Tag Archives: Theatre

The Most Jellicle, The Most Live

25 May

When we were young, my sister and I took many lessons of varying activities. I, being the animal lover, went through a horseback riding phase that I admittedly have not completely grown out of. Caitlyn, being a fairy tale princess, took ballet from the moment she could stand in first position. I eventually started to take dance lessons, too, as well as gymnastics, cheerleading, and a sad, pathetic fifth grade attempt at playing basketball.  (I scored four glorious points the entire season- two foul shots, and one basket that I think went into the basket because the ball bounced off of my flailing arm, and my teammates were nice enough to allow me the credit of making said basket.)

When we were about 13 and 15, my sister and I were taking dance lessons at a local dance studio. Now, when I say “taking dance lessons at a local dance studio,” what I mean to say is that sometimes on random Saturdays we would show up to the dance studio and learn sporadic 8 counts of choreography, and not return for a few weeks due to our busy schedules. The problem was, if you wanted to take dance classes with this studio, you had to keep your entire Saturday open. We were enrolled in jazz, lyrical, ballet, pointe, and tap. Five hours of straight dance with hour breaks here and there. If anything else conflicted- family reunions, gymnastics meets, cheerleading competitions, community productions of The Music Man, having a social life- you’d miss all of your classes for that week. It wasn’t like “Oh I can’t make it to jazz on Satruday, but at least I’ll make it to ballet on Monday!” No. If you missed one class, you usually missed them all.

Here’s the thing: I’m not saying that missing class was the right thing to do. It was actually the complete wrong thing to do. Now that I’m older, I can only imagine my instructor’s frustration while trying to choreograph 50+ teenage girls into some sort of physical product that didn’t resemble a chaotic frenzy of developing breasts, hips, and acne. ESPECIALLY when those 50+ girls had other activities to attend, and couldn’t even show up to class. She had made it easy for us- ONE day of the week you get to attend ALL of your classes, and be done with it for the rest of the week. How hard can that be, huh? To just make sure your schedule is clear for ONE day of the week? I mean seriously. How can you choreograph and teach people dances if they’re not in the room? You can’t. AND! Now that I’m older, I realize that my instructor was not only in charge of our dance educations, but she was ALSO in charge of putting on the end of the year recital, in which all of her hard work would be showcased on a stage for all of the people PAYING her to do the impossible task of teaching their absent children how to dance.

So I assume my instructor finally got so fed up with the whole ordeal that she finally just said “Forget you little whores. This year we’re doing it my way.” And at the beginning of that year, the infamous year, she made an announcement:

“Listen. If you’re in class, you’ll be in the recital. If you’re not in class, you won’t be. Each week, whatever we learn- if you’re here to learn it, you’ll perform those 8 counts in the recital. If you’re not here, you won’t be in the 8 counts we learned. If you happen to miss a week where we learn a BIG section of the dance, or if we manage to learn ALL of the dance, you simply won’t be on stage for it. This is how we’re doing it this year.” She then took a big swig from her water bottle. Looking back now, her water bottles were never clear. She always had a plastic jug that she brought from home. I now wonder what she was drinking…Well played, Miss Dance Instructor. Well played.

Well, this sent a shock through us all. She couldn’t do that! Could she? Would this mean that we wouldn’t be able to miss a SINGLE DANCE CLASS if we wanted to be in the whole dance at the end of the year?!?!

Being a virgo, someone who is a naturally organized person, I found my 13 year old self wondering… “So, wait… say someone misses a class. But they were here the week before that class, and the week after… does that mean they’re just going to have to RUN off of the stage while the rest of the group does the part that they missed… and then run BACK on as soon as they know the choreography again? That doesn’t seem very organized…”

And yes. Yes, that is exactly what that meant, and no, it was not organized. At all.

It also didn’t help that this year was the year that my sister and I would be missing the most dance classes of our entire lives. I don’t really remember why we were missing so much class… it really doesn’t matter for the story’s sake… the point is, we missed a shit ton of class. When we would finally show up to early morning Saturday dance, our friends would greet us like we were their long-lost family members from ancient times.

Prepubescent Girl: OH MY GOSH CAITLYN AND CAROLYN ARE HERE!
Senior In High School: WOW! WE HAVEN’T SEEN YOU GUYS IN MONTHS!
Prepubescent Girl: Do you still take class here? Or are you just visiting?
Other Girls: Wow! Your hair got longer! It’s good to see you! Carolyn, you got taller since the last time I saw you! Etc…

I can only imagine my instructor’s frustration when we finally DID show up for class. Now she had two extra bodies to put into this mess, and those two bodies knew none of the dance at all.

Every year, in community dance studios around the nation, small recitals are put on. Each year, these recitals usually have “themes.” Such as, “God Bless America”; “Five, Six, Seven, GREAT!” ; “Over the Rainbow”; and “STARPOWER.” This year, the infamous year of the changing eights, our theme was THE STARS OF BROADWAY. Each dance was choreographed to old Broadway hits, or songs that talked a lot about New York City. I vaguely remember the “advanced adult tap class” kick ball changing their way through Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.” I also remember a beautiful lyrical solo done by a girl in a flowwy white costume to Billy Joel’s “New York State Of Mind.”

