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Saturday, October 22, 2011

To My Future Spouse: Two Year Anniversary.


To my most beloved and treasured husband,

Two years. Who’d have thought I’d make it this long, eh? You know me well enough to know that I often fall off the bandwagon with things like this when life gets chaotic…but here I am…still going strong. Aren’t you proud of me?

On October 21st, 2009 I found myself in desolation. My serial flirt ways had caught up to me, my male friends had dispersed and I was alone, in a new university, with artists I was scared to trust.

Scratch that. People I was scared to trust.

You’ve been in the forefront of my thoughts and prayers as of late, but you’re probably not surprised by that. You know, all too well, how often I think about you, worry for you, send love in your direction and ask my guardian angel to kiss you on the forehead as you fall asleep each night.

Sometimes I like to imagine that you send me kisses back. It’s like we’re secret lovers and the only other people that are allowed to know about our romance are our confidants, the angels. 

My 'best guy friend' had just broken the news via cellphone that he felt it wise we didn't speak anymore for fear that we were getting too close. My heart was heavy, as he had been the only thing getting me through my recent break up with the previous Mr. Nice-But-Not-The-One [not to mention, keeping me calm as I adjusted to my new surroundings]. With his disappearance, I couldn't imagine having the strength or courage to mend on my own.

I don’t read as often as I used to, but when I was a little girl my favorite quote from Jane Eyre by Mr. Rochester was…

‘Sometimes I have the strangest feeling about you. Especially when you are near me as you are now. It feels as though I had a string tied here under my left rib where my heart is, tightly knotted to you in a similar fashion.’

With each message I write to you, I hope to articulate this poetic and beautiful image. When I shut my eyes, I imagine our bodies so intimately intertwined that, even without ever having ever laid eyes on one another, I can feel you near to me in each passing moment of the day. When I pray, I know you are with me. When I laugh, I hope you are smiling where ever you may be. When I sleep, I leave room beside me for your arrival.

Who would hold my heart as it ached each night? Hadn't God sent my ‘best guy friend’ to make sure I could laugh and smile when my insides felt like they were collapsing? Was God so cruel to take my only form of comfort away from me?

I walked into my dimly lit dorm room after this late night phone call, the weight of disbelief and rejection heavy on my shoulders. My roommate asleep in her bed had left the closet light on, and when I looked straight ahead I was surprised to catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror.

'How could someone so broken, look so whole?' I thought to myself as tears slowly trickled down my cheek.

Sometimes I think about you and realize how lucky a girl I am to have been given a gift as beautiful as you! Do you know how wonderful you are? You are a testament, a beautiful specimen that gives glory to God’s craftsmanship. You know just how to love me, romance me, hold me, kiss me, annoy me, drive me crazy and push me to be the best person that I can be—all at the same time!

 And I am so thankful for this.

What a treasure God has bestowed to me.

I feel blessed to have such a wonderful man of God desiring to take care of me. You love me when I’m stubborn, impatient and mean… How you are sweet to me when I’m being obnoxious, I’ll never know! But I am thankful, because you make me want to be the best version of myself that I can possibly be.

I'm sorry that over the years I have tried to give my heart to so many who were less than worthy. I'm sorry that I can be insecure and that I worry so often. These are bad habits that I have prayed for the grace to let go of—but you know I still struggle each day. Yet you still love me… I am thankful that you know how to kiss away the worry lines on my forehead when I don’t think I’m pretty enough for you. That you know when to hug me when I’m upset, when to kiss me when I won’t stop talking and when to listen because it’s actually important.

No adoration chapel to run to, no mass so late at night and the rosary looked an impossible feat to conquer on my own in such a state-- I turned my eye away from God feeling He didn't care and instead opened my computer.

Word. File. New Blank Document.

I am so blessed to know that you see me the way God sees me. That you love me the way I deserve to be loved. That you have chased me, fought for me, wanted me, dreamt of me, prayed for me and proven time and time again, that I am worthy of love.

'Beloved...'

And the words poured from my fingertips as they had never done before. Each word coated with an honesty, a sincerity and a vulnerability I could only give to him.

You have brought me to Christ time and time again, begged me to speak to Him before I spoke to you and have made me learn how to trust His plan before trusting my own.

Two years ago, I wrote my first e-mail to my future husband. Partially out of desperation, and partially because I needed some one to share my thoughts with, I poured my soul to him. In my overly emotional state, I decided it would be, one of the many, wedding gifts I would give to my future spouse on our wedding day.

