Friday, December 31, 2010

Birthday Bliss

Here are some photos from Jarrah's sixth birthday. She'll have you know that she'll only be "Final Six" when she has her birthday party (we always wait until school is back in session, so kids are back from vacation), but we had a glorious time on the actual day.

First, there was some serious present-opening, a lot of it courtesy of Nana and Granddad in Perth. You may observe that she had a hairstyle and costume change mid-way through, since we couldn't see her face but the camera kept capturing her undies. The biggest thrill was a stunning satin and tulle ballerina skirt with matching top and hair ornament, which she insisted on putting on immediately. Since it was her birthday, I refrained from my typical Jewish mother speech along the lines of "Oy, it's positively ARCTIC out there; put on a sweat-uh before I faint!"

The first stop was lunch at Smashburger with BFF Joy. I was a bit mystified by the choice of Smashburger, since I told Jarrah she could eat anywhere in the world she wanted, and she doesn't actually eat burgers. But her decision never wavered with multiple queries, so Smashburger it was. Here you can see the girls getting their groove on to "Poker Face" with a shared iPod.

Next stop was Build-A-Bear in Fashion Valley, which really shows how much we love that girl, since the traffic getting in and out of the mall was legend. We made it, though, and I even gave in to the purchase of a dog bed for new Jack Russell friend, Alexandra. Joy got Sparkle Kitty, and--oh, happy day!--the dog and cat got along just fine.

At this point, I would like a moment of appreciation for carrying on with the rest of our glorious plans when I felt like Hell on Toast and wanted nothing more than to curl up with a blanket and some tea back at home. A big shout-out to Mary, for helping me through. She took Jarrah and Joy back to their place for some play time while I hightailed it home for a big bag of Warm Things and a loooong drive in rush-hour traffic to meet them and other Dear Ones Steph, Shaun and Nathan at Quail Botanical Gardens for holiday lights and--bliss!--SNOW!

Here's where I learned another of those glorious Lessons We Can Only Learn From Children, because all the adults were properly crestfallen when we saw that all that remained of "several tons of real snow" was a single dirty, icy ramp-like hill for sledding purposes. But were the kids disappointed? Um, see for yourself, Readers. There was surprisingly swift and frequent sledding for nearly two hours, resulting in three sopping-wet but happy and unfrozen cherubs who were eager to go find the promised S'Mores. Paul (also sick) was a champ and drove over with dry things so they could be warm and toasty standing around the fire with their marshmallow sticks (most of them did not make it to the toasted stage before consumption.) There was some glorious running and screaming amidst the twinkly lights (that place is just gorgeous this time of year) and a Cuban band that Stephanie bewitched into playing "Happy Birthday" for Jarrah, and just when all the adults were ready to keel over (all of us pretending it was actually the kids who were tired) we retired to a nearby Coco's for Kids Eat Free Tuesday and the pie Jarrah had requested instead of cake.

Yes, Friends, it was a big day in Birthday World.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Zing Zang Zoom--Now We Are Six!

Tomorrow is Jarrah's sixth birthday. Six! That is just crazy. I'm thinking about A.A. Milne's Now We Are Six. I should get that for her. I have no idea what happened to my copy.

I just went in to say good night. "I wanted to tuck in my five-year-old for the last time," I told her. "Tomorrow I'll be tucking in my six-year-old."

"But why is it sad?" she asked. Sad? Sad? That doesn't seem quite right. But she was picking up on something, and I couldn't think of the right word to put in sad's place.

She asked for a Zimbo story. That's pretty typical. I've been telling her Zimbo stories for years. Zimbos come from Candy Land and, well, they're my rip-off of the Oompa-Loompas, if you must know. She'll figure it out soon enough, and her childhood dreams will be crushed, just like the time that It's a Small World broke down and I had to get out and walk through the dolls (I think I was 29 at the time, so I had a good run.)

In Zimbo stories, the Zimbos are invited to go somewhere with Jarrah, which they happily do, but mishaps ensue and they "accidentally" turn everyday objects into candy. Slides become sour gummy ribbons, monkey bars become licorice, rocks become giant marshmallows, picnic tables turn into slabs of chocolate. Which just will not do because a) everything will be too sticky to use and b) the kids will eat them, causing potential hazards. (Sorry if this all sounds kind of grimly practical; I was pretty brain-dead in the days I dreamed it up.)

