Monthly Archives: July 2010

Getting To Know You….

Standard

This is not me. But it gives you an idea..minus the sword and the boob....

 Perhaps a little too well. I had the first legitimate costume malfunction….Way before Janet and Justin made it a “mainstream” thing to do. I’m no sell out, I am the originator.

When we were 19 (I think…it’s all a bit hazy…read on, you’ll understand why), my best friend and I were in a production of The King and I. This was before she was famous. We were just kids. Anyway, she was Topsy and I was Simon of Legree. We didn’t do anything until the big ballet of The Small House Uncle Thomas. I choreographed the whole ballet (I think, at least it feels like I did). Topsy had pigtails and was the funny one. Her movement was mostly done in a wide second position stance, like a sumo wrestler, with alot of head wobbles to make her pig tails bounce. My best friend, who is not a dancer, did this particular move with such precision that it was as if she were born to be Topsy (she still does this move with hysterical accuracy). I was the bad guy, I had a sword and a mask that I couldn’t see out of, and alot of lifts. I was being lifted by two huge, local, body builders who had no clue how to lift anything except a dumbbell (wait for dumbbell joke…it’s coming).

Anyway, the show opened and we had a pretty good crowd. Backstage was hopping with two body builders and the promise of doing the show ON TOUR!! I am ready for my entrance, which consisted of me being carried out by the two body builders, tossed into the air, and landing in a second position with my sword in the ready position to attack…. I proceed on with my dance and then I am eventually carried off, as I am dead. Sounds like a good outline of the way it was supposed to go. Backstage, good thoughts, visions of how it will all come together, total trust in the body builders, and no thought about the mask I was wearing and not having any peripheral vision. I am carried out, I AM Simon of Legree, the music swells, the body builders toss me into the air….. and….. accidently throw my legs out from under me. From a height of about 8 feet above the stage, I drop like, well, a dumbbell (there it is… ha ha) and hit the stage with a crashing thud, on my ass. My plastic sword breaks into pieces and goes flying into the front row. A little old lady was hit by the shrapnel, had a flash back to WWII and ran screaming for the bomb shelter which was still open in the basement of the theater. After her scream subsided, you could have heard a pin drop. There was total silence from the audience of 200.The music stopped, the director, who was in the audience, starts to run towards the stage, and Topsy, backstage, is in a fit of hysterical laughter.I am sitting on the stage where I landed, spread eagle on my back, with just the handle of my sword hoisted in the air. I got up, nod to the orchestra, all of whom were frozen with silent looks of horror on their faces. I nod again, and they still are not playing, I clear my throat…if this wasn’t awkward before, now it is. Finally, the musical director regains her composure and begins the music. I do my dance faster than any dance has ever been done in the history of dance, because I am embarrassed and I have totally lost my composure, not that anyone could see because I have a mask on, oh yeah and my ass is killing me! The musical director was having trouble keeping up with me as she was damn sure I wasn’t about to keep time with her. And I exit stage left, not dead, not carried. I get backstage and Topsy is literally rolling around on the ground, tears streaming, hands stuffed into her mouth so as not to make more noise. I stuck my sword handle at her butt and tell her to quit laughing. This, ofcourse, makes her laugh harder. I had a few others ask if I was ok, which I was, but for the most part, everyone backstage was in giggles. It was pretty funny.

