Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I auditioned for a play recently. I know, I know. That doesn't seem like me at all. It didn't feel like me either. But I did it anyway. My church is doing a play called The Countdown. They've done it many times over the years, although it changes a bit each time. It's a really powerful drama and, although I clearly have no business being on any stage, I just wanted to be a part of it.

At the audition they had me read the part of a 29-year-old pregnant girl. Since I'm closer to 40 than 30, I wasn't sure I had the acting chops to pull that one off.  They must have agreed, because I didn't get that part.  But I did get the part of the Waitress.  She's has a few lines in a few scenes and acts as comic relief.  Right up my ally.  However, at one of our first rehearsals, they realized that there was another person in the scene, a wife.  They forgot to cast someone for the part, so I read it just so that the scene could continue.  In the immortal words of Sally Field, they liked me.  They really liked me.  So I got an upgrade from comic relief waitress to psychotic wife.  (Keep the comments to yourself.)

I haven't done anything like this since high school. In fact, all of my acting and any involvement in the theateical arts was almost exclusively done in high school plays with the exception of one youth-group rendition of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves when I was about seven years old.  I played Dopey.  One word.  Typecasting.  Since that triumphant performance, I was occasionally on stage, but rarely seen, in a grand total of four musicals.  I never spoke a word on stage until my senior year of high school.  And now I'll take you on a walk down my personal Memory Lane.

The first play I was in was Oklahoma.  Okay, I wasn't actually in the play. I was on Stage Crew.  I like Stage Crew. You're part of the team, but nobody sees you if you trip and fall flat on your face because every time you're out there it's pitch black and nobody can see, which is likely why you tripped and fell in the first place. Not that that specific thing has ever happened to me.


Anyhow, Oklahoma. As part of my Stage Crew duties, I got to run the lights.  The lights were located in a giant cage off stage left. Or is it stage right?  I can never remember if the directions are based on if you're on the stage looking out at the audience or if your in the audience looking up at the stage. I suppose I should figure that out so that I don't end up walking off the edge of the stage in The Countdown. The lights were controlled by three big levers, one red, one yellow and one blue. With all my might I would crank those levers up and down to get just the right mood lighting to help set the scene. "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning", crank up the yellow. "Poor Jud is Dead", that song requires some ominous blue light.  It gave me a feeling of control.  Plus, we got to wear these headsets with microphones that let all the members of the crew talk to each other.  It was fun.

You see a lot of things when your on the Stage Crew. Things that no audience member should ever see.  For example, the kid up on the catwalk whose job it was to raise and lower different scenery had a birds-eye view of the stage and announced over the headset that one should not wear underwear with dark purple polka dots while wearing a light yellow dress. And there was the girl, smack in the middle of the stage, hands on her knees with her tush sticking out towards stage left (or is it right), polka dots a-blazin. And that's the story of how the entire Stage Crew got struck with the giggles on opening night.

The next year was Little Shop of Horrors. I was on stage longer than any other character in the
production. But I was invisible. Or rather, camouflaged. I was one of the two puppeteers than moved the giant 14-foot Audry II alien plant while it's lines were delivered by an actor off stage. Audry II was made out of two 12-foot rubber rafts attached to a base that hinged. It was more impressive than it sounds. It was controlled by me and a girl named Beth holding onto a raft handles on each boat on either side and flapping with all out might while we were disguised as giant leaves.  Those boats are a lot heavier than they look.  To this day I blame my disproportionately large biceps on Audry II and not on my hearty, potato-digging heritage.

During my Junior year our school did The Sound of Music.  They brought in some kids from the grammar school to play some of the smaller children and short seniors for the rest.  I don't know why, but for some reason it really bothered me that it wasn't strictly a high school musical, but was turning into some sort of community theater.  Maybe it was because I was an extra nun.  But I have to admit, it was one of the most fun plays I was in.  I became close friends with my fellow nuns and learned to sing in Latin.  I have no idea what I was saying, but to this day I can sing along with the chorus during the beginning of the movie.  :-)  And quite honestly, I was just glad to be a human and not a plant that year.

