Can you make art during a crisis?

     Art by susanmcculley.com

 

Art by susanmcculley.com

One of my favorite moments of television happened on a 2006 episode of Anthony Bourdain's show, No Reservations. It was supposed to be a travel show about the food and culture of Beirut, but Tony and his crew found themselves in the middle of a violent conflict. They watched the airport get blown up from their hotel room, and saw whole neighborhoods get blasted.

They were trapped there for a week before being transported out. And there is this scene, where in the middle of the tension and chaos and fear - Tony walks into the kitchen of the hotel, and he cooks. For a moment, he loses himself in the chopping and stirring, the creation of something to share with others.

That moment brought me to tears.

Tony cooked because cooking was his art.*

That's how he shared his love and passion.

That's the creative lens through which he translated the world.

We are in crisis right now. In a million different ways, this country is in crisis. I feel it in the pit of my stomach, and it's breaking my heart. I wonder, why make art? Why write? Why create anything when things feel this uncertain, when so many people are suffering? What is the point of creating in crisis? I stare at the walls and leave my projects untouched as I sit with my fear and pain and anger in my own little internal Beirut.

But as I think back to that episode, Tony Bourdain answered my question for me. We create  - we cook or write poetry or cross-stitch - because we are human. Because we've been doing this since the beginning of time. Because we made cave paintings before we bothered to figure out farming techniques because art was more important than eating regularly.  Because art connects the discordant, makes sense of the senseless, and gives voice to the unspeakable.

Creating something - anything - that makes you feel alive is imperative, especially in times that feel stressful or uncertain. Whether that stress is on a national level, or a personal one. So, if you paint, please, I beg of you, paint. If you sing or quilt or take photographs of the insects in your backyard, please go do it. Please make all the things, and then - here's the important part - share them with the world. Don't keep your creations to yourself because your ego is saying that's not really art, or that someone else already did it better. Get brave and get it out there, so we can experience beauty and stay in touch with our humanity.

We really need that.

In later interviews, Tony said that the experience in Beirut "changed everything." When he and his crew came home, they kept thinking, What's important? They made changes, both to the show, and to their lives. Tony's Instagram from less than two weeks before his death reads - "An eventful week. On the battlefield and off. Making art . Every motherfucking day."

So that's what I'll do. Life may feel like a battlefield. But I'll be here.

Making art.

Every motherfucking day.

——–

*I originally wrote about Tony in present tense, and it really sucks to change that. 

——–

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Last chance to apply for Veteran's retreat in Texas!

For the last several years, I've been working with Expedition Balance - a Veteran's non-profit. (Those who have read my book Not Just Me will recognize them from chapter 8!) There is still some space available in this year's retreat. We'll leave from Houston on April 19th and drive a few hours to a ranch in central Texas.

What will we do there? We'll ride horses, hike, stay in a luxurious lodge for three nights, learn about nutrition & meditation, attend gentle yoga classes, and eat great food. I'll be teaching two classes - one on therapeutic writing and one on yoga. (No experience is necessary!) The transportation will be covered, you just need to get to Houston.

And it doesn't cost a dime for Veterans. It just requires effort and intention.

Time to apply is running out, so if you are interested, get your application in now! Applications available here

Let me know if you have any questions - if you are a Vet, and you're ready to connect with other Vets and have a whole lot of fun, I'd love to see you in Texas!

 

New retreat at Kripalu in Massachusetts: Writing & Yoga for Anxiety

The Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health is an incredibly special place to me. It's where I did my 200-hour yoga certification, where I made some life-long friends, and where I found a new little piece of myself as a teacher.

And now I'm beyond honored to be teaching a workshop there! It's called Embrace Your Weird: Yoga, meditation, and writing to manage anxiety. Join me in Lennox, Massachusetts, March 30 - April 1st for a weekend of creativity, connection, and fun. We'll play with writing exercises and we'll practice some yoga. We'll talk about tangible ways to understand your inner critic, increase compassion for yourself and others, and access the joy within that often feels smothered by stress.

Never done any yoga? Never written anything other than email? No problem. This weekend is totally beginner-friendly.

Click on this link to get more information on the workshop and to sign up. Please contact me if you have any questions. And if you want to come, but you're feeling totally anxious about going to a workshop about anxiety, I'm happy to talk you through that. :)

I'd love to see you at Kripalu!

