Thursday, May 2, 2013

I love the smell of flop sweat in the morning

Listen To Your Mother is only days away.  So close that as I write this my hands are trembling just a little because of the adrenaline that is flying through my veins.   It is so close.  I want to slow down time so I can savor the anticipation and keep it slow so I can feel every moment on Saturday.

It has been a long time since I have been back on stage. Actually, wait – My daughter’s elementary school does a take on American Idol for their annual big fundraiser. It takes place at our city’s high school auditorium.    It has become a tradition and a big community event.    Last year, I was one of the judges.  I was J Lo.  THAT was the first time back on stage.  As J Lo. 

As silly as it may sound, it was a watershed moment for me.  Backstage, before the show began, there was a buzz of energy and flop sweat.  When I walked across the stage, and became J Lo for the next ninety minutes, I knew there was no turning back.  I was home again.  I know this is dramatic – but I felt one with the theater universe, a connection. 

The stage has magic – whether that stage is on Broadway or a community theater in Ohio or a high school stage in New Hampshire.   It all felt right – making people laugh, staying in character, that specific sweat that only occurs in nervous anticipation.  I felt like it was back where I should be.  I made peace – with my absence from performing – and with honoring the power of ANY size stage.  High School stage.  The Majestic Theater in Boston.  All of the same talents are required.  All of them matter.  All of these performers and stages make the world go ‘round.

As I have prepared for LTYM, I have been giddy with the entire process.  Submitting my piece.  An audition!  It was so happy to just be auditioning – even if I didn’t make it, I was so damn thankful to have that experience – to have this affirmation that I am on the right path.  (I think I have spent a great deal of energy going the wrong way with my writing…)I have never been so excited to audition for anything in my life.  Because I believed in my piece with ferocious strength.  Because I wanted this so damn much.  Because it felt right.

I have known for a long time that I am better when I am collaborating.  My strengths come out when I am with a group.  I experience this when my girlfriends and I are creating songs or my husband and I team up on our parenting and collaborate on our life together.  I feel it when I am teaching with someone – I am always better when I share it with a partner.  When I lived in New York and I meet my friend Kirsty and we collaborated and created our show, Stephie in the Sky with Kirsty – it was pure performance magic.   I am still looking for a partner to write and create magic.  I know he or she is out there.  But I now know I cannot put my ideas on hold until I find this creative soul mate.  I have important stories to tell.

 I have found a new place with my cast members in Listen To Your Mother.  It has been a dream.  Supportive and honest and saturated with talent.   It has given my story a platform and a home and a microphone and a stage.

I am on my knees with gratitude.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

You'll be swell! You'll be great! Gonna have the whole world on a plate!

Holyshit you guys,  I auditioned for this amazing stage show, Listen To Your Mother and I had one of the greatest auditions I have ever had, and that alone was the best feeling, knowing that I just killed it, because I was prepared and rehearsed and my piece was fucking hilarious and I felt confident and READY. 

Ready to be on stage again.  Ready to perform my writing.  Ready.

So I fretted and bit my nails for days and prepared myself for rejection – because that’s part of the business, right  - rejection.  I gotta have a thick skin, and be ready for people to say “NO”.  But it still hurts and I feel like I’ve been getting too many “No’s” lately, when really, my favorite word is “YES!”

 I left that audition soaring. 

Last week I received the exhilarating news that I had been chosen to be a cast member of the show – Listen To Your Mother. 

 Yes is a bright and shining atom bomb of joy obliterating the black hole of “No.” It is the ego boost that I wanted and needed.  I got all squishy and Sally Field, jumping around my house saying, “They like me!  They really, really like me!”  And then I turned into some character from a Quentin Tarantino movie proclaiming, “Damn strait those mutha fuckah’s wanted me!  That shit I wrote was goddamn HILARIOUS!  I pity the fool who wouldn’t take me.”  (I guess I turned into Mr. T as well.)

Yes pointed me back into the direction of stage. Yes confirmed where my passion and talent shine and where (oh, help me, I’m about to get all  Oprah-y) my soul does a Bob Fosse hip swivel, high kick to the beat of the word, “Yes, yes, yes yes, yes!”

Have I even explained what the show is about?  It's a national series of original work on stage, about motherhood - and it takes place on or around Mothers Day.  This year it be performed in twenty-four cities.  Wow.