That might make for a good story, but wait! There’s more!! So, we did take the show “on tour”, a few towns up, about 3 hours from home. How fun!!  Now, here’s the twist. Topsy had a wedding to go to. So, I had to do her part as there was no understudy for such a tiny part and I had to do my part too. That meant one of those lightning fast costume changes backstage. Her costume consisted of a long scarf that wrapped around her upper body. She had plenty of time to wrap and pin it so that she could move and not be exposed. I had to do my part, then her part, then my part again. My costume was a zip up the back jacket type thing. And the mask. So, night of the show, I go do my part, run backstage, I am stripped and I have her costume underneath. I had people switching my pants and mask and shoes. I make my entrance as Topsy to do her dance and I see one of the chorus girls giving me The Eye. The Eye is when someone is trying to tell you something is amiss with your appearance, such as a buggar hanging out of your nose, or spinach in your teeth, or your right boob is fully exposed, you know, The Eye. I notice her giving me The Eye, but I am concentrating on this dance that I barely know. Doing my oh- so- important- job of furthering the story, the reason for me doing this dance. She is still giving me The Eye and I begin to feel a slight breese…I look at the other girls on stage and they too are giving me The Eye. I look down but I can’t see anything because of the mask. I finish my dance and run off stage for my last lightning fast change and one of the dressers has tears streaming down her face, laughing (I am nothing if not a great source of  unintentional entertainment for others) and before she slips me into my jacket she repositions the scarf that was not positioned correctly, re-covering my exposed right boob (or lack of boob as the case may have been. I was a 19 year old dancer… built like a 12 year old boy). Yes, that’s right, I single handedly made The King and I into soft core, live action porn. I think my only response was “Are you kidding me???” Then, as she was zipping me into my Simon of Legree costume, the zipper broke which left my entire back exposed. So, the audience was going to see Topsy’s costume hanging out of the back of my Simon costume. That meant that there was no way to disguise that it was me fully exposed out there. The audience was going to connect that Topsy was Simon was the choreographer was me. On the upside, maybe I would finally get my big break into movies!!

So Janet had to pay fines and make apologies and excuses. Me? I was congratulated on yet another entertaining run of a show. Topsy went on to eventually star as Anna in The King and I. I have gone on to tell this story to countless legions of dance students to illustrate my point of remaining calm when a costume malfunction happens. Words of wisdom: never allow amateur body builders to lift you, no matter how cute they are and if sitting in the front row, and I am dancing, bring a camera and a shield.

P.S. My best friend had to cover for me during this run as I had some prior engagement to attend. She had to do both her part and my part. She didn’t expose any body parts or land on her ass…but to see her do her interpretation of my dance was so funny that to this day, 18 years later, I ask her to do it at cocktail parties and random social events…sword and all. Western people funny 🙂

Eat, Pray, Love, Grow Up, Have Kids

Standard

A while ago, I read the book Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I resisted reading this book cause I considered it chick lit and kind of new age-y and I was in a Tough Girl phase of life. Ya know, with the “screw off whiney women and stick that incense burner up your ass while you’re at it” attitude. I had some issues with the new age movement…and anything that was overly girly. Identity crisis maybe?

 Prior to reading this book, I was thinking about a friend who I had lost contact with. The one with whom I had visited an ashram and met a guru. In fact, I was telling the story of how I met this friend and how I visited the ashram and how I was so grateful for the experiences I had and how those times taught me that I will always be taken care of no matter what.I was so young to find such faith and it had alot to do with this friend and our trip to the ashram.  This was right about the time I finally broke down and bought Eat Love Pray. I mean everyone was talking about it. Fine, I’ll read it.

It was a great book. I totally identified with the woman, her struggles, her desires, her journey. And the really neat thing was she was talking about the guru I had met! She spoke of the ashram that I had visited! Although the author’s experiences weren’t exactly mine, the feelings definitely were. I related to her depression, her abandonment, her search and her eventual peace within herself. I had been there done that and had the mandala beads to prove it!

I went to the ashram when I was 18 years old. There were free roaming cows and statues that were about 6 and a half feet tall of important people in history. There was one of John Lennon and Martin Luther King, Jesus and Kennedy. There were beautiful temples and gardens. I slept in a dorm, with 40 other women, on a steel frame bunk bed…and I actually slept. I sat cross-legged on a marble floor for over two hours while the guru spoke. I ate vegetarian food and wore clothes that covered my body. It was very different from the life I was living at the time. Extreme opposite as a matter of fact.

I was smacked with peacock feathers by a woman, a guru, who was stunningly, beautifully bald. Learning about the choices she had made for her life was so interesting. She had given up all material things. She had given up sex! What??? She was so young and beautiful! I came to understand that it was to pursue her calling, her desire. She had no time for vanity, or selfish sexual pleasures, or the pursuit of financial gains. Come on, you’d be in awe also. The chanting was soothing and everyone around was so serene and peaceful. It was like a bit of heaven after living in the strange hell-like atmosphere of my life in the early 90’s. 

