Saturday, March 19, 2011

All Business


Dude. 10 days! I can't believe I haven't written here for 10 days. Those just flew by...sick baby, shows, students, house construction, auditions, craziness.

I weighed in this morning and it's my 2nd week of my weight being up. I have agreed with hubby that I am going to start working with a counselor about this issue. On Friday night, I can bow to screams and a standing ovation. On Saturday morning, my weight being up a pound means I am completely reduced to utter worthlessness. It is never just a tool for me. It's a judgment. Mine. And it's harsher than anything I could find myself doling out to another person.

Sweeney Todd is the first show I've done in a while, but it is a reminder of something about myself...I never go out during shows. I would love to say I have some huge excuse with the baby or the house or whatever else I have now, but it's not true. At the end of the day, I can't stand the idea of going out tonight and having a bad show tomorrow due to that.

I have often wondered if this affected my career--at Santa Fe Opera, it was one big party. Drinking, karaoke, random sexual affairs, lifelong friendships. It wasn't that for me. It was a job. And a joy. Every part of the "show" at Santa Fe was joy, but the social life was horrible. By the end, I was the girl left out, I felt so rejected, but it was me that had rejected them, I guess. I'll never forget the moment that I cried backstage, wishing for a friend, not knowing what to do with myself. A nice tenor said to me. "that's the problem. It's not opera camp". And I knew exactly what he meant.

After the last performance, one of the guys asked me to join the group out, and before I could answer a secod guy did an impression of me "Oh no, I can't go out, I have a show...." and then laughed. Then the other one did, and I realized my identity had already been established.

So that's me...my great joy is in doing the show. I love working intimately with people, I love that "theater folks" tend to share more intimate details about themselves, I love the quirky personalities. But I am not a party girl. I am, in fact, so far from party girl that I can't even fake it anymore. What I love best is a good night's sleep and a fantastic show. No night of laughing at a bar ever felt as good as my voice being totally in line, my character filled with energy, and a scene driven home just the way I want it. As my niece told me when she was just 10 "some people are party girls. you're just not a party girl."

So I guess I make my choice....forgive me. The truth is: I can't tonight. I've got a show tomorrow.

And next blog? The new role (wow!) KATISHA.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ugly Broads and Therapy

I lost some weight in February, having joined Weight Watchers (totally a cult, but I'll take it where I can get it). And then, in March, with stress, it has been coming back. I find the old habits of beating myself up are comfortable lately. I am going to 12 step meetings, trying not to freak out in front of my husband. My levels of self-hatred in this area are so deep that they seem hardly real. I feel as though the rest of my life doesn't compare with this one failure. And I am not sure where to run.

TOnight hubby stroked my back and suggested therapy. He suggested the money I use on weight watchers might be better spent on counselling. He suggested, even, that much of my eating history seems to mirror the creation of my own role in my parents' marriage. And then mentioned what he'd learned by watching the show HEAVY about how people can find that thing...that beginning to when the food became a crutch. I have long since stopped this belief, I'd say, thinking only this is my addictive behavior. But he loves me, sees me...maybe he has some sort of point.

I drove to Iowa City tonight to audition for the Mikado. I went in and sang a specific part for a role, memorized a paragraph of that character's dialogue, and wrote it down on the sheet. Make no bones about it, I'm only auditioning for Katisha. This is at the University of Iowa--and I was at the audition because the professor wrote me and suggested i come down and sing for it. So this all was flattering, encouraging, and on my current "high" from singing Mrs. Lovett (and getting those incredibly effusive reviews) I figured, eh, why not?

I must tell you of my last experience with Katisha. I sang for this role about 5 years ago for the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Society. I was called back, and when I showed up, there were 4 of us at this very self-contained studio in midtown. Me and 3 of the least attractive women I've ever seen. I know, that seems awful, but I'm telling you--the theme was clear, and terribly unflattering. A few moments later, the 5th callback arrived, a very pretty (if somewhat chubby) bubbly southern girl in her 20s. She approached me at the break and whispered, "Thank God you're here or I would have decided I must be a dog" This was exactly what I'd been thinking, and I was so glad she said it.

For 2 hours, the 5 of us read every single line of Katisha's, we sang her pieces for each other. It felt like a fight to the death. The director, with no shortage of ego, would make comments like, "Jane, can you read that more like Amanda?" and we tried to win the part from each other desperately. It was quite obvious after 30 minutes that i was the favorite voice, and the least favorite actress. I could never fix that, and lost the part. He actually sent me home and worked with some of the others!!

