Bad Review

My Nathan asked his 9-year-old son what his favorite part of the play was.

“None,” he answered. “I liked it all the same.”

Upon reflection, he added, “Except for the dancing with no clothes. My eyes rolled back to my brain, my hands went on my face, and my head went between my knees.”
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Ladies Night, Family-Style

My family made up a group of 11 for my show Saturday night! I was surprised by tears that threatened to roll when the curtain rose. The Overture was well on its way, but that curtain lifted and I was ready to cry! It meant so much to have them there.

I’ve never had such a large crowd rooting for me all at once. Mom really came through for me. I asked her to bring “all the girls.” 2 aunts came with 1 uncle, my GRANDMA, all 4 nieces, my sis, sister-in-law, and mom. ❤

My aunt made fun of me for not acting at all. “I’m uniquely qualified to play a neurotic showgirl,” I agreed. (One reviewer wrote, “The real standout is Adelaide.” She doesn’t need to know it’s not an act.)

Tech week was officially the worst of them all. They kept us after midnight every night before opening! One night I got home after 2am! I was livid. The next day, 2 hot box dancers fainted onstage. I was one of them. When they advised me to take care of myself, I nearly walked off. Let me SLEEP! And when am I supposed to be feeding myself (or shopping for groceries) if you keep me for 7 hours after I work 8?

I’m still annoyed.

I’ve never rehearsed for 7 hours when I wasn’t getting paid. This is community theatre. You have no right to ask more than 3-4 hours after work, and whatever you like on Saturdays. Or you start sooner. I wondered from the beginning how they thought they were putting on such a big show in less than 2 months. I was furious to be proven right, and then completely dismissed and mildly chastised.

“You have to take care of yourself.”

You better take care, right now!

Then we opened, and it all went away. Really! (I was surprised. I was over it.) I felt united, excited, and full of togetherness and nerves.

I was terrified. I’ve never felt less ready to open, but we just needed our audience. There’s nothing like that symbiotic energy. It’s magic!

I love this part. “Guys & Dolls” is just great, classic American musical theatre, and Adelaide is my love song. You know what else? I’m good in this role. I don’t know why. I’m not the best dancer, singer, actor, anything, but I have heart.

I guess that’s it. I feel it. I’m not faking. You can feel me all the way to the rafters. I hold nothing back, and theatre seems to be the only place that’s appreciated.

Also, I’m hilarious. I got props in the review for comedic timing. In any case, I crack myself up. (A friend described me in 1995. “The thing I love about Christie,” he said,  “is she laughs harder at her own jokes than anyone.”) There’s one other guy whose ad libs are funnier than mine, and we’ve been vying all rehearsal long. (He’s cute and divorced. I checked his Facebook. He’s also Mormon. I checked his garment line.)

More than anyone, my Nathan has become a dear friend and confidante. I love him. I love that he’s on the planet. I love that he’s raising children. He’s been so kind to me. He’s a kind, good person who humbles and inspires me.

Theatre has been so generous since my return at 40. I hoped to be a dancing secretary in the ensemble of “How To Succeed,” and I got Hedy Larue! That was far beyond what I expected. I just wanted to play. To feel that particular expression of creativity again. Meeting Maurie, my director, is forever one of the greatest gifts. She builds people up.
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I did “9 to 5” for Maurie 2 years later, upon request, just because I love her.
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“Avenue Q,” at a community theatre in UTAH? Come on! Bad Idea Bear? Best part!
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And now Adelaide, who’s all I ever wanted. Everything else has been a surprise and a freebie along the way. I’m so fortunate. I’m proud. I enjoy my talent, finally, and I feel honored by the generosity of those who chose me and worked with me.
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I don’t know when I’ll do another show. I’m satisfied.

In 2018, I’m looking forward to centering and simplifying. I want to sing for old folks again. I’m excited for yoga, belly dance, Afro-Brazilian/Samba (easier on the body than full-on African), drumming on Saturdays, online piano lessons, guitar (songwriting will fall out of me if I just commit to getting those callouses and chords), and mastering the didgeridoo after 10 years of knowing Marko. It’s all right there, and I just sat on it.

