Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Baby, It's Over

The play is now officially over, after the cast and crew gathered one more time last night to strike the set. It was quick. What took hours and hours to design, construct, refine and paint took only minutes to destroy. It gave me an odd feeling, looking at the stage, stripped back to bare walls. Working on the play has given me something to do, someplace to be, at a time in my life when I really needed that. I feel a little lost, but I'm proud to have been a part of it. My friend Andy Turner (the director) wrote a great wrap-up piece, which you can read here.

I was totally surprised to find that my two college friends - the ones I get together with for Girls Night Out - made the long drive up to see the play on Friday night. I couldn't have been more stunned. I am almost never caught unaware, and generally not a fan of things I don't know about in advance, but this was one of the best surprises ever. One of them even brought her teenage son, who's involved with theater at his high school and is quite the dancer. It meant so much to me that they made the trip just to support me. They said they enjoyed it, and it really made my night. Jonel, who's a brand-new blogger, wrote about it here.

Thank you to all those who emailed me or commented to express their concern over my reaction to Billy Mays' death. It is a sad time for those of us 'As Seen on TV' fans. There aren't many people who can shout consumers into buying stuff, but Billy had the gift. He'll be missed by insomniacs the world over.

I don't know if it's the weather (we're still getting rained on. every damned day.) or the apres-play letdown, or the other million things going on in my life, but I'm feeling like staying in bed all day. It's after noon already, and me? Still in my pj's. Soon, though, I'm planning to head to the mailbox for my daily dose of "we were impressed with your credentials and experience, however, you were not selected for an interview" letters. That's always fun.

I hope where you are is sunny and warm.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Fragmenting Away

Time again for Friday Fragments, the place to spit out that stuff that occurs to you in the shower or while you're putting clothes in the dryer. It was the brainchild of Mrs. 4444 over at Half Past Kissin' Time, who hosts this party every Friday. Go check it out and embrace the randomness.

*Well, the sunny weather didn’t last long. After one hot and humid day, we’re back to cloudy weather. I’m going to try really, really hard not to whine, but I’m not promising anything.

* Have I mentioned lately that I love my son Brandon's sense of humor? We both find amusement in the oddest places. Recently I found some sleep pants for him at Walmart. They were lightweight cotton, just like he likes, with Coca Cola designs, and they came in a tall metal can. The best part was that they were marked down to $3. Score! When I got home, after I gave them to him, I was looking over my Walmart receipt (you can never be too careful) and noticed how that particular item was listed. Canned Pants . . . . . . . $3.00. Go ahead. Say it out loud. CANNED PANTS. We're still giggling, and I think it will go on a while. "Hey, are those your canned pants you're wearing?"

* We had a good-sized, if slightly quieter crowd at the play last night. Earlier in the process of putting on this play – back in rehearsals, when I had heard the lines over and over again until I wanted to scream – I wondered how on earth actors in a show on Broadway managed to do the same show, every night, for a year or more without going nuts. After dealing with dropped lines, medical emergencies, lighting or sound gaffes and the unpredictable and changing energies of the audience…I realize that it’s never the same show twice.

* One of the other bloggers that I read, As Cape Cod Turns, mentioned this week that she was in the airport very early in the morning with her jump-rope team children, and wishing that everyone else there would wear more obvious signs (like team jackets) so that she would know why they were there so early. This idea is something I’ve wished for myself for a long time. I think it would be cool if people wore signs that explained something about them that I’m dying to know – without having to actually ask them, which might appear rude. A larger version of a stick-on name tag would do nicely, and could explain things like WHY I CHOSE THIS OUTFIT or WHAT I’M TRYING TO EXPRESS WITH THIS HIDEOUS TATTOO/PIERCING or WHY I FEEL JUSTIFIED IN STANDING DIRECTLY IN YOUR WAY WITHOUT ANY SIGN THAT I WILL EVER MOVE SO THAT YOU CAN REACH THE CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP.

* Did you ever find a freakishly long hair, growing out of you, somewhere that horrified you? And did you ever discover this when you were out in public, and completely unable to remove it? And then, were you so obsessed with it that you could no longer concentrate on anything else until you got home and plucked the offensive thing out? And then, did you have a hard time not thinking about how long it took to get to that length without you noticing it? Oh, well, then…me neither.

* Hallie, over at Wonderful World of Wieners, is still doing her fundraising raffle. You can enter for as little as $1, and you can win one of 25 prize packages. We figured out the other night that there are THOUSANDS of dollars worth of prizes, and some really cool stuff you can see here. The best part is that the money all goes to increase awareness for organ donation, which is a terrific cause. Read about it, or just go donate. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you, but I’m planning to win the New England prize package.

* Finally, I want to ask you all to do me a little favor. My friend Jonel, who I’ve talked about here on this blog, and who is a vital part of Girls Night Out, has finally started a blog of her own, Just Sayin'. I’ve known Jonel since college, and love her madly. She’s been there for me through so much – happy times and sad, victories and failures, so many tears, but even more laughter. I really couldn’t have managed without her in my life. She’s got a terrific sense of humor and a unique way of looking at things. She’s doing Fragments, too. Please, go and welcome her to the blog world with a comment. It would mean so much to her – and to me.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Here Comes the Sun

Yesterday I was a little whiny, I admit it. Sorry about that. My usual sunny disposition evidently requires some actual sun a little more often than once every three weeks.

I took my own (and yours) advice and went to a movie yesterday, and the best part was that my friend Andrew's lovely wife, Corrine, came with me! We saw The Proposal, the new Sandra Bullock flick, since it was purported to be a 'chick flick' and I wanted a happy ending, dammit. The movie was cute - not laugh-out-loud funny the whole time or anything, but cute. Seeing Ms. Bullock mostly naked did nothing for my self-esteem, but who cares? I was munching on chocolate covered peanuts, out of the house, and it wasn't raining.

