About crh

I love British humor, pomp, and glamour; Latin color, passion, and weather. I love public television, community radio, costumes, my cats, my plants, and my red hair. I want travel and life-long learning. Cheers, crh

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.” Then, 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.

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!)

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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

And Then The Weekend Happened

AGAIN!

What the fuck is wrong with these people!?!!

I’m not kidding. It would be amusing if it weren’t so fucking disturbing! I’m not kidding! THEY FRIGHTEN ME.

What kind of sick people are so married to punishing a woman that they elect to spend their honeymooning time sleeping under the same roof with his ex-girlfriend?

And the boy! He literally hid from me when they were outside wasted. We startled each other in passing, and a sweet, traumatized 10-year old jumped and hid from the scary woman mommy hates! I went in my room and started bawling. What do I do?

I can’t do this. I might be able to forget him over time, but … Come on, who am I kidding? I’m complicit in the trauma of a young person and I’m sick about it.

Jax and Carrie got drunk and trashed the kitchen. I will never believe that spaghetti was unintentional. Biggest impact for mess. They used my dishes, which I had to clean to make breakfast the next morning. I woke an angry, hungover Jax, who growled a demand to stop slamming the fucking cupboards, waking the boy who’d slept on a couch mere feet outside the scary woman’s door.

“One of my cupboards closes hard. You know that.” I answered calmly. “I’m not trying to bother you.” The boy ran through the kitchen into the bedroom with mom.

When I got home from rehearsal, I resumed packing and realized the last box I’d stacked the night before was gone. I’d wondered what they were doing in the wee hours snickering outside my bedroom. I almost opened the door to find out, but I didn’t want a confrontation. I know what they’re capable of sober!

And all the while, the boy was asleep on the couch. I don’t want to scare him anymore!

They’d gone away soon enough, laughing and howling outside in a wild thunderstorm. I honestly think I know the moment they lifted that stupid box.

I’m organized. (Plus, I know what I’m up against.) I have every box numbered according to room, and I know exactly what’s in each. Furthermore, I know where each box is in the house. I have to know. In addition, most everything is in bankers boxes, for neat stacking. (Except for these people, this has been my best move EVER.) (Like, I love it.) (I call this high Organasm, and my friends tell me to give my company that name and make money getting unnatural thrills off of organizing people’s chaotic spaces.)

I had placed a light box on the tippy-top of a pile that reaches over my head, behind a chair that divides the shared living space into 2 separate areas, which has also served to neatly divide us. Almost.

They took it. I heard them taking it. They deny it. I called the cops just to document it, but I had been lulled into a false sense of security with their absence during the work week and thrown off by their party, and failed to take pictures before I left for rehearsal. I don’t suppose it would have mattered then. They took it Friday night. Congratulations, you got me. Without evidence of it being there before they left, and gone afterwards, I had no proof that they’re now actually breaking the law.

The “fun” had begun elsewhere within walking distance. They left sober, I assumed for dinner. The neighbor girlfriend’s? The fair? Whatever. The car was still in the driveway, but they were out. Great.

But when they got home near midnight – tanked, 10 yr-old in tow – and started making dinner, I realized they’d just been out partying. For the next several hours, they left me the de facto babysitter of a sleeping child. I have no obligation to this boy, but obviously if he’d been injured in any way, they were too blotto to even be aware of him, let alone able to care for him.

But I’m so irrational, they have to be on property to “protect” it.

Under any other circumstance, box theft might be a harmless prank, but nothing about these people is harmless. THEY MEAN ME HARM, and they mean for me to know it.

God, I want out.

Jax was making merry the next morning about their exploits of the night before. “Did we eat spaghetti last night?!” har har.

“Oh, yes! Darling! Don’t you remember?” haha! *hair toss

Later in the day, I went to feed his cat and noticed something. There was spaghetti sauce all over the bed. They might deny they took that box and threw it outside somewhere in the rain. They don’t fucking remember! That’s how drunk they get in the company of an innocent child that deserves at least one coherent guardian.

Well, he had me. Poor kid.

Just 2 more weeks.

Also, I’m hoping against hope to catch Jax in another bluff. He tried to blame me for having to cancel his trip to Europe. God, I hope he got on that plane today.

