Friday, November 29, 2013

can't swim so I dog paddle

The crystallization of the idea that I might not want to be an actor after all happened at the end of the run of Juno and the Paycock.  Cast and crew were both expected to show up to strike the set after the show, and because it was part of a university course we all appeared to have our attendance taken.  Credits earned.

And then the "Underground Railroad" would come through the theatre and take away all the actors who did not think they should be subjected to the slavery of helping clean up.  It was always the same divas who disappeared, making it clear that they thought they were better than the rest of us, too important to have to participate in drudgery that involved no applause.  The very fact that they called it the Underground Railroad made me want to fight someone.  I hated those actors.  And I started to realise that there were divas all over the place in theatre.  Everywhere.

And last night the Underground Railroad took away a number of my students who decided the same thing.  Too good, too important, too special to have to clean up after the show.  (This includes my "co-director.")  Not only that, but the train didn't show up until after they had broken the hinge on the costume room door trying to prop it open after I told them not to, and after stealing eighteen dollars worth of water from the charitble organization that was selling refreshments during intermission to raise money to build schools in Sierra Leone.

Unbelievable.  It's a strange thing; I have a number of very lovely, sweet children in this group, mixed in with some real donkeys.  On Monday I am going to destroy the donkeys.  My lesson plan is, "Rage".     I doubt any of these kids are going on to participate in professional theatre, but damned if I ever release one more diva into the theatre world as if it does not already have enough.  I will crush their arrogant little souls.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

post production

B showed up at the play last night with his boyfriend.  B introduced me as his other mother, and I was so excited to meet the boyfriend that I hugged him when he tried to shake my hand.  I am so happy to see B happy.  I was so worried about him when he graduated last June with no plan, no confidence, no joy at the idea of living his life.  Now he has enrolled in trade school and has a love.  The heart swelling I felt must be the way his mother is supposed to feel about these things.


Last night after the play, once the theatre was cleaned and emptied, one of my lovely twelfth grade actresses approached me.  She said, Can I tell you something without you thinking I'm being weird?  

I said yes without knowing if I would be able to keep my promise, because I like hearing weird things.

She said, My little sister (who is in eighth grade) wants to tell you this but she's too shy, so she wanted me to tell you that you're the prettiest person she has ever met.  

When I was 22 people used to tell me things like this.  I would sort through these compliments ruthlessly and find most of them insincere - because compliments that are directed at getting you into bed don't count.  The frequency of this sort of compliment dwindles away when you get older, and especially once you are married and no longer spend your time in places where the mating dance is the focus of the evening.

So this sweet compliment took me off guard, all innocent and non-manipulative and generous and warm.  I got all teary.  Maybe it was exhaustion from the play and working fourteen hour days.  Or maybe I'm just a shallow creature who is focused on shallow things like appearance.  I don't know.  Whatever it was, I appreciated it.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

snug and warm

Maybe I am the one who is difficult.  Charlie bugs me.  Crazy Sue bugged me.  And now Non-Crazy Jennifer is bugging me.

She isn't crazy.  She isn't mean or rude or making personal attacks like Crazy Sue did.  She's just too... comfortable.  As the brand new person on the job, working only part time, she just seems too comfortable.  Too assuming.

The other day she showed up to watch my play during the free preview and I told her (because she is new and I thought she might not know) that there was a staff meeting and that I had special permission to miss it.  She said, Yeah I'll tell [the boss] why I missed it later.  Comfortable.

And today I realised she had taken some of my teaching resources and implemented them with junior kids, meaning I can no longer use this resource with the seniors I had intended it for because it will mean they repeat the same material.  It isn't that she is mean or vindictive or bad.  She is just inexplicably comfortable.

Having learned the error of my (avoidant) ways, I am speaking up when she treads on my toes.  And kind of hoping her contract ends in February and we get someone else who is a little slower to feel right at home.

Or maybe I need to relax and surrender.


Monday, November 25, 2013

hit the road

I think that I am going to fire Charlie.

Once this show is over (Thursday), I am pretty sure I am going to cut him loose.  He is a volunteer, not an employee, but he is becoming a burden rather than a help.  And I do not need an extra pain in the ass when I already have a roomful of them.