It’s been such a blessing to know that I could share myself with you before you even knew my name. It’s such a relief to know that God made you for me, that you already love me with every fiber of your being and that all it will take is a moment of realization to recognize that we were created for one another. You are mine and I am yours. Each message to you has been filled with my secrets, my worries, my thoughts, my aches and pains…and while you may not be present in my life [at least to my knowledge], you have given me the strength and courage to continue to be my authentic self.

Little did I know that starting a fake e-mail account and sending random messages to a man I didn’t even know…would be the greatest gift I could ever give to myself.

Thank you for being the best friend and prince charming that I've always daydreamed of. Thank you for being broken and human. Thank you for wanting to grow with me, to become a better man for me and for our Lord. Thank you for accepting me and my brokenness. For not expecting me to be perfect and for keeping me humble in that sweet, but not hurtful, way that you know just how to do.

I love that we strive to be saints with one another, that we pray together and laugh together and make fun of movies and dance in the kitchen with one another and have inside jokes and star gaze with one another…

Forty e-mails later.

My husband, without having known it, became my best friend and the greatest listener I have never yet met. He has been there every moment I needed to vent, laugh, joke, complain, share…he loved me through two years of silly messages that meant nothing and everything to me.

I love us.

This is the greatest love affair God has ever given to me and I’m absolutely thrilled to see what will happen next in this ridiculous romantic comedy.

We’re silly and ridiculous, but…we wouldn’t have us any other way, would we? By the time you see this, these messages will simply be reinforcement…because you’ll have already heard all of this time and time again. But on our two year anniversary, I just wanted to remind you—

I love you!

Keep looking for Him, and I promise that you’ll find me, darling.

I’m forever walking toward you, in hopes that you’re walking toward me. I can’t wait to finally meet you and end this game of hide and go seek—which, by the way, you’re great at.

Be good, make good choices and know that you are forever and always in my prayers.

Your future wife, best friend, prayer warrior and partner in crime,

Katey

PS: Pam and Jim got nothin’ on us.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Walking Contradiction.


Up until last week, I used to consider myself a walking contradiction.  

You see, I’m an actor, and in the world of theatre, being organic and raw is upheld as ‘Truth’. Screaming profanities, throwing things, crying at the drop of a hat, feeling, touching, groping, loving, experiencing—this is art. This is what my teachers, classmates, directors, and co-workers look for when they are creating a piece of performance art. They want the raw, brokenness of humanity portrayed on stage as is.

To them, this is salvation.

It’s hard to explain to those who do no act what it feels like to get up on a stage and manipulate people into feeling a certain way. It’s hard to express what it feels like to reach into someone’s chest and rip their heart to shreds as they live through the actions of the actors from the audience’s perspective. I would never know how to explain what it means to go to rehearsal day in and day out to imagine, create, develop, and immerse yourself in a world with fellow players that, in essence, does not truly exist.

It’s magical. It’s powerful. It’s… addicting. 

There are so few fields in this world where you are paid to create a universe that pressures it’s patrons to simply…feel. And it’s because of this that it is so easy for an artist to get lost in the idea of not needing a creator.

Why play the created when you can simply play god?

But then, in what seems like the opposite extreme, I’m a devout Catholic. My faith, the foundation of my life, asks me to view God as Truth. In many ways, the emotions of this world seem counter to what we, as Christians, strive to attain. We may lust, rage, and envy, but we set our emotions and bodily urges aside, accepting them as our crosses, in attempt to glorify God’s creation.

We, as Christians, look to respect ourselves, love our brothers and sisters, heal, grow, learn and become like children. We pray for humility, and ask for the gifts of kindness, charity and temperance.  We are aware of our brokenness, but we praise God for His mercy and work constantly toward becoming the best version of ourselves.

We gladly accept the role as the created, and praise God for the gifts He has given us.

So…how the heck do the two extremes marry one another?

‘Oh my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended thee…’

A week ago I had the chance to experience something in my work that I rarely get to feel. I have often, quietly felt this way in my soul, but have never had an articulate way or opportunity to express what I feel is now necessary to share with the world.

‘…And I detest all my sins because of thy just punishment…’

You see, my voice felt like a tree, rooted in the text that I had so purposefully chosen the day before. Each word fell from my mouth like a piece of ripened fruit, and the more I spoke the more I felt grounded in myself and my faith.

