Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Men Don't Make Passes

Tomorrow I pick up my new glasses.

They've promised to show me how to clean them, store them--even how to put them on and take them off.  What my friend Robyn calls "the care and feeding" of my new eyewear.

Which is a good thing, because the fact that I need glasses feels about as natural as if I'd suddenly grown a p*nis.  

It's like the doctor smiled and said "Well, whaddaya know?  You've got late adult onset p*nis!  It's kinda rare, I won't lie.  But completely normal, I assure you.  We'll get you set up with a prescription for some new underpants and you'll be right as rain.  'Course, it will take a little getting used to.  But your p*nis is not very big, so it won't be a huge change.  You may only notice your p*nis when you're driving at night, or in a movie theater.  But feel free to use it whenever you want."

Absurd, right?  But I have lived my entire life with 20/20.  I've been quizzing everyone I know about that profound moment when they discovered they needed their first glasses, and most of them have rubbed their chins thoughtfully and said something like "Well, I was in seventh grade.  I think.  I don't really remember.  Actually, I don't really remember a time when I didn't have glasses."  The majority of people I've questioned who appear to be spectacle-free cheerfully admit, "Oh, I have contacts." or "I got Lasik 10 years ago."  

Like it's no big deal.  

Readers, I'm here to tell you, it's a big deal for me.  I've told you that my eyes started bothering me over the holidays, like they had boulders in them.  (They still do, but apparently that's a separate issue:  Dry Eye Syndrome.  I'll refrain from exercising the p*nis analogy here.)  I have read many an eye chart in my day, and I could pretty much skip to "Made in China from Synthetic Materials" in 8-point font in the lower right corner.  My eyes were DOPE.  They looked good, and they worked good.  End of story.  

Except this time, I couldn't see the eye chart.  Like, at ALL.  Blink, blink, blink.  And then a lot more blinking, to clear the tears.  I couldn't even see the TOP LINE.  It was better through the little paddle with the tiny holes, a lot better.  But that was small comfort.  I had FAILED the eye chart.  Nothing would ever be the same.  (Yeah, yeah, I know what some of you are thinking:  suddenly growing a p*nis would be more prize than punishment.  Try not to analyze things so much.)

I thought maybe if I faithfully used my eye drops 10 times a day like the doctor said, the bad eyesight would GO AWAY.  I went in for a full eye exam, where I looked at a hot air balloon, got some stinging drops, and then everything went totally blurry.  I was grateful to have my friend Grace in the room when that happened.  She looked after me.  Why do they say you can drive afterwards?  I couldn't even WALK.  I clutched her arm on the way to the car and then I couldn't even see my phone until 5:30 that evening.  Hours after the fact, I put in some Visine and gallons of thick, yellow tears ran down my face.  Is that even normal? 

My retinas are fine.  "Really?"  I said.  "I don't have blepharitis?"  "No."  "Keratitis?"  "No."  "Shingles on my corneas?"  "What the @#$%&* is that?"  Perhaps someone has been abusing the internet.  She moved the little windows around, stood up resolutely and said "You're at 20/20!" before breezing out of the room.

20/20 with GLASSES, that is.  20/50 without.  I whispered to Grace, "Is that the freakiest number anyone's ever had?"  "Mine is like 300," she whispered back.  Oh.  And my close-up vision is fine.  Which is kind of weird for my age.  Then again, I've always been weird, at every age.  

Following a highly scientific FB poll, I brought David and Jarrah and my internet-parsed prescription to a fancy-pants glasses store recommended by my friend Martha.  In response to their polite query about my preferences, I announced, "I want something fancy."  The gal didn't hesitate before producing a blue pair with floral filigree and tiny blue diamonds around the edges.  I was in love.  David said they looked like they were upside-down, but I wouldn't hear it.  I also peeked at the price and noticed they were about a million dollars.  Clearly, I was going to need a nicer purse to carry them in.

Because I started with the diamonds, it was hard to backtrack to anything "geek-chic" or (horrors) utilitarian and practical, but have no fear--I tried on frames for over an hour.  I learned that I am nose pad-intolerant.  I also learned that I like round, but round doesn't like me.  And that anything too dark makes it look like my entire head has disappeared.  Jarrah went from mildly interested to actively protesting, and David's input was limited.  (He later said, "I didn't need to say, 'Um, NO' because they all looked good on you."  Awww.)  The owner of the shop quietly yanked away any pair I had misgivings about, until only one remained.  

My glasses are French, by a company called Lafont.  They are multi-colored, and have sort of...lightning bolts on the sides?  They are not boring.  They are not practical.  They are not really the glasses of a girl who plans to wear them only driving and at the movies.  But some part of me has been seeing this as a coming-out party for my eyes.  They have busted the chrysalis of their past life and now they need a big-ass party.  

Outside, I was seized with buyer's remorse.  Not because I don't like them.  "What if the reason I want really cool glasses is because I don't think I'm cute anymore, and I'm trying to hide?  Or because I'm trying to compensate for not actually being cool myself??"  David calmed me down in his usual fashion.  "You're over-thinking this.  You're cute and you'll have cute glasses." and then the really devastating truth:  "Besides, it's not like this is the only pair of glasses you'll ever have."