"Only bad witches are ugly."
In my final year of high school, we did The Wizard of Oz.  I so badly wanted to play the part of Glinda, but realized that I wouldn't get the part when I spoke the line, "Only bad witches are ugly."  Oh... yeah... well, that's not going to work with me.  Maybe I should have tried out for the wicked witch.  But there was a girl who already had a really great cackle.  Last year's joy of being cast as a human being was short-lived when I read the cast list and discovered that I would be playing Tree #1 in the haunted forest.  I was back to being a plant.  But I did have lines.  Three of them!  Here they are:

"Hey!  What do you think YOU'RE doing?!?"

"She was hungry!"

"Worms!  Did he say worms!"

And then I got to throw apples at Dorothy and the Tin Man.  Totally worth it.

Anyhow, I assumed my acting days were behind me.  But I felt compelled to try out for the church play.  I'm really excited to be a part of it.  If you live in the Rochester area, please come and see it!  Either you will really enjoy it and you will go out for pie afterward, or you will hate it, you can still go out for pie afterward, plus you'll have the added benefit of being able to make fun of that chick you know from high school/college/work/Facebook/quirky blog.  Win-Win-Win!

Click here to download free tickets to the show.  They're giving away a $20 Visa Gift Card at every performance!  Performances are the first two weekends in November, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 8th, 9th, and 10th, at 7:00 PM each night.


Friday, August 9, 2013

The Perfect Fit

I put together a puzzle today with my son.  In truth, what happened was he dumped the contents of a puzzle box onto my lap, sat with me for a few minutes then ran off to play Captain America while I tried to sort things out.

It seemed as though there were about a kajillion puzzle pieces even though the box said there were only 63.  I began to doubt that any of the pieces even belonged to the same puzzle.  Maybe it was just a random box filled with random puzzle pieces.  Maybe I had just discovered the secret hiding place for every lost puzzle piece.  Perhaps when one of the tiny cardboard slices inadvertently is pushed under a couch or slips beneath the edge of an area rug a magical vortex opens up and whisks it away to this unassuming little box to spend eternity with all the other lost puzzle pieces. 

Well, I'm not ruling that out completely, but after a short time a picture began to form.  That's when I
noticed it; an odd little puzzle piece.  It had a weird shape and a strange splattering of colors.  There was no telling what part of the picture this strange little piece would end up revealing.  I set it aside, doubting if it belonged at all.  But I found myself picking it up again and again.  I turned it in all directions in my hands and tried to fit it in here or there.  Sometimes it seemed like it would fit, but then I would remove it after finding a piece that was a better fit; the right piece.

And then I started to cry.  Not just because I was a tired, stressed out mother of three who found herself being stymied by a children's toy intended to be mastered by ages three and up, but because I realized that I am that weird little puzzle piece.  I am 37 years old.  I have a home, a family, a job, but I still don't know where I fit in.  Where do I fit in this world?  Like the little puzzle piece, I am lost... misplaced.

An impressive
amount of hairspray.
It's as if I never left the seventh grade and I'm still praying, "Please God, please don't let me be a nerd.  Please just let me fit in."  As a kid I was always acutely aware that my jeans were never rolled quite right.  And no matter how much hairspray I used I was never able to get that perfect wall of hair.  While the bangs of other girls stood at attention all day long, mine would unceremoniously flop to one side by second period.  I suppose, in the long run, it made for less embarrassing school photos. 

I had friends here and there, but none that would really be close for a lifetime. 
Some of my friends had such active social lives that my introverted self couldn't keep up with all the activity.  Some seemed so much more intelligent than me that I felt like I had to study up on a subject every time I wanted to have a conversation with them.  Some friends were so sweet and kind.  As much as I wanted to be more like them and remain close with them for my entire life, I knew that I was not nearly as compassionate as they were and would eventually hurt them.  So I quietly faded into the background. 

I did not fit in right through high school and into college.  I'm still not sure if I fit in anywhere.  Perhaps I will some day.  Maybe.  I mean, every puzzle piece fits somewhere, right?