The best part was visiting with Corrine. She's just terrific, and a great listener. Andy, you're a lucky, lucky man. Corrine, I hope we can get together again soon - and this time we'll skip the movie and just visit!

When I got home, I had a missed call from my buddy Jocelyn, who invited me over for popcorn and a few episodes of Lost. Unfortunately, by the time I got there, she had eaten all the popcorn. How rude! Actually, though, it was my own fault, since I decided to cook dinner for my son and his girlfriend first. I love visiting Jocelyn - I can be totally comfortable over there. Sometimes I even go over in my pj's. We watched a couple of episodes from the second season, which she's currently working through with Netflix, which renewed my resolve to get caught up on this show. Maybe during the next rainy spell.

When I left Jocelyn's house, there was an actual break in the clouds. You could sorta see a tiny little patch of sky if you squinted your eyes just enough. Ahh, Hope, you sly elusive feeling, is that you?

Last night, to polish off a much-improving mood, I received an unexpected phone call from my Aunt Marlena. She's my dad's youngest sister. I haven't spoken to her in a really long time. It was a thrill to hear her voice (and that fantastic Jersey accent I love so much) and get caught up on what all my cousins are doing. When I was growing up, we visited my dad's family a lot, and we were very close. There were 7 girls, including me, and most of us were pretty near in age. My poor brother was the only boy, and had to play Barbies and babydolls or be alone.

Aunt Mar was always the 'cool' aunt - she always seemed so young, and much more modern than my folks. We were reminiscing about how her oldest daughter had an almost life-size doll that looked just like her. I coveted that doll madly when I was a kid. You could hold the doll's hand and it would walk along beside you - it was the bomb, let me tell you. Evidently, Aunt Mar didn't love the doll all the time, though. She said it would constantly scare the stuffing out of her, when she would walk into the darkened playroom, having just seen her daughter upstairs, and see the doll sitting there. Yikes.

It was great to talk with her, and it brings back such wonderful memories of my childhood. We didn't have a big family (my mom was an only child, and my dad had just the two sisters) but we all treasured being together. Some of the happiest times I remember were in that house in New Jersey. I need to do a better job of staying in touch.

So, I got through the day and it ended on a much better note than it started. Then, this morning, it finally happened - the sun. In the sky. Streaming through my window. Un-freaking-believable.

If you're looking for me, I'll be outside. I might come in for lunch, and to shower before I head off to the play tonight. If I can force myself. To the director of Never Too Late: if I don't show up, feel free to start without me.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Same Old Song

I don't think I can stand it one more minute. I'm at the end of my rope, on my last nerve, and at the edge, ready to jump. I want to kill somebody. Or at least to maim somebody. I want to scream at the top of my lungs, stamp my feet and break something.

What has driven me to this point? The weather. Rain, to be specific. It is STILL RAINING. The weather guy says it has rained 16 out of the last 18 days. I think he's lying. I don't remember any un-rainy days.

I was planning to write a fun post today, but I can't think of anything funny. Rain has permeated my house, my life, my body and my brain. It's like a headache; you know how, when you have a really bad headache, nothing else matters? You can't think about anything else, no matter how hard you try? Well, this is how I feel about the rain.

I'm watching my tomato plants literally rot and die. I'm dealing with a leaky roof and a flooded basement. I'm powerless to stop the dogs from turning the kennel into a mud pit. In my head it's becoming symbolic of my overall disastrous life, and that's the part that scares me.

I know there are worse problems in the world - heck, I have worse problems, myself - but my soul needs some sun. Yesterday I could barely force myself to get out of bed, and today I'm on the couch with a blanket (is this progress?) in my dark, un-sunlit living room.

I did make a decision though, while I was typing this. I need to do something. Somewhere that the sun or rain doesn't matter. Something to take my mind off everything.

This girl? Needs a movie. And not from Netflix, either. I need a real movie-theater movie. A chick flick with a guaranteed honest-to-goodness, don't-care-if-it's-realistic, happy ending. Something completely unlike my life, in other words. Any suggestions? I wonder if there is such a film playing at the local theater. If there is, I'm there. It might get me through the day.

And tomorrow? They said the sun might show its face, but even if it doesn't, I have the show to look forward to, and that will make all the difference. There's no weather that can distract me from my gloriously hectic backstage spot - because, even though it's as hot as the fourth circle of hell, I still love it. And it doesn't rain there, even when the humidity approaches 100%. Actors and stage lights and audiences trump Mother Nature every time.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Swamp Thing

I'm swamped. Literally. It has been raining so long and so hard here in my little section of God's country that I am swamped. Everything I own feels moist (and not in a good way). My roof that only leaks when it rains for 40 days and 40 nights? Is leaking. My basement? Flooded. My wooden doors are swelling with the humidity to the point that I have to do that cartoon thing, where you grab the doorknob with both hands and brace your feet on the doorframe in order to get them open. I'm afraid that if there were a fire, we wouldn't be able to get out. Oh. What am I thinking? Nothing catches fire when it's wet. Never mind.

Anyway, because I can only focus on how miserable the weather is, and how tired I am, I am going to print a cute email I got from a friend today. It made me smile - I hope it has the same effect on you.