Oh.  Right.  And that's the part I just can't get my mind around, Readers.  The permanence of this condition.  Even worse, the certainty of more unfamiliar eyes to come.  And the wave of strangeness when I borrow the specs of someone else with "distance myopia" in a sports bar and discover--with an internal soundtrack like a brick dropping on a piano--that the TV across the room has words on it.  Like I suddenly have someone else's eyes in place of my own razor-sharp peepers.  Feels about as comfortable as getting a totally new body part.  Of any kind.  

Through all this unfamiliarity, this unrootedness, there's only one thing I know for sure:  the new glasses are rad.  And I plan to rock them, even if it feels weird at first.  Hey, I'm an actor.  I'll just pretend I'm playing the part of "Girl With Glasses #5."  With any luck, it will eventually feel like the role I was born to play.  

In With The New

Been a busy couple of weeks around here, launching into the New Year.  After a quick jaunt to Palm Springs to ring in 2013, we've been off and running.  I participated in the fabulous 24 Hour Theatre Experiment (more on that later) and auditioned for Willa Wonka the Musical, and we hosted a laser tag birthday party for Jarrah that was much smaller than her previous parties but perhaps more fun because of that.

Aside from my small directing gig in October, I haven't appeared on stage since August and was feeling a little rusty.  Of course, I had two really depressing auditions in the fall, so I was also feeling a bit skittish.  I worked hard on my audition song ("This Can't Be Love," a Diana Krall version) with my voice coach, less because of the challenging nature of the song and more because I still do not give good audition.  I let nerves overcome me and get really breathless and shrieky.  This time, I was determined to stay cool and calm.

My appointment was for 8:30 on the first Monday back to school, so it was tough to feel bright-eyed at that hour, but I'm happy to say I did just fine.  I'm sure if I heard it played back for me I'd be all over critiquing myself, but my memory tells me it was not humiliating.  Late that night, I learned I had a callback for the next day.

That night was pretty challenging, with two songs to learn, solo and choral performances, learning and performing a combination (the fabulous Miss Candace choreographing this time) and reading sides with every possible combination of small child in the fully-packed room.  I had been hoping for Mrs. Gloop because I love the song she does with Augustus, "I Eat More."  I could read the shifting sands pretty quickly, though, that someone else was likely to get that part.  I left there feeling I'd done a good job but not really sure how it would turn out.  They said we'd hear by Thursday (this was Tuesday) but a FB tip-off the next morning suggested it might be sooner.  Sure enough, I got a voice mail around 1:00 from the producer, offering me the part of Ms. Teavee.  Wow!  Although I'd put her down on my audition form, I didn't really know much about the part and had mixed feelings, even while I was super-excited and grateful to have a role with a name.

After the read-through on Saturday, I learned that my character has a solo song, with her son, Mike, and it's a fun one.  That is exciting and a little scary.  She doesn't have the best lines, but she is on stage for most of Act 2.  Basically, I'm trying to just remain open to the process, which is totally strange for me.  I only have two close buddies in the cast from former shows (Ryan and Ariel, from Bye Bye Birdie and Pippin) but I'm sure I'll get to know the other adults.  I'm already well on my way to becoming fast friends with my son, who is 12 and delightful and not exactly shy, calling me "mom" and hugging me each time he sees me.  Last night he directed me to perform a Charleston with him while we were waiting to rehearse our song--the first small number on the list!  The entire company also learned "The Golden Age of Chocolate" together and that was a blast.  I think that first night we break out the librettos and Kirk gives us our parts is my favorite.  It's such a creative time.

After everyone else left, Mike and I learned the song "I See It All On TV."  I had only heard it once, and Kirk asked us to jump in and sight-sing immediately, which is a huge challenge for me.  I struggled with the low key (having only sung soprano in Pippin, even though ironically my whole previous life I described myself as a second alto) and then the parts where we have to join together.  The hardest part was the harmony in the finale, which I blew again and again until I was red-faced and sweating.  Our dear director was sitting quietly in the back and I was ready to faint, thinking at any moment he might stand up and announce that he needed to re-cast because of my incompetence.  I have to hold the world "ALL" for a long time and it was sounding like bloody hell until Kirk suggested I pronounce it "HALL."  The audience can't hear the "h" but it helps the sound.  Genius--he was right, of course.  I'm happy to say that our final run-through of the night has glimmers of sounding like an actual song, so I'm hopeful it will continue to get better.

So, for a while I am back at rehearsals up to five times a week, which is great but challenging, too, with our evening schedules.  I haven't been sleeping well since David has been sick and snoring to beat the band, but hopefully that will pass.  In other news, Jarrah will be getting her braces in the next couple of weeks, and that will be like an after-school sport, since we'll be driving out to OB at least once a week for a few months for adjustments.

I'm also picking up my new, fancy glasses tomorrow, and I'm excited and nervous.  A post on that process will be forthcoming, too.  Happy New Year, Readers!