Another weekend, another party!

Another weekend, another party!

I wonder why my son always hangs out with his friends?

Friday night, game night. Shuffling the cards we have been dealt.

Saturday, a murder mystery party. Strangers in even stranger clothes.

Will the weekend adventures never end?

My son came home late last night. Who is in the house tonight? Strangers that he’s never met. Dressed up in some garish garb. Food prepared, glasses clink. Questioning who the killer is.

We talk and laugh the night away. I wonder if he thinks it’s strange?

Then an unusual thought occurred to me. I had more friends over this weekend than my parents did my whole childhood. Maybe that is what he would find strange. He doesn’t know the me from back then. The person I spent half my life being is just another stranger.

I wonder why my son always hangs out with his friends?

Another weekend, another party!

Until next weekend…

De-roling

My daughter Arabella said something interesting the other day. Yesterday I told you that I found a new friend from the theater who is also a runner. Arabella said she didn’t know if she liked my new friend or if it was just her character that liked her. Interesting! My daughter was the maid of my new friend in the show. They had a really close stage relationship.

It really got me to think about acting. The last two shows I’ve had stage husbands. I am absolutely in love with both guys, although I would probably never date them if I was single.

This past show, I was in a romantic scene with my stage husband. We were supposed to kiss. But since I am married, the kiss on the lips turned into a kiss on the cheek. How was I supposed to muster up feelings for a complete stranger that I wasn’t remotely interested in and make it look convincing? I had to pretend to be in love with someone I wasn’t in love with.

My husband also had roles where his character was married to another woman. He was married to one woman on stage twice. It really didn’t bother me all that much. But there was another woman he was married to where we ended up stepping down from our roles. This woman was completely gaga about my husband and rubbed it in my face while I played the part of their maid. It didn’t work out well at all. Later she ended up leaving her husband for someone she was in a show with at the theater.

Surprisingly, these things happen in a community theater. Rumor has it that in a previous show a stage husband and wife slept together although they were both married to other people. I could probably write a play about all of the things that happen backstage and call it fiction because no one would ever believe half the stuff was true.

It is strange that while working with someone very closely on stage, you get to know them very quickly. I built relationships within a few weeks that otherwise would take me years to build. I had to feel comfortable working with my stage husbands if I was going to pull it off.

I’ve also had parts in the last two shows where I had to hit people on stage. This past show I had to hit my stage husband. The show previous to that, I had to hit my stage child. I really don’t feel comfortable hitting people, even more so people I don’t know. We really had to work together as a team to make it seem natural because in real life it wasn’t.

But some of the best shows I’ve been in I have had parts where I was married to my husband on stage. We’ve had people ask of if we were married to each other after the shows because if we weren’t we would no longer be married. Being married on stage and off is so much easier to pull off.

Then just like that, the show is over. Do I really like that person I was supposed to be in love with? Or was it just the role I was playing? Reality blurs a bit. I find myself forming friendships with people that I probably wouldn’t otherwise associate with. People of all ages and backgrounds come together for the common goal of putting on a good show.

I have been in enough shows now to know what to expect. As I’ve dealt with the anxiety and excitement of being on stage, I’ve also dealt with the sadness when it is over. For a short period of time, we become family. Then the family falls apart.

The cast members are making plans to get together again. But it won’t be the same. I am just glad for the experience and the friends I’ve made along the way. It’s time to say good-bye to my character, one of my all time favorites. It’s time to de-role until the next show.

I find it interesting with all of the time spent building a character, no one mentions once how to tear it back down and let go. Sometimes that can be more difficult. It makes me wonder how professional actors are able to do it. From all of the tabloids, I see that it doesn’t always work out well for them either.

 

The bittersweet end

Today is the bittersweet day after the show is over. I am relieved to have more time on my hands. I even started working on my book again. But I will miss playing the part. This role was one of my all time favorites. I enjoyed working with the cast and made some new friends.

Things did end up getting a little out of hand with the special needs child backstage this past weekend. I am glad that I mentioned something though. The special needs girl latched on to another teen girl that was totally inappropriate. She said that she would die without the other girl’s attention and demanded to know what she talked about with other people. She even followed the girl out into the wings and hung on her right before going on stage. This behavior was upsetting to everyone and I’m glad I spoke up even though I took some criticism for it.

