Sunday, January 23, 2011

No Business Like It

"Please don't let it be over, please don't let it be over!!"  I chanted the words again and again, until the lights came up once more and my fears were laid to rest.

I was in elementary school, witnessing a live stage production for the very first time.  The high school wherein my father taught was presenting a children's theater production of Peter Pan.  The director, one of dad's colleagues and fellow fishing buddies, invited my mother to bring all us kids for an afternoon matinee.

Looking back, it wasn't a very well-funded production, to say the least.  The sets and costumes were homemade, and when the script called upon the actors to "fly," this was accomplished by spreading their arms, jumping off the stage, and running up and down the auditorium aisles.

But I was transfixed.  I had never witnessed anything so glorious in my entire, young life. Every time the lights would dim after the completion of a scene, (so the stagehands could transpose the set from, say, the Darling's nursery to the Land of Lost Boys), I would repeat the above mantra.  I couldn't BEAR the thought of this magical, wonderful thing coming to an end.  I laughed, cried, and clapped my belief of fairies until my hands were raw.

And when the lights dimmed for the last time, and the house lights came up on the theater, I believe my life had forever changed.

When I entered junior high school, one of the yearly field trips involved a morning when they'd bus all of us seventh and eighth graders over to the high school, to view a final dress rehearsal of the drama department's fall musical.  We'd see the musical, then head back to school to attend our regular afternoon classes.  After witnessing a rousing (but low budget!) production of Guys and Dolls, I remember sitting back in science class that afternoon, looking around at my classmates. How on earth could they possibly focus on e=mc2 after the magic we'd experienced just a few hours before?

When I finally reached high school and could be a part of these musicals myself, I worried that some of the "wonderment" of it all would fade, once I saw the non-magical, normal backstage areas and realized the amount of hard work these productions required.  Not so. I loved every minute of every rehearsal.  All day long, during my classes, I'd count down the hours until play practice.  When the threat of school cancellations materialized because of approaching snow storms, I'd whisper a quiet prayer, hoping the blizzards would pass us.  If there was no school, there was no rehearsal, and I simply couldn't live without that.

During all this time, though, I assumed that a career in the theater was out of the question. Surely, a career so unique and amazing could only be held by truly special people.  I figured it was like royalty, you had to be born into it.

Then one day, riding home from church in the family car, I overheard a conversation between my parents. They were discussing the actor/comedian Bob Hope. Mom was telling Dad that Hope actually hailed not far from where we lived, in Cleveland, Ohio.  She had read that he got his start impersonating Charlie Chaplin outside the Cleveland firehouses.

That's when it hit me:  Bob Hope, the famous TV and movie star, had once been NORMAL?!! You mean, ANYONE could do this?  It seemed impossible, but I prayed it was the truth.  It was at that moment, in that station wagon, headed home from mass at St. Barnabas Catholic Church, that I made the decision to officially drop all ambition to become the next Ernest Hemingway. I was going to pursue a career in theater.

As you can probably guess, I never achieved the success of Mr. Hope.  I've never lived in LA nor starred in a blockbuster movie.  My limited TV appearances have been mostly local, and I can safely go out into public without being recognized or hounded for my autograph. But I can say this:  the majority of my working life has been spent performing, and it has been purely GLORIOUS.

Honestly, I don't think I've lost one ounce of the wonderment I felt that afternoon, when the lights came up on Wendy, Michael and John.  It's been a terrific ride!  Oh, sure, there have been times when I've felt tired and fatigued, and didn't feel like getting myself "up" for a particular performance.  But guess what?  That feeling always, ALWAYS vanished the second I took one step onstage.

But it's time to focus on a finding a new career, now.  There aren't many roles for women my age, and the live performance opportunities are far fewer in my new city.  I'm really just fine with this, and have no problem making theater my hobby rather than my career. Except for one small thing.

I have no idea how to do this.  Instead of auditioning for jobs, where I stood in front of a panel and "showed" them what I could do, I must now interview for a job, where I sit at a table with said panel and "tell" them what I can do.  Tell them, that is, if I'm actually granted an interview in the first place. The hiring process has become, in my opinion, ridiculously impersonal. The applications must be filled out online, a resume attached to an email.  After the employer reviews these documents, then, and only then, will the decision of an interview be made.  You can imagine how bizarre my resume looks.  I haven't received many interview requests.

