Friday, October 30, 2009

Like a dull actor now, I have forgot my part, and I am out, Even to a full disgrace.

An actor’s worst nightmare! The performance is in full swing, you’ve made your entrance and things are going along great. And then……”What’s my next line?” Out of nowhere, a complete brain-fart. It’s horrible. Trust me, I’ve been there.

I’m not sure which is worse: being the one who can’t remember the next speech, or being the scene partner and seeing your co-star’s “deer in the headlights” expression. And then your brain is going 1000 miles an hour trying to figure out how to help them; meanwhile theirs is moving at the speed of sound in an attempt to remember what the f they are supposed to be saying.






In- ter- min- a- bly.

But it’s really only a few seconds. Oh the humanity…. Actors have been known to dart offstage in search of their script—leaving their poor hapless partner to vamp until they return. It happened to me not that long ago. I looked up at my scene partner and suddenly for the life of me I had no clue what I was supposed to say. He said my mouth was moving—like a fish—for a few seconds and then I finally got the line out. I was thisclose to saying “Can I get back to you on that?”

There are many moments like that in my life too—where I am at a complete loss as to what to say, but for very different reasons. Either it’s the amazing compassion and spirit of my fellow human beings, the majesty of nature, the just plain off the wall silly
Or the absolute cruelty humans are capable of….

Uh-huh, there are times when I just have no idea what my response it.

[this post started in a whole other place than where it ended up.... I just never know where my soul is gonna take me. But thanks for coming along for the ride.]

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The worst is not So long as we can say, "This is the worst."

In other words: Count your blessings.

And I try to do that, I really do. But sometimes it is hard—really hard. When you’re tossing and turning for the 5th or 6th night in a row—and 6am is fast approaching—it’s hard. [Counting. Really.] When you're going on like the 12th day of your knee throbbing with pain cause it’s been raining for almost that long, it’s hard. [Trying to count here, people.] When you just turn your head and the disks in your neck freeze up or something so you’re holding your head at a weird angle for 5 minutes or so, it’s hard.

God—I really don’t want to sound like a whiner. So many people have it so much worse than I. I’m just saying it’s tough when you’re in the thick of things to do that count. [Seriously, counting.] Ya get hung up somewhere around 2….

For the most part, I’ve been coping with my fibromyalgia, my knee injury and other stuff pretty well. I’m generally an upbeat gal, making jokes. Cause laughter really is the best medicine—it makes me feel good to make people laugh. But, then those moments hit. Everybody gets them. We all feel overwhelmed by life sometimes. That’s when I gotta remember to start that count. And find the funny. My whole family are experts in seeing the absurd in pretty much anything. And I do mean anything....

I can make it to 3 right now: the good looking group pictured above are my son, my daughter and my grandson.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Brevity is the soul of wit.....

... so I'll be brief.

Things I like:

my wonderfully funny, smart kids

my awesome, gifted, bright grandson

my amazing, supportive, cool friends





That's it for now--I said I'd be brief.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Let every eye negotiate for itself

Okay, I have a bone to pick with manufacturers. Do you EVER consult with people with disabilities before you create things like toaster ovens and the like?

I have been in my apartment for 9 years now, and the couple at the end of my hallway are both blind. They are lovely people and I adore them. They are extremely self-sufficient and even get around town with their service dogs or just a cane. Many times one or the other of them has tapped on my door needing help with some little thing: “Do these color yarns match?” [yes—the wife knits! I can’t even do that.] or “I can’t find the mechanism to move this clock back an hour.” One night it was a problem with their computer printer. I tried everything—including a call to my friend the geek—but I wasn’t able to help with that one.

I am more than glad to do this for them. That’s how life should be—we help each other out; we’re all in the same boat after all. [Granted some people have yachts while the rest of us are in dinghies, but I digress] And, it makes me put my troubles in perspective.

But twice, a request has set my blood boiling on how insensitive manufacturers are to the needs of folks like my neighbors. Here’s the latest: Mrs. B. tapped on my door last night [hubby is gone for almost 3 weeks to train with a new dog by the way] and she had the control for an electric frying pan in her hand. The knob to turn the pan on had nice evenly spaced indentations around the edge that she thought would be good to judge when it was set at the temperature she wanted. She was asking me to help her figure out how many indentations she should count to set it at say 350°….

Well, guess what!? The indentations didn’t match up to any of temperature settings! AND! It went from OFF thru to 400° and then to “Warm.” WTF??!!??

