Mixing Extremes

Saturday was crazy! An awesome sort of crazy, even if it totally kicked my ass. (Yeah, it did.)

My day started with a workshop. A local theatre offers occasional master classes, and that day they held an audition boot camp. Which was exactly as advertised. Intense and amazing, and I was more than a little discouraged when I left.

I chose Puck’s final monologue in Midsummer Night’s Dream because I’ve had it memorized since my sophomore year of high school and I’ve always adored the character of Puck.

You know how plans and intentions in your head tend to fall apart when you go to carry them out? Yeah, that’s pretty much how this went. And up on a stage, in front of a roomful of people is not how I would have chosen to find out that I still have a whole bunch of hangups and fears in relation to physicality.

I was terrible. No, really, I was.

If I make it out when the theatre has its next open audition call, that is not a monologue I will use. Puck is what I would like to achieve as an actor, but I am not there.

To get there, I have to learn how to get out of my head and into my body.

Then immediately after the class, I drove out to a video shoot. (As I said: crazy day!) A local aspiring filmmaker needed actors for a montage. Two takes and I was done, and it might amount to ten seconds of screen time if it doesn’t end up on the cutting room floor. But for less than an hour, including just waiting and gabbing, I got paid almost as much as a full day at the day job.

The best part is that now I can say I’ve been paid for acting. So that’s a milestone.

Social Magic of Storytelling

Let me tell you a story. (that’s why you’re here, after all.)

I went to a party. It was a Friday after a long, crazy day at work that joined two weeks’ worth of long, crazy days. I went alone. I went with nerves and doubts.

See, I was afraid I wouldn’t know anyone at the party except the host. Sometimes I hate being right.

Like most of us, I’m not always comfortable in social situations, even with my occasional extroverted tendencies. So it began with the awkward standing, offers to help to make myself useful and give me something to do, feeling brave when I smiled at strangers. Just not quite brave enough to introduce myself.

Then my host introduced me to someone with an auspicious, “You both do theatre!” And the conversation went from there.

In fact, every conversation that night ended up coming back to theatre, or writing, or both. Most often both. And I made new friends!

No, I will never grow out of how awesome it is to make friends.

And that’s a lot of why I went. See, our host was Carrie Jones, who in addition to being an amazing writer is quite possible the kindest and most caring person I have ever met. Her friends were bound to be awesome.

When I came home, I was bouncing off the walls and talking a mile a minute. My poor husband. I tried to blame the punch, but we both knew it was just my extroverted tendencies acting up.

Thanks to those fantastic conversations, I finally read Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, which had been in my to-read pile for years. (Yes, it was every bit as great as the hype.) They also propelled and inspired me to write more, helping to sustain the awesome creative productivity that has so far defined this year.

So my whole long, rambling point: stories are social magic. Also, that was a great party and I’m so glad I went, rather than letting nerves and fears win.

New Year 2017

Goodbye, 2016. I will not miss you.

Last year (I do not have words to say how thrilled I am that 2016 is officially past) was so bad, it was all I saw, much of the time. The negative things. The death toll. The election. Stress. My own mental shutdown.

But it had its bright moments.

Although I only acted in one show this year and it burned me out badly (despite having just a couple minor roles), it taught me the importance of picking shows I’m passionate about. Shows that click with me in a way I can’t explain, even if I’ve only seen the audition sides.

Tigers be Still, the show I stage managed, was one. What little I knew about the show going into auditions didn’t excite me much, but the pieces we read just clicked. So when I didn’t get cast, I kept my fingers crossed that I could still find a way to be involved in the production. And I did.

Stage managing brought out many of the very best parts of me. I loved it. I kicked ass. I would totally do it again (with a show I’m passionate about).

We visited my grandmother-in-law in Florida. It was an excellent visit. She passed away a few months later, and I’m so thankful we made it down when we did.

Since about September, I’ve been extra (for me) extroverted. I get so much energy from being around people. Though not all people, so maybe I’ve just been better about who I spend time with.

I’ve written. Not as much or as good as I would have like, but I did write. As of last night, I submitted more stories than I did in 2015. (Not difficult, considering I only sent one in 2015, but an important and huge improvement all the same.)

Best of all? 2016 is over. Done. A new year, a new slate.

Dear 2017, you have one goal: be better than last year. The bar is low. Don’t disappoint me.

Promises Kept

2016 hasn’t ended yet, so I’m keeping my promise from the last post!