The one day that we came to class, we learned that our “advanced jazz class” was opening the entire recital with a tribute to one of Broadway’s longest running musicals, “CATS!” While we joined the group and started to learn the choreography, I started to realize something…

Caitlyn and I would be portraying cats. We would actually embody animals on stage, and people would be watching us, and no one would call us weird or “too old to be acting like an animal.”  I felt like my entire life had been leading me up to this moment. Years of making “nests” behind the couch and filling them with my beanie babies… crawling around on the floor like a psychotic lunatic while carrying aforementioned beanie babies in my mouth… watching The Animal Planet and perfecting my cougar call… all of these activities had led me to this SPECIFIC moment. I WAS a cat. I was a feline, and I was fabulous.

Needless to say, my freak show little self was extremely excited. Caitlyn, on the other hand, was more worried about her costume than the actual portrayal of a believable cat. You see, sometimes in these things, parents and their “talented” offspring are forced to order, buy, and sometimes even MAKE their own costumes. This time was no different. We were told we would need to order body suits and decorate them however we saw fit. During one Saturday, before anyone ordered their body suits, we were forced to write our names down under the colors that we wished to be. This was done in hopes of avoiding 27 black cats and only 3 yellow cats on stage.

I approached the list… I knew what color I wanted to be… I was hoping that there wouldn’t be too many names under that color already… but because I had missed so much class, I knew I wouldn’t be first to write my name down on the paper. My more punctual peers certainly wouldn’t let me have first cat color choice privileges. I had to wait my turn…. patiently…

With every girl that approached the list and wrote her name down, I knew I would have to settle for something STUPID like… brown. Or gray. I kept my fingers crossed, and prayed that there would be at least one space left for my name…

When I finally did get to see the list, these were the options I saw:
ORANGE:        BLACK:       GRAY:             YELLOW:       BROWN:

 

What. No, seriously… what!?

No where, not anywhere, was the “Siamese” option. Who were these people? What the hell were they thinking? You can’t have a production of CATS without proper cat colors!

I was so disappointed, I didn’t even care where my name went anymore. I saw that there weren’t many orange cats, so I scribbled my name down and went back to my place on the floor.

A month later, we received a package in the mail. At this point, I think all three of us- my mother, my sister, and I- had forgotten that we had ordered anything. When we finally opened the package and looked inside, my mom pulled out a brown body suit and an orange body suit.

Mom: Oh. Here are your cat costumes, girls.
Caitlyn: Oh yeah! We’re doing CATS. I almost forgot.
Me: (Holding up the limp carcass of my orange body suit) This is the literally the color of a construction cone.

My mom promised that she would help me make my costume not look as crazy-orange as it already did. We went to the craft store and bought a few boas for our tails, and, upon my instruction, grabbed a package of black feathers and some glue.

Mom: Carolyn, we should really just use paint to give you stripes.
Me: Paint is going to look two dimensional! I want the stripes to look like FUR. Okay!? That’s why we’re going to glue feathers onto me.
Mom: But honey, if you put glue on a costume that is supposed to stretch-
Me: I WANT IT TO LOOK LIKE FUR FROM OFF STAGE. If I can’t even be a Siamese cat, at least I can look like like I have fur!
Mom: Okay. Whatever.

That night I slaved over my costume, gluing feathers in all the right places to make me look like an orange tabby cat. It took hours of painstakingly accurate applications, but once it was completed, I was satisfied. Everyone else would be using markers for their costumes. Not me! Oh no. I was going to be different.

Finally the night of the recital arrived. Caitlyn and I rushed into the backstage area and started to get ready. The “costumers” (AKA a few selfless and good hearted parent volunteers) had printed out templates of cat makeup from the actual Broadway show that they were letting us go through and choose. Caitlyn and I chose our makeup maps, and proceeded to apply our feline faces.

I looked at my sister. Her eyebrows were drawn in along her nose and back out under her eyes- almost like she had purposely drawn raccoon eyes on herself, but then stopped and changed her mind midway through. She had painted stripes back along her cheeks with different colored lip pencils, and colored in her entire top lip with gray eyeliner. On the left side of her face was a patch of gray makeup, a patch that to us looked like distinctive feline markings, but to anyone else would appear to be physical proof of domestic violence.

I, on the other hand, had colored my eyebrows in the opposite direction- I had made them fan up and back, bleeding back into my hairline. I colored the bottom of my nose with a black eye pencil and drew a very prominent line down my upper lip, which then connected to another colored-in black triangle below my bottom lip. Every other inch of my face was painted white like a geisha.

I looked at Caitlyn. She looked at me. We stared at each other for a moment. There was silence. And then-

Me: You look FANTASTIC.
Caitlyn: Wow. We look great!
Me: Here, let me help you with your collar.

Finally, it was time to put on our body suits. Caitlyn slid into hers like butter melts into a pan. It stretched and clung to her like an athletic body suit should. Mine, on the other hand…

Me: Uh, Caitlyn?
Caitlyn: Yeah?
Me: Mine… mine isn’t stretching.
Caitlyn: What do you mean? It’s a body suit.
Me: Well, where I used the glue to glue on the feathers?
Caitlyn: Yeah?
Me: Well… it’s not stretching. In those places.

We then proceeded to RIP my costume apart and MAKE it fit onto my body. Feathers were flying everywhere. Caitlyn was laughing, I was hyperventilating, and all the while we were hearing the stage manager (Aka another selfless parent volunteer) yell down “TEN MINUTES TILL PLACES!”

Caitlyn: There! It’s on! Just leave it!
Me: But look at the feathers! They’re falling off! COMPLETELY! I look horrible!