I did make a new friend, another runner. We are planning on going running together this week. I’m not sure if it will work out. This other woman is younger than me and qualified twice for the Boston Marathon. She is younger and faster. I told her if it doesn’t work out that I wouldn’t have any hard feelings. We have a lot in common, so even if it doesn’t work out maybe we could still be friends.

Friday night, after the first show, the cast that likes to hang around and celebrate got kicked out of the theater after the last patron left. So it was suggested that the next night I would have a pool party at my house. I was already planning that for the second weekend, but last minute threw it together for the first weekend as well. Both nights I ended up going to bed at 3 AM. THREE IN THE MORNING!! I don’t remember ever staying up that late which made the Sunday performance a little hard.

I have a lot of new friends (and enemies) now that I have a house with an indoor pool. For the first time in my life, I am really popular. I want to think people like me for me, but I really don’t care anymore. It makes me feel special, liked. In a strange way it makes me feel like I can make up now for the childhood I never had.

I had some friends and family come out to the show. Some lady even asked me for my autograph. Yeah, like I am ever going to be famous for my acting. But it felt good.

Something strange happened. My mom came to the show and my stage husband raved on and on to her about how wonderful I was on stage and off. My mother replied, “Is that so?” and then spoke to me about a problem she was having. She wanted my help in solving the problem. Why would she talk to me about something like that right after a show? Why didn’t she rave about the show? Or me? Or my daughter who had her first solo in a performance? I really felt hurt and wondered if she was always like that or if it was the first time I noticed it?

Someone asked me why I liked performing. I really had to think about it. I like to be somebody else. I love the costumes and the makeup. I love to sing. I love to be challenged. The strange thing about being an anxious person is that I don’t feel a lot more anxious being on stage than I already feel. Which in a weird way frees me to try things that most people would be anxious about. Plus I already know how to deal with anxiety. Does that make sense?

It was great to be in the show, but I am ready to get back to my regular programming with a couple of new friends in tow.

 

The community theater extrovert

I don’t know what it is about community theater. I become a whole different person. I’m not just talking about the role I’m playing as a character, I’m talking about me as a person. I become an extrovert.

In real life I am not much of a social person. I blog, does that count? You get the idea. I like to keep my opinions to myself. I shy away from the spotlight and become a wallflower. I am moody, melancholy, and not at all agreeable. But at the theater, I am an extrovert on stage and off. All or nothing, baby! My most redeeming social quality is that I have a quick wit. I love to make people laugh. After the evening shows, Paul and I rarely made it to bed before 1 AM.

One night after celebrating at the theater, we had a couple of people crash at our house. One of the actresses confessed that she has cancer and is going through her third round of radiation next week. How could I say ‘no’ to that? Come on over! That night I went to bed at 2 AM then got up the next morning and did the show all over again. That is life as a community theater extrovert I guess.

You tend to meet a whole bunch of eccentric characters at the theater. For a brief time, they get to be someone else too. I wish I could say that all other life stops for awhile during the run of a show, but it goes on. I lost my job during the run of the show. I wasn’t the only one either. A cast member had a funeral to attend out of state. One young girl got her first period and had to reach out to people that were basically strangers to help.

For that short period of time, we became like family and you know how it is with family…some people drive you nuts. Oh, and there is always drama.

There was this new lady that was very beautiful, nice, encouraging, optimistic, and cheerful. She also totally annoyed the crap out of me. Every time she was on stage she would over act and upstage me. It drove me nuts. Back stage she dumped my whole water bottle on my dry clothes. It was an accident so I couldn’t do anything but suppress my irritation. She apologized profusely. When we had only two shows left, she decided that she didn’t like the dance routine choreography and wanted everyone to change it without actually telling everyone who would be on stage at the time. I told her there was no way I would be changing anything.

My husband Paul had the lead part. He had somewhere around 200 lines to memorize. Most of them were a paragraph long. He did a great job. Everyone thought that he had a natural gift for memorizing. Does anyone?? I really want to know. He spent at least an hour a day going through his lines.

There were love triangles on stage and off. Did you know that the theater is also a good place to fall in love? My uncle Rick met someone at the theater for a first date and they are already engaged!

