Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Still Not Talking, So I Must Write

I have a two-inch burn scar along my left jaw line. It's kind of rakish and pirate-like, not that I was going for that look. No, I was just trying to curl my hair in time for the Saturday matinee, and miscalculated for the first time since I started using that genius but lethal appliance.

At first I hoped I had "caught it in time." I rushed for a big wad of ice, and later slathered it with cocoa butter. It's in a spot that's hard for me to see. But not for everyone else, apparently, judging from the number of comments I get. The first one was Charles, backstage at Birdie. "What did you do to your FACE?" he yelped, even interrupting his own dirty joke for this exclamation, which is saying something. I gasped and slapped my hand over the evidence. "I don't want to talk about it." Now everyone was looking. "Don't be ashamed, Sam," said Shani, "We've all done it." Really? Everyone has DESTROYED THEIR OWN FACE at that age when Coco Chanel famously said we have the one we DESERVE???

Ugh. Now I have to talk about it at least three times a day, because no one seems to remember what their mamas told them about keeping their shock and horror at other peoples' disfigurement to themselves. The latest was Bethsy, from Jarrah's class, on my way to the car yesterday: "Miss Sam, are you doing art with us Wednesday? WHAT DID YOU DO TO YOUR FACE???"

Ugh ugh. I've heard all kinds of suggestions. Red or green concealer, from the two cosmetology students doing our hair on Birdie. Lavender oil from the massage therapist in the cast. Seeing it as my own "inexpensive laser peel" from my oh-so-helpful husband. Suggestions, Readers? You might as well weigh in, if I'm going to be reminded of my own stupidity on a daily basis anyway.

A couple people have asked in wonderment, "Why did you do that?" Because I'm a moron, that's why. Now that that's settled, can we talk about something else?

Like the sad fact that my voice is not back. On the contrary, I've been pretty much mute for two days. I'm feeling weirdly alone because of it, isolated in my own little bubble, and I don't think it's my imagination that shopkeepers and random chatty strangers are speaking a little louder and slower with that crinkly, sympathetic smile to show compassion for my apparent developmental challenges. I had to cancel my voice lesson. I can't talk on the phone. It's making me realize just how much of the airspace I suck up in the average conversation because everyone seems awfully silent. I want to urge everyone to talk, talk, talk--just natter on pointlessly about your day, if that's all you've got--BECAUSE I AM LONELY. Hearing about your struggles to reschedule your daughter's piano lesson would be better by far than all this nothing.

It also makes me see that I married a very quiet man. Our dinners have been crypt-like. You can hear chewing and that's about it. And why must Jarrah, who normally makes it her life's mission to interrupt my every sentence, has suddenly gone all enigmatic, too? No stories about school, no endless questions about why people get married and the layout of the solar system.

I can't take much more of this, people. I'm going to have to take up the drums.

Monday, March 19, 2012

What's The Word, Hummingbird?

My voice is lost. Wherefore art thou, voice? Of course I've been all up in the internet trying to diagnose myself with vocal polyps or other horrors. Maybe it's because when I picked Jarrah up today (late!) I passed two of the preschool moms who tried to talk to me and when I gestured to my throat one of them shrieked "AGAIN?!?" I'm hoping she's just referring to the time over two years ago when I had to MC the preschool auction sounding like a naughty hotline operator. Because two years is not "AGAIN?!?"-worthy, is it?

You might think "Well, of course you lost your voice! You sang FOUR shows in under 48 hours!" But I'm not sure that's it. I think I might have a little something. Because I have a sore throat, too, and a slight cough. I could feel my voice getting scratchy during the two shows on Saturday, and by Sunday I woke up with nothin'. After being plied with Slippery Elm lozenges and Honey Ginger Singer Spray by my sweet cast mates, there was enough to power through one more show.

Then I was a new kind of freak at the cast party. Suddenly, I was the Sam No One Can Hear. There were a number of polite "What's thats?" and "Sorries?" and finally I just gave up and smiled and nodded a lot. Which is so not me. And everyone knows it. Still, it was a lovely, if melancholy, cast party, graciously hosted by the parents of Ursula Merkle at their home in Spring Valley, where we all snuggled up by a roaring fire and sipped the best Tortilla Soup I've ever had (two steaming bowls failed to cure what ails me, however.)

Today I slept most of the morning and had a massage plus half-hour in the redwood sauna with a cup of Wellness Tea (bless the heart of my adorable therapist) but still feel ready to keel over now. Plus, this lack of voice thing is a downright detraction from my sunny persona. For instance, I went to Von's for taco fixins and whenever I'd get a hearty hello from the Produce man or the kid bagging my groceries, I'd have to smile wanly back with nary a sound. I could tell this was a bit off-putting but I didn't know what else to do except carry little cards to hand out that say "HELLO! I AM FRIENDLY AND AM NOT IGNORING YOU! I HAVE LARYNGITIS! HAVE A GOOD DAY!" When the checker asked "Will you be needing help out to the car?," for the first time ever it sounded like someone thought I was far too impaired to make it on my own.

As I've mentioned before, my voice is my gift to the world. Without it, I'm nothing. I can't tell stories. I can't make jokes or wry, witty observations. I can't laugh at other people's jokes. I can't sing. In short, I can't be MYSELF. So I start to get depressed. And coming off the amazing high of this show, plunged into the brittle winter's morn of the soul that surely follows, is especially hard.