Luckily, this audition was nothing like that. In fact, this one had the unmistakable cry of a very pissed off 18 month old just outside the door for my whole audition. Hmmm.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Exhaustion vs. Bliss


The last two weeks have been a weird walk through life in a pink bubble of bliss. I have everything I've wanted...weird, right? I mean, nothing (NOTHING) came in the form it was supposed to, right? I'm playing a role for 5000 people that I've dreamed of my whole life. I am married to a man who seems to be utterly crazy about me and I have an adorable little thing who runs around and calls me mama.

Adding to that, the snow is nowhere to be seen, the ground is starting to smell like DIRT! GOD LOVE IT! Our home is friendly, I'm getting friends in my life for the first time in a few years. People are inviting me out (without the feeling that somehow they just feel bad for me or something) and . . . hubby's finally getting that tooth fixed. This, my friends is a bliss bubble.

I had imagined it differently. In my dreams, I was a city girl, I was thin and quite a bit cuter. My hubby was worldly and was willing to put a piece of fois gras in his mouth. My baby came from a healthy pregnancy, and this role would've been paying a thousand bucks a night.

But happiness communicates something quite easy: You were wrong. You didn't need any of that to just be utterly satisfied, lady. Calm down. Put down the Prozac. Smile, this is actually it.

Now....there is another fighter here. My exhaustion. As blissful as life feels, I occasionally am swept up in a wave of such intense exhaustion that I want to vomit. I often fall asleep while watching the baby, which feels dangerous, and I am angry with her at moments, having to just turn away and breathe until the feeling passes. It's hard, unnatural, and somehow leads me to ask myself (for the millionth time) Are you only happy when you're doing more than you're actually able?

My weight loss has grinded to a hault, which always accompanies exhaustion. I need sleep for weight loss--time to plan what I eat, and to get rid of the feeling that somehow ice cream will make the pain of being tired go away. There is only one solution to all of that: REST. GOd wasn't kidding when he came up with the Sabbath. We are not designed for constant running. At least, let me be clear, I am not.

Hubby lives in this state of total adoration and happiness marked by fears of my insane exhaustion. I threw a toy last week and broke a window in our living room (it's cracked, not broken, but will need to be replaced nonetheless). Today, the baby threw my cell phone and it landed in a floor vent, completely unreachable to me after an hour of digging in it with wire hangers, vaccuum cleaners and dusters. I called hubby three times, almost in tears. I just couldn't take another thing. Not another thing. And that is the story of this weekend.

I am reminded of the thing about parenting. It's not that it's hard in itself, but it just never leaves you. It's every moment, even when you're exhausted, living out your dreams, feeling flirty with your spouse, or watching Top Chef. It's always there....

Ok, off to sleep. Please GOd, more of this.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Boys Will Be Men

What an odd day....our show's Preview performance was tonight, with an audience of about 300 people, I'd guess. My husband came with his cousin and her wife, a couple I always enjoy. Unfortunately we had no time to enjoy them--we were in a state of complete madness by the end of the day. It was a hard day to cap off with a show. I had barely slept the night before and taught 6 students.

The night before my husband and i hit the bed very late. It was the early hours of his birthday, around 2 am, when he laid beside me, and wanted to cuddle. He talked to me about how proud he was of my performing, how excited he was for the show. It was strange and unexpected, a sudden outpouring of kind words and hugs, and I wished the moment would go on forever. My joy at the show has almost been outmatched by my husband's supportive enthusiasm--he's bought me turkey jerky to chew on backstage, gel inserts for my tight pointy toed boots, and massages when the rehearsals go badly.

This side of my husband is something I never thought I'd experience in another person, and I realize how much we were meant for each other, the way he's stepped up in every aspect to make sure this whole singing thing works.

Backstage last night one of the cast members, a very young man, shared of his college experiences of kissing several women at once--of parties where sexual mischief was the goal. He spoke in front of a 12 year old boy in the cast, who said it sounded gross. I found that refreshing, sometimes I love to hear about that time in a boy's life, before everything seems to get colored by sex. I could hold on to innocence forever. A few moments later the lead in the show, a man in his late 20s, made a comment about how the kid would someday not turn his nose up at the idea of kissing many women at once.

The same man, in his late 20s, complains about my getting lipstick on him in the scene where I kiss him. And when I complained to an older cast member (a man close to 60, I'd guess) he responded by singing the words, "You are young....you will learn...." and I smiled, as he made me feel good again about the whole thing.

It seemed like a whole circle of men...from innocent to horn dogs to know it alls to appreciative gentlemen, or something like that.

But tonight, looking at my husband, who has been so vocal about being proud of me on HIS birthday, not a second of complaining, even when last week in a state of abject exhaustion i broke a window in the living room....well....maybe they can be all those things at once.