As my pint-sized Captain America stomps across the puzzle, pieces sticking to the bottom of his feet waiting to be whisked away into the Lost Toy Vortex, I realize that none of that matters at this moment.  He snuggles into my lap, looks up at me with that sweet face and says, "You're my best girl, Mama."  I hold him tight and kiss the top of his fuzzy head. 

It's a perfect fit.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Girl In The Record Store

I'm sure there is a woman who exists that, back in the early 70s, dated a cute boy in high school named John.  He and his friends had a little band.  He had great hair and an ambition to be a musician when he grew up.  While they were very happy together, they were young and, as is the fate for many young loves, the flame burned fasted and faded just as quickly.  They parted friends and went their separate ways.

Several years later, in 1982, I'm sure that same girl,
now a young woman, was flipping through the
albums of her local record store.  After all, she had dated a musician in high school.  As she flips through the 12-inch squares looking for a new band to spin on the old family Hi-Fi, she gasps and quickly snaps up an album.  She exclaims loudly, "Jon Bon Jovi!?!  I used to make out with him in his mother's basement!"

I'm sure that woman exists.  She has to.  Because right now, I feel very much like that woman.  Except I'm not flipping through dusty vinyl albums.  Facebook is my record store.  A friend of mine from high school is at the beginning of a rocket ride upwards to national, and quite possibly international recognition for his art work. 

He is one of the few people that I know that said, "I want to be <fill in the blank> when I grow up," and now he actually is.  Many kids say they want to be a rock star or a famous actor when they grow up.  Most of them become accountants or possibly lawyers.  Very few actually go on to be what they professed when they were kids.  I personally wanted to be a race car driver when I was a kid.  I had a need for speed.  Some people who have driven with me might consider that I have accomplished my goal.  I also wanted to be a Notary Public.  But I digress.

Scorch was a cross between
an angry Bugs Bunny and a
more irritable Sonic the Hedgehog.
I remember in high school, my friend used to doodle pictures of this little bunny.  It's name was Scratch... Scorch... I can't remember what it's name was.  It was an angry little bunny with clenched teeth and one floppy ear and was the star of his very own comic strip.  And even though I made constant fun of his floppy-eared bunny, I always appreciated how detailed his drawings were.  I merely enjoyed drawing, he was passionate about it.  No matter how hard I tried, I could never create images as beautiful and compelling as his.  I'm pretty sure I still have some of his napkin doodles in a box somewhere in my parent's basement.

Due to the wonders of Facebook and other online media, some of his recent work is being recognized.  He is being commissioned to do the artwork for band CDs and movie posters as well as other projects.  I have to say, I am so proud of him and thrilled to be a person who can say, "I knew him when..." 

I look forward to the day in the not-too-distant-future when I'm looking through CDs or perusing the "Coming Soon" movie posters at Regal Theater and recognize the distinct style of my friend's artwork.  I'm so proud of him and can't wait to see such a talented and deserving person receive public recognition and admiration for his craft.  I can't wait to be that woman in the record store.  Because we totally made out in his mother's basement.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Valentine's Day Approaches

Valentine's Day is nearly upon us and with it comes the special combination of anxiety and neuroticism that makes me uniquely me. As if my general fears of the day aren't enough, I am now finding myself contemplating what illness or accident will land me another romantic evening in the Emergency Room.

I'm so glad that my kids have not inherited my Valentine's craziness. They seem pretty cool and matter-of-fact about it. There's no anxiety about giving a valentine to the weird kid or people thinking that they like the weird kid. I guess that's a plus to today's school system. They really emphasize that every kid in the class is "one of our friends." That wasn't the case when I was growing up. There was a definite stigma associated with being friends with some kids. Was it fair? No. Did I want to exclude people? No. But when you're a kid with thick glasses, freckles and really messed up teeth, you can't take any chances giving a Valentine to the smelly kid. Childhood was really rough for me.