I just want to thank all of you for your educational e-mails over the past year. I am totally screwed up now and have little chance of recovery.
I no longer open a public bathroom door without using a paper towel or have them put lemon slices in my ice water without worrying about the bacteria on the lemon peel.
I can't use the remote in a hotel room because I don't know what the last person was doing while flipping through the adult movie channels.
I can't sit down on the hotel bedspread because I can only imagine what has happened on it since it was last washed.
I have trouble shaking hands with someone who has been driving because the number one pastime while driving alone is picking ones nose (although cell phone usage may be taking the number one spot).
Eating a little snack sends me on a guilt trip because I can only imagine how many gallons of Trans fats I have consumed over the years.
I can't touch any woman's purse for fear she has placed it on the floor of a public bathroom.
I MUST SEND MY SPECIAL THANKS to whoever sent me the one about poop in the glue on envelopes because I now have to use a wet sponge with every envelope that needs sealing.
ALSO, now I have to scrub the top of every can I open for the same reason.
I no longer have any savings because I gave it to a sick girl (Penny Brown) who is about to die in the hospital for the 1,387,258th time.
I no longer have any money at all, but that will change once I receive the $15,000 that Bill Gates/Microsoft and AOL are sending me for participating in their special e-mail program.
I no longer worry about my soul because I have 363,214 angels looking out for me, and St. Theresa's Novena has granted my every wish.
I no longer eat KFC because their chickens are actually horrible mutant freaks with no eyes or feathers.
I no longer use cancer-causing deodorants even though I smell like a water buffalo on a hot day.
THANKS TO YOU I have learned that my prayers only get answered if I forward an e-mail to seven of my friends and make a wish within five minutes.
BECAUSE OF YOUR CONCERN, I no longer drink Coca Cola because it can remove toilet stains.
I no longer can buy gasoline without taking someone along to watch the car so a serial killer won't crawl in my back seat when I'm pumping gas.
I no longer drink Pepsi or Dr. Pepper since the people who make these products are atheists who refuse to put 'Under God' on their cans. I no longer use Saran Wrap in the microwave because it causes cancer.
AND THANKS FOR LETTING ME KNOW I can't boil a cup of water in the microwave anymore because it will blow up in my face... Disfiguring me for life.
I no longer check the coin return on pay phones because I could be pricked with a needle infected with AIDS.
I no longer go to shopping malls because someone will drug me with a perfume sample and rob me.
I no longer receive packages from UPS or Fed Ex since they are actually Al Qaeda in disguise.
I no longer shop at Target since they are French and don't support our American troops or the Salvation Army.
I no longer answer the phone because someone will ask me to dial a number for which I will get a phone bill with calls to Jamaica , Uganda , Singapore , and Uzbekistan.
I no longer buy expensive cookies from Neiman Marcus since I now have their recipe.
THANKS TO YOUR GREAT ADVICE I can't ever pick up $5.00 dropped in the parking lot because it probably was placed there by a sex molester waiting underneath my car to grab my leg.
I can no longer drive my car because I can't buy gas from certain gas companies! I can't do any gardening because I'm afraid I'll get bitten by the brown recluse and my hand will fall off.
If you don't send this e-mail to at least 144,000 people in the next 70 minutes, a large dove with diarrhea will land on your head at 5:00 p.m. tomorrow afternoon and the fleas from 12 camels will infest your back, causing you to grow a hairy hump. I know this will occur because it actually happened to a friend of my next door neighbor's ex-mother-in-law's second husband's cousin's beautician . . .
Oh, by the way..... A German scientist from Argentina , after a lengthy study, has discovered that people with insufficient brain activity read stuff on their computer with their hand on the mouse. Don't bother taking it off now, it's too late.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Phantom Fragments

Welcome to Friday Fragments. If you're new, FF is the place to release all those thoughts that fly around your head, interfering with your new digital TV reception. If you like randomness, check out our hostess and the inventor of Friday Fragments, Mrs. 4444 over at Half Past Kissin' Time. If you have time, take a few minutes and visit the other fragmenters, who are all conveniently linked over there - it's some of my favorite weekend reading.

* It would be hard to describe exactly how hot it is backstage at the theater, especially during the performances. Stage lights, crowded spaces and overheated, heavily made up and costumed actors combine to make it feel like the fourth circle of hell. I am sweating so much back there I think I have formed a perfect biosphere inside my headset earpiece. Last night I'm pretty sure it rained in there.

* I'm remembering how different each performance of a show can be. Energy levels can change, and the audience can be a huge factor. Last night the audience didn't laugh in spots that our dress rehearsal audience loved, but laughed uproariously in totally unexpected places. As long as they're laughing, though, I'm happy.

* You'll be happy to know that the toilet survived the show intact during opening night. One of my favorite commenters, Scriptor Senex had this to say about the toilet incident:

Well, I've heard of having people who learned the lines and waited backstage in the hope that the actor was taken poorly and they could go on and make a name for themselves. I didn't know that toilets did it as well! Whatever toilet number 2 does it will never be remembered for its part the way toilet no 1 will be! May it rest in peace.

* My youngest son is leaving for the summer today. Even though I've known he was doing this for months, and even though I know it's a great opportunity for him to work AND have a great time, I can't shake the sadness I feel. I'm going to miss him terribly.

* Hallie, over at Wonderful World of Wieners, is having a fundraising raffle. The money raised is going to one of my favorite causes, promoting organ donation. Hallie's dad, Bill, was the recipient of a new heart 6 years ago, and she's wanted to do something to help the cause for a long time. The prizes she's collected for the raffle are amazing and are worth thousands of dollars. Read about the raffle here, or go here and read about the fundraiser. It's a great cause, and you can win some unbelievable stuff with a donation of even $1...what are you waiting for?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Much Ado About Something

Dress rehearsal is over. It went well – very well, I think. We had quite a large audience, and everyone I spoke to enjoyed it very much. That being said, we did have a little, well, let’s call it an incident. Actually, a BIG incident. It was a first for me, and I’ve done a fair amount of theater.

Most of you know that my good friend Andy from A Long Patience, is the director of this show. He thought it might be fun for us to coordinate our blog posts today to give you all the whole story about what happened, so go read about what things looked like from the audience’s perspective here. Then come back, and I’ll tell you what things were like backstage. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

During the show, I am backstage, with too-little room and too many props, costumes and actors. I have a headset (actually two – one on each side of the stage) that connect me with the sound and lighting guys, which, unfortunately, is not wireless. It is impossible to undress and redress an actress in the 48 seconds we’re allotted, so I often put the headset down in order to do some of my duties. It is five thousand degrees Celsius back there, and any sound we make is catapulted out to the audience, so about 50% of my job is to keep everybody quiet. I have patented the scowl, accompanied by the shake of the head and the international pursed-lips expression which signifies SHUT UP!