I had no idea what to tell her to do. [We won’t mention the fact that I had to go get my magnifying glass cause the type on the control was so FRICKIN’ SMALL!!!!!!!] After about 15 minutes of experimenting we hit on a method that might work. But I promised her that if I smelled anything burning, I’d be down in a flash with a pot of water.

It really brings it home to you how able-bodied centric our world is. Most of us forget what people with disabilities are faced with on a daily basis. As a left-hander I have a bit of a clue, but it doesn’t come close to what folks like my neighbors have to handle.

Manufacturers: THINK about how to make your products user-friendly to all types of consumers. Many people with disabilities do live on their own and want to be independent. Be the manufacturer that helps them do that. I’m sure it would win you other customers as well—like me.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Our sincerest laughter, with some pain is fraught:

I spent a couple of hours today picking apart two of the scenes in the play I am directing [ALMOST, MAINE]—the two that don’t have “Happily Ever After” endings. And secretly wondering why these are the two most interesting ones to me...

I guess cause life doesn’t wrap things up in nice little packages I guess. Hey where would the fun be in that? It's the "almostness" of things that make life such a challenge. I know that's been true for me, and I'm sure it's the case for many others as well.

The actors and I looked for the hidden meanings in speeches and ways to add layers to what was being said— and to make sure they knew what WASN'T being said. Sometimes that's more important. And everyone had some very interesting insights. About these two couples: one who almost got married but didn't and one who may almost be at the end of their time together. I love exploring things with my actors, helping them gain insight in order to make their characters 3-dimensional, believable people.

Then we go back and make it funny.....

Writ in remembrance more than things long past.

Friday would have been my ex-husband’s 62nd birthday. Sadly, we lost him to depression almost 4 years ago. He chose to end his own life and my children and I still wonder what triggered him that day to decide he couldn’t handle it anymore. He had faced many adversities in life, what was the one that pushed him to his limit?

I met him when I was 18 and he was 24—we married 2 years later. Our artistic natures added to the initial attraction [he was a photographer]. But it was his generosity of spirit and strength of character that sealed the deal for me. And my instincts were right; he was a great father and a good husband. In spite of having scoliosis and having undergone a double spinal fusion in his teens, he taught our son how to play ball—and later how to surf. Even though he was in pain many days, he rarely complained and was at all of the recitals and school functions—cheering his kids on and taking photos. This continued with our grandson as well.

But something went wrong. The last six years of our marriage were very difficult as I tried to help him cope with major job challenges, alcohol problems and increasing depression. When it became clear that all of this was having a severe adverse effect on my own health, I had to get out. And I hated admitting defeat, as it were. I kept telling myself “He’s sick, you wouldn’t leave if he had cancer.” But I realize now, that nothing I did could have helped him if he wasn’t willing to help himself. And that is so sad. I miss the man he was before the illness took over.

So we were estranged at the time of his death—and I had a lot of guilt about not having made an attempt to forge a new type of relationship. I would ask our children about him all the time and they would tell me what was going on. And my grandson talked about visiting his “Pop.” Now I think my daughter and son may have glossed over some things—not to protect me, to protect their dad.

One thing our family has decided to do is to be open about the struggle—in the hopes of helping others understand. And ourselves as well. It never gets any easier, it just gets a tad more tolerable each year. I can recommend a wonderful book to anyone dealing with the issue. It’s called THE SUICIDE INDEX and it was written by Joan Wickersham oer the course of 15 years following her father’s suicide.

Sorry if I’ve bummed anyone out, but I needed to get my feelings out somehow. We miss him, but we know his pain is over now.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Hung be the heavens with black, yield day to night!

I’ve noticed the days are getting shorter and shorter—starting about a month ago. The past few nights it has been dark by 6:30 or so.
I hate the long months of days when I get up in the dark and come home from work in the dark—it’s so depressing. Especially the getting up in the dark—I hate getting up in the morning to begin with. Having to crawl out of bed when it’s still dark out just totally sucks. Sorry, but it does.

I mean, I’m a theater person—I’m used to spending lots of time in the dark. It’s what we do. [But we also spend a lot of time in the light—albeit artificial….]
I'm sorry, but I just hate that whole “Fall back, Spring forward” time switch thing. I don’t get it. What is the point? It’s just a pain in the ass to twice a year have to adjust the microwave, the VCR, the alarm clock, wall clocks—and the clock in my car. Sheesh. Thank god the computer and my cell phone do it on their own.