I haven’t returned to the ashram although it has always been something I am intending to do. I want to bring my kids to give them an In Real Life taste of something different. A different idea or philosophy, way to look at life. My friend who brought me was lucky enough to actually travel to India, when she was just a little girl, with the Guru  to live and learn in the ashram there. I am still amazed, when I look back at that period in my life, how incredibly blessed I was to move half way across the country and meet this particular group of kids (we were all just kids) who helped shape me into the woman and mother I am today.

When I lived in texas, my friend and I were selling beaded necklaces to raise money for her trip to Afrika. We had a nice mexican made blanket that we were sitting on, in the middle of a festival. We got up to go grab some drinks and came back and the blanket was gone! I was immediately pissed off and ready to search around and find the thief who took something that was ours! My friend made a quick search of the immediate area, asked a few people in the vicinity and then turned to me and said “Well, who ever took the blanket must have needed it more than me. I hope it will keep them warm.” I was like “WHAT??? Call the police we have been STOLEN FROM!!” I think she laughed at me, which made me laugh at me and a lesson was learned.

I eat, but nothing spectacular. I pray, when I remember to. I love, in the most basic sense. I grew up knowing that there is power greater than myself and that power lives within me. I have kids and believe they will eat, pray and love in their own ways on their own terms. All in all, it was a great book, I am looking forward to the movie and I am reminded today that love is in everything we do, in who we are and all around.

I’m off to pull that incense burner out of my ass and maybe do some chanting. Love to all and all to love.

Here Kitty Kitty Kitty…..

Standard

I can't imagine wanting to eat these.....

I’m sure we have all had a stalker. I have been fortunate enough to have TWO in my lifetime. My first stalker became obsessed with me when I was just 12 years old. That says alot about the pedophile tendencies of my stalker as I was not like some 12 year olds. I was a flat chested, zitty, braceface with really bad hair and no clue about presenting myself in a better light. I was awkward and dorky and I probably should have been wearing deodorant. Apparently, my stalker saw something in me that was attractive to him, as he was obviously a pedophile with really bad taste.

The prank calls began. Many times they were just hang ups. Other times they were peppered with Tourette’s like dirty words. My stalker actually worked his way up to telling me what he wanted to do with my cats. That was distressing. I loved my cats and I did not understand why anyone would want to eat them. Sometimes he would ask if I was alone, other times he seemed to know I was alone. These calls continued for over 6 years. When they began, the phone company was in the middle of a major strike and they didn’t have the power to tap our phone and trace the calls. They suggested that we write down the time of the calls and what the caller was saying. He was mostly threatening to eat my cats….and talking about how much he would enjoy doing that.

Now, I didn’t engage with my stalker and his full-blown obsession with feline consumption. I generally just hung up as soon as I recognized it was him. But he was definitely leaving an impression on my very young naive mind. I was always scared in my own home, I didn’t like answering the phone and I wanted to keep all four of my cats inside at all times. But, despite my well founded fears, I continued to grow up and answer the phone.

I actually had the unfortunate pleasure of meeting my stalker, face to face one night. I know! How often does that happen? I mean, David Letterman, Jodi Foster and me. We are some super special people to attract and keep a stalker for years but then to have them break into our homes and get caught…well, that just speaks to the level of our fame and the depth of our stalker’s illness. There I was, 16 years old, slightly more attractive than I was when I was 12, but only slightly. At 16, I had half a head of bright red hair, black eyeliner and lipstick to match. My usual uniform was Converse with ripped fishnets and my mother’s black slip and my grandpa’s white tee-shirt. Good lookin, but only to a certain segment of the population. And my stalker. He was one of those people who were loyal in the most perverted sense of the word.

I was driving, as I had just passed my permit test. My mother and best friend were with me. I pulled into the driveway, noticing that there was a car parked in front of our house. I didn’t give it too much thought, our development was tiny and it wasn’t uncommon for the neighbor’s friends to park on the street. My best friend and I walked to the door and I grabbed for the door knob, but before I could reach it, the door opened. And there stood my stalker!! Shirt off, pants undone with a look of complete surprise that matched mine. He slammed the door in my face, which was not what I would have expected from my stalker of over 4 years…I mean, he had been trying to get me to let him chow down on my cats (over the phone) and here he was with a face to face opportunity to talk me into his fantasy of  cat dinner and he slams the door in MY face!