Sometimes things didn’t go as planned. Lines got missed or messed up. Once the curtain opened at the wrong time while a woman was changing behind it. One little girl got hit hard on the head by someone moving a prop. Three other people fell, one while tied up. Many people had sore throats. We wandered around the rest of the week like exhausted zombie versions of ourselves while life continued on.

Then after the show is over, the main characters have to de-role. It is time to say good-bye to the new family. There is a period of sadness and loss after saying bye to a beloved character that almost becomes you for awhile.

For that brief time, everybody loved you. You were someone special, a star. The anxiety of performing is a major adrenaline rush. It is thrilling! Did I mention the costumes, makeup, wigs, and hair primping? Fun!

Then when it is all done, we go back to our normal lives until the next show.

 

Hell week

Last week I lost my job.

Last week Sunday hell week started with a nine hour practice at the theater.

We sold our business earlier this year and up to this point everything has stayed relatively the same. I wasn’t expecting this at all. I didn’t have time to prepare for this in any way. I didn’t have plans to quit working anytime soon.

Then last week happened. Paul and I found out a couple of days before corporate flew in. We met them out for coffee on a brisk chilly sunny morning. I didn’t want to meet them. I didn’t want the small talk about the weather. I wanted the day to never happen or be over before it began. I faced the day with dread. I had nightmares about it when I could actually sleep.

It was the hardest day I ever faced at work. I had to go to the office that morning and watch my staff get fired right before Christmas. They didn’t do anything wrong which made it harder. I felt like I betrayed them. They had to immediately pack up their belongings and leave. I didn’t have time to prepare for the pain of firing long time employees, people that I saw day in and day out for years. Employees that I talked to more than some of my family.

I understand why it happened logically. Corporate wanted to consolidate all of operations into one centralized office. It makes a lot of business sense, but it did not stop my tears from falling.

I have been doing this for over ten years now. I feel really lost like I am losing a part of who I am. Who am I? My job will be gone and my kids will be out of the house soon too.

I thought about my time here, building a business alongside my husband. I thought about the friends I’ve made throughout the years. I thought about the clients that I will miss. I thought of the conferences I attended, the files I stockpiled, the work relationships I built during the 15,000 hours I dedicated my life to this. I feel a great sense of grief, of loss. Maybe if I saw it coming months before it would’ve been easier to adjust?

I feel unsettled, anxious, and depressed. Paul and our sales staff will stay on. My department is closing. I am the only employee staying on to make the transition of our operations to the central office. By the end of the month, our office here will close and I will be out of a job.

I wish I could say that the transition has been seamless, but it hasn’t. The central office has a different way of running things than we do. It is neither right nor wrong, just different. This has upset some of our clients which has been upsetting to me. I don’t have any control over this. I wasn’t prepared, I wasn’t ready. I am trying to let it go and not let it bother me, but it is easier said than done.

I feel like I am getting a divorce. Paul and I spent half of our married life working together. But it isn’t over, Paul and I have plans in the future to start another business together. This all had to come to an end sometime, I just wasn’t ready for it to end now.

That night Paul and I went to hell week rehearsal like nothing happened. Paul has the lead part in the show. Could he do it? Could I go on stage and smile when I spent half of the day crying? Acting like everything was okay was one of the toughest performances we had to give. We couldn’t tell the cast before we were able to tell close friends and family.

Somehow we were able to pull it off, but last week certainly gave a new meaning for hell week.

The show must go on…

As you are reading this, I will be silently sitting backstage waiting for the show to start. Honestly, I don’t feel excited or nervous. I just feel frustration.

The show must go on…

Tonight the show that we have been working on since January starts. I am ready for it to be over so I can get back to my regular life. Maybe I have lost my passion for community theater?

The show must go on…

This has been a record month at work. Many times, like today, I had to walk away leaving things unfinished. It bothers me to leave things undone…it demands my attention.

The show must go on…

I feel unbalanced yet again. This show is taking a big chunk of my time now. Besides work, my first race is less than a month away. Only a few weeks are left until my 18 mile weekend trail running race. Yesterday it was snowing again. I haven’t been able to run outside for a long time. The trail is filled with snowy mud. I feel like I am falling behind on my training this week because I didn’t have the time.

The show must go on…

I haven’t had the time to write. This is probably my record for the least amount of posts per week.

