The Watcher


I restore myself when I’m alone. – Marilyn Monroe

Me too. I know that Marilyn struggled with privacy and wonder how she would feel in this age of social media, when we can stay connected at all times. Both glorious and distracting, this new way of connecting can separate me from my experience while simultaneously allowing me to share my experience with more and more people.

I am finding it important to remember to embody my experience. For me, social media creates a kind of watcher in my head. As I am living life, I can see the luscious pictures on instagram and the short quip that might express the moment. When I find myself frequently thinking in facebook status’, I remember to come back to my breath, the steady stream of life that connects my mind and body. These moments restore me to a sense of connection with the my humanness and the earth. Then I can go back to reaching out, exploring, and connecting.

How do you restore yourself?

Eating Seagulls

Marilyn scale

iwanttobethin iwanttobethin iwanttobethin iwanttobethin iwanttobethin iwant iwant iwant ohgodiwanttobethin

When I started this project, I had a secret fantasy about something. I dreamed that as a result of committing myself 100% to this transformation I would lose weight. This is a common dream of mine lacing through my whole life and narrowly evading me.

In Buddhism this is called the realm of the hungry ghosts. The hungry ghosts have gigantic bellies and little tiny mouths. They can never seem to fill their bellies, and they are always ghosting around looking for just the thing. Not surprisingly, this is called a hell realm.

In January, I went for an annual physical and found my BMI to be in the overweight category and my cholesterol to be a little high. I was not losing weight for my art – I was gaining it.

This started yet another round of trying to find the perfect combination of food and exercise that would melt the pounds away. I have cut out a lot of meat and dairy to lower my cholesterol. I feel great about this because factory farming is terrible for the environment and animals deserve happy free lives too. I also went back to my favorite yoga class and increased my vigorous walks with the Finn puppy. And in March? Still the same. No change.

I look at Marilyn’s body in pictures and wonder why I can’t capture that.

I look at my beautiful strong under-appreciated body and wonder if there is another way.

What is going on with me and food? Why am I snacking away in front of a movie, or making multiple trips to the kitchen while surfing the internet. Finn knows the habit and he trails right along beside me because he knows I may drop a chip in transit.

On those nights when I don’t make the trip back and forth to the kitchen, I feel something is missing. It feels like life is dull if I am not trapped in this drama of being good/being bad/eating/drinking/more/less. It’s not so much the food I miss, but the torment of it all. That might sound weird, but it’s true.

So today I walked outside at work and ate a seagull.

I didn’t eat the seagull, but I ate the sight of the seagull swooping down to land on the building. I ate huge and wondrous mountains on my morning walk and three coyotes that passed by. I noted the life in between the food, and those feelings of blah. I acknowledged my glee around eating. God, I love to eat.

As of today, I am still holding the dream that in the four months before the performance I can slim down. I am holding in mind that this is four months of my life not eternity. I am decreasing my food intake, increasing exercise and reminding myself to notice that I am not in the hell realm but very lucky to be alive. I am buddying with a friend who also wants to lose weight, listening to a hypnosis app, and telling people about my goal. I call this the everything plan…do all I can so at least I know I tried.

The good news is that I have so much more time and energy since I’ve been exercising and leaving out the extracurricular snacks. I’ll update you about my progress. I have 17 weeks to go.

Here’s a brief video from the front lines.


mm and superman

Today I listened to a story from the This American Life archives about Mark Wyzenbeek; who started going out dressed as Superman after his wife died. He also learned to sew and makes his own costumes.* He says:

“I had never had anyone real close to me pass away before. Your grandparents, they’ve lived a full life and you’re expecting that. But someone so young and beautiful and with their whole life ahead of them, it just really hit me that she doesn’t have any more tomorrows. And I thought, well, I better start getting as much out of today– each today– as I can.

And what would help me do that? And I enjoy wearing the costumes. And I just couldn’t wait to go out somewhere and have a bunch of people see it. And it’s just been a real kick ever since.”

This reminds me of a man from my mom’s Quaker group named Dick. Dick always showed up for Sunday meeting in head-to-toe plaids. I think perhaps he had found something that was beautiful and made sense to him and he decided to stick with it. Really get to know it, and let that thing define his identity in some way. I really admire this quality.

In my story, the courage to transform into Marilyn came after a miscarriage. My realization was like Mark’s: life can be so short. Why wait?

I wonder who was Marilyn’s man-of-steel. She was known to keep a picture of Abraham Lincoln by her bed. “I used to read everything I could find about him, he was the only famous American who seemed most like me, at least in his childhood.” she wrote in her autobiography.

I wonder if Marilyn was Norma Jeane’s Superman?

Marilyn is very much my Superman lately. She is my plaid outfit. Engaging in this year-long pursuit of her is changing me. I am not becoming her so much as becoming defined by proximity. I am becoming. Not her. Not me. An adventurer carved out by the journey, never reaching the destination.

*The picture above is not Mark Wyzenbeek.



I forget sometimes that life goes around in circles, at least mine does. I have wanted to do this project for a long time, but it was just recently that is struck me that I have already done it, sort of.

When I first moved to New York City in 2000, I co-wrote a solo show about Marilyn Monroe. I worked with my friend, Kim. She directed it and I toiled over the nine page script. I can’t find the review online any longer, but I do remember that they said it was the briefest performance of the evening.

I called the piece “Monster”. It was about a woman who was a Marilyn Monroe impersonator. She is talking to her therapist about why she hides behind Marilyn’s persona. Finally, (about eight pages later) she is willing to pull off the wig and reveal her true self.

When I think about this play, I feel kind of proud. I moved to New York City to be an actress, and within a year I was performing my own material off-off broadway and getting reviewed (in an off-off broadway journal). I found a friend to work with me, and we told a story. The effort was worthwhile.

I had a postcard of Marilyn taped to my make-up mirror. Each night I would say to her “Here we go!” before I went out on stage. Her image shined out to me, her curves and blonde hair telling me that all things were possible.