I hope that boy is safe, loved, and happy after this unnecessary, protracted battle ends. I know he loves baseball. He told me all about the Dodgers. I’ve seen Jax toss ball with him. He has a cat named Sparkles, 10 years old, like he is. I know his mother wants him to have music lessons, because I almost loaned him my piano. I just send my love and energy to a good, calm, joyful family for him.

I don’t know this boy. After 2 weeks, I won’t think of him much. But I’ll never forget the look in his eyes when faced unexpectedly with a woman who frightens him that he was alone with, and hid from.

I know, too, that he’s seen more pain and trauma in his young life than any adult should have to bear, much less an earnest, smart, curious child. I hope I’m part of the last of such sorrow for him. My heart hurts.

I was 10 when my mom got remarried, too. I’d never known a father before then, and that period of my life is burned on my brain. I’d just been molested, and my new step-father moved us to a new neighborhood and stopped all that. (I realize now that I stopped it, for my sister, too. I told. Still, they echo, “Shut up, Christie. Shut up.”) And, unfortunately, abuse that had been set in motion long before my shiny new stepdad entered the scene never ended, but I remember that time and age like it was yesterday.

I’m so sorry to be mixed up in this. Wrong is wrong. Wrong is worse when it hurts a kid.

And, no, I won’t shut up about it. I’m fed up with this. I’m saying so. I will always so.

THIS IS WRONG.

*deeeep breathe*

Two weeks. Hang on, Christie. Breathe, pack, rehearse. Two weeks.

Final Analysis

I’ve landed. I feel good. I’m back to feeling the improvements in my health. I’m back to productivity in my move and in rehearsal. I’m not distracted. I’m grooving!

I’m amazed! It took me less than a week! WOW. Well done, Christie!

This breakdown has taught me things and reminded me of things I hadn’t realized or had forgotten. The way they ended this relationship will actually help me in the end.

Right now, I feel an old ache – the one I was living with before abject terror replaced everything everything else on earth under heaven. That sorrow for loss of a dream, for mistakes you can’t take back, for failure to love someone in action they way you felt for them in your heart. Ache. Like a breakup.

What I’m realizing, however, is that Jax did me the biggest favor. There’s a satisfaction, too, in knowing that if he were aware, he’d HATE that he helped me, haha! Oh, that just made sad. Oh, this is so convoluted, ugly, and sad. All so unnecessary! *sigh*

It is what it is.

I cried all summer, and raged intermittently. I crucified him when I was angry, weak, and still deep in my illness. We made a decision together to risk me getting sick, and when I did he took off. He knows my abandonment issues. I’m not penalizing myself anymore for being exactly who I am. I’m not lying to myself anymore about my experiences, just to make them easier to bear. I’ve been telling myself that his indifference toward me in my hour of need wasn’t something he was doing to me, necessarily. It was just my own baggage, independent of him. But that’s not true. He knew exactly who I was. He turned his back on a girl he helped make sick. That happened.

I was abandoned before I knew what that was, and it’s who I am today. I’ve made a beautiful life since then, but I was sick and Jax abandoned me. The happenstance of meeting Carrie was unfortunate timing that hurt, but I didn’t hold that over him. It was the whole thing, before and after.

Yes, he’d found a new love, but he shouldn’t have left this one before he saw her safely through the mess he helped make. He did it anyway. He didn’t care. I wasn’t easy or fun anymore, so I wasn’t worth it to him. Whether that was operating in him completely, or with any level of awareness, is immaterial. That’s how he left me feeling.

As I began to recover, I appreciated knowing how disposable a woman is to him when she’s not longer cute. Fair enough. Honestly, that’s fine. But I’m not apologizing anymore for being a challenging person. I realize with some anxiety that if I want to ever feel truly partnered and satisfied myself, I’m going to have to accept another, who is, like me, complicated and deep-thinking. I hope that person is also goofy as hell and laughs with his whole body. I hope he loves to dance. I hope he’s got a nice ass.

I also don’t care if I never meet “him.” I’m getting really excited to get on with my life, with me. I’m darling. I’m smart. I’m interesting. I’m devoting the next year of this new lease to music, painting, bellydance, drumming, yoga, and downsizing.