Tonight, Jarrah said she was going to tell me a Zimbo story. That was new. And even more surprising, she told a pretty spot-on version, with all the appropriate flourishes, that went something like this:

Jarrah invited the Zimbos to Butterfly Land. But they turned the trees to chocolate! We said "Zimbos!" They said "sorrysorrysorry" and "Zing Zang Zoom!" And the trees were back to normal. But then they turned the whole playground to jello! Which was dangerous! We said "Zimbos!" They said "sorrysorrysorry" and "Zing Zang Zoom!" And the playground was back to normal. But then we saw, on a picnic table, a giant chocolate cake!

The story always ends with a giant chocolate cake for everyone to share. Just so she doesn't get disappointed by things turning out TOO normal. As in, without any candy left. But today, the story didn't end there.

And Jarrah's mommy and daddy were pretty relieved because they'd forgotten to pack a picnic and they didn't want everyone to starve! But then they tripped on the cake and got cake all over their faces. And the kids went up to them and licked their eyeballs. And their teeth. Then they were all clean, and everyone ate cake and was happy. The End!

I was a little worried because it seemed we were heading down Walking Dead way with the pack of swarming kids and the eyeball-licking. That's what you get for leaving your Entertainment Weekly around when it has zombies on the cover. But it all worked out.

But I think my baby is growing up. I better step up my game.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Boast Post

Got a card in the mail from Jarrah's teacher (oddly, the card was addressed to "Jerred," but we'll just assume that was the handiwork of her helper elves.) Wanted to share these two photos she included.

The framed birthday-with-crown pose was the cover of the card, and the classic "plush draidel beauty shot" (haven't you heard? this one is required of all Jews annually) was inside.

First of all, I think these are lovely pics, and really show how grown up our little Miss J is getting. She looks ready for prom in the draidel one (though hopefully she won't be holding a large stuffed top in that photo. Not that I know anything about it--I didn't go to prom--so who knows? Maybe that's what the girls are carrying these days, instead of rhinestone clutches.)

And I also think it's so sweet for Mrs. R to send cards to her students with special photos inside. I mean, what a great idea! Right? We feel really lucky to have her this year, especially since Jarrah was able to read us the note inside all by herself.

P.S. How weird is it that Jarrah has lost two teeth and two more magically appeared in their place only days later? It's like it never happened.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Meeting Smile After Smile

Much as I love a rainy day, I think I'm over it. Just finished three straight days of storm with one more promised, and this San Diegan is calling foul play.

Maybe if it wasn't, um, crimping my style so much. The much-anticipated trip to the OC to register for baby things with my sis has been postponed until better weather. This is the week we usually like to take postprandial drives around the neighborhood to admire the lights--that will have to wait. And today I had the perfectly absurd experience of being trapped at a nearby shopping center for over three hours when all the traffic lights around the single exit went out and people decided it would be fun to start crashing into each other as a result. I couldn't move my car and had to wait wanly in the bookstore and then a coffee shop (well, I did have a consolation cupcake) for an opportunity to free it. David had to leave work early to fetch Jarrah from theatre camp, while I lolled ineffectually in a chilly window seat, watching the waves of water batter the parking lot.

When I finally got in the car, it still took me 30 minutes to move at all, and for some reason I succumbed to melancholy over the song "Silver Bells:" "It's Christmas the city..." I warbled to the accompaniment of cheerful car horns. I got rather weepy when I hit those high notes.

Maybe I was just wishing all that rain would turn white and fluffy. Love and peace, y'all.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Bowing Out

Sitting in Twiggs Coffeehouse on a misty, rainy SoCal December Monday. It's so cozy in here, sipping my aesthetically pleasing hot chocolate with the perfect swirl of cream, nibbling a crunchy sprinkle-covered star, listening to Sam Cooke and Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra. Amazingly, not Christmas standards. Just standards.

Something about this place gives me a hankerin' to blog, perhaps to make up for the many hours and days I spent in here grading 10 years ago when there were no blogs to help one procrastinate.