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Viva L'Italia

"If we get married, we should have our wedding here because it's so romantic." I choked on the chocolate chip gelato I was shoving in my face.

"Dude - you can't just say shit like that."

(I've always known how to ruin a moment.)

But the thing was - I loved him exactly because he'd say shit like that. He was confident and authentic and didn't play games.

We'd been dating for all of 3 months - but we'd been friends for 5 years before that. And suddenly one day, I couldn't imagine life without him. He was my partner. He felt like home. And he was right, Italy was incredibly romantic.

But, I was 22 years old, I swore I'd never get married, and I wasn't totally sure that I could give up the habit of making out with my co-stars in my trailer during lunch breaks. But he was the first guy that really made me consider it. That's why I had brought him to Italy.

For the year or two prior, I had been contemplating a slow exit out of acting - I thought maybe I'd be happier working behind the camera. I produced a short film called Day After Day and it was selected to be in a showcase at the Cannes Film Festival. What a perfect way to show off to my new boyfriend.

So, three months into our relationship, I invited him to come to France on my work trip to take the film to the festival. We traveled around Italy as well - which is where he made me choke on chocolate chip gelato.

Four years later, I realized I really was done with kissing boys in my trailer (and actually, I realized I was done with the trailers and the films that provided them, as well) so we went back to Italy and said vows.

Jakub 007

And now, after 9 years of marriage, we are on our way back to Italy to celebrate my husband's 40th birthday. Because I married the kind of guy who says that what he wants most for his birthday is to go back to that very romantic place.

He always has the best ideas.

So, I'll be back in a couple of weeks. I'll eat some gelato for you.

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Perceptions of the past

“Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.”

― John Lennon

 

"What are you writing now?" He asked me from across the folding table.

"It's a memoir," As soon as the words came tumbling out of my mouth, I realized how loaded they were.

I was standing across from James Frey. They guy who wrote A Million Little Pieces and got publicly slammed by Oprah when the world discovered that much of his memoir was fabricated.

He laughed and rubbed his eyes beneath his glasses.

"Oh God, just....just...call it fiction. Please."

I didn't know I was going to be having that conversation with James Frey last week when I went to Book Expo America in New York. I was expecting to have a couple of meetings with publishers, score some free advance copies of books, see some writer friends and have my agent pick up the tab for dinner. I wasn't expecting to be sent into a philosophical quandary about the nature of truth.

There are several ways you can come down on The James Frey Thing. Some people think he's a liar scumbag. Some people think he was backed into a corner by his publisher and forced to call his book a memoir when he always intended it to be fictional. Some people think he wrote something beautiful and poignant regardless of its accuracy.

But let's set aside our desperate urge to pass judgment for a moment - let's not defend or condemn his actions. Because either way, there are a few things that are pretty clear cut about The James Frey Thing.

  • He wrote a book that resonated with many people
  • He made all non-fiction writers think about their own relationship to reality
  • And he made everyone a little scared of Oprah

I think I've got a pretty good grasp on reality. I also think most people think that about themselves.

In my book and my blog, I write stories about my life. I believe them to be true. It also occurs to me that there might be people who read what I write and have a completely different recollection of that event.

I've told the story a million times about how I became an actor. I was in a mall with my parents when I was three years old and a man approached us and wanted me to be in a commercial his company was casting. Recently, I was telling the story on a radio show and later my mom called me to say it was in a market, not a mall. But I always thought it was a mall. When I think about it, I see fluorescent lighting and a food court -- not an open, breezy market with baskets of colorful fruit and glassy-eyed fish lying on piles of ice. But apparently, I've just filled in the details where my memory has faltered.

Memory is a slippery thing - it picks and chooses the moments it wants to cling to and it changes rooms and conversations and intonations. It makes you braver or funnier or more awkward than you actually were.

Of course, there are details that are (or should be) concrete. I'm not recommending you claim you had a root canal without anesthetic if you didn't. But what is interesting and important about telling our stories is the emotion and deeper meaning that we bring to it. And that belongs to the storyteller alone. We own it. There are so many ways of seeing the world and understanding the consequences, but our perception of reality takes precedence when we get brave enough to open up and tell our story.

What really matters when reflecting back is - what came from that experience? Was there joy or pain? What was learned? Where did it lead? How can it help someone else and do something good?

That's what our memories are really for.

Well, that -  plus the glorious feeling of humiliation that we actually used to wear fringed denim vests.