We actually have the opportunity to have a grown-up night out this year. Our church’s Married Couples Group is sponsoring a romantic evening of dinner and entertainment. It's reasonably priced, but we can't make it for a few reasons, which coincidentally is the exact number of children we have. When you have three kids and not a single one of them is old enough to stay home alone or watch any of the others, you spend a lot of Valentine's Days eating chicken nuggets and watching Curious George.

We could hire our niece to babysit. She's done it before and did a great job. She's responsible, organized, and really prepared. She's much more prepared than I ever was when I used to babysit kids. She brings toys, prizes, candy and activities. But that's not really the problem either.

My parents are going to the Married Couples Valentine's Dinner. I suppose this isn't really that big of a deal. But personally, I find it really difficult to look deeply into my love's eyes while my Dad is asking me to pass the salt.

And here's Robert Downy, Jr., just because he makes everything better. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Paper Cuts and Miracles

The Barbie Band-Aid really
does make it feel better.
I cut my finger while using scissors the other day. This is a potential injury I had been warned about since Kindergarten. Even as a child I wondered how one was supposedly able to cut through human skin with scissors that just barely cut through an ordinary piece of construction paper. (Side note: One can get beat up simply by referring to oneself as "One.")  Most of the time the paper ended up being ripped rather than cut.

I've always been pretty good with sharp objects. Most of my cuts are usually from broken glass or paper.  Paper is, by far, the worst enemy of my epidermis.  I've gotten some pretty nasty paper cuts. For some reason they always seem to hurt the most. Maybe it's because they're such a clean cut. Or maybe it's because I usually get them right on a knuckle where they never get a chance to really close up. All I know is that I can be bested by some thinly sliced tree pulp.

I've always excelled at using sharp objects.  It's a point of pride my father instilled in me as a child.  I've mentioned before that my father used to send me outside with a large knife and practice throwing it so that it would stick straight up in the grass and not land flat on its side.  Yeah, it sounds weird to me now, too.  But it seemed like a perfectly reasonable past time as a kid.  Dad would also bring me to the Rochester Fencing Club and have me poke a knot in the knotty pine bleachers with his extra foil while he and the rest of the club members parried and thrusted.  Good times.

My mother is generally discouraged from using knives.  She has accidentally sliced herself open and ruined more dishcloths than I can count.  We tend to take stock of the paper towels and bandages when Mom goes to slice up anything for a big family dinner.  Clearly, her parents never sent her into the back yard to practice her knife throwing skills.  Poor thing.

The blood-free project!
Since I am generally pretty good with sharp objects, I have to admit, I was quite shocked when I felt the tip of my brand new, race-car-red scissors slice through knuckle of my left index finger while cutting felt for a new project.  It was a rookie mistake.  I was so focused on cutting the felt in a straight line I didn't notice I was placing my poor little piggy that stayed home in harms way.  It was a bloody mess, but I managed to finish up my project without getting any on it.

Yup, I got cut right on the Middle
phalanx of my left index finger.
Fortunately for me, the next day was Sunday.  I went off to church and, having forgotten to put a new Band-aid on after taking a shower, was very conscious of my grody, open wound.  But worry not!  That day in church the Holy Spirit was moving!  It was a really awesome time of worship.  Pastor didn't actually ever get to his sermon, cause instead of telling us about stuff, God just did what God does.  While I was sitting there praying I looked down at my open cut.  But it wasn't as open as it had been when I got to church.  I periodically would look down at my finger, and the cut was closing up.  By the end of church, there was a small red dot where before the raw insides of my finger had previously been.  Now you may be thinking, "So what?  It was just a simple cut that would have healed in a couple of days."  And you would be right.  Except that I didn't have to wait a couple of days.  It was healed in less than an hour at church.  And yes, it wasn't a cancerous tumor or a deadly disease that I was healed from, but if we can't believe God to heal the little things then how will we have Faith to believe for healing when big stuff hits?

I don't know about yours, but my God still does miracles.  He's pretty cool like that. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Fasting and Prayer, or, How I Accidentally Poisoned Myself

My church is doing a 21-day Fast. They do it every year in January to start the year off right and hear from God. This year I'm sort of participating. I suppose fasting isn't any more difficult for me than it is for anybody else. But it makes me feel better to think that it is.