Now, at this moment I suspect my sister knew exactly what she was doing… she then says to me…

Caitlyn: Well… we’re supposed to be ally cats, right?
Me: Yeah…
Caitlyn: Well you’ll just look a little more, forlorn.
Me: Huh?!
Caitlyn: Like… LIKE you’re one of those really aggressive cats that doesn’t take any crap from any other cats!
Me: But… that’s not the type of cat I rehearsed! I rehearsed being a very friendly cat, who actually gets along well with other cats, as long as the other cats aren’t trying to mate with me or steal my territory!
Caitlyn: Well… maybe you can just be a different type of cat. Come on, we have to get into places.

And while we climbed the steps to emerge onto the stage and start the preshow section, I was trying desperately to think about how I could possibly change my cat character to justify my haggard appearance. Could my docile original cat character have just gotten into a fight… and lost? NO! My cat character would NEVER lose a fight… Could I have mange? NO! My cat character cleans herself daily! No matter which way I looked at it, it was unavoidable. I was going to have to become… AN AGGRESSIVE CAT.

The lights came up. The music started. I did my usual lick the paw and pat my ear choreography that I had planned, but now I felt stupid- I was in my head, second-guessing everything I was doing…

Angry Me: Now come on. What kind of a cat tries to clean themselves NOW?
Nervous Me: I can’t help it! My costume fell apart!
Angry Me: A LITTLE LATE FOR THAT YOU MANGY BEAST!

I stretched my arms out in a child’s pose and arched my back.

Angry Me: OH so we just woke up from a nap now, huh!? IS THE KITTY CAT TIRED!?!?!
Nervous Me: I’m just doing the choreography… the way we rehearsed…
Angry Me: Your stretching is CRAP. This entire production is CRAP, so long as YOU’RE in it! Do you even KNOW the dance?!?!

And I think it was at that moment that I realized… I really didn’t know any of the dance. I mean I knew where I was supposed to be on the stage. I knew, vaguely, where I was supposed to enter and exit. But other than that? I was screwed. I realized, in that heightened moment of self loathing and hyperventilation, that I had been relying solely on the mirrors in our studio to watch and follow the other girls. And now that we were actually on the stage without any mirrors, I literally had no idea which 8 count came where, and where I was supposed to be.

It was every performer’s nightmare. Being onstage with a costume that is falling apart, only to realize you don’t know your part. I quickly looked over at Caitlyn. Surprisingly, she was already looking right back at me. And get this- she had the EXACT same, petrified, “Oh-My-Gosh-I-Literally-Have-No-Idea-What-Comes-Next” look on her face that I did.

And I believe it was at that moment where the term “Doing it live” comes from. Most people think it’s from the internet sensation of Bill O’Riley going nuts and screaming “WE’LL DO IT LIVE” at the news crew for having a faulty teleprompter. But no. No, friends, see… “Do it live” actually started with two teenage sisters attempting to dance in a small studio’s tribute to the award winning Broadway musical “CATS.”

So there we were. On a stage. Running around, trying not to bump into anyone else, mouthing the words, but we didn’t really know the words…

Yes we’re Jellicle cats
as Jellicle, do…?
Jellicle songs for Jellicle cats!
Jellicle songs for Jellicle cats!
I’m a cat, And I’m Jellicle too?…

Kicking! Running! Leaping! Pivoting! Pirouetting! All a half second behind everyone else on the stage. We looked like two genuine ass holes up there. At one point I even considered just jazz running off stage and staying there until the whole thing was over… Which, now that I think about it, I SHOULD have been doing during the parts that I didn’t know… I just didn’t know when to exit and when to come back on.

The only silver lining was that Caitlyn and I had been strategically placed in the back of every formation, so that even if we messed up, we’d be mostly hidden by the other girls on stage who had attended more dance classes than we.

Now this continued on for what felt like a century. But then! Lo and behold, at one point Caitlyn and I finally realized that the part of the dance happening was the ONE part that we had been in class to learn! Suddenly we weren’t following anyone because we actually knew the choreography! And let me tell you what… those four eight counts were the most on point, committed, and memorable eight counts of the entire CATS production. Why, you ask? Well, because for those four eight counts, every dancer on the stage was doing the same movements at the exact same time. I could just see our dance instructor in the audience, beaming with pride… sure, we were a little shaky to start. But we’ve got it now! WE’VE GOT THIS!

And then, just as soon as it had started, it ended- The beautiful part of the dance that we knew was now over, and we were back to square one.

Please, I heard myself pleading with God, please let this be over soon, and I swear I’ll never miss a dance class again…

Suddenly everyone in the entire company artistically collapsed down to the floor and rolled, and Caitlyn and I were left, for a split second, staring at the audience point blank. Just standing there. Two casual cats, staring blankly at the audience. We IMMEDIATELY dove down to be on the same level as the other girls… and then, something in my brain clicked, and for one more glorious second, I realized I KNEW THE CHOREOGRAPHY! I KNEW this eight count! I knew, deep in my bones, that on count EIGHT was a move where we shot our feet out in front of us, leaned back on one arm, and stretched our other arm up to display a jazz hand. It was kind of an awkward move, where you’re hitched between your hand and your heels, sort of showing your crotch to the audience… But it didn’t matter. The awkward body suit crotch move came on count eight! AND I KNEW IT!

And so, I did it. Five, six, seven…. EIGHT!

And as my crotch was displayed proudly for the entire audience to enjoy, and my arm shot up to display a perfect, triumphant jazz hand, I realized it wasn’t the only jazz hand! Caitlyn’s triumphant jazz hand shot up, too! The only problem was…

No body else’s hands shot up. Not one other crotch that wasn’t related to mine was being displayed for the audience’s enjoyment.