Before I dive in any further, let me just skim through what exactly my ‘work’ as an acting student is. I’m not just one of those ‘Oh, hey…I like community theatre but have a real job during the day so that I can support myself and not starve because I’m sensible’ kind, but more so the ‘I’m paying a substantial amount of money so that I can go to a prestigious acting program and will be in debt for the rest of my life all for the sake of art and living my dream’ kind.

I never said I was the brightest bulb in the bunch.

Essentially, while normal college kids spend their time in classrooms with tables, chairs and notebooks…I spend my days rolling around on gym mats, loosening my jaw and doing tai chi and yoga.

So, last week my Voice and Speech teacher asked us to bring in a text that we knew by heart and were deeply connected to. The plan was to ‘de-structure’ the text—basically break it down into simple sounds and syllables and then rebuild it until the imagery and intention of the text was raw, organic, and flowing from a free and natural voice. And when we were ready, we would speak our text to a nearby ensemble member to share in this experience.

The work we do depends heavily on willingness to be vulnerable. In using text that we felt was important to us, it was inevitable that it would be an emotional roller coaster when confronted with a point of focus. In allowing an ensemble member to drop down into the center of our beings with us, to hear and participate in our own exploration of the words we held so dear to our hearts, we would be learning far more about art, ourselves and humanity than just doing the work by ourselves.

[I know, I know…if you’ve never come across an acting school, it all sounds ridiculous].

As I listened to him speak about the work we would be doing, I had the impulse to use the Act of Contrition [a Catholic prayer used in confession].   

 ‘…But most of all, because I have offended thee, my God…’

Only…I don’t talk about my faith in the theatre school.

‘…Who art all good and deserving of all my love…’

Not because I’m uncomfortable with my beliefs. On the contrary, my deep love of Christ has made me bold in many ways [take this blog, for instance] and my classmates know very well how religious and faith-filled I am. But, I have found, particularly with artists…it is better to love infinitely and allow Christ to work through the silent conversations between souls, rather than force dialogue many do not wish or are not ready to have.

I was surprised, to say the least, when I walked in to class the next day still filled with the desire to pray in my studio. It seemed…sacrilegious, in a way. And yet, some inner force urged me to speak the prayer. 

‘…I firmly resolve with the help of thy grace…’

I laid on the mats, breathing in and out as I had done so many classes before. When we were given the instruction to begin our texts, I knew immediately why the spirit of the Lord had urged me to speak.

Next to me, on the ground, lay one of my very close and beautiful classmates. Her text, a monologue from one of Sam Shepherd’s plays…was about God being dead. How an artist must be smooth like Jesus, must be selfish like Jesus…that Jesus and the time for religion and faith…was no more. That people could not be filled with the rubbish of God, because it was too far away to connect to.

I laughed.

And then I prayed.

‘…To sin no more, and to avoid the near occasion of sin. Amen…’

When we made our way to standing, I was looking out the window as I spoke, but I could see from the corner of my eye that she was standing, speaking her text toward me. She wanted, so badly, to battle with our contradictory words.

And as I turned to her as she spoke, I saw tears form in her big beautiful brown eyes.

Why was I so calm? Why was I relaxed in this obvious emotional battle? I’ll admit it—I’m a crier! I should have been weeping at this obvious attack on my core beliefs.

Yet, all I wanted to do was hug her and tell her that everything was okay! But my teacher instructed me to fight through the emotions we felt and continue speaking the text…so, I carried on with my repetition of the Act of Contrition. And the more I spoke, the more she cried and the more she cried, the more I felt… Fine. Great. Wonderful. Perfect.

Finally, the exercise was complete, and while I could see frustration in her face, I pulled her to me and allowed our hearts to beat in unison.

I cannot fully express what this experience gave to me, but I want to try to put it into words before I forget the feeling:

Theatre and faith…are one in the same. As I spoke my prayer, I realized the tradition of my faith; the parables, the lives of the saints and angels and prophets…the very core of my beliefs in mercy, love and understanding… are fully intertwined in the tradition of theatre.

We tell stories. We sympathize with humanity. We love. We understand.

We yearn to feel full, and so we create, in our brokenness, a world to fill ourselves.

My father only recently converted to Catholicism…before he was Catholic, he had been raised Jewish. When he decided that he believed in Christ, that Jesus was not just a prophet, but the son of God…he decided to call himself a ‘Completed Jew’.

Today, I am choosing to call myself a Completed Artist—because there is nothing contradictory in loving humanity and Christ in the same breath.