There has to be a yiddish word for how I feel - a word that puts together pride and confidence and happiness from deep inside.  If you know it, please tell me.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

I heart Taylor Swift

This letter to Taylor Swift first appeared over at my friends, femamom

Dear Taylor Swift-

Let me introduce myself – I’m Stephanie and I have two daughters.  We are huge admirers and fans.  I know you must be very busy right now, getting ready for your tour – My daughters and I cannot wait to see you perform this summer.  Did you know that you are going to be their first concert?  Seriously – a big deal.  For the rest of their lives, when they play the getting to know you game of, “What was your first concert?”  They will forever say, “Taylor Swift!”  (My first concert was Duran Duran – I will never forget my friend Alison crying during “Save a Prayer” and I was convinced that Simon LeBon was singing only to me.)

I want to tell you a story.  When I was in college I was at a party, hanging out and talking with the bravado that only happens at that age.  The conversation turned to music and what instruments people played.  When I was asked, “Hey Stephanie, what do you play?”  I answered, “ I play the skin flute.”  It’s crass, got a laugh and we all moved on.  But for years after, every single time I saw this one guy who was at the party he would always say to me, “Hey, still playing the skin flute?”  I always cringed.  I just meant it as a quick one liner to get a laugh – not for this shmuck to keep haunting me about it.  I got off lucky – I just had this troll pop up for years reminding me that I was such an expert at the skin flute.  Taylor, you have to have every single, impulsive sentence that comes out of your mouth blasted out on every online source possible.  And that can’t be easy.  I am grateful that every stupid thing that I said at 20 or 22 isn’t out there in the ethers.  Most of it is in my journals, which come to think of it, it may be time to burn them…

I’m afraid that you are having your skin flute moment. 

You dared to criticize our Patron Saints of Comedy – Amy Poehler and Tina Fey and you invoked the myth of unilateral female solidarity by stating, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women”. 

Because of your youth you didn't fully grasp that it was just a joke- yes at your expense, and that hurts –to tell you on worldwide television to stay away from Michael J. Fox’s son because you need a little ‘me-time’.  Your inexperience hasn't burned you enough yet with the sad realization that just because we are girls, doesn't equate that we are all going to get along. (And if you really think that there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women, maybe you should swap out Tina and Amy for Camille Paglia Calm down Camille! We can’t all be Rhianna and get the shit beaten out of us by our boyfriends and turn it into creative gold or turn our asses to the camera like Jennifer Lopez and have it be groundbreaking just because she is Latino.)

Because you write publicly and successfully about boys and breakups, desire and dreams -all real and worthy subjects – your music is up for criticism.  It’s the way the world works.  Ask any artist– there’s always someone who is going to find some angle and flaw in your work and then tell you about it.   And since you haven’t given the public a Britney Spears-style melt down and crotch-shot, then they really have to dig to find something wrong with you.   

For what it’s worth –I am grateful that you are a strong role-model for my young daughters.   You write and create your own music – which they can listen to.   You follow your dreams and your passion and you seem true to yourself – and the women you are trying to become. 

And as I am still learning– you can’t please everyone.

With love and respect and jumpy claps because I think you are awesome,

Maybe you want to give Amy and Tina another chance…

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What's new pussycat...

The  last two months of 2012 kicked my ass and ground me into the dirt.  I was so happy to welcome in 2013.

It's a new year.   I am feeling super hopeful right now - and not just because Obama was re-elected.  There is nothing but change and action swirling around our home and lives right now - and I love it.

I have a bunch of exciting shit going on right now - and something needs to give.  Writing my blog has been where it has to give.   It was either the blog or exercise, going out with my girlfriends and getting booty.

We can have it all - just not at once.

My latest - I am proud and giddy to be a contributor for a fantastic and provocative site - femamom

Here's my  latest about how I don't feel sexy with grey hair

Along with a couple more...

About that asshole Elf on a Shelf
And trying to keep things Merry and Bright while grieving over the massacre at Sandy Point.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Heaven and Hell

These past few days remind me of how I felt in the wake of September 11th.   I kept hoping that it really didn't just happen, that we all suffered from a massive hallucination and when I woke up the next day it would be erased.  And then when I accepted the awful truth of what happened, nothing felt right.   I walked around feeling as if I were constantly at a funeral – long stretches of great and uncomfortable sorrow, punctuated by side splitting laughter – the later helped to remind myself that I was still alive. 