Later that night after the recital ended, my mother insisted that she grab a picture of Caitlyn and I in our cat costumes. And you know what? I’m glad she did. Because at the time, the LAST thing I wanted to do at the end of my recital was put my cat costume back on. But now that she has, I get to share this photograph with the rest of the world. Enjoy.

Sole Patch, the Aggressive Cat sits proudly next to Jellicle Slutter Baum.

Sole Patch, the Aggressive Cat sits proudly next to Jellicle Slutter Baum.

 

I think our little an-jellicle faces really just say it all.

 

There’s A Special Place In Hell For People Who “Like” Sad Statuses

14 Oct

Day 34 of the 90 in 90 blog challenge.

As a writer, I like writing humorous things. I like writing funny anecdotes about my life and the people in it, in hopes of retaining my generally positive and not-so-serious outlook on life, while perhaps also hopefully brightening someone else’s day. I am not one to write about the upcoming election, human trafficking, or the shortcomings of our school systems. Those things are not funny, and honestly, they make me feel uncomfortable, at least. However, sometimes I am faced with a social issue that really affects me, deep down to the core. And I can’t help it, I have to address it in the written word. It is the only way I know how to try to make sense of these things, to me. And so, I’m going to use this blog post to really address a serious social issue, one that’s been really making me feel uncomfortable with the human population as a whole.

What is up with people “liking” terribly depressing statuses? No. Seriously. I cannot TELL you how many times I’ve gone online to find the most tear-jerking status ever recorded, and then sure enough BAM there are three jerk jockeys who “like” it. For example:

Everybody please pray for my father. He has just been diagnosed with *insert absolutely horrible disease here*, and it’s just been a really hard time for my family.
6 people like this.

Okay. Let me first, just…take this in…. (Ten second pause.)

Alright. Now that I’ve let that soak in… I just have to know who these six world class douche bags are. So, if you’re one of these people, just know that I am judging the CRAP out of you when my mouse scrolls over the “6 people like this” and your name pops up. Because… Are you serious? You LIKE this status? Oh you do? Oh really? You actually get enjoyment out of the fact that this person’s father is currently suffering, while you are currently scratching your upper thigh, drinking a beer, and “liking” statuses on Facebook? Okay. Cool. You know what? I DO hope they serve beer in hell. For your sake.

Hey facebook friends. I’m really struggling as far as my future/career direction is concerned. I could really use your prayers. Thanks.
12 people like this.

So let me get this straight… There are 12 people out there who get pleasure knowing that this person is questioning their future so deeply that they have now resorted to asking for prayers? You… like this?

But maybe I’m being too hard on people. Maybe they “like” this because they, too, are questioning their own future/career paths, and this status makes them not feel so alone. In that case, I would have to say stop being such a lazy piece of worthless lard, and type all of that into the comment box, instead of “liking” the fact that this person is struggle bussing it through their early 20’s.

This also works for changed relationship statuses. For example:

So-And-So went from “in a relationship” to “single.”
9 people like this.

Here’s the thing. I don’t even care if the newly single person “likes” it themselves. It’s still a broken relationship, and unless their ex was abusing them to the point of bodily or emotional harm, they’re probably not celebrating this. And heck! Even if they were in an abusive relationship, I bet you they’re still going to go through a time where they are sort of sad about it. PLEASE NOTE: I am in no way saying that we shouldn’t be happy about abusive relationships ending. I’m all for people being healthy and making healthy choices, and weeding out the disgustingly toxic people in their lives. I’m just saying that ALL relationships are messy, no matter how “good” or “bad” they are as a whole. And when any relationship comes to an end, there is usually a semi-depressing aftermath. The person whose changed relationship status this is, well… They’re probably going to feel a little sad at some point. They’re going to have lonely nights, sad times where they look back on the good and feel like they made the wrong choice, or that they could have been better, or done better by the other person. Let’s be honest: They probably aren’t going to go leaping through the streets, setting off confetti cannons and passing out “It’s Over” cookies, screaming “I AM COMPLETELY ALONE IN THIS WORLD!!!! WOOOO!!!!” So, in conclusion: To the 9 of you who whole-heartedly approve of this depressing grieving process, I’d like to take a moment and wish you a nice big “I hope you nine die alone in a cold, wet place.”

Rest in peace Patches. You were the best first dog a boy could ever hope for. I will miss you and love forever.
24 people like this.

WOAH!!! I didn’t realize I was living in a society that is so full of first-pet-ever haters!!! BUUUuuuuT, now that I’ve seen that 24 people are against, you know… dogs, I get it now. But hey! Maybe those 24 people were “liking” the fact that this person will “love and miss” Patches… forever. And to that I would have to say… do you scum heads realize how long forever is? This person is essentially stating that for every day that they live on this earth, a part of their heart will pine and yearn for their dead dog. Every day. And you like this fact? Okay. Cool. I hope someone drops a shovel on your bare foot… forever.

Like, I am actually convinced that if I were to write really depressing statuses, no matter if they’re true or not, there would be at LEAST three people who would “like” it. Seriously. I’m gonna try it:

I hate myself too much to go outside today.
11 people like this.

I went to college to be an artist for four years, and now I feel completely lost and ultimately confused about what I want out of my life, as a whole.
7 people like this.

I’m really self conscious of my fat arms always.
15 people like this.