I really wondered why this whole mishegoss got started—sooooo, Google here I come....

First interesting fact: It was Philly’s own Ben Franklin who came up with the concept. Oh, Ben…. He got his inspiration while in Paris. [That is so not what I’d be thinking about if I was in Paris, but I digress.] Apparently, Franklin had befriended some people who had invented a new kind of oil lamp; they were so enamored of his concept that they continued corresponding with Franklin even after he returned to America. [Ah, the first oil lobbyists!!]

Second goodie: the official spelling is Daylight Saving Time, NOT Daylight SavingS Time. Oops, we all get that one wrong. Our bad.

Next little tidbit: In the U.S., 2:00 a.m. was originally chosen as the changeover time because it was practical and minimized disruption. [And the bars love that extra hour of revenue in the Fall.]

And this one: at one time in the 60s, the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul made the switch on different dates and things got really confusing…..

[Follow the link from the title of this post to learn more interesting factoids—like the guy who used DST to avoid the draft during the Vietnam War.]

Now the rationale for this entire thing started in the springtime: the main purpose of Daylight Saving Time (called "Summer Time" in several parts of the world) is to make better use of daylight. We flip the clocks during the summer months to move an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening. [Okay, I'll play along...] Then, in the 70s, it became a whole energy saving thing. [Remember the energy crisis of the 70s-- $.89 a gallon seems like nirvana now, doesn't it?] Maybe it’s just me, but I'm pretty sure I use more electricity in the winter cause I have to turn lights on in the morning and at night. [Of course, with the whole menopause thing, the AC is on even in the middle of a blizzard, so I lose big time there.]…. I’m confused. But, like the rest of you, I will run around my apartment changing all the clocks on November 1st.....

Okay, looking at this and yesterday’s post, I’m coming across as really crabby. Maybe I have Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

“O God, O God, how weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world!”

things I am tired of:

1) never having enough money to
a-meet my needs and
b-help others.

2) working.

3) aches and pains.

4) being so far away from my mother.

5) Jon Gosselin.

6) bigoted people [does that show my prejudice?].

7) car maintainance.

8) uncomfortable shoes.

9) people who are called actors who have no idea what being an actor is really all about.

10) networks either cancelling the good shows or moving them to impossible time slots.

11) being tired.

12) stupidity.

13) hunting for parking spaces around my apartment.

14) so many of my friends having to deal with cancer.

15) myself--sometimes....

Just putting it out there. Thanks for listening. [I [promise to come up with a list of things I feel good about real soon.]

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What fools these mortals be

Seriously, I’m beginning to think no one looks in the mirror any more before they leave the house. Or if they do, they’re completely delusional. The get ups people walk around in. And go to work in!! I remember the days when you wouldn’t dream of leaving the house in anything but your best
Some people seem to have just given up altogether. Now, I am what is politely referred to as Rubenesque So I try to dress in order to camouflage as many flaws as possible. Sometimes I even succeed. Apparently, I needn’t try so hard; it has become de riguer to “let it all hang out.”

And not just the celebrities who’ve had their lady parts splashed all over the internet because they possibly forgot to do a load of underwear. [I cannot even fathom leaving my apartment-IN A SKIRT NO LESS-without putting undies on. Hello!] Average everyday people are loose among us in some of the most bizarre ensembles. And they think they’re looking fabulous; that’s the scary/sad part.

Now, I don’t want to bring back the days of the hat and gloves people; I just want a little common sense. Somewhere in the deep, dark recesses of your brain there must be a little voice saying “You might want to rethink this.”


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

the play's the thing

Well, I have started a new directorial project. It’s called ALMOST, MAINE, and it’s the perfect quirky comedy to chase the post-holiday doldrums away. What with misspelled tattoos, bags of love, swinging ironing boards and pointillist-wannabe paintings. There are some wonderful characters in this piece—think Northern Exposure moves East. [I’ve started rehearsals early so we can all get through the holiday season with some sanity and not be fried by the time opening rolls around in mid-January.... It could happen.]
I’m still in my exploratory phase, though: reading the piece over several times, jotting down questions to ask the actors about their characters, researching things related to the piece. Stuff like that.