There are multiple levels to how deep of a hole this tragedy has caused.  I keep pealing back the layers of connection and it is shredding me to pieces.  My connection starts at the top, being a human, an American citizen.  I have the sad realization that there is something fundamentally  decayed in a society that believes it is an individual’s right to own  multiple high caliber guns,  whose only purpose is to kill as many people as possible.  Since when did this ownership of violence become a right? If you cannot smoke in a public restaurant, you sure as shit shouldn't be allowed to carry a gun into that same space.  Fuck this Wild West mentality, fuck your ‘right’ to bear arms, fuck all of these guns, fuck this selfish, greedy monster, this I, me, mine attitude that is rotting us into oblivion.

As a mother I am afraid.   Afraid in a primordial sense, the same way I felt exposed and incapable after September 11th.  That fear will always reside inside of me.  That fear comes to the surface when I bring the girls out, whether to the library or the supermarket and I always check and double check the exits.   My most basic job as a mother is to protect my babies.  When tragedies  like these occur I am painfully reminded of how little I can protect my girls. I tell myself, “You survived 9-11.  You dodged that disaster.   You will be OK.”  And now this massacre happens.   The game has been changed – again.  My loved ones survived  – but once again I will be fundamentally changed.

Our family does not go to church for many reasons.  But I have always felt that our daughter’s school serves a very similar purpose for our family.  We believe in public education and are proud to be a part of our school community.  It is vital to the soul of our neighborhood and an essential part of what makes our city thrive.  Cliff and I volunteer at our school - as many parents do- because we believe that it supports our teachers which in turn helps the children learn and grow.  We have a responsibility to each other and we are united at their elementary school for the same fundamental goals.

I am a substitute teacher at my daughter’s school.  I substitute for classroom teachers and for the special education teachers.  Over the course of a school year I experience the unique position of teaching and interacting with nearly every child in that school.  I think I could name nearly every one of them.   I love my job – truly, love it.   I love being a part of something that is bigger than myself.   I spend many hours each week at school, as a teacher and as a mother. It is a focal point of my life.

 School is a sacred place.  It is where magic and inspiration occurs every day.  It is where children learn to read and where many get their only meals of the day.  That sacred place has been violated.  I am so sad.   I don’t believe in the afterlife of Heaven or the damnation of Hell.  I believe that this earthly plane can be Heaven and Hell.  When Cliff or the girls tell me they love me I am in Heaven.  When I am cooking dinner and the girls are reading and doing homework I am in Heaven.  When we snuggle the girls to bed and after Cliff and I talk about our day and hang out together with our cat George, our home feels like a raft of safety, it is Heaven.  But sadly, it is punctuated by moments like this that we all have a bitter taste of Hell.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas in Rite Aid!

I ventured out to Target last week to try and score some cute stocking snuffers.  Try as I might I could not get into the mood.  Nothing seemed to fit or made me clap my hands with Christmas glee.  Rare for any trip to the mega store I left with nothing. Nothing!  In my despair, afraid that I was slipping into a Scroogian holiday mood - which is verboten with two kids who believe -  I ended posting on Facebook something like, "If I can't buy it at Goodwill or Rite Aid it's not ending up under my tree".  One friend suggested buying tampons for all and then another posted that this was the beginning of a great holiday song.   So my friend, and funny man Rick Crowley and I wrote this one together.  It has brought back the smile on my face and put the jingle in my step.

Christmas in Rite Aid

It’s that magical time of the year
Filled with egg nog, parties and good cheer
But life and get hectic and busy and you need to buy gifts
For loved ones deserve a present that fits
No need to go far a quick drive in your car
It’s Christmas in Rite Aid!

Light up your Strikes and roll your own smokes
Tampons, pads and two-liter cokes
Toenail clippers and a can of Raid
It’s Christmas in Rite Aid!

There’s a nip and chill in the air
So shower your loved ones with rollers for her hair
Or maybe some Metamucil and Pringles
Will make her holidays tingle
It’s Christmas in Rite Aid!

So let’s pop a few Zoloft’s and burp-free fish oil
Maalox, Aveno, a balm for that boil
A six-pack of Ensure and a plug-on from Glade
It’s Christmas in Rite Aid!

Burts Bees for your chapped lips and RID kill those lice
A romance novella and 99 cent spice
Grecian Formula in a box cuz your hair went and grayed
It’s Christmas in Rite Aid!

Everyone needs these items, there’s no need to be shy
We’ve all had diarrhea, crabs or a sty
No gift will be wasted when you buy what friends need
To take care of gas, stinky pits and each month when we bleed
Happy Holiday’s to everyone goodwill to all
Please save yourself a stressful trip to the mall
It’s Christmas in Rite Aid!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sexy Time

For the past two weeks, Cliff and I have been consumed in our search for a new dishwasher.  We have known this time would come; it’s been on its last legs for a couple of years now.  One morning  I tried to turn it on and it was dead.  No life. It didn't even grind to a dramatic halt.   Our dishwasher just said, “Fuck-it.  I’m done with you Lazenby’s”.  Kaput.  And so, the search began.