Anyway, when “THE INCIDENT” happened, I was standing at my script-stand (which I equipped with a handy-dandy clip-on light from the dollar store) making sure everybody was where they were supposed to be. I heard the crash, and looked up to find everyone standing back stage looking at me. Like I would know what was going on and what to do. What, did these people think I was the stage manager or something?

I rushed to the stage’s kitchen entrance – the only place I can see the stage during the show, and saw what had happened. I thought, “Oh, crap,” and then “I wonder how they’re going to handle that.” Two of the actors who were backstage with me also came to see what was going on, and one of them whispered to me, “he’s bleeding.” Oh My God. Let it not be that bad, let it not be that bad, I prayed silently. I knew that, in just a short time, he would be exiting the stage for just the briefest moment, as his character rushes out the front door, and then back in again. I sent somebody to meet him at the door with a napkin, and I started trying to remember where I had last seen the first aid kit.

Of course, I had no idea where it was. Maybe we wouldn’t need it, I mean, maybe it wasn’t that bad. I peeked out again. He is clutching the napkin in his fist, and the part of it that I can see? Is soaked in blood. At one point, he waved his arm a bit, and I saw blood drops fly. Oh, Crap, Crap, Crap.

At this point, I turned to see an angel holding a first aid kit. Actually, it wasn’t an angel, but rather a guy who belongs to the theater group. He isn’t in this production, but he’s a veteran of many, many shows, and he must have seen what happened from the audience, ran downstairs to the building’s kitchen (which we use as the make-up area) grabbed the first aid kit and ran up the back stairs to where I was. I put on my headset to make sure the tech guys were paying attention to what might be something we had to work around, grabbed one of my other flashlights, held it in my teeth, and rummaged in the kit for supplies while I talked to the sound and light guys.

At this point, I remembered that the injured actor was eventually going to exit on the other side, so I sent one of the crew over there with gauze pads and wrap. While he went, I told the tech guys to be ready to dim the stage lights and cover with some of our ‘transition’ music if we needed to.

I rushed across to the other side, and got there before the actor exited, so I had time to reconnect with the tech crew via the other head set. The angel I spoke of earlier somehow had found a nurse in the audience, and brought her up to take a quick look at his hand. When he came off, I knew we had a few minutes to spare while another actor was doing some things on stage, and I was completely confident that we could buy some time with music and lights if we had to, so I was calm. The other people back there? Not so much. If you could have seen it, it probably looked like I was crazy, because everyone else was going nuts, and I’m calmly telling everybody what we were going to do, like this was all part of the plan all along.

Anyway, the nurse wrapped his hand tightly with the gauze, and there was this massive effort to get him into his costume change. It was actually pretty funny, now that I think back on it, because he’s standing up on this platform, about 2 and a half feet higher than most of the people who were helping him out of his clothes and into pajamas, all while the nurse, who’s also on the lower level, is wrapping his wound, and I’m standing there with my headset’s cords stretched to the limit, trying to see what’s going on and decide whether we can continue or we have to stop.

At some point, Andy showed up backstage. He’s trying to find out how the actor is doing, and telling me we could stop the show. I had a moment of – Look, buddy, I have it all under control – but I couldn’t blame him. If this were my show, I’d have been back there, too. And it was only dress rehearsal. By this time, I was pretty sure we were going to make it, so I told the tech guys we were going on. After things were underway on stage again, I headed back to my normal side of the stage.

I didn’t even have time to stop and think about what had happened until after the show was over. I guess it’s part of the charm of the whole backstage experience that you’re so incredibly busy. When I finally got home last night, I was so wound up I couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking of things: Where are we going to get another toilet? I wonder if Dennis needed stitches? Did somebody sweep up the shards so nobody gets hurt? How are we going to rearrange the action if Dennis can’t do some of the stuff he’s supposed to do?

Luckily for me, I think those problems? Are Andy’s.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dressed to Kill

Well, it's finally here. Dress rehearsal tonight. I'm excited and nervous about it at the same time. It's been so long since I was involved with a theater production, but in some ways it feels like I was never away.

Dress rehearsal is always such an important night. There will be an audience - selected important people are invited - and this makes all the difference. For weeks and weeks we have been rehearsing the show. The same lines, over and over again. It's a comedy, and those of us watching have laughed, but it's not the same as when there's an audience. The 50th time you hear a funny line, well, it's just not that funny anymore. I've heard it all, and read along in my script so often, sometimes I think I could go on and replace any of the actors should an emergency occur. Who needs understudies? I'll just do it.

Suddenly, though, when there are fresh ears, it's as if it's all new again. The actors will find out where the big laughs are, and learn to adjust their timing to allow for that. We'll also find out some important stuff tonight, like whether the quick costume changes will work. How to work lines around the sound effects. Whether it's possible to melt from the extreme heat when we're all crowded in the small space backstage.

Somehow, I hope to keep everything organized backstage. Get the girls changed into new outfits during the scene changes. Make sure the props are at hand, and in hand, when they are supposed to be. Make sure the tech guys know when it's safe to bring up the lights. Ensure there is an apply supply of water and lozenges ready for scratchy throats. Be a silent cheerleader for actors coming off of or waiting to go out on stage. Keep track of where we are in the script in case anything goes wrong. See? Nervous and excited.

Dress Rehearsal. I can't wait.