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Le acne: when movies and real life collide

When I was working as an actor, I had a precise system to decide whether to accept or decline a role. I asked myself the following questions:

• Is it a good script? • Will it provide an interesting acting challenge? • Will I get to go to a cool location?

The answer to only one of those questions needed to be affirmative, and I would commit the next three months of my life to a project.

Thusly, when I was 16, I worked on a TV movie in the south of France. I played a girl who was kidnapped and stolen away to be violated as a sex slave or alternatively, harvested for internal organs, whichever option proved to be more profitable for my bad guy captors.

I don’t need to tell you which one of my three prerequisites this project fulfilled.

And yes, it fulfilled only one.

The shoot was extra challenging because we filmed an English version as well as a French version. We would do one take in English, one French, back to English. It was brutal. I had studied French but it was high school French, words pertaining to libraries and chalkboards. I never learned the phrases required for this project, things like, “Please monsieur, don’t take my kidneys.”

At age 16, I could have passed for 12. I'd stare at my very un-Hollywood chest with loathing and confusion. Didn’t my breasts realize that we were in films?  The movie industry had pigeon-holed me where it shoves all of their flat-chested brunettes -- roles like best friend, tomboy or Joan of Arc. My agents kindly labeled me as an “athletic” type.

Well, on this particular movie, my 16-year-old hormones finally kicked in. And there were zits. Horrible zits that danced across my nose and gathered conspiratorially on my chin.

This was a deep betrayal. Generally, my physical development had cooperated with my career. For example, my teeth seem to have been scared straight into freakishly perfect alignment from the moment they poked through my gums. They understood that they were required to stand at attention like good little Hollywood soldiers, since braces would undermine my budding career.

When the copasetic relationship that my body and I once enjoyed came to an abrupt end in the French Riviera, my mother did the proper mother thing and proclaimed my festering acne “Not That Bad.”

Not everyone agreed with this charitable assessment.

One day, the producers awkwardly took me aside.

Producer: "So, Lisa, we're going to give you a little time off, so you can....clear up a bit. We'll just shuffle the shooting schedule around and work on some of the scenes that you're not in."

Translation: you are being suspended from your job on account of your face.

A normal kid with acne would just hang her head low on the school bus and miserably carry on, but I was an actor kid and this “zituation” as we came to call it, was completely unacceptable. It required medical attention.

The producers sent me to the local hospital, in hopes that modern medicine could return me to the glowing, fresh-faced kidnaped girl they needed me to be. The doctor gave me some green stuff that I applied as directed and in a few days my skin was deemed smooth enough to appear in front of a camera as a believable slave for sexual purposes. I was allowed to go back to work.

That was when I realized what kind of job I had. I was in an industry where the entire shooting schedule would be moved around because I wasn't looking as pretty as I was expected to. We were deep in the world of make-believe. I had dirt smeared on my face and twigs in my hair from wallowing in a sex slave dungeon, but they were perfectly placed dirt and twigs. The realities of life had no place here.

But in the end,  you learn how to take the bad along with the good. After all, I got to hang out in the south of France for a while, and I learned how to say “oozing” in French.

It's "suintement."

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Mom, mom's mom and me: under one roof

Last week, I was in North Carolina sitting on a lawn chair watching a lot of Jeopardy. The living room of the tiny beach house just has a love-seat, and my mom and grandma were already forced to share that space with my dog. So, I dragged in a lawn chair and yelled out incorrect responses that I always forgot to put in the form of a question.

Three generations (well, four, if you count the dog, and you should always count the dog) were vacationing under one roof for five days. At ages 35, 57 and 85 - we all seemed to be just different versions of ourselves. It could have been the backdrop of a Tennessee Williams play.

Everyone's families are complicated and contradictory. That's just the reality of family dynamics. Families are loving and brutal. They are intimate and they are strangers. They are accepting and critical. They are all those things, intertwined with memories and expectations and the desire to make you another cup of tea.

But through all the inherent messiness, there are important moments that come from spending extended time with family. Like hearing the story of how my 20-year-old Grandma would flirt with the guys she worked with at the newspaper, so that they would give her cigarettes. She didn't smoke, but she'd tuck them away and give them to her boyfriend -- that broke boy would eventually be my grandfather.