Today I found out that my pet cat who “ran away” didn’t really run away. My dad found her dead in my neighbor’s bushes, and then proceeded to throw her in the woods to decompose in peace.
25 people like this.

No. No, you know what? Let’s just ALL try it. Why not!? Everyone just post something REALLY depressing, true or completely fictional (your choice), and then sit back and enjoy seeing who the sick, scum-licking joy suckers of your lives are. Then, I think you can take it from there.

But I, for one? I will be doing some SERIOUS de-friending.

On The Road Again

2 Oct

20121002-172724.jpg

Day 22 of the 90 in 90 blog challenge.

Well, dear readers, I am currently typing this from the road. I discovered that WordPress.com has a smart phone app, and that basically changed my life.

SO! I am on MYY WAYYY (“Violet” reference anyone? Okay…) to ORLANDOOOOO (“Book of Mormon” reference? Anyone???). Alright alright, enough with the musical theatre references. Anyway- we are somewhere in South Carolina right now. This trip has been quite uneventful. The picture at the top of this post is basically what I’ve been looking at for the past six hours. I have so much stuff piled in Dory that when we go over bumps she scrapes her steamy undercarriage, but other than that we have had no big disasters… knock on wood. The most interesting thing to happen thus far was passing a place called “Tudor’s Biscuit World” which I though sounded pretty regal and ridiculous.

I thought my audition for Disney was on Friday, but I double checked their website and now I’m auditioning on Thursday. I’m nervous. I’m excited. I’m scared they won’t need- or even worse, want- me. But I just keep telling myself that everything happens for a reason. If I don’t get cast, maybe it’s because God has a different plan for me. Maybe I need to find a job that can incorporate my love of writing…

Can someone just… Pay me to blog? Or write? Please? Anyone? Hello? Hello out there… If you’re a professional editor or person of literary merit, could you please contact me and pay me money to do what I love to do? Okay. Great. Thanks. Glad this was so easy for both of us.

So my mom is really sick right now with one seriously nasty head cold. She gets these sudden attacks where she can’t see anything because her eyes are watering so much. We’ve tried everything. DayQuil, allergy medicine, nose spray, and constant nose blowing. Nothing helps. EXCEPT… For eating. That’s right. Eating. Something about the constant swallowing or something, but that is the only thing that keeps her eyes from watering. So, as you can imagine, Momma Barry is SO sick of eating food, and I am SO sick of getting it out of bags for her…

Mom: Carolyn I gotta have something right now, Im starting to go downhill.
Me: (sighing) Okay well… What do you want? Another thing of Rollos?
Mom: (seriously sounding full) Ugh….
Me: Or, we have pretzels…
Mom: UGHH no they make my mouth dry!
Me: Okaaayyee… well what do you want?!
Mom: I guess… Just give me another tootsie pop…
(Keep in mind I have finally managed to arrange all of the items in the car wedged in and around my various body parts in order to become “comfortable.” Moving the GPS, two cell phones, a dayquil box, and two huge pillows off of my lap, I look down at the space for my leg room. I use the term “leg room” very loosely… The small space where my feet are currently residing is also home to Wendy’s bags full of giant salad containers, my huge gold purse, and an array of space-eating items, like my giant brontosaurus stuffed animal Monty. I rummage through the items. During this time the gps falls over [“RECALCULATING!”] the pillows somehow manage to smack me in the face, and one of the almost-empty Wendy’s salad containers pops open and drips dressing onto my hands. Finally, I triumphantly find the bag containing the snacks.)
Me: (Handing her a blue tootsie pop) Here.
Mom: Oh…
Me: What? It’s a tootsie pop. Here.
Mom: Um, I don’t like grape.
Me:
Mom: Can you get me a red one?
Me:
Mom: Please?! Come on, my eyes are closing and this is dangerous!!!

According to Patrick (the current ever-changing name of my GPS) we will be arriving at my sister’s apartment…( And I guess, MY apartment now, too!) at 10:19 p.m. We cannot drive fast enough.

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Monty likes granola bars.

Do You Know… The Origin Of Your Weirdness?

24 Sep

Day 14 of the 90 in 90 blog challenge.

(Driving to look at a possible new car for me. The radio is off. We drive in silence. Until-)

Mom: So how are your friends from college doing? What are they up to?
Me: Well, a few of them have found work in Chicago. A couple of them are going to work at Drury Lane.
Mom: What’s that?
Me: It’s a professional theatre in Chicago.
Mom: Oh. (beat.) Does the muffin man work there?
(Pause.)
Me: He used to, but I think he’s going in a new direction now.
Mom: Do you know him?
Me: …The muffin man?
Mom: Yeah. Do you know the muffin man?
Me: …The muffin man?
Mom: The muffin man.
Me: Do I know the muffin man? Who works at Drury Lane?
Mom: Yeah.
Me: … Yeah I know the muffin man.
Mom: The muffin man?
Me: The muffin man.
Mom: So you know the muffin man.
(Ten second pause.)
Mom: And your friends wonder where you get it.

End Scene.

The Best Gift of the Summer

21 Sep

Day 11 of the 90 in 90 blog challenge.

I knew this night was coming.

I tried to fight it off, tried to tell myself that it wouldn’t be that hard. I figured if I could say goodbye to the cast of “Chicago,” my boyfriend of two years, and my entire college life in one night, I could certainly say goodbye to these two morons and not be too damaged about it.

When I first started my summer here, I was afraid. I was scared of having no one. I was afraid the people in my cast wouldn’t “get me” due to my obscure, off-the-wall sense of humor, my obsession with carbohydrates, and my need to sometimes be left alone in a quiet corner with only my journal.