I’m not sitting anymore.
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Lucky Friday the 13th!

Guys & Dolls opened tonight to a small but enthusiastic audience. It was comprised of a few cast family members, and a lot of drunk theatre members.

Ziegfeld has a Member Gala on opening night (as in open bar). It was fun to perform for a raucous crowd that was having a good time before they took their seats. I didn’t feel at all ready, but their energy fed mine and, folks, we have a show!

Today was fun, too, because there was just something special about spending a Friday the 13th in October with my 13-yr-old black cat, in my new apartment, #13.
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Quiet Hush

I’m sharing a video posted to my friend’s Facebook page. I expect that it won’t be as touching and lovely to Anonymous as it is to me. Playmill Theatre is staple entertainment in the tourist-but-untouched town that is West Yellowstone, MT.

Nostalgia does that, but this is beautiful. Take a moment to enjoy a quiet hush: Lullaby

That curved stage shaped my entire childhood. I spent every summer in the audience. The thing I loved best was riding alone in an old pick-up truck with Grandma and Grandpa, on the way to the cabin in Idaho, singing all the rounds there are: “Horsey, Horsey,” “Three Little Fishies,” “One Bottle o’ Pop,” and all of “Fiddler on the Roof.”

I danced and sang in those lights just one year before this 90s clip was captured.

Lisa Burton Carter, her husband Jeff, and their friend, Linda, have proven themselves to be 3 of the most solid, decent people I know. I called them out by name in my Home Page Novella, “How I Got Here.” They appeared at the razor’s edge of youth and adulthood, onto which I walked with little more than trauma, pain, anger, and grit.

At just the time when there were officially more holes in the dike than I had fingers, Linda and Lisa loved me, and Jeff wanted to paint my portrait.

I wanted to die. And I wanted to kill them all. It was 1993.

I needed this quiet hush today. I needed a reminder of good people and love in my life. More importantly, I needed a reminder of their example. If you can’t take your eyes off of the mother and daughter in this beautiful melody, it’s because what you see is authentic and deeply good. By choice, by act, by very conscious effort. (Also, ripping hilarious and talented as hell, that family, the whole lot of ’em!)

****

I still have trauma and grit. Today, the angels have sent another reminder that the time has come at last to get my kit together. I have the awareness and maturity to see what I lack, appreciate how I survived as long as I did, and alter it – just the tiniest, albeit significant tweak – to finally achieve the peace and success I long for and deserve.

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courtesy Jeff Carter, 1993 (I refused to “sit” for the artist, but after an entire summer he finally talked me into a photo shoot, from which he painted a portrait I’ve still never seen.) (That’s an authentic Native dress! ~ Aho Mitakuye Oasin ~ For us capitalists, that’s a value of $100,000!)

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The portrait I did sit for, in 1984, was for an important artist and teacher, Sergei Bongart. As with Jeff (and that incredible Native dress), it was later that I came to understand the enormous honor. Sergei fell in love with my hometown and summered there until his death in 1985. In southeast Idaho, he found “magpies and lilacs,” as in the Ukraine of his childhood.

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Sergei Bongart as a young man

Murky Full Moon

I still feel spun near the center of a Universal smack-down, but ebbing out of the survival zone. Last month’s eclipse is still with me and hurting, specifically because my success at having fun with it made it all the more bittersweet. Sometimes it makes me sad to watch how good I am at having fun. I don’t know how to explain that, except to say that the little girl growing up beaten, abandoned, furious, and scared to death just figured out how. And this middle-aged gal still has it. How can that be sad?

It’s bittersweet, too, because though I was able to make a truly joyous occasion of it, I could simply have gone home and enjoyed my family, the spectacular countryside, and the magic. I chose instead to scrape out another miracle of mood-alteration. I guess I needed to believe I still could. Nice it didn’t take drugs, like the old party girl would.

I hope in the second half of my life, I’ll finally let go the need to prove myself to myself. It’s like the first half was so hard, especially the nascent beginning, that I simply refuse to believe that anything is real or solid or sticking around if it doesn’t just suck.