My mother knows the first album I ever bought, even though I've forgotten. She remembers exactly when I attempted to expand beyond the Carole King and Earth, Wind and Fire that pervaded my early musical education. It's so easy for me to revert back to those days. Mom still uses phases of discontent, like "Shootski pootski" and "Ishkablibble' that catapult me back to a time when I wore a fringed jean jacket and thought those were legitimate swears.

In this company, many sentences start with "Do you remember...?" - a person, a place, a time in space that feels so removed from this. So far from this 1,000 square foot beach shack with windows that don't close properly and a finicky toilet handle. But here, over the sound of bickering seagulls, we remember our shared past.

As much as all this reminds me of my history, it also grounds me in the present. I see the grey streak I started to notice in my hair in my mid-20s, reflected back at me. That grey expands into my mom's salt and pepper hair. It expands further into my grandma's silver shine.

We are not women who dye.

All this shared DNA and shared experiences express themselves in distinctive ways. We are decidedly different women, with different outlooks and ways of understanding the world -- but when I see my mom and grandma sharing gestures, I wonder if I do them, too. It's like an archeological dig of your own existence, except instead of discovering broken bits of pottery, I'm looking at a woman making an egg salad sandwich.

My mother has put a quote (most commonly attributed to the great poet, Dr. Seuss) on the bathroom wall of the beach house.

quote

I'm reminded where I get my sense of truth-telling from. That no-hair-dye honesty is strong in all three of us. It's both a blessing and a curse. That same honesty that brings us closer has also hurt feelings and gotten us into trouble and damaged relationships. The truth is powerful, and I want to use it carefully. Sometimes honesty needs to be sheathed in kindness to soften the blow. Sometimes we are skilled at that, sometimes we are not.

I wonder, as I make my way through the years, what family traits I will keep, what habits I will let go, and if my hair will turn out to be the perfectly shiny silver of my grandmother's.

I watched a lot of Jeopardy last week and I realized that it's the perfect analogy for life. Because life is all about asking the right questions.

The answers take care of themselves.

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Conversations in Common: March Madness Edition

When it really comes down to it - we're all the same. Even, unfathomably, me and this guy. This is my friend Jim Miller.

LJ7

Jim and I have many things in common. Like:

- we were both more famous in the 80s than we are now - we both wore short shorts for our jobs* - we both retired in our 20s and needed to figure out what the hell to do next

But unlike me, Jim wasn't an actor - he played basketball. When we first met, I didn't know anything about him. I was mostly just concerned that the 17-inch hight difference between us meant that I needed to talk louder. But, it turns out that he could hear me just fine up there and we became friends.

And then people said stuff to me, like "Do you know who that is? That's Jimmy Miller."

There were actually italics in their voices.

The italics were well earned. Jim was MVP of the 1984 NCAA Eastern Regional championships as the University of Virginia advanced to the Final Four. He was a Parade All American, Converse Academic All American, he won a Hertz Number One Award that OJ Simpson presented to him (and no, he's not sure how to feel about that either). He played with Ralph Sampson. He was drafted by the Utah Jazz. He played in Austria and Spain. He was on little cards looking very sporty, like this:

BiJ4ZJ0IYAEKe7s

After years of having people whispering about me, now they were whispering to me, about Jim.

Let me make something clear: I think Jim was more famous than me. There was actually a POSTER of him that college students used to hang in their dorms. Sure, I was on the Mrs. Doubtfire poster but I was one of five people, and my face was mostly obscured by Robin Williams' breast. So I'm pretty sure this means Jim was more famous than me.

But regardless of who was more famous, we have a lot in common and that's incredibly comforting since I have spent so much of my life feeling like a weirdo. It's good to know that other people have left high-profile careers and are doing just fine.

I sat down with Jim recently to talk about his past and his experience with retirement - things we had never talked about before. After several hours of comparing notes, I was even more reassured that the superficial differences between people are so misleading.

When he thinks back on his career, his favorite things sound just like mine. He found that relationships and travel were the most rewarding part of his job. It wasn't all about the fancy things like sitting in the VIP section of a club on Sunset with Lawrence Fishburne. It wasn't all about the awards that he keeps in his basement somewhere. It was about the people. The places. The experiences.

I was most interested in how he made his decision to retire, and wondered if it had been as difficult as my decision had been. After being drafted by an NBA team and released, Jim was playing in the Continental Basketball Association - the minor leagues - playing with guys who were 10 years older than him. They were well into their 30s and still clung to their hopes of playing in the NBA. That possibility became less likely by the year, but they were still chasing the dream. Seeing that made Jim realize that he didn't "want to be one of those guys, lost in the CBA."