Feeling a bit wrecked today--went to bed at 10:00, unable to keep my eyes open another second, and then popped awake at 1:00. And that was it for the night, somehow. This morning I went for a massage, which would have been entirely wonderful if not for the last 10 minutes, when my shoulders started to sting and burn and cramp from the inside out. Lactic acid in my muscles? Who knows.

So, the show is done. And I am proud to say I got through it without a single dropped line, a single pitchy shriek. The biggest compliment I got was that my backup singers on my big number--despite threats from Director D--whispered yesterday that they didn't plan to sing at all because it sounded better when I did it alone. Which is to say, they trusted me not to @#$%&* up the show that their relatives were paying to see, which meant a lot.

Doing the show was incredibly bonding for the ten of us, which is saying something because since September D has made every effort to keep us apart. Until this week, for instance, we didn't even know each other's last names. Each night, we warmed up together with scales and vocal games, and just before show time, we closed our eyes and joined hands and called up the blessings of the theater gods. And then we went out and--in D's words--"totally killed it." Really, it's nothing short of a miracle how polished we were, since we never even managed a dress rehearsal.

For some reason, maybe because there's now no reason to hold back, I'm feeling a lot of anger towards D and our "stage manager" still. Last night, he couldn't even bring himself to hold my hand during the curtain call like everyone else, but kept flinging it back to my side like he'd found it damp and nasty on the sidewalk. And that was in front of the entire audience. There's certainly no love lost between us. He didn't speak to me or look me in the eye for the entire run. And I almost lost my temper yesterday when D--for the fourth day in a row--shoved a ridiculous clipboard into my hand backstage and reminded me that it was "my responsibility" to get all the release forms for David's video. A video that she owns and will solely profit from. Like I have nothing else to do except, hello, put on a two-hour show in her name. Not only did she make an interminable "welcome speech," but we had to wait for our bows until she came on stage and stood in the center and we clapped for her magnificence. And last night, the stage manager presented her with a framed "award" just for being her before we could take our bows! The best example of what she's like came on opening night, when I was in full character, doing a monologue and waving my feather boa around, and she shouted from the audience, "Sam! Fix your dress!" Like I was giving everyone a peep show, in my opaque black leggings. Forget the possibility of distracting me--doesn't the audience deserve to watch the scene without wondering "Who the hell is Sam?"

So you can see I have a bit of bitterness to work through. The cast kept saying "I'm just so grateful she gave me the opportunity to be in the show." Yeah, yeah. But it goes both ways. I worked hard for her, and the occasional compliment thrown my way would have gone a long way toward securing my loyalty and goodwill. The night before opening night, I blanked on my solo and she stood up and started screaming and screaming. I don't even know what she was saying--it was just roaring in my ears. I went to my next scene with my heart pounding, feeling like I might throw up. I did my stage fall and busted open my knee, blood everywhere. Backstage before notes, I burst into tears, so suddenly that two of my castmates asked "Sam? Are you just acting?" We were called to notes and I snuffled quietly, embarrassed and miserable. D and C stood up there and gave notes and simply pretended that I was not crying. That kind of did it for me.

I need a few days to recover, but I would do it all over again for the joy of the audience.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wherein I Am A Great, Big Diva Baby

We are rehearsing in the theater now, and it's beautiful. John and I were talking about the magic of an empty theater; that if you just sit still you can almost hear the many, many shows that came before you, and smell the makeup, the paint, the sweat. Moxie is really lovely. We have a dressing room with honest-to-goodness stumpy bulbs surrounding the mirrors (I'll overlook that the men and women have to share) and black velvet curtains to enter and exit through. The house seats are green velvet and the stage is deep and black. The stage lights shine in my eyes and warm me to the bones, like theater lights are supposed to. Our show is listed on the marquee above the front door, and (glee!) our head shots are displayed on the wall near the theater entrance. Our band is in the house and sounding awesome.

I have been feeling cooperative and cheerful and tamping down my existential despair so that I don't miss a moment of this rare feeling, where I am an important cog in the theater machine.

Until late last night. I didn't quite make it. Our stage manager (who is now performing in the closing number and thinks it's oh-so-hilarious to change his line--directed at me--from "she asked me" to "that bitch asked me") asked us to stay late so he could finally--FINALLY--spike the stage with fluorescent tape for our placements. My big solo is the second-to-last number. Our director, who was guiding this task, instructed him to spike the tape for my solo in the farthest left corner upstage. I am not exaggerating, Readers. If I take one step back, I'll be behind the curtain.