Friday, June 12, 2009


A couple of people asked me if I worked on Fragments all week, or if they all just came to me when I sat down to blog. The truth is that it’s a little bit of both. I have a word document saved on my computer where I jot down random thoughts that occur to me during the week. Then, when I actually go to write my Friday post, I use the notes I’ve made, and usually add one or two things that I think of while I’m writing. If you like it, check out Mrs. 4444 over at Half Past Kissin' Time. She's the hostess of this shin-dig, she's a blast, and her Favorite Fragmenter Award this week went to a friend of mine!

* It’s raining. Again. Pouring, actually. What’s with the weird weather pattern up here in the northeast? We had two 90-plus degree days in May – practically unheard of up here. Now, it’s the middle of June, and we’re lucky to get up to 58 degrees during the day. I’m ready for sun and warmth. I want to take my coffee out on the deck in the morning. I want to be able to stop wearing socks.

* I’m sorry that I disappointed some of you who assumed I had the lead role in the play! I am on the production crew, not on the stage. I have been assisting the director, and am now stage manager. We had our first run-through with lights, sound and costumes last night, and it was fun. The coolest part? I get to wear a head set so I can talk to the tech guys. And I kind of get to be the backstage boss. Not that I like to boss people around. Much.

* I was signing up to join the bone marrow registry this week, and reminded again of the fact that, as an adopted person, I’m a bit different. One of the question groups includes questions about where your ancestors were born. Well, Bone Marrow People, I can pretty much rule out Asia, Africa and Egypt, but beyond that, I can’t help you. If you really need to know which country in Europe my great great great grandfather came from, maybe my bone marrow is not for you. On the other hand, how often do you get volunteer bone marrow donors who could be related to practically anyone? (See there? Making lemonade again.)

* Maybe it’s the crappy weather and the fact that I’m exhausted, but lately it seems like there is an abundance of people and things who exist simply to bug me. I’ve started making a list – I know, I can’t help myself – and I’ll probably make them their own post, but I wanted to share one with you today: The new McDonald’s commercial for their crappy coffee drinks. (By the way, McD’s, saying CAFÉ doesn’t mean you are one.) This is the one where they show people commuting without any coffee, and they’re miserable and the announcer says “COMMUTE.” Then they show the same guy commuting with his overpriced McDonalds coffee knockoff and the announcer says “COMMUTE-TAY.” Okay, first of all, I hate people who put accent marks on random words for no reason. Everybody? It’s only cute when I do it. More importantly, nobody is going to believe that that ridiculously skinny woman (who wouldn’t be so skinny if she really drank that high-calorie swill every day) would actually get a seat on her overcrowded shuttle just by drinking a stupid sissy coffee and saying “SHUTTLE-AY.” You McD’s marketing guys need to shut up. You’re bothering me.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Could It Be Magic

She lives. By that, of course, I mean I live. I have - more or less - recovered from the loathsome virus that threatened to exterminate me. And, like all obnoxious viruses, it has left me weak, exhausted and generally spent.

Luckily (?) I had a house full of guests during the glorious reign of the Virus That Shall Not Speak It's Name. Even more fortunately, these guests were mostly of the teenage species, who helped out immensely during my ordeal by asking for food and money, arm-wrestling me for the remote control, and remarking every 32 minutes that I probably had the swine flu (which of course sparked a number of exceedingly clever pig-related jokes.)

It's a good thing that I love my kids, and by default, their friends, most of the time. Otherwise, you might have been reading a guest blogger post explaining about my recent arrest for homicide and where you could send contributions to the bail and defense fund. You WOULD donate, wouldn't you? (Just say yes - since I'm not incarcerated, it's a moot point, anyway.)

I managed to make it to play rehearsal, but I know one of those days I wasn't very helpful. Mostly I was thinking the whole time, "why do these people have to be so DAMN LOUD?" Tonight things were much better. I can't believe we're almost to opening night. We have one more rehearsal this week, and then a tech rehearsal Monday for lighting and sound cues, dress rehearsal on Tuesday and then....Opening Night next Thursday. Hard to believe we're going to be ready, but I guess we'll make it happen. (sing with me: Overture, Curtain, Lights - this is it, the night of nights - no more rehearsing or nursing a part - we know every part by heart....)

The closer we get to the show, the more nervous I'm getting. I guess it's a good thing I'm behind the scenes and not on stage. I just want so much for this to go well, for everybody to do their best. I think the play is very funny, and I want the audience to have fun, to laugh, to GET it. There's nothing like the feeling when the audience is truly invested in a theatrical production. The energy seems to surge from the audience into the actors, inspiring them to a new level of performance. It's magical. That's all I want - a little magic. Is that so much to ask?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Too Much

I just popped in to say hello. I am dealing with a number of things, not the least of which is an illness which appeared suddenly and is currently kicking my ass, and haven't had time to read or write.

Nonetheless, I am planning to survive this, and will be back to blogworld very soon. I hope you're all having great adventures, which I plan to read all about when I am able to keep my eyes open for more than 25 seconds at a time.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Of No Consequence

Time for Friday Fragments again - even though I feel like I've written fragments all week after answering all those questions. If you like random, you're in the right place - and if you really, really like it, check out the mother ship: Mrs. 4444 over at Half Past Kissin' Time.

* I can only stand writing with an extra fine writing instrument. I like a micro point (uni-bell deluxe micro is my favorite) pen. I cannot stand using an old fashioned ball-point pen - to me if feels like I’m scraping the pen across the paper. I don’t use pencils unless I absolutely have to, for the same reason. If I’m forced to use a pencil, only a super-sharp one will do. I used to carry my own sharpener when I was in school. I choose to believe that it’s these little idiosyncrasies that add so much to my charm.

* Do you think that inconsiderate people ever suddenly realize? Like, one day, they’re trying to watch something they’re really interested in – a movie, a play, their kid’s recital – and somebody is talking or stomping around or blocking their view, and they suddenly think, Oh, wow! I think I’ve been doing stuff like that all my life!! I think I’ll start being a decent human being! Or maybe that guy who never uses his turn signal one day almost runs into someone who didn’t use theirs, and he thinks, gosh, I think I have caused other drivers to have to slam on their brakes a lot – I won’t do that anymore! Do you think that ever happens?

