Friday, April 23, 2010

I'm in another show. We open tonight. It's actually a compilation of monolgues and short skits that tie in nicely at the end, and have this running theme about women and relationships - totally my kind of thing. Except my co-actor in one of the scenes I was in decided she didn't actually want to do it because she had a lot going on so she quit. Worked for me - less for me to memorize, I thought. Except the director didn't think that way. She managed to pull together a last-minute replacement meaning the scene is still in.

A couple nights ago I was sitting at a table before rehearsal with a couple other actors explaining how nervous I felt with opening night right around the corner. "I'm just not confident in my lines right now. I'm nervous because I haven't seen the set..." when suddenly New Lady comes running up to me from across the room, arms stretched out before her. Stopping suddenly in front of me she places both hands together in this little teepee like form and pokes her ten pointy fingers into my breastbone. Holds them there for a few seconds, then flings her arms over her head and yells, "You have been released!"

Oh. Dear. God.

It dawns on me I'm completely lacking both the fight and flight mechanisms. What does it say about me as I sat shocked and unmoving while some virtual stranger pokes their fingers on my pectoralis major as they're performing an exorcism of my fears and anxieties? (The spot is still burning.)

I do my best to shake it off and perform the scene with her. She tells me how she is going to unroll her yoga mat and place it here and I should bring my bag in and put on that chair over there. And then I should take out my yoga mat and unroll it right over there. Quite exacting to say the least. She was great on giving the stage direction but it seems the only direction she practices is "huddle on this side of the stage and don't ever move from this spot." Looks oh so visually interesting. Pulling carrots blindfolded without having any idea what county the garden is in would be easier than acting in a scene with this woman. We had been huddled on the one side of the stage for about six minutes and I could not figure out how to get out of that corner, when I said, "you could cross here..."

I admit. I was wrong. It wasn't my place to direct. The director was out there. She was watching. If she wasn't saying anything I should have accepted it and respected it. It is not my show.

So why did I say it? Well, that's how we'd been going along the whole time. Not with New Lady, of course. She was new. But with the Old Ladies - not that they're old, per se; they're more like Originals. Anyway, with the Originals it was like that. Someone would suggest something and we'd do it. Someone else would say 'this doesn't work for me; I need to hit that point over there' and we'd work something out. Someone would say 'hey, I think it'd be funny if you just handed me back the book instead of shaking my hand' and we'd try it. We worked as a team. A true group effort. Although I've never worked with New Lady before, I kind of assumed the old adage "if you dish it out you should be able to take it" rang true with her. She certainly held nothing back when it came to dishing out direction. Dear God, had I known the woman was going to completely flip I would've kept my trap shut.

Back to the stage: I'm standing there trying to recollect if the lines being screamed at me are written in the script and it dawns on me that this woman is truly flipping out. She's going on about how dare I direct her in the middle of a scene and I should basically rot in hell and I think she may even have put a hex on me. I thought about trying the Jabbing Release Method she used on me earlier but wasn't quite sure about the exact finger placement, and God forbid I miss and jab her in the boob. I figured it was probably best to just keep my hands to myself.

I apologized, asked where she would like me to begin, and continued at the point she requested like nothing ever happened. At least I hoped it looked like I was continuing like nothing ever happened. In my mind all I could think was Oh. Dear. God. This woman is a lunatic.

Ironic, that as we ended the scene her direction picked up. "So you should turn to me. And put the hat on my head." (A hat that I wear for most of the scene, then pass it off to my New Lady Partner and stick it on her head in one of those predicable moments of theatre.) "And then we should bow to each other. And take a deep breath together. And then hug." And then do-see-do. And then tie my shoe. And then high five. And then do a little jig.

So, we're doing this little back and forth hat passing dance - which was completely based  solely on the direction of New Lady because we needed to get it just right and, yes, the evil part of my soul wildly wished I could remember her rant so I could have repeated it to her verbatim-- oh, the hypocrisy! -- all the while thinking to myself, "lady, I don't feel comfortable standing at a distance where you could easily poke my eye out, much less a distance where I'm required to wrap my arms around you and pretend we're having a feel-good BFF moment." Don't worry; I was good and didn't actually say it out loud. But I digress. This is about the hat. So this hat is bouncing from my scalp to her scalp and back to my scalp again as we continue with all the do-overs.