Let me further explain. In this number, I am the only person who sings. Even the band doesn't play. I have two "back-up singers" who repeat a single word at the end of each line. Here is how the stage is arranged:

--The entire cast is on stage, for no reason I can discern.
--My "back-up singers" are standing downstage center, with as much freedom to move as they want.
--I am standing in the back left corner, BEHIND A TABLE WITH TWO BIG GUYS SITTING AT IT. Another burly guy stands flanking my left hip, stoic and unmoving. I have been instructed to "dance, work the audience, tease my man and generally act a vixen" while belting my lungs out from the back left corner of the stage. When this command came down (my director was not even sitting in the theater seats at the time, but on the far left steps, on the floor, folding programs,) I shrieked:

"I am having a terrible, horrible, no-good very-bad day!!!!"

And just like with Alexander, "No one even answered."

Only what I actually shrieked was "Why don't you just have me sing it from behind the curtain???"

The result was the same.

They excused us shortly after. I ran blindly to the exit without saying goodbye to anyone. As I started the car, the tears were already rolling. I sobbed, hiccuping, the whole way home, the traffic lights blurry. I sobbed for the four months I've been putting up with this crap. I sobbed for the fact that my friends and family won't get to see me have my moment. I sobbed because I am so afraid that I'm just not good enough, and bottom line: that's why she has to hide me.

When I got home and David opened the door to my raccoon face, he was livid. "You are quitting right now!" I lay awake most of the night, heart pounding. But I'm not going to quit. I'm just going to hope there's some kind of theater karma and that someday, somehow, I'll feel like I'm doing myself, my director and everyone else proud out there.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I'm Gonna Go Eat Some Worms

If I still had my Hello Kitty diary with the brass lock on it I would fill several pages with:


Just like I used to when I was thirteen. I'm so mad right now. And upset. Feel like I've been kicked in the gut. Despair. Whatever. Some stomach-churning combination of all those things.

Just received the cast list for Last of the Red Hot Lovers. It was, like, a POSTER, with everyone's headshots, for crying out loud. Gorgeous. I was not on it.

He wasn't supposed to let us know until tomorrow. I haven't told you this story yet.

Sunday night I auditioned for LofRHL. I was actually going to go Monday, but Sunday freed up, and I decided that I deserved Monday to spend in my pajamas since the rest of the week I'd be at the theater. I made myself pretty, printed my headshot, headed out with Google maps. The usual.

The audition was in Chula Vista, in a place called Fredericka Manor. Silly me, I thought it was going to be a castle. It was a senior home. A nice one, with lots of cottages. The audition room was hard to find, but when I got there, I felt instantly at ease. For one thing, everyone seemed really nice, and for another, it was a senior home. Also, there were exactly nine people at the audition. Eight women, one man ("you'll be working for your supper," the director remarked.) The play has three women and one man. Some of the people seemed inappropriate on sight. I relaxed even more.

Even better, there had been nothing to memorize, and hence, nothing to forget. The director was a jovial older guy who reminisced amusingly about a play he directed in '69. We were given sides and, after some monologues, commenced a couple hours of cold reads with the guy. (Poor guy. He worked really hard that night, and he wasn't cast, either.) Readers, I had a really good time. Cold reads don't make me nervous, because hello, I can read. I can read like nobody's business. Because I had read the play recently, I totally got the characters. And the characters are my peeps. New York Jews, neurotic and sarcastic. The play is in three acts--in each act, the main guy brings a woman to his apartment and tries to woo her. The middle one is described as "twenty-ish actress." That was not going to be me. But the other two were right in my age range.

I felt great about my readings. I thought I was really funny. Plus, I got to read four or five times, so he really got a good look at me. He was calling me "Sam" right from the beginning. I thought I was golden.

At the end, he said we were "welcome to come back the next night, but it's not necessary." I didn't know what this meant. We didn't have appointments, and wouldn't he be doing the same things the next night, with new people? I dared to hope that only a few would show up on Monday, and he'd have no chance to forget me. I left there with hope in my heart and a song on my lips. At the first light, I thought to myself : Sam, you rock. You just did four auditions in two weeks. You are brave. Good for you.