* You know what is NEVER a good sign? When someone asks you to add Imodium AD to the shopping list. Just saying.

* You know what else isn’t so good? When you come home and find a bloody shirt soaking in the sink. Of course, it was a good sign that someone took the time to start soaking the shirt at all. I figure if someone was bleeding to death, they wouldn’t have bothered, right? It turns out Alex had gone to the rescue of “an old woman who fell and put her eyeglasses into her eye.” Dude, what?? After further questioning, it turns out the woman fell, broke her glasses and one of the broken pieces pierced the skin NEAR her eye. Evidently there was quite a lot of blood, and in helping her, Alex got some on him. That might be the first time the blood soaking in my kitchen sink was NOT ours.

* Some of you may remember when I reviewed the three info-mercial products a while back? Well, I wish somebody – maybe one of you? – would review the ‘male enhancement’ product. I forget its name, but it’s the one that Smiling Bob uses. Every single time I see that commercial, I’m just filled with curiosity. How exactly does it work? And, does it really do anything? Inquiring minds want to know.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

That's Enough For Now

This might be the last question post for a while - although I haven't run out of questions. Some of the remaining questions will require more thought than I have to spare right now, and some of them are going to launch their own singular post. Again, I must say how impressed I was with your imagination. I've had fun reading, thinking and answering them all. Tomorrow we will be back to Friday Fragments, as usual.

What's a typical day like in the life of M.E.?
If I actually answered this question, I’m afraid my readers would simultaneously develop that sleeping sickness. I’m unhappily unemployed right now, so I spend a lot of time looking for a job, so far unsuccessfully. Other than that, I do house stuff, and yard stuff, and attend a lot of Alex’s activities. See? Boring.

How's the play going? What show is it and what is your role?
The play is coming along nicely. I’m having a bit of a panic attack, since we’re less than two weeks from opening night, and I have this “oh my gosh, how will we ever be ready???” feeling. Those who have been working in theater more recently than I assure me this is normal and nothing to worry about. The play is called Never Too Late, and it’s a comedy. I’m stage managing and assistant to the director, and having a ball.

If you were to morph into a canine, what breed would you be, and why?
Physically, I more or less resemble a Corgi (short legs, round body) but in my head, I’m a Border Collie (energetic and eager to please).

Where have you traveled?
When I was a teenager, I went to Italy for 10 glorious days. I’ve been to Canada a lot (since Maine is not far from our neighbor to the north). I’ve been all along the east coast, down to Florida, and as far west as St. Louis, MO. My favorite cities in the US, ones that I keep repeating visits to, are New York City, Boston and Washington, DC. One of my greatest regrets is that I have not traveled more, and I plan to remedy that someday.

What is your ideal place to live?
I got many variations on this question. I love Maine, although the winters are hard. I wouldn't want to spend all year anywhere that didn't really experience the change of seasons, because I just love that part of living up here. I guess I'd like to spend most of the year in Maine, but spend a couple of months (January and February, probably) somewhere warmer. Someplace I could golf and maybe sit on a beach with a book and one of those umbrella drinks.

What is the one thing you hope your neighbors never learn about you?
Everything. I hope I remain just as much a mystery to them as they are to me. I live in a fairly rural area, and we’re pretty spread out, so it’s not a friendly, sit-on-the-front-stoop-and-chat kind of place.

When you learned your birth name, were you tempted to try it out?
Oh, yes. I said it over and over to myself to see how it sounded. I kept thinking that Marjorie Ann was not that different than Mary Ellen. I had a couple of my friends call me Marjorie, just so I could see what that felt like. In the end, however, I’m not Marjorie. I mean, I could have been, perhaps, but that isn’t the way it worked out. My parents named me Mary Ellen, and that’s who I’ve become.

In the last few years (5?), what single event most changed your life?
It has to be the changing of the law that opened up Maine’s birth records so that I could access my original birth certificate. That piece of paper has changed everything. Although things haven’t been working out so well (yet!), there is a whole world of possibility out there now. Just knowing who my birth mother is and what my original given name was, after waiting my whole life for this information, was a transforming event.

Alice, who is having a baby, wanted to know:
1. How did you choose your sons' names?
2. What is the best part of a mother/son relationship? Hardest?
3. Any advice for raising a good, well-rounded boy?? (Both yours seem to be great kids!)
First of all, thanks for saying that. I wish I had some great story for how I picked the kids’ names, but I don’t. I bought one of those baby name books and started through it. The first name we got to that both of us liked was Brandon (and this was before 90210 made the name famous!) and that was it. We had picked out Paige Allison for a girl. With the second one, we went all the way through the book without agreeing and started back at the A’s again. My only criteria was that this one had to have a nickname (we discovered that there is no good nickname for Brandon, although one of my friends used to call him BranMuffin). We settled on Alexander John (Emily Marie for a girl).

The best thing about the mother/son relationship is realizing how deep the love is. There’s a moment when you realize that you love this other person more than you could have ever imagined - so much that you’d gladly give your life for them. That’s a pretty profound feeling. The other really cool thing is that you get to skip the teenage girl hormone thing. The hardest part is definitely letting them go. It seems like every day they take another step away from you, which is how it is supposed to be, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Whether it’s them riding their bike without you holding on, or driving out of the driveway on the way to prom, it all takes a little piece of your heart. I’m so proud of my kids, and I love them so much – they are definitely the best things to ever happen to me.