And then Dallas and DJ walk in. I see tall, dark Dallas and think “Please let him be straight!” Then he sticks a perfect triple pirouette and and says quietly to himself, “I’ve still got it, bitches!” when he doesn’t think anyone is listening aaand I give up on that hope. I wave at them and introduce myself. Dallas gives me the biggest smile in the whole world, and DJ politely does his adorable little DJ grin and half-wave.

We start rehearsals, tentatively singing our separate parts in fear of being judged, while secretly trying to hear everyone else’s voices in order to assess their talent. Dallas and DJ listen to me sing the big note at the end of “God Bless America.” Dallas says, “Gorge!” and DJ says, “YEAASSS.” I like them immediately. Later, while we’re taking a five minute water break, Dallas and I are by the lockers. I forget what awkward thing was said, but I did the “Brrrr” awkward moment sound effect, and Dallas burst out laughing.

“Deeje!” He called, “She just did the ‘brrr’ noise! She does it too! Oh, I’m gonna like you. I can tell.”

It was pretty much history from there.

I spent mostly every single night of this summer with them. I found we had the most fun when we did nothing at all. We watched ALL of the movies. We snuggled in bed and argued over who had to be big spoon. We figured out ways for the three of us to sit comfortably on a two person couch. We went to downtown Cincinnati together. We went to an adult novelty store together on the fourth of July. …I don’t know why we did that…

Slowly, our personal space boundaries grew to be non existent. I found myself being able to jokingly touch Dallas anywhere without it being weird or awkward. DJ and I discovered we both have an innate need to snuggle at least twice every three days. Walking into a room where one of them already was just felt good. It was like I could let out my breath when I saw one of them sitting on those disgusting, sweat-infested suicide-suede couches in the humid smelly armpit that was the Festhaus greenroom.

We taught each other things. I taught them how to cook Cajun vodka pasta. The two of them together continuously showed me how little I actually know about musical theatre. (Brrr…) Dallas taught me to stop thinking so much. He taught me how to let go and let my heart make a decision once in a while. I taught DJ that it’s okay, and even necessary, to be sad sometimes. DJ taught me that no matter how bad it gets, you can always keep going. You can be stronger than you ever thought you were. DJ and I taught Dallas how to listen to that little voice inside of his head, and to always be true to himself, even if that means making hard decisions. They taught me that nothing is planned, especially within relationships, and sometimes you just need to dive in. They encouraged me and listened to me, rooted for me, coached me, cried with me, snuggled with me, laughed with me, drank with me, slept in awkward positions with me, (and in Dallas’ case) showered with me. They plucked their eyebrows with me, yelled at me, told me when I was being stupid and over thinking everything, kissed me when I needed kissing, hugged me when I needed hugging, and left me alone when they knew I needed my space.

I’ve learned so much about myself simply by knowing the two of them. The whole summer, we’ve said that I am a complete mixture of the two of them. I’m mature for my age, like DJ. Like him, I tend to over-think everything, and rarely do I find myself diving into love with reckless abandon, like Dallas does. Yet at the same time, I’m so much like Dallas. Our crude sense of humor, our crazy violent outbursts, and our very deep need for emotional connection with those around us. Where DJ and I are tentative, once I get into a relationship, I am very much a Dallas. I’m passionate and wild with my feelings, never apologetic, and I love big or go home.

I’ve had an amazing summer, and I’ve been “#soblessed” to have been in the shows that I was in. I’ve been in and out of relationships, cried heaving sobs and laughed belly-cramping laughs, gone on road trips to cities I’ve never seen, reconnected with old friends, and learned (once again!) to never judge a book by its cover. And yet-

Having the two of them near me, to listen to my life problems and give me advice, to be there for me at a time when I felt like everything I knew was over and gone… That was the best gift I was given this summer.

It’s rare in life that you find people like them… People who are so open to who you are in that exact moment, whatever that means. They never judged me for anything I was feeling. Instead, they listened with open hearts and open minds and were always honest with me, even when I didn’t want to hear it. They forced me to get out of my head and encouraged me to take a chance on a relationship that proved to be just what I needed. And when I suddenly realized that I needed the chance to be alone for a while, they didn’t judge me or say I was making a mistake. They supported me.

And then… just when they had taught me to follow my heart once in a while and let go, they came through once again, and talked me out of making a decision that would have caused WAY more heartache than happiness. Just when I thought they had taught me everything they could, they showed me that sometimes, your heart should ache. And by denying that yearning heartache of the person it craves, a sense of strength and clarity can also arise from a place you didn’t even know you possessed.

It’s amazing to find a friend who knows you better than you do. What’s even more incredible is when you find two of them in one unforgettable summer.