There is no glamour or excitement in researching and purchasing a major appliance.  It is a very mundane, grown up thing to do.  I didn't look for ovens when I was 24.  I can’t even attest to having one in my apartment since I survived on bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches from the deli, take-out and the French-fries served at The Bottom Line where I was a cocktail waitress. 

Cliff and I have been comparing, researching, opening and closing doors and stood in many a store wide-eyed and feeling dazed and confused.  We dragged the girls to Best Buy on a Saturday where they had their first lesson in never, ever stepping into and closing the door on themselves inside of a refrigerator.  We unsuccessfully tried to pull information out of the world’s worst salesperson, a dumpy, over bleached twat of a woman.  I asked, “Does this model have a food grinder?”  She would sneer and sigh and point to a sticker on one of the many dishwashers that lines the walls, “Well, all the information you need is right here”  Since I have never bought a dishwasher, I asked her, “Why would I need to take the racks out and re-adjust them?”  She blew out crypt keeper smelling breath at me and replied, “I can’t answer that question for you honey.  I don’t know your dish washing needs. ”   Here we were practically waving money in our hands because why else would a person be shopping for an appliance – this is not a browsing for fun kind of purchase-  and this peach of a woman couldn't wait to go on her cigarette break.

After endless comparisons and conversations about stainless steel interior versus plastic and controls on top or the front, we finally found one in our price range where the store offered a special with free delivery, pick-up and thirty eight dollar installation.  We pulled the trigger and bought it.    It’s a hard trigger to pull – not only because it’s expensive, but online we read hundreds of reviews, and there isn't a single dishwasher out there that doesn’t have at least one review that screams, “DO NOT BUY THIS DISHWASHER!  THE WORST EVER!  IT BURNED MY HOUSE DOWN AND ATE MY CAT AND IT DOESN'T T DRY DISHES PROPERLY!!!!!”

Yesterday Cliff calls me at work and says, “I went back to Home Depot to look at the one we bought and I dunno, I am afraid the racks are a little flimsy.  I was opening other racks and the ones on our model seems…weak.  Can you just come and meet me at lunch so we can compare the racks.”  I said “Sure babe, it’s a big purchase, I get it.   I want you to feel good about it.  And I giggle every time you say ‘compare racks’” .

We meet and there Cliff is in a sea of dishwashers, working up a sweat, comparing racks.  “Look at this, see how it wiggles around, flimsy – right?  And this other one here, more solid.  Do you see it?  Feel it?”  We compare more racks.  When Cliff gets focused on something, his eyebrows are mesmerizing.  They arch up and have a slightly sinister quality to the shape.  His eyebrows do this when he is pissed-off or when listening to some seriously heavy and loud music.  I love Cliff’s eyebrows.  They are one of my favorite things about him.

“I don’t know babe – they all are feeling nearly the same to me.” Cliff says, “You think I’m crazy?  Can we check out one last store just to compare?  How about Lowes.  We haven’t been there yet.”  “No babe, I don’t think you’re crazy.   No crazier than I am.  Let’s go - but I will not go to Best Buy with Mrs. Good Mood over there.”  We jump into our separate cars and race two routes to see which one is the closest and quickest.  Cliff won.

At Loews, the rack slide show begins again and we are approached with the opening line, “Can I help you?”  By a salesman who looks a modern day Grizzly Adams.   I jump in and say, “Quite honestly, we have already bought a dishwasher at Home Depot, but we are having buyers regret and rack remorse.”  I go through our entire spiel with this guy who patently listens.

It turns out this guy was the guru of dishwashers.  He explained why some racks feel loose, (because of their removability) and the ins and outs of how Maytag, GE and Whirlpool are one company, which are built in the U S of A and how Boch is anal retentive because it has a printout of how to precisely load each wash.  Cliff and the guru get into the minutia of why he should not get too hung up on exact make and models when looking at consumer reports and no, Home Depot is not trying to unload a bunk dishwasher on us. 

I think Cliff felt a bit better.  His eyebrows came down and relaxed.  “Thank you so much” I said, “I’m sorry we aren't buying one from you.  This has been so helpful.”  “That’s OK.  Glad I could help.  Seems like you did buy a decent dishwasher.   But here’s my card – because someday you will need a fridge.”