And though I didn't want to get too excited, I thought: there's no way I'm not getting this. Or at least sealing the deal with a callback. I was already juggling the very full holiday rehearsal schedule in my mind.

There were no callbacks. I didn't worry too much, because he said he might not do them. But he said everyone would hear from him by Thursday.

It's Wednesday. He sent a very nice note. With the poster I mentioned. Only one of the Sunday crew is in the show, a very young babe who did her audition in tippy stilettos. She is playing one of the women described as my age. The twenty-ish actress looks older than she does. The guy is being played by the guy I was in Sylvia with. No surprise--he is perfect for the part. The other woman described in the script as my age looks waaaaay older than me. I don't get it. But then, I'm not the director.

I don't know why I'm so devastated. When I didn't get cast in VM or The Crucible, I was disappointed, but it didn't feel so big. I guess I just really felt like I was in the zone this time, and I thought it was obvious to everyone. I guess not. Plus I'm second-guessing myself for not going back Monday. Would that have made the difference? Who knows? I guess I can't live with regrets.

I told David this feels like it, no more, I can't take this kind of life. But even as I said it, I could tell that while I mean it today, I probably won't mean it tomorrow.

We'll see. I'm going to take two weeks off from even thinking about it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Curtain In Five

My last night off before three dress rehearsal nights and three performance nights. It will be a looooong week, but I bet it will also be a lot of fun. It's hard to believe this show is finally here--I've been rehearsing since September! I went straight from Twelfth Night into this one without a break, so I feel like I could probably use one now. Two weeks of holiday cheer should leave me right as rain.

The day after the show ends I'm going to help my littlest sister assemble her baby registry. I can't wait to get my hands on that gun! It's been way too long. Not that I'm profligate about it. I feel like I've learned a thing or two in the past five years about what she's actually going to need and want (though I'll have to be excused for my love of all things fruity, man, do I miss that stuff.)

Jarrah has been sick the past few days with a fever/coughing/malaise type of ailment, and has been refusing all food. In classic Jewish mother fashion, I rushed to the store and procured ice cream, Popsicles, Scooby Doo-shaped mac and cheese, fruit leather and chicken nuggets (hey, they were organic!) in the hope of changing her mind. The nuggies got both thumbs down--"the ones at school are much better"--but the rest has been popular. When she woke this morning, her first words were "I think I'll start breakfast with a bowl of ice cream." I think maybe I'm being played.

Today I did all the normal things I won't do for another week now. Swept. Washed dishes. Three loads of laundry. Folded clothes. Made dinner for my family. I wanted Jarrah to have a bit of air so I dragged her on my errands, and perhaps it wasn't business as usual when she told the clerk in CVS "My mommy needs this makeup for her play" or when she modeled a bra for the mile-long line at Marshall's by telling her reflection, "Thank you, mirror!"

Tonight we'll catch up on some bad TV, loll on the couch, go to bed early. I'll continue with Bill Bryson's At Home: A Short History of Private Life and feel pretty normal, if all goes well. And in the morning, if Jarrah goes back to school, I'll go shopping for a gold tooth to cover one of mine, because true artistry is never vain.

And pray that I don't get sick before I have to belt solos to a lovely little dimly lit theater audience in Rolando. It's so close now.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow

OMG, I can't believe I'm starting a blog post "OMG." I just don't have the words, unless they are: I think my head is going to explode.

A while back, I wrote this post about my existential crisis: is I is or is I ain't an actor? I had been to a couple auditions with only a blank "thank you" for my troubles, and wasn't really sure what that was about.

Though I am busy rehearsing my current show, I couldn't help noticing three upcoming auditions that piqued my interest. All of them had something that appealed to me personally. There was:

1. The Vagina Monologues. I'd seen it a few times, and thought I wanted to be in it someday.
2. The Crucible. High school classic, great literature, juicy roles.
3. Last of the Red-Hot Lovers. I've never seen it, but it's Neil Simon, and I really dig that New York angsty thing.

