen, but I am going to take every second and be grateful that I survived.  I survived for this.

I haven’t stopped smiling since I got the news the apartment was mine.

I have so much more I need to do in this world.  I guess it’s true that “nobody but me is gonna change my story” as Matilda would say… and I definitely showed everyone how big my brave is.  Thanks, Sara Bareilles for that anthem that got me through every single second for the last year.

And then there’s my friends — who are my family — you render me speechless.  You’ve been the biggest blessings ever given to me in this life.  Whether you listened when I needed a shoulder to cry on when it got hard, or took me out to have fun because you know how much I need positive companionship, or sent me things so my apartment isn’t completely empty or donated to my gofundme page  among other things… You’re incredible.  I would not be here without you.  I cherish each and every one of you and will never forget what you’ve done for me.  Thank you.  I love you.

In the photo above, I was one month old.  I look at that precious preemie baby girl before she was shattered and damaged by the people who were supposed to love her most on the planet and I just want to tell her now that she is not broken beyond repair.  I want to tell her that it may take decades, but there is something worth fighting for, and people who will love her, protect, empower and uplift her are waiting in the light.  The light at the end of the tunnel is here.  It’s over.  You’re safe, sweet baby girl.  And you’ve given yourself that gift.  You should be proud of yourself.  They can’t hurt you anymore.

Happy Birthday, Kimmie.  Make a wish on a glittery blue star.

Life lately…

Apparently a lot can happen in the three months since I’ve posted.  Life has had the highest of highs and lowest of lows.  So, life lately… what’s been going on?  A bullet list:

  • I saw Audra McDonald in concert for the second time.  She is not human.  She is an angel of voice.
  • I won tickets to a private Sara Bareilles concert in October and it just aired on PBS this past weekend.
  • My Person, Nicki and Steph gave me a birthday worth something in November.
  • Megan Hilty sings pretty too.  Saw her sing at Catalina’s.  Missed her so very much.
  • My pal Georgia played a nun in The Sound of Music Live.  We had fun playing “Spot the Stitt!”
  • My Kyla flew to LA to surprise me as an early Christmas present.  I still can’t believe she did that.
  • Frozen has become a pretty unhealthy obsession.  Elsa is my favorite.  Ever.
  • Anne and Annie were here for eleven days for Christmas and New Year’s and I got to be with them all but two of those days.
  • We sang Christmas Carols at Walt Disney Concert Hall with The Queen of Everything… Julie Andrews.
  • Saving Mr. Banks is magical.
  • Anne and Annie surprised me with tickets to see Celine Dion in Vegas.  It was the first time I’ve seen her live. I wept openly through the entire concert.
  • We saw my Kristin on New Year’s Eve in Vegas.  Because you only live once, right?  We got to love on her too which made all of our hearts happy.
  • I had my Christmas at Disneyland day on the last weekend of the season with Stephanie and Tiffany.  It was beautiful.
  • I went to the Mary Poppins sing-a-long at the El Capitan where Richard Sherman (composer of Mary Poppins) played the music for us.  It was one of the most magical experiences of my life.
  • My Person moved to NYC.  I miss her every single day.  So much.
  • I had emergency surgery to have my gallbladder removed.  Turns out this has been the cause of ALL the health issues I had no answers for.  The surgeon said it needed to come out SEVEN years ago.  Glad I have answers and got it fixed.
  • Not glad about how much this recovery sucks.
  • I had an interview for an accessible apartment.  I should be hearing if I got it very soon.
  • I got an air purifier so I can breathe in this chimney.
  • There are nine people living in this house right now and I’d like to jump out a window.
  • I’m really struggling right now and really grateful for the handful of people that have been here for me.  I’m trying to stay positive, but it’s dark down here.

More substantial post when I go back to normal.  I just thought it might help me write this all down because I’m emotionally overwhelmed.  It helped.