But, unlike the title character in Peter Pan, it's time for me to grow up.  I've been ridiculously spoiled so far, career wise.  I've had the opportunity to do something about which I was really, truly passionate.   I don't know if this next "chapter" will allow the same, but I do know that I am ready for it.  If only they'd call me for that interview...

Thanks for Reading!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Territory is Yours

Isn't this little guy cute?  I took this picture of the mockingbird in our yard, our new frequent visitor to the back deck.  By frequent, I mean constant, as he is never far away.  If he's not sitting on our deck, eating at the feeders, or drinking from the birdbath, he is sitting at the top of the juniper tree in our yard, just a few feet away, keeping watch.

He's keeping watch quite literally, actually, because true to his mockingbird heritage, our little friend is extremely territorial. He has planted his "flag" on our deck, claiming it as his own.  He guards his area at all hours, never allowing any other birds to come near it.

Oh, they try, mind you.  It's been unseasonably cold and snowy here in the Nashville area, and these poor birds need to fatten-up to make it through the frigid nights.  I've seen wrens, sparrows, finches, titmice, and chickadees all approach the feeders, hoping to grab some nourishment.

They last all of a few seconds before our mean little soldier flies straight at them, angrily shrieking and squawking.  When the poor, startled things fly to a nearby tree, this, apparently is not far enough.  He again dive-bombs into said tree until the trespasser gets the message and flies far away and out of sight.  It's only then that he relaxes, puffy and content once more on his deck rail, victorious once again.  (We've appropriately named him "Butch," after The Little Rascals bully who also had social issues!!)

I've tried EVERYTHING, people!  I put up more feeders, with lots of space between each one, hoping some of them will fall outside the "zone" of Butch's territory.  No luck.  I've even filled some of the feeders with thistle and other seeds that are undesirable to mockingbirds, only to the smaller, finch-like breeds.  Butch doesn't care.  Even though he doesn't prefer the food, he doesn't want anyone else eating it EITHER.

Here's the thing about Butch:  there is more food out there on that deck than he will ever be able to consume.  With the snow falling, it's going to go bad and soggy before he could EVER finish all of it.  But something in Butch tells him, "This is MINE! I don't CARE if you are in need, get your OWN!  If you don't, I'll HURT you!"  Childish, don't you think?

Yet, as I've watched the events unfold from this past weekend's tragedy, I can't stop thinking about that intolerant little mockingbird.

I made a pact with myself when I started this blog that I would never discuss anything political, and I'm definitely not planning on starting now.  I am the LAST person I would go to for advice on any political subject.  But those who know me also know of my intense dislike of rudeness, my passionate contempt for hurtful words and violent behavior. I don't know if harsh, hateful words caused the tragic deaths in Arizona this past weekend, I doubt we'll ever find out.

The fact remains that there are still so many needlessly hurtful, bitter words being used, all in the name of "debate," and one-upping each other as we scream loudly back and forth on "news" programs. We're so much better than this.  All of us.

Like I've been trying to teach poor, territorial Butch: there is sooooo much space for EVERYONE.  We may differ in size, shape, and opinions, but can't we still co-exist, and respect the fact that we're all here, in this beautiful place, with plenty of room to hold us all? This is my prayer today, for all of us.  (Butch included!)

Thanks for Reading!

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Shady Award!

My new friend, Shady Del Knight at Shady Dell Music and Memories just bestowed me with this lovely award!  Isn't it cool?

I'm a huge fan of Shady's.  He's an exceptional, thoughtful, entertaining blogger, and he's made me feel like a queen with his kind comments and tremendous support of my own writing attempts. This award is just another example of his generosity.  His blog is terrific!  If you get a chance, be sure to stop by and visit, he'll make you feel right at home.  I PROMISE, you won't be disappointed!

Anyhoo, Shady has instructed me that the rules of accepting this award are to list five things about myself, then pass the award along to five other bloggers.

Some may say I've been RIDICULOUSLY open in this blog, and there's very little LEFT that one wouldn't already know about me, but let's see what I can do...