Charlie keeps making obnoxious comments about "his" play, and offering people front row seats, and other aggravating things he does not have the authority to do.  He also tells the sound guy to play sound cues without running them by me first.  His sense of what and how much he has contributed to this show is ridiculous.

Basically he has gone from being a somewhat pleasant visitor to being a pest.  I wish him gone.  He has earned the right to watch the show throughout the run, and then I am going to banish him.

(This is big talk though.  Because I do not feel comfortable telling him to go away because I know how badly he needs somewhere to be.  I know how lost he is.  The fact that this 20 year-old young man wants to spend his spare time hanging out at his former high school is evidence of how little he has going for him.  So how can I hurt him by telling him to go away?)

But I'm going to do it anyway.  Somehow.  Because I am cruel like that.


Friday, November 22, 2013

everything moves real slow when it's forty below

My show goes up on Monday.  Four days of hell and then sleep.  I have not been sleeping properly.  When I close my eyes, students start lining up to ask me stupid questions that they think, for some reason, only I can answer.  Where is my other shoe?...  Can I have a safety pin?...  Is it okay if I go home to get my shirt?...  I don't know where my costume went...  Brandon took my sword!... My whiskers are crooked... and so on and so forth until 6:15am when I am actually relieved to get out of bed and get away from the chaos.


Ophelia is doing better.  She jumps up on the couch again.  It takes more effort than it used to, and sometimes it takes more than one attempt.  But when I compare that to two weeks ago when I thought we were about to be confronted with a terrible decision whether or not to put her down, this still seems like something to celebrate.  She is much better.


J is turning seventeen on Sunday.  Our little family has been together since she was eleven.  I still have heart pangs when I think of my sister, of how this was meant to turn out.  I will probably always have heart pangs when I think of my sister.

My mother is changing into someone I do not recognize.  My mother has always been a bit of a battleaxe and it troubles me a little that she concedes too easily these days.  To germs, to age, to sadness.  She concedes things she never used to concede, and I do not want her to.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013


On Friday morning, Ophelia experienced a fibrocartilaginous embolism.  What that means, basically, is that she had a stroke.  Not in her brain, but in her spinal cord.  A small blockage prevented normal blood flow for a period of time, leaving her back legs paralyzed.  We took her to the vet, who said that we could leave her hospitalized until Tuesday (today) at which point they could reassess her and give her an MRI to confirm the diagnosis.  (Because it was a long weekend, no one would be able to see her any sooner than that.)

We pondered this and decided, instead, to bring her home for those four days.  The idea of her lying, paralyzed, in a kennel for four days was just intolerable.  Even though there would be people there to keep an eye on her vitals, no one would hold her, no one would comfort her, no one would help her not to be scared about what was happening to her.  So we brought her home in that condition and waited.  She has spent four days on our laps.  I have crawled around on the ground with her, holding her back legs, to help her go to the bathroom without falling over.  I have slept with one eye open to stop her from falling out of bed.

The vet said that if his diagnosis was correct, we would see some improvement in her mobility, and this has happened.  She has gone from being pretty much completely paralyzed on the first day to moving her legs a little bit on the second day, walking a bit with her feet dragging behind her on the second day, to walking a bit Frankensteinlike yesterday but mostly lifting her feet properly and only tripping on them a little bit.  Of course nothing seems like enough because I want her back 100%, the way she was, able to follow me all over the house and to jump in and out of bed on her own.  But when I compare her to the helpless pup she was on Friday, it's really very remarkable recovery.  And I am hopeful that it will keep getting better.

We've both taken the day off work to take her to the specialist this morning.  Good thoughts.

Meanwhile, I am awed by the way that dogs cope and recover when they are traumatized.  Rather than wasting time feeling sorry for themselves, they simply get on with the business of learning how to manage their new condition.  I have cried a lot the last few days, but I don't think Ophelia has been crying at all.