That instantly reminded me of a very similar moment in my life. I was siting in a waiting room in a casting office. It had taken me two hours in L.A. traffic to get to the audition and it wasn't even a script I was excited about. I saw a woman in her 40s come out of what must have been a bad audition. She looked exhausted and decided to take it out on the receptionist and yell at her about why they didn't validate parking.

There are moments in any profession where we get a glimpse of our own future - and it might not jive with what we want for ourselves. I was 22 years old. I really didn't want to be 40 and still going to crappy auditions where they decided to hire the buxom blond instead. I didn't have a devotion to the work that could fuel me through the hard times.

Jim and I talked about the difficulty of deciding to retire, even when the job was not fulfilling anymore. With professions like ours, you feel obligated to stick it out, give it one last try. But, finally, he said you just have to "have your 'Come to Jesus' moment and look in the mirror" and make the hard decision.

In his mid-20s, Jim retired from basketball - the thing that had been the center of his life since he was 9 years old. He had to figure out who he was beneath the basketball player, but he felt that since all his energy had been so focused, he was not properly trained for the world outside of professional sports.  I totally related - it seemed that neither one of us had any direction after retirement. So, he took to a trial and error approach, just like I did.

We both felt the pressure to do something "important" to fill that void. We needed to do something that somehow justified our decision to leave. Something that seemed just as cool. But really, what were either of us going to do to fill the massive void left by Hollywood or professional sports? Those careers have been idolized to such a degree (just check out E! or ESPN for a reminder of the extent of the hero-worshiping) that it's hard to imagine where you go from there that doesn't seem like a disappointment to other people.

But as Jim said, it can be really dangerous when you tie up your self esteem with what other people think of you. Because then you are living for others, not yourself. Your sense of self-worth needs to come from somewhere else, somewhere deeper than your resume. But that can be difficult when you've tied up your identity with one thing for so long.

Jim now loves being a husband, a dad and running his own financial consulting firm. He talks about this phase of life being his halftime. He is assessing the things that looked important in the first half of his life, and seeing if they still deserve his focus and energy. He is making adjustments. He is choosing to do some things differently in the second half. He's not afraid to change the line up of his priorities.

I find that so inspiring, because I think many of us operate from a place of momentum. We do what we've always done. We think we are too busy/tired/stubborn to do something different, even if it would make a huge difference to the quality of our lives.

But if we can just give ourselves a little break and really examine where we are, we can get back out there even stronger and play this life according to our own rules.

*proof of Jim and I in our short shorts.

shortsx2

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Flying in full color: how to travel without getting divorced

Travel tip #1 : get good at waiting I'm a travel junkie.

I want to go everywhere.

I don't care to spend money on jewelry or shoes or a new car. Just give me Southern Africa or Honduras or Tuscany. When I check into some tiny, dimly-lit hotel that is run by a little family and their mangy dog -  that's my happy place. My husband and I are starting to make some international travel plans for this year, so I thought I'd share my hard-won travel tips.

For the sake of preserving your relationship with your partner, it’s important to expel any preconceived romantic notions of traveling.

The actual traveling - the airport, plane, train, bus and taxi -  is about as romantic as bedbugs. You will not have bathed, eaten properly, nor slept a reclining position in an inordinate amount of time. You will be uncertain of what possessed you to leave your own zip code.

He will be worse.

He will smell like a sweaty donkey and will make stupid jokes to the guy at the check-in counter. He will not stop bouncing his leg.

I don’t recommend watching those old movies with the soft, dreamy, black and white travel scenes on ships or trains. It will skew your expectations. In reality, you will not be wearing one of those pillbox hats with the net thingy over your face. You have no hankie to wave. It will be nothing like that. Watching those films and thinking it should be like that, will just break your heart and cause you to wonder why your spouse is not acting like Cary Grant.

You did not marry Cary Grant. You did marry the live man that is standing next to you in the Munich airport, giggling at the prevalence of German porn.

But don’t go thinking you are some great prize at the moment, either. Your pants that still have something sticky on them where you sat on something sticky at the train station. Your underwear, (not the fun “vacation panties” that you have stashed in the bottom of the suitcase) will be the same underwear you have been wearing - if you have calculated time zones correctly - for three days.