1.  I was terribly afraid of the dark as a kid, WAY after most children typically get over the fear.  My younger sister and I shared bunk beds in our room, and I always made an excuse as to why SHE should be the one to get out of bed and go across the room to hit the light switch each night instead of me.  I blame my overactive imagination.  Yeah, that's what it imagination! (Pathetic!!)

2.  I am a doll collector, but not in the weird, creepy, always-tuned-to-QVC kind of way.  My grandma Simmons (aka: the most awesome person in the UNIVERSE) saved all of her dolls, my mom's dolls, and my dolls in her spacious walk-up attic.  When she died, I received this precious stash, and they all reside in my guest rooms to this day.  None of them are worth anything, monetary-wise, because they've all been played with a "loved" a great deal.  No original boxes here.  But they are so precious to me.  Especially my sweet Tubsy doll, to whom I actually devoted this entire blog entry.

3.  I have follicular lymphoma.  It's lazy and low grade, and I only have to think about it twice a year now, when I undergo a neck, chest, and pelvic CT scan to make sure it's not becoming active.  It was terrifying when I got the diagnosis, but for almost four years now, each scan has provided a "no new growth" result, and no treatment has been necessary. It's still a little daunting to know that I have cancer, that it will be with me for the rest of my life, and that I will never be able to call myself a "survivor," but I remind myself daily that it could be much, much worse.  (To the left is a picture of me with my second opinion doctor who was convinced I needed to start chemotherapy immediately.  She was WRONG!!)

4.  For thirteen years, I performed at Universal Studios, in the Terminator 2/3D attraction, as Kimberley Duncan (the annoying host in the ugly red suit!).  I got "choked" by a cyborg and thrown back onto a hidden mat nine times a day (stunt pay!!), and it was the best job I've EVER had!  I loved every day of my thirteen years there, and I only left when my sweet husband was promoted and we were required to move (Alan's the ONLY man for whom I would have left that awesome job!).

5.  I run every day, usually around 3.5 miles or so.  I don't run because I like it, I run to keep my dress size in the single digits.  I wrote this blog entry about my relationship with running.  People thought I was a little "touched" when they read it,  but I swear it's the truth.  That being said, my husband talked me into entering the 5K Sunset Run in Key West last July when we were there for our yearly trip.  I told him I was on vacation and didn't want to run, I wanted to drink margaritas on the pool deck.  He persisted, promising me drinks AFTER the run, and I caved.  It was 9000 degrees, and the sun was blistering.  It was, by far, the worst 24 minutes of my life.  Then, I learned that I placed first for my age group!   NEXT year, we're skipping the run and going STRAIGHT to the frozen drinks!!

Well, there you have it, Shady!  Five (somewhat?) interesting things about me that you may not have known before.  Hope you found it riveting!!  Thanks again for your kind words, and for this sweet award, I really do appreciate it!

Now, to bestow the award to five other blogs I admire:

1. Red Shoe Chronicles
2. Reforming Geek
3. Mumsy's Place
4. The Blog O' Cheese
5. Along Life's Highway The Yard Art Game

Not only are these blogs terrific, the authors are dear, thoughtful commenters as well, and I greatly appreciate them!

Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!  Thanks to Shady, mine's already been made!!

Thanks for Reading!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Back to Normal...

Oh, is there anything sadder than the day you take down your Christmas decorations?  I don't think so.  You put them up with so much joy, so many high expectations about the approaching holiday season.  Then, in a flash, it's over, and all the bright red bows, shiny ornaments and felt snowmen get crammed back into their boxes for another year.  Geez, I hate it!

How was your Christmas?  We just returned home this morning from a wonderful trip to see both of our families for the holidays.  This was no small feat, since my family is located near Cleveland, Ohio, and Alan's relatives reside much further south in Gadsden, Alabama.

But we saw them all, got to see everyone open the presents we chose for them, shopped the after-Christmas sales, and ate enough high-calorie homemade cooking to last a LIFETIME!  So many happy memories were made, so many dear ones we got to squeeze and remind how much they are loved.

And now, just like that, it's all over.  January is here, and my beautiful, festive decorations sit here before me, telling me it's time to pull out the bins and pack them away for another year.  I know this, but I feel like the child that wants to cling to the magic of Santa and presents for just a little while longer.  Maybe one more night...