Based on my previous experience, I figured these would all be practice, practice, practice, and I worked on making my peace with that. Only the second one required a prepared monologue, so that was good, too.

Last Wednesday I went to the VM auditions with my friend Jessica. I was offered a choice of two monologues, but knew right away I would do the funny one. It just so happened to be a sort of rant about a naughty, naughty word I never use. That's all I'm saying about that, because I don't have to audition for YOU, Dear Readers. I figured I'd just go for it. There were two women and one man in the room, very friendly. I launched into my reading, surprised to find my voice quavering a bit, but I didn't stumble over the 87 repetitions of the naughty word. Then I got this stage direction: (long high-pitched 'n.') I was in the middle of that when one of the directors raised her hand and said "Thank you."

Tears almost sprang to my eyes. I'd never been interrupted before. It must have really been wretched if they couldn't bear to hear another word. I thought I was leaving, but then they asked me what I knew about V-Day. All my audition books tell me not to babble in auditions, under any circumstances. Answer questions with "yes" and "no" whenever possible. But I had already blown it, so I decided to whip out a little of the 'ol Sam Sparkle. I told them I'd been involved with V-Day before, but:

"Not acting. Selling chocolate vaginas." They nodded and smiled. "You know, doing the Lord's work."

They laughed. I mean, really laughed. Like that kind of surprised laugh when you really weren't expecting something to be funny. Score! And then I left.

I was hot and embarrassed on the way to the car, and told Jessica it did NOT go well. She didn't feel good about hers, either. When I got home, I was just starting to tell David the details, when an e-mail popped up with the subject "V-Day Callbacks." Silly me, I didn't think anything of it. I figured it was the usual e-mail that would say something like "As in, you didn't get one. But thanks for coming out!'' But they were asking me to come for a callback. OMG. OMG. OMG.

The callback was the next night. When I had rehearsal. I was in agony. I don't lie. Was I going to have to turn it down? I asked around. Finally, I got my answer: I would tell my director the truth and ask for the time off. And she said yes!

I raced downtown for my rehearsal, singing and dancing and sweating, then raced back across town for the callback. The place was packed. Everyone seemed to know each other. I tried to just smile and drink in the moment. I'm here because someone asked me to be. That's never happened before.

The directors talked to us about the show, and then called our names for pre-assigned groups. We gathered around tables with butcher paper, turned the paper over and found a writing prompt. We had 30 minutes to write a play about the prompt, then perform it for the group. It was intense. I can write under pressure, but I can't write by committee under pressure. I have no idea how I was behaving. Our little play was pretty funny, though not as emotional as some of the others. Overall, it was a pretty cool activity. They told us they'd let us know about casting by Saturday.

Saturday came and went. No e-mail. I checked it obsessively. Meanwhile, I had to rehearse five hours on Saturday. Even my skin was tired. Sunday I was still checking, in increasing desperation. And now a new problem was brewing. I had an appointment to audition for The Crucible the next night--Monday. I needed something memorized for that one. Two weeks before, I'd chosen a monologue from Harold Pinter's Old Times. I was chatting with my friend Grace and told her I was having trouble with it: "I sound fake." "Everyone sounds fake when they recite Pinter," she said, and she knows these things--she's a playwright.

I had been second-guessing my choice all week. I'd been to the library a half-dozen times, checking out everything from Chekhov to John Patrick Shanley. Now it was Monday, and distracted by my VM experience, I hadn't learned anything. I hadn't even CHOSEN anything. After all, if I got VM, I couldn't do any other auditions for a while, right? (It never even occurred to me that they might have meant NEXT Saturday.)

Over Thanksgiving, I'd run a monologue by David from Shaw's Mrs. Warren's Profession. At the time, he'd found it a bit cold. Now I realized that cold might be right for The Crucible, and that it was sensible enough to memorize easily, and that...well, that I didn't have any more time to agonize. I spent a large chunk of Monday at Jarrah's school, but when I wasn't there, I was feverishly repeating Vivie's denouncement of her mother over and over. Wait a moment: I'm not done. No. I am my mother's daughter. I am like you.