The show must go on…

I am sick with a cold that has been hanging around for weeks. My ears are plugged and I am snotty. It makes it hard to sing. The last couple of weeks the whole cast has been sick with laryngitis, colds, and/or the flu. There are people back stage with fevers as you read this.

The show must go on…

Two of the cast members lost parents since the show started.

The show must go on…

The cast includes many more children than adults. Sometimes their chatter and childishness annoys me. They ask stupid questions that takes up the directors time and I don’t get home until very late at night. Does it really matter what side her hair is parted or that his costume has a tiny rip. Who gives a rip??

The show must go on…

We also have a dog in the show. He has been great so far, but the last few nights he has been skittish. He might be picking up on the stage fright of the actors that are handling him and sometimes he has been running off the stage. Some of the lead characters have extreme anxiety.

The show must go on…

This is the first show that I am the old lady. I am really having a hard time with my new identity. I don’t feel happy. I am not sure that being in this play was worth the other things that I had to give up. Maybe I am having a midlife crisis??

The show must go on…

I always had beautiful dresses to wear. My costume this time looks frumpy. I look ridiculously ugly. Call me vain, but this is the first time I feel really bad about my appearance. My costumes are ugly. They are ill fitting. My dresses are about 20 sizes too big. I am not kidding. I have to tuck the bust area into my belt that wraps around me twice. Someone asked if the new director was out to get me. Even my wig doesn’t fit. The cast has been super nice to me about this.

The show must go on…

Despite not liking the show nor the part I play in it, I have met some interesting characters. I have always been drawn to the eccentric type. They are pretty easy to find in the theater. There is the young man that had a failed kidney transplant and is going through dialysis. Hearing the stories and struggles of others and the friendships built help make the experience worthwhile. It puts things into perspective..

The show must go on…

It is a huge time commitment and I am not sure if I will be doing this again for a long time. But I kept my commitment even though I felt like walking away. In another week, I will be able to leave this behind me. Then I will have time to examine why I feel the way I do..probably on a very long run..

Until then, the show must go on…

I’m (not) worried

I don’t really feel like writing today. The weekend went really well and poorly.

Paul and I were really stressed out this past week.

Thankfully, Arabella’s fever was gone by Saturday morning. She wasn’t 100%, but was up for a 4 hour road trip to see my daughter Angel perform.

Alex wasn’t fairing as well. His bacterial colitis was acting up and he couldn’t get treatment until we brought in a specimen.

By Saturday morning, I was feeling pretty stressed. Still no sample. I decided to work out Saturday morning like usual.

Paul and I were not getting along the last few days. While I was working out he sent me a text. I think you are a great mother. What did that mean?? I took it as an attack. I responded back with something like SCREW YOU and found out that he really meant it later. Misunderstandings..

We took separate cars since we had a large crew going out to the show…a ten mile run…a long drive…no sample..

I picked up my mom on my way.

It was my dad’s birthday. He turned 70. I rolled down my window and said happy birthday in a rushed murmur as I pulled away. A card and gift forgotten. Guilt. My dad didn’t go along.

The show was excellent! I am so proud…my daughter, the only freshman girl with a lead in her first opera. Magnifico!

I was expecting an introduction to the new guy she was talking about. Nothing. He is out of the picture. She told her ex to not bother coming to the show. Instead Mitch made the long drive to our house when we were gone to drop off Angel’s things. He dropped off 2 sweaters. Okay?!?

No fight between two guys out in front of the university cathedral like I was expecting.

After the show, a few of us went out for drinks. It was Darryl’s first time out since his wife passed away. After we got settled in, my son said that his stomach was hurting and that I was a terrible mother. We all raced back to the hotel right away.

I didn’t sleep well.

The next morning we visited over breakfast before the long drive back. I told everyone that I gave up worrying for Lent. Some snickered, others laughed. Don’t feel bad if you can’t do it. Maybe next year I will give up depression for Lent. Will that be easier??

Then we started the long drive back home. On the way, I killed a dog. Maybe I should clarify…when I was exiting a small town on a 2 lane highway…a small black lab puppy trailed by a purple leash ran out of nowhere. I slammed on the brakes. I had to maintain control of the car. There was woods on one side and a bog on the other. Stay on the road..Smack…I hit the puppy with the purple leash hard. Gone. He took off. I pulled over..Car and trucks whizzed by. No damage to the car. No sign of the dog..