And so, this blog post is for them. For the two incredible, inspiring, kindest, make-any-bad-day-better people I know. And as I sit in their apartment for the last time, Oxford curled by my feet for the last time, I see the summer I spent with them flash before my eyes…

I see us laughing on stage together.
I see Dallas farting on me right before rushing onstage to sing “Standing Outside The Fire.”
I see DJ and I on a picnic blanket in Eden Park, drinking lemonade and feeding sparrows out of the palms of our hands. I see them sitting at the kitchen table, playfully arguing while I silently wash their dishes with a smirk.
I hear Dallas’ big footsteps coming down the old creaky stairs.
I see the three of us sprawled out on a couch screaming expletives at each other for sharp elbows and sticky thighs.
I see Dallas getting a ticket for parking in a “non-parking space.”
I see DJ and I sitting on the platforms during the very first mic check, and I can still hear the strain in his voice, the interior war raging inside of him as he tells me why he’s not been himself lately.
I see the hurt in Dallas’ eyes when I tell him why I’ve been distant with him, and in that moment, I realize I was wrong.
I see us go from “Hey… do you mind if I have one of those…?” to dirty hands racing across cafeteria tables to fight to the death for the last fry.
I see the three of us rolling our eyes at the security guards.
I feel the sun on our shoulders as we lay by the wave pool.
I see Dallas glaring at my antique jewelry saying, “That has bad juju. I don’t like it. Get that shit away from me.”
I see DJ’s apprehensive first sip as he drinks his first glass of wine.
I feel Dallas’ wet hand grasping mine as we go down a giant water slide, with me dressed in a banana suit.
I hear the beat of the bass vibrating in my ribs while we watch a tragic drag queen croon Wake Me Up  by “Evanescence.”
I hear myself say through tears, “But I love him!” and Dallas answer, “If that’s how you feel, then go be with him!”
I see DJ petting a purring Oxford, and Dallas’ jade face glaring from the table.
I smell the Oreo truffles and the rotting rotisserie chicken.
I hear us burst out laughing, all three at the same time.
I see us hugging, and hesitating before letting go.
I feel them.

Even now, while they sleep in a separate room, drunk from the excitement of a new love that only took the entire summer for them to discover, I feel them.

They are the brothers I never had.

They are the open ears.

They are the look from across a room that can send me into a fit of laughter with the simple raise of a perfectly-plucked brow.

I’m pointing at Dallas.

They are my protectors.

They are my secret keepers.

Simply put, they are my friends.

And I love them.

Charmin: Enjoy the Go, While Watching Our Show

16 Sep

Day 6 of the 90 in 90 blog challenge.

A giant inflatable Mr. Clean is proudly standing 15 feet tall behind the sound booth. On the other side, framing the walkway, is a 20 foot inflatable bottle of Scope. Okay, I think. I can handle this. Sure, it’s P&G product placement. After all, P&G rented out the park today for their employees today. Let them have their obnoxious blow up products looming over the stage. That’s fine.

There’s also a massive tent placed RIGHT next to the stage. Almost as if they were setting up the tent, completely oblivious to the stage’s existence, and someone from King’s Island meekly went up to them and said, “Um, excuse me… I don’t mean to be a bother, but… Your giant circus tent? It’s, well… It’s kind of blocking this little stage we have here… We have shows on it on the hour, and we’d really appreciate it if you would…”
“WE ARE NOT MOVING THE TENT!”
“No, no, of course you aren’t, but.. do you think you could move it just a few feet to the left?”
“… Well. I GUESS we could do that…”

And so, the three ring circus tent was moved a few feet to the left, so that our puny little stage could be seen peeking out from behind.

That’s fine too, I tell myself. No one cares about the show, and that’s just fine.

But that’s not all. Oh no. P&G didn’t stop there. P&G decided that they needed to advertise one more product, a product that we all have probably used at some point in our lives… A product so soft, so clean, so refreshing….a product that makes you feel like you’re home, a product that has the ability to comfort you in times of great need…

Charmin toilet paper.

And just how did P&G decide to do this? Oh, you know… Just by casually setting up a GIANT golden toilet seat with a sign that says, “Charmin. Enjoy the go.”

So I’m onstage singing the duet with Nic to a crowd of maybe 20 people, tops. Suddenly, I realize that there is a giant line forming near the sound booth. I try to see through the crowd to make sure that everything is okay. What could possibly be happening that 40+ people need to talk to our sound technician?!

But then I see it. I see the giant toilet with the “Enjoy the go” sign. And then I see a mob of people LINING UP to take pictures whilst sitting upon the golden throne itself. I close my eyes and keep singing, trying no to laugh and cry simultaneously, trying to ignore the voice in my head that says, “More people would rather take their picture while pantomiming taking a sh*t on a giant toilet than watch you sing this song.

So, I’m doing a pretty good job of, oh, you know, remembering my WORDS, and keeping it together. Nic’s trying not to laugh, too, and the way we work is if one of us is about to break, we’ll simply look away in the completely opposite direction and SQUEEZE the other person’s hand. That way, the other person knows we’re struggle bus-ing, and will behave themselves until we can get it together again. This entire process usually takes… I’d say, 20 seconds. Tops.

But as I squeeze Nic’s hand and try to look away from him, I’m forced to look back in the direction of the toilet. And what I see is truly baffling.

There is a small army of African American children running around, climbing upon, and sliding down the giant toilet. A few of them are on the seat, holding their hands up to their chests in tightly-clenched fists, and making faces that can only be described as “squeezing faces.” They are also all wearing squid hats that they won earlier by playing whack-a-mole.

I don’t burst out laughing, which is a complete miracle. Instead I just… close my eyes. I can’t look at Nic, I know I’ll burst out laughing because he’s probably witnessing the invasion of the squid, too. And so, I just close my eyes and sing. I sing the entire duet with my eyes closed. It is the ONLY way I am able to get through the whole song.

“I love you more today than yesterday.
But not as muuuch, as tomOOOOOrooooooow!”

Just, you know, eyes casually locked closed. Head completely turned away. Not even looking at the man who I am supposedly completely in love with.