This is the real lesson I hope to take into the future with me: to love myself as the complicated, demanding person I am. I’ve confronted this mistake before, in the early years of festival life when I pretended to be the breezy, low-maintenance chick who goes with the flow. I don’t. I plan. I worry. I make lists to cross-check lists. And it takes us, too!

If everyone was just “Hey, man!” nothing would get done. With me, it lands. It gets set up. It gets a beer. And finally, it leaves no trace and goes home. I am who I am, and I’m a necessary cog, goddammit. The more I try to be someone I’m not, the more nagging my real traits become, truly! Just embrace and love them, and turn them into the strengths they were always meant to be. Geez, woman!

Silly Christie. (I’m slow, but I get there.)

The Universal Smackdown has precipitated a movement. Starting Oct. 1, I enter 365 days of Shucking The Superfluous Shit.

Oh, I’ve already lost 15 lbs! Thanks, assholes. Worst diet ever. No, really, thank you. I’m gonna look amazing in my tiny red striptease costume!

(P.S Don’t gain and lose weight in your 40s! Whose neck waddle is this!?!)

Red Flags in the Rear View

I “processed” but didn’t publish Hard Day when I wrote it, but after events of the previous weekend, my first impression of Jax’s wife is relevant now. I was unimpressed with machinations meant to tell me me who’s “got him now.” (Honey, this ex don’t care.) It wasn’t easy, but have at it. I honestly wished them well. I felt empathy and compassion for her, and I loved Jax once. I wanted him to be happy with a nice girl.

My co-worker had warned me to be mentally prepared: This new girl might want me out of the way sooner than Jax promised.

“Oh, he wouldn’t do that.” I answered.

I did pause, though, considered it, and thanked her. Sadly, my co-worker was right.

Jax is the author of his own behavior, but, boy, did I get a taste of his wife! I know exactly who’s fueling this push out the door. That woman scares me! Disingenuous, manipulative, gratuitous. I don’t care, so far as she doesn’t affect my life after Oct. 1, but she has affected me greatly, now.

Those people terrorized me. Carrie is just getting what she wants how she always has. I don’t care after I’m no longer in the way of what she wants. That doesn’t mean she didn’t scare me, scar me, even, but I don’t care… soon.

As for Jax, I’m surprised at the depth of his cruelty. There’s a place in him that feels like he has rights he hasn’t. I’m really trying not posit myself above him. I got dirty in that relationship, and I’ve learned enough to know, “There but for the grace of god go I.”

We are each capable of anything. All of it. There but for the grace of god…

However, I am seeing the red flags in his history. They seemed innocuous. They belonged to youth and arrogance, and Lord knows I’m about the most egotistical person I’ve met. It’s one of my primary life works, to balance the pull of superior/inferiority of an unhealthy ego. Certainly, too, my youth is nothing but “Error, error.” That’s youth!

But in the part of our relationship where we regaled one another with the adventures and follies of coming up in the world, there’s one story, in particular, that didn’t sit right with me. (There’s another that involves company theft that goes beyond the crimes we all commit of stealing time or office supplies, but I chalked it up to getting caught up in young, group foolishness and self-importance. Now it serves to remind me to be impeccable with my character and not feel “owed,” ever. You know how we all become a bit complacent and annoyed on the job. I can get a little more entitled than that.)

Jax didn’t like his friend’s girlfriend. One day like any other, the group was hanging out, and she was reading. Jax asked about her book. After she talked about it a bit, he asked to look at it and she told him to be careful with it. (I should have paid close attention to what he did, because I would ask that. She was probably a Taurus.)

And because she gave him orders, he took the book and ripped it in half.

I took issue at the time, and more than once in our ugly departure shamed him for it, but I should have listened then to what he was telling me. He bragged again in Florida when we were in line somewhere with his brother, who also found it unsettling and said so. Never once did Jax express chagrin. With me, he defended it. With his brother, he allowed the difference of opinion.

And what was his defense? I hadn’t heard the way she talked to him, he said. It wasn’t because the book was brand new, or even important. It was just to tell him what’s what, bossing him around, because she was in charge of everyone and everything.

You don’t get to impose intention on her boundaries. It mattered to her.

Nope, he argued. She was a bitch.

Even if she was brat about it, it was her property!