I thought this was going to be a light-hearted comedy—which it is for the most part—but the more I read the piece, the more significant the title becomes. The vignettes in the play deal with the “almost-ness” of relationships. And, to an extent, how fragile they are. Some couples are at the beginning of their partnership and others are frustrated with the stagnation of theirs. Still others are watching theirs slip out of their grasp. Pretty frickin heavy stuff for a comedy, right?

And the play is funny—the playwright has a very warped sense of humor. Just the kind I like. I tend to see the random absurdity of it all—the almost crazy. And so much of our existence is “almost.” It can be a little daunting at times. Those missed moments or opportunities. But you can’t dwell on those, you’ve got to chalk it up to experience and look for new things to explore or accomplish.

Yep—I’m becoming fascinated by the “almostness” of life.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

the glass of fashion

I will admit that I like clothes… no I love clothes. When I was first out of school and working, I spent every Saturday shopping. I had the latest everything. Then when my kids were little, I dressed them in the cutest stuff I could find and managed to make myself look pretty good in bargain finds. But my post-menopausal body has taken all of the fun out of fashion for me. Things don’t fit right, sizes are getting larger [or the manufacturers are making clothes smaller] and black has become my “signature color.” It’s very frustrating.

The other night, I met up with my childhood girlfriends for the first time in close to 40 years. It was a night of hilarity and memories that I hope we get to repeat on a regular basis. Lots of funny stories about our lives since becoming adults, but I also noticed a common theme of body image issues. Not liking where things have shifted to, not wanting to meet a new guy til a few more pounds had been dropped, worrying about crow's feet and gray hairs....... Is that a baby boomer thing? [We sure hate getting older don’t we.]

I don’t think I know a single woman who says, “Yeah I’m hot and I have a rocking body.” [Including my size 2 gym-going 34 year old daughter.] Ladies—we’ve had babies; your body’s never the same after that. [Of course, since my youngest is 33, I guess I can’t use “It’s post-baby weight” as an excuse anymore can I?] We go through hormonal ping-pong every month—that’s gotta mess things up. Not to mention the hormonal meltdown they call "the change." [when I was little, I always used to wonder what you would change into]

And just to make things really fair—God gives us an extra layer of fat at birth! Thanks, that was really nice of you…..

Thursday, October 8, 2009

And thou art wedded to calamity.

That seems to be the theme of my family’s existence; if it wasn’t for bad luck, we wouldn’t have any. Crappy stuff just seems to happen to my kids and I all the time.
And I don’t mean things like fender benders and such either. I mean, we have those too, but I’m talking about stuff like my grandson getting 2nd degree burns when a spark from a fire pit set his clothes on fire. Or, how about my slipping on the ice behind my apartment last winter and destroying my knee. We’ve all have job layoffs at the worst possible time—not that there’s ever really a good time for that….

And then there’s the real estate agent who tried to sue my kids for breach of contract because their late father scribbled on a bar napkin that if he ever sold his house, this guy would be the agent.

Well, the latest is that my daughter has become the victim of identity theft. Without even taking the cards from her wallet, someone managed to get the information and go to a mall in South Jersey and max out all of her store cards [like Victoria’s Secret and J. Crew]. The detective she contacted in that area told her that thieves now have some sort of device that can scan all of the information off of your credit cards as they stand next to you in a crowd. They then go and create bogus cards and rack up thousands of dollars in fraudulent charges.
And you spend months—maybe years—getting your credit report cleared up. God, you have to hermetically seal yourself in titanium or something to be safe these days.

I wonder if the fact that we once owned a black cat has anything to do with it?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.

I look in the mirror and a stranger is looking back at me......

In my head, I am still a vibrant, young-looking 35.... in reality, not so much. I try to be positive about these changes: my face has character, those are laugh lines... But it's hard. Like I said in a post a couple of months ago, I have lost control of my body. It--and my face--are doing things that I haven't approved. And never would have if they'd had the decency to consult me first.

But I really wouldn't want to be all botoxed within an inch of my life either. That's not real. And it's a shame that the unrealistic images of models and stars are held up as examples to the rest of us. If I had a personal trainer, a private chef and my own 24 hour make-up artist and hairstylist, I could look like that too. But I don't--I can't even afford a gym membership.

So I try to make the best of what I've got. Sometimes I succeed and other times... well, it's a little scary. My dream (well, one of them anyway) is to start a charity where those of us that have too much in certain areas donate some to those that don't have enough. Spread the wealth around, so to speak. Makes more sense than silicone.

In the meantime, I'll just try to wear my flaws proudly and pray people love me for my beautiful personality.