In a few hours, I will drive my car to King’s Island. I will park my car. I will go through the little security gate where the large Asian security man will say, “Are you still here?” like he does every day, and I will reply, “Yes, unfortunately,” as I do every day. I may add, “But today is my last day. So I will never see this place, these people, or you, ever again.” And then I may skip away whilst screaming, “VICTORRYYY!!!!!!”

I will then go to the greenroom, clock in, and warm up. I will do my hair, put on my make up, and change into my costume. I will then do three shows, all with 30 minute breaks in between. And then, I will change out of my costume, clock out, go BACK through security, where the large Asian man will surely ask, “You’re still here?” like he does every day. And I will reply with, “You’re still asking that question?”

Then, I will swipe my little ID for the last time, throw my bag over my head, and run away screaming, “FREEDOM!!! FREEEEEDOOOMMMM!!!!!” I will then grab someone else who is leaving at the same time, shove their face between my two flattened hands, and kiss their squished pancake face fully on the mouth. I will pull away in passion, look into their eyes intently, and whisper to them as if we are the only two people left on the planet earth, “I’m free…
And then I’ll get in my car and go to Wendy’s.

I’m Walkin’ On Gibberish… WOOAAH!

15 Sep

Day 5 of the 90 in 90 blog challenge.

“I don’t know if I’d rather be at home fisting myself, or doing this show right now.”

This is an actual quote from an actual cast member of “Hot Summer Nights.” The fact that sitting at home and fisting yourself could actually be a bit more enjoyable than performing the show, again, for the 708th time, should illustrate just how difficult it is to “keep it fresh” and “exciting” and “new.” I honestly don’t know how people on Broadway do it.

Actually, that’s a lie. The people on Broadway are in shows that actually have a plot. They get to tell a story every night. Not only that, but they get to tell that story to people who are paying BIG BUCKS to see them. They don’t have people who walk in front of their stage holding a giant reggae banana, pause for a moment as if to be considering their talent, dance moves, and worth as a person in general, and then walk away because they have something “better” to do.

I’m really not as bitter as I’m making this sound. I’ve really enjoyed every moment of this summer, even if I have been performing for dysfunctional, sweating, pissed off, trashy-tattooed humans who are gorging themselves on dippin’ dots and foot long hotdogs. There’s something hilarious about the ludicrousness of it all, and if nothing else, I’ve learned how to laugh openly at myself. Onstage. In front of an audience. Just, openly laugh out loud at myself, my life, and my choices.

Kind of like the other day when I just… decided to not know my solo. Literally. I don’t know if any of you have ever done this, but have you ever gotten up in front of people to do the SAME solo you’ve done perfectly 20 million times before, and suddenly, the knowledge of what comes next, the words, the melody… it all just WHOOOSH goes out the window? And you’re stuck there, holding your microphone all like, “Why is this happening to me?” But the music just keeps playing, and you know that whatever comes out of your mouth is just going to have to be good enough…

It happened during Walkin’ On Sunshine.

This is how it is supposed to go:

Me (Walking from platform to platform) : I used to think maybe you love me, now I know that it’s true!
But I just can’t spend my whole life just a-waitin’ on youuu.
Now I don’t want you back for a weekend, not back for a day.
NO NO NO!
Cause baby I just want you back, and I want you to stay!

What Actually Happened:

Me (Walking from the stage left platform to the center stage platform): I used to think maybe you love me, now I know that it’s true!
But I just can’t wait-! (OH crap, I said the wrong word, how am I going to make this rhyme now?!?) … for the… (C’mon, Carolyn, you’re a writer! Make something up!) …time, well, I’m sure… (I’m so screwed.)…. brudnle… (Oh!!! We’re making up a new language now?! Is that how you fix this problem? You’re a moron, do you hear me!? YOU ARE A MOR-)  …youuuuu…

Aaaaand in case you missed it! Here it is in its entirety:

“But I just can’t WAIT-… for the.. time, well, I’m sure… brudnle… youuuuu…”

I can barely keep my eyes open, I’m so ashamed. I just want to crawl under the platforms, curl up like a slug sprinkled with salt and die. Just wither away and die. I know better than to look at my castmates, for fear of bursting out into laughter or tears of shame, so instead I do the second most scary option, and look out to the audience…

Two large women sitting on a blanket are looking at each other. One of them mouths, “What did she just say?!” The other shrugs her shoulders and looks at me as if I just started screaming a Shakespearean monologue in the middle of Walkin’ On Sunshine.

At this point, the other performers are all below me doing ridiculous choreography, and they all just… stop. Kind of. It’s like someone took a giant syringe and sucked out all of their drive and confidence, and replaced it with a “what the hell just happened” serum. They all look up to me for answers. Matt is actually crying because he’s laughing so hard. He is having a hard time dancing because of his contracting stomach muscles. I’m so embarrassed and angry with myself, the part of my brain that tries to always be “one step ahead”  just gives up.

Me: (Looking to them with a face that says, “Yeah I just said some gibberish on stage. What? You think that’s funny!?!”) Now I don’t want you back for a weekend. Not back for a daaay.
NO NO NOOO… WOOAAHHH …NO!
I said BABY I just want you BACK and- (Oh sh*t, not again… ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME-)… I want you my waaaay. (OOOOOH, so we’re at BURGER KING now!?! Awesome. Yep. Great job, Carolyn. Yeah! Keep workin’ for that rehire.)

Only two more days. That’s it. Just two of them. In 48 hours, I will finally be done with my #themeparklife. I don’t know if I should celebrate, laugh, or cry. Maybe I’ll do all three.