Thing is, that’s childish, and I’m the only one who can grow up, or refuse to. I’m in danger of not doing it at all if I don’t get this shit behind me, like, yesterday. I’m 44.

Christie, trust that the skills are in there to enjoy and appreciate magic and beauty every day. They don’t disappear or stop coming if you know that. Expecting miracles is different from taking them for granted. They’re your right and your routine.

I suspect that they’ll become more powerful if I let them in every day, rather than needing each one to be epic. It’s just the way it is. I’m connected and I know it. So are we all. Nothing special, just a walking marvel, ‘s all.

So, here I am in full moon energy during the day, a red-gray sun snuffed by wildfires severe enough to cause evacuations in northern Utah. It’s bad. The throat and eyes sting, mountain beauty’s blotted out, and the whole damned planet is burning or flooding or turning night at midday, just 2-odd weeks ago. It’s eerie and spooky, and everyday run-of-the-mill. It all is, and I’m busy cleaning up the mess I’ve made, of my life, my family, my namesake, my most important friendship, and my last relationship.

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Today, this memory popped up on Facebook. It seemed especially poignant and timely, so I’m marking it here to make myself accountable. Of the memory, I wrote:

“Two years ago, the last of my 3 best girlfriends left Salt Lake City. At that time, I began planning my move, too, to the next phase/location of my adventure, but found continued wonderful reasons to stay, as one does. The last month+ has got me asking the Universe, sincerely, “Is Utah kicking me out?” I’m anchored through November with a passion project 24 years in the making, which would make any big transitions impossible until the end of whatever lease I’m able to come up with next month, which tells me: ONE YEAR. My life purpose for one year is to look at 20 years in the Promised Land and squeeze in all the personal goals I meant to reach but didn’t, face character deficits I ignored or pretended away, and set myself up for the second half of my life. I don’t want to leave next year, but I’ll have a picture of and real progress toward a clear 5-yr intention, with no particular destination in mind. What’s next? It’s terrifying, exciting, bittersweet. It’s time.”

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Jojo’s good-bye… Germany, here she comes! Aug. 29, 2015

 

Eclipsed and Bitter

And tongue-in-cheek as ever. That’s a good sign.

I’m recording my thoughts in real time, to edit and add to during the day from my desk. My ugly, utilitarian desk in a warehouse in a ugly industrial complex in the bowels of Salt Lake City. I should be enjoying the TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE, complete with good viewing weather, and that amazing, once-in-a-lifetime solar corona, in my beautiful, mythic Western Idahome.

But I’m not. Because my family sucks. And I fit right in, ‘cuz I suck the hardest!

I’m getting my wicked sense of humor and strange spirituality back, the dance between naughty and nice I so enjoy about my life, and I’m on the road to recovery. But make no mistake: This day is not easy for me, and I’m very cranky about it.

IT WAS MY BIRTHRIGHT, you bastards!

Bitter is easier than weepy. *sigh*

I’m drinking a 6-pack of cold Coronas with lime after work to commemorate missing the cosmic corona of my life. That’s something I couldn’t do if I’d experienced this day with my family, with God, and the Mormons.

So there’s that.

*SOUR!*

I’m quite enjoying full indulgence in this tantrum, if I’m honest. It’s fun, and a relief from pressure to call on the strength of my higher self. I’m actually doing much better emotionally, and in all other areas of life, having given myself permission to just be a brat. I’m not adulting today. Deal with it!

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Hashtag This Is Happening!

The moment I saw the eclipse beginning I started maniacally hooping in the parking lot of my ugly industrial building, and making a TOTAL FOOL OF MYSELF, in honor of the total solar eclipse I’m still furious for missing. We’re visible from a very busy road, and I’m super out of hoopractice, so I looked gooood and foolish.

I’ve been laughing so hard!

God, it feels good!

It’s been a long time since I did anything other than cry and rage. Hardest summer/romantic break-up/familial divorce/pet emergency of my LIFE!

Seriously, Universe? Why you gotta pile on? What else you got for me?! I can take maybe one more thing, and then you better lay off while I do the work of getting myself re-situated and well.