My son got out and walked up and down the highway..no dog..we kept looking..we drove around. Where were the owners?? There was a truck parked by a trail. Alex walked over and talked to them. It was their puppy. He got away.. I was proud that my son took care of the situation..Where was the puppy?? Injured somewhere, dying in pain? I hit him pretty hard. Don’t worry..Why, why me?? Do you want me to stop worrying?? Wwwwhhhhhhyyyyy???

After about a half an hour, we finally left…the owners of the dog keep searching…I am shook up..I just killed a puppy…a baby dog…I can’t get the image out of my mind…My daughter texted me. How could you?? As if I didn’t feel shitty enough about it.

I get home later than expected…late to play practice…I just miss my big scene by seconds…I feel so angry and frustrated I want to scream out obscenities…but there are children around…I sit down and smile…and start the hardest act yet…pretending that everything is okay..

Can we just start the year over??

 

At the theater, left and lost

My husband lost his wedding ring this week.

You are probably wondering why he took it off in the first place. It almost seems sacreligious to take off your wedding ring the first ten years of marriage, even to clean it. We are way beyond that now. We are on the second ring that needs replacing for him.

Paul played the main character the last couple weekends at the community theater. The character he was portraying was a single guy. He slipped the ring off his finger and slid it into his wallet. Then it fell out who knows where.  

It wasn’t the first time a hobby of his claimed a wedding ring. The first time he went fishing and had to walk up a steep bank. He tripped and caught himself with his hand. The ring cracked and was unwearable. It was a cheap ring, all of the money went into my ring. I still have his broken ring though. 

After it broke, Paul decided to go without his wedding band for awhile. Then he got hit on by countless women. He was on a sales call one time and a single woman invited him out for cocktails later on that evening. It happened so many times that I thought it was time to crack the bank and announce to the world that he was not on the market anymore. 

We’ll see what happens this time.

It wasn’t the first thing lost at the theater either. Someone could make a lot of money on theater art, a display consisting of items or props left behind at the theater after a show. Theaters tend to have very interesting lost and found boxes if you ever checked.

My daughter Angel lost her retainer at the theater years ago. It has never been found. I have to say that at least she wore her retainer like she was supposed to.

My son went in this week to have his retainer check at the ortho. After not wearing it for almost a year, he wore it the whole day before his appointment and suffered through the pain. Wouldn’t it just be easier to wear it every once in awhile?? But he is the type not to hand in assignments or apply himself in school then stay up all night studying for the final so he doesn’t fail the class. Doesn’t make any sense to me. I try to get tomorrow’s things done yesterday.

Who know? Maybe the ring will show up before having to buy a new one. I have given up on the retainer though.

Now showing, the end

 
Yesterday was the end of the show. Even though I wasn’t in the show, Paul and I did have a few moments of bonding because of it. Like taking off our makeup together. 

Paul asked me how to take off makeup. I had to take a picture. How many couples do you know that take off makeup together?? He said that we needed to hurry and take the picture because the makeup was burning his eyes. I personally think that he didn’t want to be seen around the neighborhood looking like a drag queen. Hey honey, lets go for a nice long walk… Ah, who cares what the neighbor’s think! 

I didn’t help him learn his 450 lines. Not at all. I didn’t watch a movie of the play beforehand. I wanted some surprise. Or maybe it was a good excuse to be lazy. So he sat out on the deck alone at the crack of dawn mumbling his lines to himself furthering the neighbor’s suspicions that he is crazy. 

Auditions for the next show are in 2 weeks. Paul said he would try out if I do. It has been 5 years since I graced the stage, but I think I will do it. 

Apparently I earned a reputation at the theater. Okay, it was because of that one time that I squealed my tires as I tore out of the parking lot. I did get pretty psycho. I was unhappy because I had the part of a maid. That in itself wasn’t that bad because as a mother I am used to picking up other people’s crap. The kicker was that I had to wait on my husband and another woman who was playing his wife. They had to dance and act like they were in love. Mind you, this was the woman that told me she wanted to give my husband a lap dance and ended up running off with another man from the theater. Oh, never mind that she was already married!  