So if you must, go ahead and watch the romantic travel films of the 1930s and smile smugly because you know it’s all a big myth. Because the sooner you get to that place where you smile kindly when the stupid jokes are made and the taxi driver uses twine to keep the passenger side door shut -- the better your world will be.

Because then, without resorting to murder or divorce, you arrive at your destination and are confronted with all the wonderful and terrible experiences that come with being in a foreign place and needing to learn how to use a composting toilet.

That’s when you understand who you really are.

Being removed from everything that is familiar uncovers aspects of you that lay dormant at home. You look at your Not Cary Grant and watch him come into his own perfect focus.  You're able to unabashedly adore his floundering attempts to use Pimsleur’s Beginning Italian to talk his way out of a parking ticket in Lucca. You will respect his willingness to try the pile of "meat" that the street vendor in Cape Town just offered him. The conversations that arise while enjoying trdelnik at the Prague Christmas market have a different depth than the ones occurring in real life, which tend to be interrupted by the need to switch the clothes from the washer to dryer.

Travel strips you down. By removing the veil of habit, routine and conventional existence, travel reveals who you both truly are.

So go, even though travel can be uncomfortable and dirty and exhausting. Forget how you think things are supposed to go and embrace the unknown. Go see the world - go get lost and get found.

There's only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you've got to be kind.*

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A vegetarian contemplates eating the body of Christ

Me at age 13, looking like a creepy little bride Traveling was always my favorite part about working as an actor. I went to fascinating places and lived there for several months at a time. I got to immerse myself in the culture and go beyond the tourist things. I got to learn languages and make friends with bellmen. I will always be grateful for the variety of experiences I had because I was an actor.

Some projects were worth doing for the location alone. Vendetta II, which filmed in Rome, was one such example.

It was a mini-series in which I was playing a blind girl. I was not blind throughout the whole film but rather, my character went blind after a mobster threw her off the side of a mountain in an attempt to hurt her mother, a nun, who was played by the supermodel Carol Alt. So, for half of the mini-series, I was blind until a trip through the Italian countryside restored my site. As beautiful views are prone to do.

As I said, it was mostly about the cool location.

Any self-respecting mafia film requires a healthy dose of religious pageantry. Before my character went blind, she was supposed to take Communion, as one assumes all daughters of nuns would do.

In the scene, I wore a white miniature wedding dress with a veil, and walked down the church aisle with all the dark wood and dark music that one would expect of a Catholic church in the Italian countryside. Having been raised without any religious influence whatsoever, I was clueless as to the procedure involved in this rite of passage. So during rehearsal, I just followed the other girls who seemed to know how to kneel and open their mouths for the Communion wafers.

And then I heard the priest murmur something about the body of Christ.

I had been a strict vegetarian since the age of four, so this totally freaked me out. What the hell was he putting in my mouth?? Eating Christ sounded super gross. During the first take, I took the wafer in my mouth and poked at it with my tongue while trying not to gag.

It didn’t feel like flesh but it certainly didn’t feel like food, either.

What was this stuff?

Was it some sort of pressed chicken Jesus-taste-alike?

Was it plastic prop food?

I had made the mistake of trying to eat prop food before, much to the amusement of the rest of the cast and crew, and was not eager to replicate that experience. Admitting my lack of religious knowledge to the real Italian priest who had been hired to play the role of the priest would have been humiliating. The church was full of about 100 extras who didn't speak much English. Since everyone else seemed to know what was going on, I felt too shy to ask the director or anyone else on the crew. My mom was around somewhere, but I wasn't confident that she would know what this thing was anymore than I did.

I was all alone in a crowd.

And my job was to eat the body of a deity.

I decided to shove the wafer to the roof of my mouth without chewing it. The wafer fit snugly within the half circle of my upper teeth. Then we did another take. And another. There was little time in between, so I just kept shoving the body of Jesus onto the roof of my mouth, getting more and more nervous as I started to lose space on my tongue for the next take’s wafer. Whatever this thing was, it was absorbing all the saliva in my mouth, turning into a sticky clump and making the whole experience rather uncomfortable.

Finally, after almost ten takes, we got the shot and I was able to step outside and get enough privacy to peel the layers of the Lord off the roof of my mouth and chuck it into a nearby courtyard full of birds.

They seemingly had no qualms about the nature of the wafer.

When I went back to the hotel that night after work, I crawled into bed and thought about how lucky I was and what an amazing day I had — I actually got to feed some pigeons.

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