Let this partial solar eclipse – that I’m pissed as hell about – be that one more thing, the cosmic smack-down that I’m finally willing to listen to, and have done with it. 91% is NOT GOOD ENOUGH!

And guess what? I accept it. OK, Universe? I accept. I’m okay with that right now.

I am chastened, humbled, reminded, censured, redirected, embraced. I’m ready now.

And I’m having fun! I’m so relieved.

*sigh*

****

Well, I just hula hooped for an hour in my parking lot with coworkers. I don’t even have jealousy in my heart for missing the TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE in my Idahome town.

91% ain’t bad, folks. Not bad at all. I’ll take it! … With joy, with zeal, and maybe even a modicum of humility for a minute.  

*sigh*

My mom always warned me, “Perfect is the enemy of good.”
Dare I say it? … Mother was right.

That really was cosmic, and I feel great.

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warehouse meeting~ Supervisor Mark getting in on the ridiculous ~

When I learned my boss had gone to Burning Man one year, and came to know more about his wonderful wackiness, I said, “I KNEW this was the right job for me!”

He’s been a great friend. He’s retiring in December, and I’m sorry to see him go.

(I’m not the best hooper – won’t devote myself to consistent practice – but one thing I’m good at is getting the shy-folk to JUST TRY IT. I won’t take no for an answer, whether you like it or not, and I love this pic of my colleagues in the hoop.)

We’ve been Eclipsed.

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I ended a beautiful day with Corona-and-lime to commemorate the Solar Corona I missed not going north to Idaho. That’s something I couldn’t do if I’d spent the eclipse with my family, with God, and the Mormons. Perfect!

Mother/Daughter Date

I should be at the Hyrum, Utah, cemetery right now. My mom, grandma, and I had plans to visit the graves of our ancestors, Sarah Ann Haigh and Louis Frederick Miller. Sarah Ann survived the crossing of the Martin Handcart Company.

We had tickets tonight to the Utah Opera Festival’s performance of Pirates of Penzance, one of my favorite musicals. They’re going without me.

This time last year was grandma’s 90th birthday. I drove all the way to Idaho, only to have a nervous breakdown and leave the campground in the middle of the night.

I’ve ruined everything. What’s the point of living a life like this?

All I’m hearing about these days is the total eclipse of the sun passing over my hometown, Rexburg, Idaho. It will be a 91% eclipse here in Salt Lake, but I wanted to go home. I mean, what are the odds? 100%!

I’m so sad.

The thing is, I didn’t ruin it. I had a breakdown, but it was ruined already. I can’t live the lie when my defenses are down. I tell myself they love me. I tell myself they care how I feel, how I’m treated. But when I’m depressed, when I need anything from them, they tell me what I’ve always known. I do not matter to them. Shut up, Christie. Shut up.

On the other hand, my grandmother has nothing to do with this. Am I really just going to let her life play out and never see her again? I was so excited to share this day with her, especially after I ruined last year. And I did ruin it, for myself. They still had a wonderful party, but I’m sure it was painful for her to see me and then have me disappear in the night after being rude and irritable.

I shouldn’t have gone. I almost didn’t. I was so filled with regret, and I thought the drive would be cathartic, windows down, singing at the top of my lungs. I pictured myself joyful for having taken action, feeling immediately better for not depriving myself of the celebration. I’d organized a family outing on the zip line over Heise Canyon. I knew my mood would lift if I just got there. “Go, Christie! You’re punishing yourself because you’re depressed. Just go! You’ll be so glad you did.”

I thought I was doing the right thing, but it absolutely backfired. It was awful.

They forgave me. That’s something. That’s the thing, though. I’m sorry when I screw up. I take responsibility for my mistakes. No one ever apologizes when I’m done wrong, when I hurt. When I ask them to, they double down on the blame. It’s my fault. I caused or aggravated it, so it no longer needs to be accounted for. I deserve it.

Get over it, Christie. Shut up.

It’s maddening. It’s crazy-making. I really can’t survive there.

I’m so sad.