Can you imagine quiet, introverted, stoic, thinker me carrying on like a mad woman?? Squealing out of the parking lot and screaming obscenities? So out of character. I guess I fit into the theater group after all. Since then they decided to not place couples in parts where their significant other has to woo another person in front of them. Hello!!? Seriously though, it is just community theater. Nothing worth filing for divorce over.

Things have settled down a bit since those days. After the shows, the actors sit around and talk. Sometimes they drink soda or wine. The most exciting thing that happened after a show was that I accidently spilled someone’s soda. Oh, and a mutual friend offered another friend (a previous actor) a glass of wine which he refused. Not even one glass. The friend said, “Wow, you really changed since you got a new girlfriend.” Then noticing that she was there, he followed up by saying that it was not a bad thing. I leaned over to the girl next to me and told her that I think Paul needs a girlfriend so he stops drinking so much wine. She said that would probably solve all of my problems. Lol. 

Back in the old days, when I was in the shows, the cast would play games or dance afterwards. I was well known for burning CD’s. We would dance until 2 in the morning. I remember the musical Clue especially. We would dance on the dice we used for props with or without weapons. The dice were 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide with wheels on the bottom. 

There is Ms. Scarlett dancing on the dice on the stage with a rope. Looks like it was her. Guilty! 

Those were the days. Most of the time our after parties were recorded. 

Well, there goes my career in politics.   

Can’t wait to go back…

Remembering to forget

I love writing a series about the past, but I don’t like that it prevents me from talking about the present. But then I figured it is my blog, I can write about whatever I want to.

I remembered so much over the past couple of days just by thinking and writing about things that I haven’t thought or wrote about in awhile. Things that are very elementary, like grade school. I remembered that Matt used to stand by the school and flap his hands. I remembered how he used to laugh after attacking someone. I even remembered the signals of his agitation before he attacked someone. His pupils would constrict. His eyes were wild. His teeth and fists would clench. His face and ears turned red. 

Sometimes I think that we have to remember things in order to be able to forget. It’s a strange concept and I can barely grasp it.

A couple of days ago, my mother-in-law Martha turned 67. It was a warm day that promised evening storms. Arabella and I went to see Cindy’s son perform in a middle school play. While I was at the show, I felt a strange mixture of emotions. I suddenly felt like time was going by very quickly, quicker than it should. While I was at the show, I found out that Martha’s brother died (on her birthday) from lung cancer, the very disease that will eventually claim her. Rain came down and thunder cracked like the striking of a big clock. It was pouring after the show ended and lightning zigzagged across the sky. I ran across the parking lot in the pouring rain in search of my car laughing as I was getting drenched by the cold rain. 

I drove 20 miles home in a steady downpour. It wasn’t raining cats and dogs, but it was sure raining worms and frogs! Arabella was angry with me for not stopping for ice cream. It was late and I wanted to get home. I wanted to make sure that Paul was okay after hearing the news of his uncle, although they weren’t very close. Arabella argued with me. She told me that I was old and I couldn’t relate. She said that my life was boring like an old black and white photograph. I have done my job right, she knows nothing about my life. Someday she will read this and understand.

Last night we took Martha out for her birthday to see Paul and Angel perform in the musical. Yesterday was the first time I saw Martha without hair. She looked very gaunt, frail, weak, and tired. But she was not coughing, gasping for breath, or wheezing at all. Next week we will find out if the combination of chemo and radiation did anything to shrink the cancer in her lungs that spread to her brain. Martha kept saying that she was going to fight it, but said good bye like it was the last time she was going to see us. 

The show itself was great. Angel was able to do her high soprano singing this weekend since she was feeling better. Paul danced around on stage like he was a young man in his 20’s. Everyone found it hard to believe that he is pushing 50. I married a man that is 6 years older than me. He always tells me what I have to look forward to.  Isn’t that wonderful? Lol. Soon I will need to wear glasses to read things and I will probably lose my hair. Geez, I hope that I don’t experience age exactly the way he does.

I am getting excited that the marathon I am running in is a month away. I ran 18 miles today and feel great. I put on a total of 30 miles this week. I feel strong. I feel ready. I feel sore.

That is about it here. Tomorrow I am going to get back to the series.