My best friend and I screamed a very appropriate, high pitched, girly scream and about knocked each other over trying to escape from the door way area. I jumped back into the car and my best friend was standing at the back car door yanking on the door handle and laughing so hard she was crying. I had to reach over the backseat to unlock the door that she had so conscientiously locked just minutes before… back when we were still goofy teens who had no idea of feline eating stalkers in real life.

My mother, who had been taking her time gathering up her “stuff” into her various bags, was oblivious to what was happening. I started the car and was backing out of the driveway while my friend was still getting in the car and my mother was still attempting to get out. She had assumed that my friend and I were just being our usual silly selves with the screaming and all. I told my mother, at the top of my lungs, that there was a man in the house and we were going to the police. My mother, being very brave and slightly flakey tried to convince me to stop and go back. Her attitude was one of anger, not fear, that there was anyone in HER home that was not invited. I didn’t agree with her idea and proceeded at top speed the three blocks to the police station where I JUMPED from the car and ran to the locked door. I banged until a cop came running and I told them what just happened and they jumped in their cars, sirens blaring and raced back up the same street I had just raced down.

My mother was mad, my friend was in hysterics (laughing because that is what she did when she got nervous, she laughed and got hives) and I was scared for my cats!! Turns out my stalker had fled the scene before the cops got there, although he left me a present on my pillow before he left. Not a very thoughtful present either.  Thanks to my slightly OCD mind, I remembered the first 3 letters of the licence plate of the car that was parked in front of my house!! All those hours of watching tv talk shows about what to do if you have weird situations happen to you paid off!! I was never one of those people who said “Oh THAT will never happen to ME!” I just accepted that someday I may very well need to know how to escape from a trunk, or how to identify a kidnapper or remember the licence plate of my stalker’s car!! The police tracked down his car in minutes and my friend and I had to ride in the back of the cop car to identify it. We did. They arrested the idiot and I have no recollection of what happened after that. For about 6 months the calls stopped and although I was still nervous, I finally understood that it really wasn’t all about my cats. That was both a blessing and a curse.

I left for Texas shortly there after and really never gave much more thought to my stalker. But sure as kittens turn into cats, he called when I was home on Christmas break. Now really, that is some serious stick-to-it-ness don’tcha think? At this point, I was 18 years old and I was surrounded by my friends. Three of my best guy friends took turns passing the phone around and completely messing with my stalker’s mind. This must have coincided with my stalker realizing I had outgrown my fear of him and that I had also outgrown his particular age group of girls he considered fit to stalk. I don’t believe I have heard a peep from him since.

Oh the many lessons that my stalker taught me. I can’t say he was harmless, the damage he did isn’t visible (at least not after we fixed the bathroom window he broke in to and got rid of the “present” he left on my pillow). But I learned alot from having a stalker at such a young age. The different meanings words can have, how not to respond when the phone rings, and that if I can remember every licence plate number I ever see then I will always have a way to identify the bad guys. All of these lessons have served me well later in life believe it or not. And I didn’t even know they would. Be prepared is a good motto if you find yourself in a stalker situation. And for any future stalkers out there, please remember that “I want to eat your pussy” has different meanings to different people.

Yankees vs Red Socks

Standard

As we arrived in Boston, on the Esplanade, walking with the masses towards the Charles river, in great anticipation of a massive fireworks display, my 7 year old stopped me dead in my tracks. She yanked me down to her level with an intensely serious face and whispered in my ear “Are we Red Socks fans now?” like we had to be because we were in Boston. She was so serious about this question.

 I was baffled. I mean, I watched more Yankees baseball than I care to remember growing up thanks to my grandpa. He even had a special system for betting on the World Series. There were charts and graphs and double stick tape and different colored markers. It was professional. All for the family to keep track of the games and who was going to win. But as an adult, as a mom, I don’t really watch any sporting events. I have three girls who love theater and dance so I haven’t had to.