Advice for raising a boy? Gosh. I believe there are a million good ways to raise kids, and not one particular perfect way. I think we have to parent in a way that works with our personalities, as well as our kids’ personalities. I wanted to live in a happy, peaceful home, so I focused on that. No screaming or hitting allowed. Rough play outdoors. Whining not permitted. I wanted my sons to have a great relationship with each other, so I worked really hard at that. I exposed them to as many different activities as I could afford, and then fostered the ones they showed interest in. We laughed a lot (still do) and this has totally saved me many many times. I thought it was really important to teach my children that they are not the center of the universe, and this has led to them growing up to be (mostly) polite and caring young men. And, just for you, Alice, I’ll share with you the secret agreement I made with each of my sons that has served me well: When they were very small – maybe four or five years old – we made a deal. If they didn’t embarrass me in front of my friends, I wouldn’t embarrass them in front of theirs. If they behaved nicely when we were out in public, then I didn’t correct them in front of their friends. Best bargain I ever struck, let me tell you.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Question of Time

Some of the questions that you asked just begged to be grouped together. Here's one group.

If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be?
Who would you love to have dinner with?
My birth mother.

If someone called and said that your birth mother was dying and asked you to come to her side and ask her one question, what would it be?
Who is my birth father? I'm kind of sorry about it, and I wish there was another question I could ask - something a little more, uh, sensitive - but that's the answer. If I truly only had time for one question, it would have to be this one. She is the only person on earth who knows the truth. If she never changes her mind about talking to me, the bottom line is, I'll never know.

What one other thing would you want to say to her?
Thank you.

Assume that your fantasies came true and your mom showed up on your doorstep today. You invite her in and offer her a drink. Then you settle in. Assuming that she is open, what are the three most burning questions you would ask her?
If only this scenario would happen! Maybe, by putting it out there in the universe, it will come true. Everybody, concentrate on that part of the question: Let my birth mother contact me, write to me, call me, show up at my house. The more positive thoughts, the better.

Back to the burning questions. Obviously, the first one would have to be 'who's my bio-father?' just because she's the only one who can answer this.

Next, I'd probably have to ask about other children she may have had. One of my heart's biggest desires is to connect with siblings. I've talked about my wish for a sister before, and the want never goes away. Did you have other children, before or after me?

The third question? This one's harder. Sometimes it seems like there are a million things I want to know, but I guess it all boils down to this:

Will you tell me the story?

I want to know about that time in her life. It's probably cheating to ask this question, since there are so many questions within. What was her situation at the time she found herself pregnant? I know she was single, pregnant by a married man, but I want to know more than that. Was she living with her parents anyway, or did she have to move back in with them? Did she have to leave her job? Did she live at St. Andre's Home for a long time, or did she just go there to have the baby? How did she decide to give me up? What was it like to surrender a baby? How did she feel afterward? Did she ever think about me?

The chance to ask her anything is something I dream about. I only pray that day comes, soon. Before it's too late.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

All You Ask of Me

Well, I've separated out the rest of the questions into two categories: "Easy to Answer" and "Holy Cow, I've Never Thought About That Before." Today we will be tackling the easy to answer questions.

What is your favorite color? Why?
Blue has always been my favorite color. I think it harkens back to my dad making a big deal out of my blue eyes. Blue is a happy color - is there anything cheerier than gorgeous blue sky?

What's your favorite smell? Why?
This is harder than it seems like it would be. I like lots of smells - garlic sauteeing, apple pie baking, that fresh dirt smell in spring, fresh laundry, lilacs in bloom. I could go on and on, but there is one smell that stands out: Lagerfeld cologne for men. There is something about that cologne that can make me go all squishy inside. I've been known to follow men around in Macy's just so I can smell them (don't worry, I'm so subtle, they hardly ever notice, and nobody has ever called security on me!). The reason? It goes back to someone I knew a long long time ago, and it's a story for another day.

What's the craziest thing you've ever cooked?
I can't think of a single thing that would qualify as crazy. I stick to some fairly simple fare most of the time (except for some kick-ass desserts). I can turn a couple of boxes of macaroni and cheese into a deluxe mexican feast that will feed 6-8 teenagers - does that count?

What's the strangest thing you've ever eaten?
Alligator balls. Of course, by this I mean small bits of alligator meat FORMED into alligator balls, deep fried and dipped into some delectable horseradish dip. It was very good, but what deep-fried thing isn't?

Have you ever been water skiing?

Sure have - I used to be pretty good when I was a kid. I could start from the water or the dock, do a single turn and jump the wake. Of course, this was over 30 years ago. I bet now I'd make a great America's Funniest Home Video clip.

Have you ever been skydiving?
Nope. I agree with whoever said, "Why would I jump out of a perfectly good airplane?"

What's the longest you have gone without changing your underwear, lol?
I can't remember ever not changing it every day. I'm kinda a stickler on this one.

Thongs, bikini's, or Grannies...
Geez, why is everybody so interested in my underwear? I do not wear thongs. I have spent a lifetime trying to keep my underpants out of there. I do own some Spanx-like undies, which I guess qualify for grannies, but my everyday choice is bikini's.

If you were a ringtone - what song would you be?
I'd have to be a different one daily (maybe hourly), depending on my mood. My current cell phone ring tone is I'm Yours by Jason Mraz, if that says anything.

What is your favorite comfort food and why?
This is easy: CHOCOLATE. The darker the better. With a nice cup of coffee on the side. I feel better just TYPING it.

What's your favorite food to eat...to cook ... and of course why?

My favorite non-chocolate food is lobster, and I'm lucky enough to live where it's affordable. I cook, but my favorite thing to do is bake. I guess I sort of specialize in desserts. There are a few things that I get requests for: Bailey's cake, grasshopper pie, capuccino cheesecake, and the infamous peanut-scotch krisp, and I love to make stuff for people who really enjoy dessert.

Who is one actor you would have a torrid love affair with? BE HONEST, I won't tell.
Pierce Brosnan. I adore him. If he's not available, I'll take Shemar Moore. or Johnny Depp. or Jeffrey Donovan. Actually, I could make you a list...how much time do you have?