I let myself go radio silent in order to focus on stage managing (and not sucking at it), but the silence grew. I’ve started at least a dozen posts, but the silence was too heavy. I didn’t know – or, rather, I forgot – how to break it.

Sounds about right, doesn’t it?

So now I’m back! At least for a moment. Just in time to audition for another show in a couple of weeks.

Stage managing, by the way? Was awesome.

And the extroverted phase has stuck! I’ve enjoyed it. A lot. Though of course now it bites me in the ass. I have a submission deadline looming in the next few days and a ton of work to do on the story (this post is procrastination – can you tell?), but I really want to spend more time with family and friends.

. . . Well, this post has been manic. Brought to you by my absent attention span and should-be-doing-something-else syndrome.

What Is This Year?

I like to assign themes to things like years. And this year has so far shaped up to be my Year of Being Introverted. With so much going on, I’ve been largely in shut down mode.

But now things seem to be turning around. A writer-friend came up for a long weekend of awesome, which kicked my ass into gear on so many things. I managed a beautiful amount of editing, even with everything we did. This past week, I took vacation time, ran around like a chicken with its head cut off, and went to a gorgeous wedding at Mont-Tremblant, Quebec for two of my husband’s university friends. Another writer-friend and I are finally getting back in the swing of quasi-regular Writing Bitch Sessions. I have three anthologies I want to submit short stories to by the end of this year (and dear lord, it has been a stupidly long time since I submitted anything).

In addition, I’m attempting the tech side of theatre and am stage managing (for the first time) a production of Tigers Be Still. I’ve always been firmly an actor, even in high school when a fair number of my friends were techies. I married a techie, and we adore Q2Q comics. It’s been frustrating/hilarious to see the stereotypes play out and become truth. All before the first production meeting!

And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, please go check out the comic. It’s amazing.

So the rest of this year looks like a crazy wild ride in all the best ways. Wish me luck! (Especially when my husband and I have overlapping production weeks.)

Don’t worry – I’ll be updating again before the end of the year. Promise!

Grammy King

I have come to the conclusion that 2016 is actively trying to die in a fire. Or kill us all. Not much of a difference, really.

Posts have been piling up on me: my birthday (come and gone), observations, rants (though nothing new to add to the Dear Asshat series). But the true shit-show that is this year keeps on going.

My grandmother – my dad’s mother – passed away this week. I at least found out from my sister. She found out by going to visit our grandmother.

Our family excels at broken communication.

I met Grammy King when I was about six (she and my dad hadn’t been on speaking terms for years) at my sister’s wedding. I don’t remember that. Even then, I had the smile-and-nod down pat. In a giant family like ours, no one actually remembers everyone.

I remember meeting her the second time. She stopped at Dad’s house maybe a few days, or a week, or two later. My sister and I (the sister who’s only a year older, not the one who’d just gotten married) were playing outside. Dad wasn’t there, so his secretary brought her over from the office to introduce our grandmother to us.

When Dad’s secretary asked if I remembered meeting her at the wedding, I said no. Awkward and embarrassed, I  knew it was the wrong answer even if it was the truth. My world was exploding. I panicked. I’m not even sure I’d known I had another grandmother. What should we call her? “Grammy” was taken and it felt wrong to call someone else that – like I was erasing the grandmother I’d known my whole, short life.

After that, I saw her a few times a year. I loved listening to her stories. She had a lot of them, and they even stayed mostly the same between retellings.

Storytelling runs in my family.

And bad news keeps rolling in, whether from news sources or people I love. I’m still looking for a turning point to all the bad news this year. It has to come sometime. Right?

Dear A$$hat: Hands To Yourself

Dear Asshat,

Your hands belong to YOU. They do not belong on someone else’s face. Not without consent.

Hint: you did not have her consent.

Your hands were gross – green and black from cutting grass and who-knows-what. This is why you thought it was funny. (It wasn’t.)

That and you’re a juvenile in an old man’s body. You’ve had decades to learn shit like this is not ok. Which, in case you haven’t figured it out by now, means you have even less excuse for that behavior.

You have no one to scapegoat. The blame for your bad decision lies with you alone.

A hand in the face without consent is aggressive. You covered her whole face. Touching someone without consent is assault.

Your laughter does not mitigate those facts. Your laughter does not make it ok, let alone funny.

Try that on me next. I dare you.

To the others present: “Why would you do that?” is not an appropriate response. I should not have been the only one saying, “That is not ok. Don’t do that. Get out.”