And, guess what, Web Friends? She suggested Lysol. Yep. She suggested a antiseptic spray to use on the hat. Why? Well, you see, it turns out she has a "scalp condition." A scalp condition that is called an open sore of unknown origin.

Oh. My. Dear. God.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Stepford Dreams

I'm finding it quite difficult to be in a relationship while raising kids. With my two girls it was just me. Me in charge of making enough money. Me in charge of deciding what bill to pay or what groceries to buy. Me in charge of laundry, and choosing a doctor, and deciding what time bedtime is, and when they should get a haircut (and how short). Me in charge of getting the oil changed in the car and the linens changed on the bed. Me in charge of choosing a bank, a dry cleaner, a vehicle, a school, a kitchen table, a set of dishes.

It was on my shoulders to decide what kind of family traditions I would like to let go of, continue, and begin. I was the only one who decided if my kids would be the kind who went to the movies, or church, or the park, or a fast food restaurant. I've always been the only one to hold the remote. Hold my child's hand. Hold the new lease for the new apartment. Me, me, me.

And now I've got this... this... this foreign relationship thing. This we-both-have-a-say concept I sometimes have incredible difficulty wrapping my head around. I find myself having to defend a book purchase yet accept a new table saw. I find myself explaining that the doctor my two girls go to is competent enough for Cletus to go to as well. I find myself further explaining what a mess and hassle it will be to take 1 out of the 3 children to a different doctor in a different clinic in a different town just because somebody's mother doesn't happen to know the one we've been going to. I find myself having to swallow hard the knowledge that some families celebrate Easter with bottles of booze and scratch off lotto tickets, and grow wistful knowing that other families go to church in their special outfits, eat a calm dinner and laugh together while children search for candy filled eggs.

I feel like I have to fight for (or perhaps against) the different way I grew up. The idea of slothing and self-entitlement drives me insane, but I'm learning not every kid grows up experiencing the hard work it takes to maintain a home. I was brought up believing you worked hard and when you were done that's when you relaxed, went on your vacations, showered yourself with dining out, fancy jewelry and expensive toys. Other people were raised with the "life is too short to do yard work" mentality. Other people were brought up believing that you spend now, enjoy now, and deal with that pesky retirement fund later. My parent's taught me there is pride in living debt free and living below your means, and shame in racked up credit card debt for bar tabs, weekend getaways, and utility bills.

Sometimes I think the differences between V and I are on such opposite ends of the spectrum it will take a miracle to survive. It's a darn good thing I'm not a quitter, because quitting would be tempting. All those times people would say to me, "Wow. I don't know how you do it. You work two jobs, the single mom of two kids - wow. It must be so hard."  -- you were wrong. Compared to this, it was so very easy.
Apparently it was burn-your-esophagus-with-chai day at Starbucks. Not that I don't love a nice, slow herbal burn, I was just expecting something a little less, uh, fierce. You know, more of the soothing, calming attributes and less of the "my throat is bleeding" characteristics. Disappointed? You betcha. This was just another notch in my PMS Sucks belt.

I was never bothered much by my monthly "womanly duty." It would kind of quietly approach and quickly leave, never hanging around very long. To say it's ramped up some since I had the second kid would be a gross understatement. Now I find myself a sobbing mess trying unsuccessfully to pick out frozen pizza at the local WalMart. "... but I don't know if I like pepperoni... and I don't know what's cheaper... I can't do math... and I'm so fat! And my hair is stringy and gross and I want to move and how come I can't afford a new couch? My life sucks so bad!"

Add to that attempting to shop for yoga pants for a show I'm doing this weekend when I'm twenty pounds heavier than I've ever weighed in my life. Now that was a joyous occasion. Seeing that snug fitting fabric stretching over the wobbly weight in my trunk was enough to send me over the edge. Ever have the police arrive at your dressing room to conduct a welfare check? I was two seconds away from that...