It's not difficult for the reasons you might suppose. I can go quite a while without eating or drinking anything. In fact, I do it inadvertently throughout the year. I take after my Mother and Grandmother.  They are both part camel. 

Here's the problem: I get really... let's say "weird", when I don't eat at regular intervals. My husband can attest to this as can my mother, who previously didn't believe it was true until she witnessed my hunger induced transformation first-hand. We were at the mall one day just before lunch time when it hit. I went from being my normal, funny, fairly rational self to being extremely short-tempered, confused and irrational. My mother stood there with her mouth opened unable to believe what was happening to me. The whole time I had no idea that I was acting any different at all. We stopped at the food court and three bites into a chicken sandwich I was back to my normal self again, feeling calmer, but unaware that I had been anything but pleasant.

The point is, I need to eat. Everyone around me needs me to eat.  So fasting can be a bit of a problem for me.  Fortunately, there are many different kinds of fasting.  You can do a full fast, which means you don't eat anything at all and only drink water.  You can have broth if you start feeling too weak.  This is not a good option for me.  It would take about 20 minutes before I would go for the broth.  The Daniel Fast lets you eat only fruits and vegetables.  Not a bad way to live everyday, but I love bacon too much to make that a permanent lifestyle.  My kids are fasting TV, video games, and sugary snacks on different days during the week.  They're doing a great job and I'm really proud of them.

I decided this would be a good time to jump-start some better eating habits.  I found a 3-day cleanse on the Dr. Oz website that looked good.  It's supposed to re-set your hormones and boost your immune system.  It sounded great, so I went and bought all the fruits, vegetables, supplements, and weird food products that I needed from the Natures Marketplace section of the grocery store that I generally avoid because I'm no hippie.  I even bought the Epsom salts and lavender oil drops to take the nightly Detox Ultra Bath.  I don't generally take baths because sitting in a pot of my own filth is not something I generally enjoy, but I sat in the hot, salty water until my fingers got all pruney because I was committed to doing this thing.  It turned out to be pretty relaxing.  I didn't like it.  Relaxation is very uncomfortable to me.  I wrote a blog all about that here if you want to know why.

The breakfast drink went down pretty well on day one.  It was a little more banana-y than I like, but it was still okay.  The lunch drink was very, very thick and pulpy.  It made me gag and what bit of it I managed to get down burned my throat.  This should have been a red flag to me, but I ignored it.  Four large stalks of celery turned out to be too much.  I think I put too much cayenne pepper in the dinner shake the first night, because it made my throat feel like it was going to bleed.  I used cinnamon the next day instead.  It was much better.

The irony of me being taken out
by a nut is not lost on me.
I was well into day three of the cleanse when I made an important discovery.  I was so dedicated to being totally committed to doing this thing right that I missed a very important detail.  I don't like to admit it, but I have a slight allergy to almonds.  It isn't bad enough to keep me from grabbing a small handful of my sister's homemade seasoned almonds, but it is bad enough to keep me from breathing comfortably.  I consider comfortable breathing to be an optional luxury when compared to eating toasted almonds coated in cinnamon and sugar.  I don't want to admit that I can be defeated by a nut and believe that my increased sensitivity to them is a punishment for my general intolerance of food allergies, so I mostly just ignore the problem.  Until I realized that the reason I was feeling sick, tired, and lethargic while drinking smoothies that were supposed to make me feel energized and refreshed was because they were made of almond butter and almond milk. Yes, I was slowly poisoning myself.  And yes, it took me three days to realize it. 

I was going to finish the cleanse, but my husband insisted that I stop.  About two days later I was feeling just fine, breathing in and out without incident.  I tried it again a few days later, without the poisonous ingredients. 

I guess what I learned most during this fast is to listen more carefully to that still, small voice inside of me that says, "Hey, Dummy, you're poisoning yourself."  Maybe that voice should be a little louder.

Hey, Dummy.  You're eating poison.