My audition wasn't until 8:10, so I was able to eat dinner with the fam and do my monologue for them a couple times before I left. I could tell a few things very clearly. I could tell that I hadn't done justice to the character yet. I could tell that I didn't have just the right tone. But most of all, I could tell that my memorization was the kind of tenuous that would dissolve like cotton candy under a hot toddler tongue as soon as any pressure was applied. Like the kind of pressure that comes of standing in a strange place having to recite something for strangers. That kind of pressure.

The place was packed, and they were running a half-hour behind. Plenty of time to stew about how I was going to forget my lines. I walked to the bathroom and ran them in there. I walked back and muttered them under my breath. Finally, they were sending me down the stairs. I'm going to forget my lines, I knew with certainty. I was mad at myself.

The three directors seemed incredibly nice. I launched into Vivie's monologue, and yup, there it was, barely three sentences in: To tell the truth, I rather admire him for...(what do I admire him for? damn, damn, damn, something...I struggled on finally getting to) not the usual hunting, shooting, dining out, tailoring, loafing (here's where I should have said "life of his set" and got on with it. Instead, I was in an endless loop, "swimming, fishing, golfing, fencing, kayaking...") Stop listing random activities! my brain screamed. Stop it, stop it, stop it! But I was determined not to have any silence. If I had to list recreational options of the 19th century upper class all night, by gum, I was going to do it.

I pulled it together by that powerful last paragraph. I really sold it. I figured I had to sell something. The rest I'd already given away. I bit into it lustily, savoring the moment, that final moment before I was getting the "thank you" and the boot.

"Very nice," the middle director said. Very nice? Really? So polite! There was some talk about my upcoming show, and I volunteered, "a little singing, a little dancing, you know, just like this one." He laughed and said, "Oh, you haven't seen my interpretation. Jazz hands and everything. "I've got mine ready!" I yelped, demonstrating. Great. Shut up, Sam.

I left cheerfully, striding out of the church into the cold night. I couldn't wait to get home and into my pajamas and forget about the whole sorry business. And that's what I did. David met me at the door. "How was it?" he asked. "A trainwreck," I replied, flipping off my heels and making a beeline for my mukluks.

This morning, I was working at Jarrah's school when Jessica texted me: "So hard to wait!" For what? I wondered briefly. Oh, right. Today's the day. Whatever. An hour later another text: "I got a callback!" I was squee-ing for her. She suggested I might have one, too. I was getting my hair done and wouldn't have e-mail access for a couple hours. I wondered a bit. Just a bit.

I got home, and there was the e-mail: Callbacks! Saturday from 10-2, bring snacks. (I thought that was so sweet.) I have rehearsal from 9-3. I cant, can't, CANNOT ask for any time off. It's our last rehearsal before cue-to-cue tech. There is no way I can even ask. No way. Not this time.

I savored the few minutes of being someone who'd gotten two callbacks in one week, and then I sadly wrote a beautiful and touching e-mail to the producer, expressing my regret. With the tiny hopeful addition of requesting an alternative callback time. But it ain't gonna happen. It's a big cast; it will be a big callback with lots to do. No time for some unknown entity like me. Soon, an e-mail will arrive, no doubt friendly, saying thanks and maybe next time.

And I will be sad. Because this audition business? It's a freakin' rollercoaster. The kind where you totally get hit by waves when you least expect it.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

A Little Child Will Lead Them

Last week felt like two. And I don't think I sat down this weekend. Not that things will get restful for a while yet. My show opens December 17th, and we have tech dress three nights before that. This week we will probably exceed the eleven (!) hours of rehearsal we clocked last week.

It's Hanukkah, which means cooking, and parties, and eating very, very well. I've also managed to do two visits to Jarrah's school--one a Nia class, and the other a Hanukkah presentation. Thanks to my dear friend Robyn's efforts, I had homemade latkes to hand out, and thanks to me, I forgot a menorah, candles, and the gelt and dreidls I bought specially for the occasion. I still think I scored extreme points with the class, judging by how Lord of the Flies things got when I called out "Anyone for a second latke? Or donut?" They began moving forward en masse chanting "More! More! More!" Somehow the teacher had her back turned and I actually got a bit nervous. Eesh. Then I was a total rock star at lunchtime, with every kid trying to squeeze their tray in next to me so they could sit with "Jarrah's mom."