My daughter’s question and her anxiety about what baseball team we now had to affiliated with was so darn cute. To me. To her, she needed to know. She said “While we are here, we are Red Socks fans. When we are home what are we?” With that one simple question I felt that I had failed my grandpa. I had tossed aside a family tradition and now my poor daughter was lost. She didn’t know which team was hers! Who do we, as a family, as a state, root for? These were the burning questions of the burning hot day, July 4th, 2010.

I whispered back to her that we were Yankees fans when we were home. But in that day, while surrounded by police officers and commoners alike with the most outrageous accents we had ever heard we were definitely Red Socks fans. The temperature was soaring to the high 90’s and the crowd had been  there since well before 9 am. There was no telling what would happen to a family of Yankee fans in that atmosphere. Better to just blend in if we could. Luckily, we listen to Car Talk on NPR every Saturday and the repeat of the same show on Sunday so we understood some of what was being said around us.

Walking to the porta-pottys gave me time to reminisce about my grandpa and the Yankees of the late 70’s early 80’s. There was Goose Gossage with his mustashe,  Willie Randolf who sounded like he’d be alot of fun, Bucky Dent who would have been really cute if his name wasn’t Bucky, and Don Mattingly who I think is now a reporter for NPR…cause how could there be two Don Mattinglys.Manager/not manager Billy Martin (who I did think was married to Steinbrenner cause of the way they were always in a fight) and Yogi Berra who I assumed was related to for Yogi Bear. Dave Righetti pitched a no hitter!! THAT was an exciting night!! There was some character named Jesus (whom I believed was actually Jesus and I was VERY upset that the Yankees would lose while Jesus was on their team). Dave Winfield had an appropriate name (and he was super cute). Reggie Jackson and Lou Piniella in the out field catching fly balls.

Every single summer evening was spent either on the porch swing with the transistor radio tuned into Phil Rizzuto and Bill White (who ironically was black…or I thought it was ironic….just like I figured it was blasphemous that there was a guy named Jesus who wasn’t actually Jesus…I was a weird kid) or watching the live televised games in the livingroom. Grandma in her recliner, Grandpa in his, me on the floor in front of the fan. I had a team, it was the Yankees. I understood the game, I knew the players, I fell asleep to Scooter and Bill giving me a play by play with some extra added facts along the way.

My kids have no idea what it means to fall asleep to a game…or be kept awake well into the 10th, 11th or 12th inning because it is just that exciting. My grandma making her “tut tut” sound every time the camera caught one of the players spitting chew (which was every time) and her dislike of Pete Rose. Gram would usher me off to bed and Gramp would come shove his tiny transistor under my pillow so I could secretly catch the last of the game. He and I would people watch (while my grandma and mother did their shopping) with the ear phones shared between us listening to the game. He and I would go bike riding down to the lake and he would say “Double header today…we have to get back. The game is on”.

Despite all of this Yankee-ness I was raised with, I didn’t intentionally pass it on to my kids. But as my daughter looked around suspiciously at the crowd of Red Socks fans, I knew that somehow grandpa had his legacy. On the forms I had to fill out at the hospital when I was giving birth I put down that I was a Lutheran (despite not having been to church in years at that point). I also filled out that I was a Yankees fan(despite not having seen a game since the 1985 season) Some things just are.

 I still can’t listen to a game on the radio, because it makes the loss of my grandpa too raw, and he has been gone 25 years. My grandpa is most alive to me in the summer. Those are the most vivid memories I have of him. Riding bikes, sailing rubber band air planes in the driveway, picking corn from his garden, riding on the riding  mower. It really wasn’t as idyllic as I remember it being, but that is ok too. The Yankees are our team and we survived Boston. And my daughter unexpectedly reminded me what it means to be a child in summer and who we are. The next night the Red Socks were playing Tampa Bay. I caught the first inning on tv and the Rays were up by one and thought “kick their ass Rays” despite really disliking anything having to do with Tampa Bay. It is just that deep. So deep that my kid knows instinctively that she is a Yankee’s fan. I bet those transistor waves went straight to my ovaries. It’s genetic.