What is your favorite guilty pleasure? Bad tv, book, food, whatever.
Has to be reality television. I watch Survivor, The Amazing Race, American Idol, Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance. Sometimes I even watch The Bachelor or Project Runway, but I'm real sneaky about it. Thank heaven for the DVR.

If you had $1000. that you had to spend on yourself (no paying bills!) in 1 hour, what would you buy and why?
Easy - a big flat screen HD TV. We have five television sets in this house, but no big-screen HD version. I dream of the day when I can see every rippley muscle of Shemar's in high definition...
If I wasn't allowed to spend it on the household, then it would have to be a trip. I want to take a vacation - a real one - more than anything.

Have you ever tried to find a word that rhymes with orange, or lick your elbow, or tie a cherry stem in a knot with your tongue?
No, No and Yes. I used to get quite a lot of attention back in my college days with that last trick.

What is your ideal number of dogs?

What would be your perfect night out (think big and you don’t need to keep it local)?

Dinner, theater, hotel (I hate going back to my real life after something really fun.) The ideal city for this evening out would be the Big Apple. Dinner someplace fancy, then a show on Broadway and back to some fancy Manhattan hotel. Glorious!!

Is it wrong for me to fertilize my coffee plant with organic fertilizer made from coffee beans?
I'm going to go with no, it's not wrong. Circle of life and all.

If you could be one celebrity for a week, which one would it be?
Bette Midler. She seems like somebody who knows how to have a good time. And the pipes on her? I'd kill to be able to sing like that. I already have the boobs.

And also the all important marry, screw, kill question. That one is always fun! Your three to choose from are Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien and David Letterman (in honor of all the late show host switching going on lately)
I've never heard this one before, but I'm assuming I have to pick one for each activity? Okay, I guess I'd marry David Letterman, screw Conan O'Brien and kill Jay Leno. Although I have nothing against Jay, I just can't imagine doing either of the other things with him...maybe it's the jaw?

There. I'm exhausted. If anybody is still reading at this point, tune in tomorrow for a shorter list of much harder-to-answer questions!

Monday, June 1, 2009

It's So Easy

Before I do anything else, I have to say that I am truly impressed. When I said, "ask me a question," I was hoping to get a dozen or so questions I could use to do one post - maybe enough for two posts if I was lucky. You all came up with over a hundred questions!

They were so many amazing, creative, interesting questions, I couldn't imagine how to pick a winner. So I didn't. I called up my dear friend Hallie and asked her to do it. I've judged contests for her before, so it seemed only fair to let her pick. I sent her a document with all the questions, and as I emailed it, I thought to myself, 'gosh, I hope she picks something that I know the answer to...'

No such luck. She happened to pick three questions (so we have first, second and third place winners) and all three of these questions made me have to think. A LOT. ON A WEEKEND.

So congratulations to our winners. If you send me your address (or the address of your designated recipient) I will send out your prizes (5 cards for 1st, 3 for 2nd and 2 for 3rd).

In third place, Staci from Bliss, who asked:
If you had an "Indian"* name, what would it be, and why would you want to have that particular name? (*such as Running Bear, etc.)

I've been thinking about this all weekend. I thought about and discarded some (Naps with Cats, Running Bar Tab, Chasing Pavements, Dances in Underpants) and finally settled on Laughs with Abandon. Maybe even CHIEF Laughs with Abandon. Why? Because this is exactly what I want to do - perhaps what I need to do - to survive this life with my sanity intact.

In second place, Evansmom (she doesn't have a blog, yet...), who asked:
Maria Shriver talks about having commas after her name (i.e. Maria Shriver, Kennedy relative, wife of Arnold, First Lady of California, Author, etc.) What are the commas after your name AND what commas do you want to add in the next 10 years?
Gee, way to make me take stock of my life. After I crawled out of the deep depression this question put me into, I came up with this: My current commas might be something like this: Mother, Friend, Adoptee, Writer, PR Specialist, Cat and Dog Enthusiast, Water Lover and Girl Who Once Rode The Train With Chris Noth. I'm sure I could come up with more, but they would likely be even more pathetic, and who needs that? In the next ten years, I would like to add: World Traveler, Published Author, Reunited with Birth Family, Grandmother, Boat Owner and Girl Who Once Rode the Train with Pierce Brosnan.

And, in First Place, c3 (who doesn't have a blog - at least not as far as I know), who asked:
If you could duplicate in yourself the talent of just one artist, who would it be?
What a great question, but how difficult to answer! I have so much appreciation for talent in many forms. I had a list going on the kitchen table, and it included an eclectic mix of artists I admire: Michelangelo, Beethoven, Freddy Mercury, Henri Matisse, Jackson Pollack, Vivaldi, Norah Jones and Janis Joplin, among others. And I was restricting my list to artists in the painting/sculpture and music areas only. If I had even thought about adding actors and authors to the list? Instant overload!

I thought about it for a long time, and I came up with my choice. I would like to duplicate in myself the talent of Georgia O'Keeffe. O'Keeffe's paintings are beautiful and sometimes haunting, and I'm particularly drawn to her flowers. If I could produce anything even close to that, I'd be thrilled. I can draw stick figures that you might be able to recognize as such. I can kick ass at Pictionary - if I can pick my partners, that is (it's all in how well you know each other.) The ability to draw? Nope. None at all.

The fact that I wish I had some artistic talent is not the only reason I picked O'Keeffe. She is not only my favorite painter, she's someone I have long admired. She was a strong woman who succeeded where many women failed and didn't care what anyone thought about her. She lived a long life and continued to practice her artistry even as she became blind. I'd like a little of that attitude, along with the talent!

There you have it. I will be answering most of the rest of the questions in posts this week, so stay tuned. I promise to be honest, even if it hurts.