I've had a bunch of auditions lately, but I'm saving those stories for another day. I think most of my creative energies are being funneled towards my current show, not that my creative energies are exactly peaking. But, as someone I know is fond of saying, it is what it is. Gotta find a way to stay focused for a couple more weeks, and hopefully have some fun when I actually get under that spotlight.

I do have a cute Jarrah story to share with you, Readers. Right now at her school, they're doing an annual fundraiser called the Holiday Bazaar. We were asked to send money in an envelope for her to "shop" in the Teachers Lounge for gifts for friends and family. Since we are new to the school, we weren't all that clear on what they'd be shopping for, and how much money was considered appropriate. I heard someone at Daisies murmuring about sending $80. Eighty dollars! Were all the gifts going to be encased in platinum? I told David we should send $40, and he said $30, and that's what we sent. Jarrah came home Monday afternoon with a large, sealed paper bag and no change. She said she'd forgotten to get something for herself, even though we'd signed the note that said she could. Oh well. Speaks to her generous nature.

We waited until tonight to open the bag, because I was at rehearsal last night, and tonight is the last night of Chanukah. After candle-lighting and dinner and some gifts for me (my favorite lotion and a super-duper-deluxe cast-iron soup pot!) Jarrah was eager for us to open the bag. Whoever was working the Bazaar (tomorrow it will be me, since I volunteered for the Thursday shift) had cutely stapled each gift into a snowman bag with a name label. Jarrah gave us the ones marked "Dad" and "Mom." David's contained a squishy key holder that said "Number One Dad."

Mine contained a ballpoint pen that read "Number One Aunt."

"David. Did you see the special message on my pen?" I inquired sweetly, holding it up, and if the energy it took not to laugh myself silly isn't considered acting, I don't know what is.

He was duly impressed. Then I spotted an envelope at the bottom of the bag. It jangled when I picked it up. Oh, I thought. How nice. Change. There was a receipt stapled to the envelope with a list of figures on it, culminating in the sum "$4.25." Wow, I thought. Savvy shopper. That's a lot of change.

Then I opened the envelope. Three quarters fell out. And twenty-five dollars. I held up the wad of bills and looked wordlessly at David.

"Jarrah," he said. "How did you decide how much money to spend on the gifts?"

"I just bought what I wanted," she shrugged.

And there you have it. The lone member of our clan with any money sense. The thrifty soul who managed to stretch seven gifts out of $4.25. This bodes well for saving her allowance, and what she decides to do with the proceeds from her summers serving lemonade at Hotdog on a Stick. Doesn't it?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

High Tea: The 5-Year-Old Perspective

1. Cool hats! And beads! I'm wearing all of them! Oh no, wait. I'm wearing this giant white bow on my head. I look like a million bucks in this bow.

2. Why is my tea cup smaller than everybody else's? Oooh, there's apple juice in it. Yum.

3. Oh my freaking stars. Please say those are actually pink, heart-shaped sugar cubes in that bowl. I'm eating all of them. Now.

4. The lady just asked me not to bang my knife and fork together over and over. Something about them being "old."

5. The food is on a tower! My ham sandwich is shaped like a flower! Why is it only one bite? Oh, all four of my sandwiches are only one bite. That's okay--I'll just eat Mommy's, too.

6. There is no point to the middle section. It seems to have some sort of fruit on it.

7. The clotted cream and lemon curd are in suspiciously tiny bowls. But I'll just lick them and then no one else will want them.

8. What's that you say? Break the scone into bite-size pieces? There you go. Bite-size pieces. Twenty-seven of them.

9. Mommy got a cupcake. I didn't. I'll just eat hers. She won't mind. Bet she'll hand over her truffle and her sugar cookie, too. Sweet! She did.

10. I want to go upstairs. I think there's something good up there. Possibly candy. Mommy says no. I'll just keep asking every few seconds.

11. Mommy says no every time I volunteer to eat the rest of the sugar cubes. Sensing a theme here?

12. I asked Mommy if we could go now. We've already been here 47 minutes. She said I could eat the rest of the sugar cubes.

13. Sugar cubes are gone. Can we go now?

14. The lady let me go upstairs. Mommy won't buy me a ceramic garden frog. She is no fun at all.

15. I'm starving! Can I eat the sugar cubes on the other tables?