Tuesday, November 05, 2013


CC's husband (Homie) sent me this message on Facebook this evening:

Nov. 21 - Mandatory Nov. 28 - less mandatory

Monday, November 04, 2013

Mr. CreepyBeard

Mr. CreepyBeard is an interesting character.  He is extraordinarily squat, not short enough for him to qualify as a dwarf, but very short.  I am not a tall person myself, but I can see the top of CreepyBeard's head.  He is also quite rotund; although he has thin (short) legs, his tummy is perfectly round as though he swallowed a beach ball.  He has shaggy grey hair, and a giant grizzly grey beard.  He looks as if he would be perfectly at home in Middle Earth, probably carrying a battleaxe.

The more unusual thing about Mr. CreepyBeard is his peculiar social behaviours, underscored by the fact that he teaches social skills to children with autism.  Mr. CreepyBeard has a signature at the bottom of his emails that reads, Regret is the fervent desire for a different past.  I wonder why he chose this to be his signature for his professional email account.  I wonder without judgment.  Well no, actually I judge.  I judge it to be an odd way to sign off when sending emails at work.  I also find it to be a clumsy arrangement of words, unmelodious, but I do not know whether he authored this signature or plagiarized it.  The point is that I do not judge him, just the appropriateness of the phrase.

Mr. CreepyBeard amuses me with emails in which he frequently invites my opinion or help with various questions. When I respond with my thoughts he invariably responds back telling me that my ideas are useless to him because he has something better.  And then uses my idea anyway.

I find Mr. CreepyBeard entertaining in small doses.  The important part will be maintaining small doses.


Friday, November 01, 2013

look my eyes are just holograms

We started the transition when I was about twenty-one from the Warehouse and the Republik to the Ship & Anchor.  A switch from industrial-themed alternative bars to a pub with bookshelves and a ship bell and, well, an anchor.  A switch from dancing and grinding to sitting and talking.  It was not a difficult transition for me.  Although I have taken (and taught) a few dance classes in my life, dance is not really a passion of mine.  I like fucking; what is the point of dance?

The Ship & Anchor became the site of numerous important life events.  For example, this was where Tony gave both me and his newer girlfriend the same Valentine's present (1996ish), hoping (I imagine) to somehow delight us both with the same clever idea (so clever I forget what it was) while hoping we would not notice each other.  And the same night my little sister became drunken Big Sister protective and verbally threatened Tony with a busted bottle over his head.  (Later that same night I gave up my bedroom to D and J in hopes they would consummate some kind of relationship, which they did not, and my sister and I slept on the pull-out bed in the living room under Old Itchy, the worst blanket in the entire world.  Partway though the night I threw up.)

The Ship & Anchor was where I met Victor, an elderly former millionaire gone bankrupt who assured me that whatever heartbreak I experienced, it was nothing compared to what was to come.  And promised me that I was wrong if I thought that time healed all wounds.  Time healed nothing.  I wrote Victor's Anchor for him and sang it in every pub in Edmonton that invited me.

The Ship & Anchor was where I found Paul again after about twelve years.  Newly thirty and with nipples newly pierced, I just wanted him to know that It's not that I don't love you does not mean the same as I love you.  I don't actually think I told him that.  I think I called him Showboat.  When his friend told me Paul had talked about me for twelve years I thought, Good, fuck you, Paul.  And then I fucked him.

At the Ship & Anchor I kissed Noah.  I sat on his lap like a teenager.  I believed in love again for six more days.

When my sister died three years ago, I went home for her funeral, and later that night I went to the Ship & Anchor with my girlfriends.  I drank several pints of beer.  By then you could no longer smoke indoors; K and I stood outside in front of the bar and smoked.  J asked me, What are you doing?  (She never understood my self-destructive tendancies, not when we were teenagers and not now.)  CB drove me home to my parents' house in spite of the fact that it was incredibly far out of her way.  I remembered buying CC beers at the Ship & Anchor ten years ago when her mother died.  (I was drunk, but CB's kindess was not lost on me at all; I noticed.)

I have not been there since then.  Life's biggest moments will not happen there anymore, I think.  Now I am all grown up and my moments happen in my living room, in my car, in my shower, in my bed.  In Italy.  In my office.  You know, adult places.