Think good thoughts for its speedy return, won't you? Thanks.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

One-Hit Wonder

Jarrah has been doing a lot of writing these days. She opened a restaurant in our living room which necessitated a sign on our bedroom door: "Employees Only."

I am feeling a bit narcoleptic, as I am wont to do for a full week following the time change. Seriously, I feel like the alarm goes off in the middle of the night. I fall asleep spontaneously whenever I sit down somewhere. I had done exactly that on the couch the other afternoon and was blinking myself conscious again when Jarrah appeared in the doorway, brandishing a piece of yellow construction paper.

"I wrote you a song."

"That's nice," I croaked. "Can I hear it?"

I could. Here's an exact transcript:

I Love You

I love you
I love you
I love you every time
Your my best firend oo be my forever
I will never stop loveing you
you are always going to be mine
I love you mom!
Please don't be mad at me I love you!
I will even love you when I'm a grown-up!
I will stay with you!
Forever and ever
hug me and kiss me over and over agen
until I kiss you back!
oo baby your all mine!

"That..." I said with a weird smile, "is quite a song."

"You like it?"

"I love it."

"Okay, can you put some choreography to it?"


"Oh, and Mom? I actually took some of the ideas from Justin Bieber."

"That makes sense. All the great ones steal their stuff from the masters."

Monday, March 12, 2012


One weekend down! Full houses all three shows!

Being in front of an audience is awesome. I am making the most of my "face in the crowd" status and amping up the crazy whenever I see a window. My stage "husband" actually told me I should tone it down because I'm pulling focus from the leads. Um, not likely.

I got a really nice compliment from a gal in the lobby the other night. She said she couldn't take her eyes off me. Yes, those were her words. And really, isn't that what every actor wants to hear? I'll take it!

Being backstage with 42 people has been challenging. While we're getting accustomed to our little inch of changing space and learning where to keep our stuff so it doesn't get trodden or moved, small skirmishes have broken out--mostly amongst the teens and children. Granted, the kids have it worse because they're actually in a circus tent behind the theater, where they swelter or freeze, depending. I'm grateful for my indoor inch.

There's been a lot of laughter and bawdy talk. I've learned some, ahem, terminology that I might have been better off not knowing, having avoided it until now. But the adults are getting along well enough that we've gone out together four times already. Friday night, when we filled five tables at The Red Fox Room, was especially fun.

By yesterday afternoon, I could see everyone was a little dead behind the eyes. Not onstage, mind you. During intermission, and after, when we were cleaning up. Last night, I felt like I was hallucinating a little bit while ready Jarrah a story. And I still didn't sleep well--curse you, time change! This first week makes me feel narcoleptic.

Now I have a few days off to recover. And while I know I could use the rest, there's a part of me that's already sad to realize we have only one more weekend before we scatter to the winds. It's hard to break up a family, however new. The term "showmance" comes to mind. I know it usually refers to a sudden and artificial intimacy of a romantic nature between two people, but I think it can happen to an entire cast, too. We've been up in each others' faces a lot, and right now we have a big, looming thing in common. It's weird to think that very soon that will simply not be true anymore.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Technical Decision

So just now, I'm in Walmart, looking for a slip. I know some of you are like "Whatever" and the rest of you are like "WHAT?! What were you doing in Wal-Mart?!" and to the latter I say "I KNOW." I went there because, like the brown-spotted owl, slips seem to be close to extinction in the wild. And no, I'm not, like, some LADY who wears a slip under my tweed suit when I go to tea (though I do go to tea) but rather, I require one for theatrical modesty: Nightgown + Backlighting = Need for Foundational Garments.

So I'm sluggishly flipping through the various Intimates, not finding anything, when I suddenly hear:

"Ladies and Gentlemen, may I have your attention." Only it wasn't all jovial and booming, like these announcements generally are when they're amplified, but sort of raspy and low and urgent. I craned my neck around until I located a gentlemen lurking in a corner over by coats with a microphone in his hand. His back was to me so I couldn't see his expression. The following is an exact--or as close to exact as I can recall--transcript of his remarks.

"In exactly two minutes, we'll be passing out to every person in the store over the age of 21, a razor-sharp, surgical steel knife."

I darted my eyes around, but I didn't see any other people nearby. I felt a little chill and a flutter in my stomach. Passing out? To every person? Razor-sharp? SURGICAL? TWO MINUTES?!?

Good lord, is Wal-Mart staging their own version of The Hunger Games? First they're going to arm us all, then funnel us into a caged-off arena near the diapers, where we'll be forced to slash at each other until only one stands, who'll be sent home bloodied but triumphant with a Malibu Dream House and a shotgun.

The announcer continued: "Do NOT run. Walk slowly to the center of the store. Leave your carts behind, as space will be limited."

For a split second, I actually contemplated making a mad sprint to the exit. Could I make it before they locked and chained the doors? Would there be guards? I wondered if it was already too late. Oh why oh why didn't I just go to Macy's and pay a little more? I WANT TO LIVE! This never happens in Target! They let you accidentally spend your $200 in peace!

But now two minutes had passed without incident or the piping in of "Welcome to the Jungle," so I decided I could breathe again. I was over by the pantyhose when I heard the announcer, a couple aisles over, saying "And how are you doing this afternoon, little lady?" to an unseen little lady in question. It didn't sound so sinister anymore, but I wasn't taking any chances. I got the hell out of there.

And in case you were wondering? Macy's Intimates contained about 3, 217 bras and 1 slip. Which I bought.

But Wal-Mart doesn't have any. If you want free razor-sharp knives, however, you should hightail it over post-haste.