How dare she assert herself? was the attitude. Woman, know your place.
And it was his right to put her there.

Christie! It was always there!

In fact! Our first fight! Like me, Jax has a very powerful voice, and we both yell. I’m comfortable with that, honestly. I don’t want it. I want to learn together how to disagree better than that, but I hate it when I’m the yeller and my partner is just beaten down by my volume and veracity. Jax held his own. I needed that.

We did improve. We found ways to get heated, with raised voices but not yelling, necessarily, by our standards. There was progress in our relationship that made me feel like this was a partner who could not be bullied by me, but was amenable to taking responsibility – he did sometimes, when I pointed out misapplied blame – and strong enough to make me accountable when necessary. We were good for awhile.

Our first fight, however, was a shock to each of us, I think. Neither of us had met someone who could win just by being loudest. He matched energy, and fed it, too. We went fast from pissed to shocked to rage to fury.

Finally, his screaming shocked me silent, and I paused. “Whoa, Jax!” He continued. So did I. “Jax! Stop! Jax! Let’s reset! JAX!”

I really thought we could. I had never been able to settle myself in that headspace. If I could, so could he. WE COULD. He didn’t stop screaming and finally out-shouted me, a feeling I know perfectly. He’s the first to out-yell me! And now that he had, he was getting it said. I finally screamed at the top of my lungs, “STOP YELLING AT ME!”

His response? “You made me.”

“I’m not responsible for you!” I screamed. “I’m yelling because I’m yelling! I can’t make you yell! Fuck you!” I stormed off and slammed my bedroom the door.

(Blerg. “Fuck off” is NOT OKAY. I also called him an asshole all the time. I did try. On better days, I just called him a jerk. Sometimes I didn’t do any of my old behaviors! But I hate that I still haven’t figured out how to disagree with a boyfriend without disrespecting him. No, it’s the fights. It’s when I’m triggered. There’s something more I can apply there to HALT. Name-calling is a step up the ladder to abuse! It’s called dehumanizing, and I do not want to participate! Blerg.)

That day, I called my best friend in a panic, “Oh my god, is he misogynist? Does he really think I made him do it? That’s what abusers say! Is he just a child? That’s bad enough! I am not responsible for you!!!” I was alarmed and ready to call it off.

I didn’t and still don’t think that’s what he meant, and he did later acknowledge that it wasn’t up to me how he behaves. I still believe him. We were speaking in anger. And we all blame. It’s what we do. God knows I do! Impassioned, we are all the child. Patterns and beliefs come up that aren’t true. We own our mistakes, move on, and work together.

I saw that in him, the working together. It is in him. Not with me, but he’s not one-dimensional. After this weekend, though, wow. I’m more humbled and alarmed the more reflection I give it. Especially now that the threat to my belongings and babies is lifted, and the couple is back to their normal not-coming-around. I can “relax,” and the underbelly is surfacing of a 5-day terror campaign that worked.

She deserved it.

Jax was privy to the pain of the trauma with my sister’s husband 6 years ago, and before that with my family, from childhood to this very moment. I talked about it from the beginning of our intimate relationship, when fears and sorrows and confessions come out. He was there when I went through the heartbreak of “losing” my father and brother, who echoed the sentiment, She deserved it.

He held me when I cried. He knew I was suicidal. I did go to the ER for 2 crisis visits.

Right now, it feels like he didn’t comfort me because he cared, but because he was stuck in a situation where he risked a girl getting sick and she did. I imagine the whole time he wished he could go to Carrie, but she was with her ex-boyfriend. I thought I had a friend who cared that our choice was so painfully costly for me, but now he just feels like a guy who was trapped and long gone in his heart. Now I wonder if he was resentful of me already. He was partly responsible, so… “Guess I’ll suffer the bitch.” ?

What he did this weekend was worst thing anyone’s ever done to me. I’ve been back on my meds for a month now. I’m still depressed, but I have been experiencing pleasure and progress on set and at work. I’m functioning and moving forward toward optimum.

That was all derailed last weekend. I was panicked. I thought I might have to check myself in. I avoided it all summer, no matter how overwhelming the pain became, but I was ready to quit the show. I felt I could never catch up, and the fear and guilt of making myself available to a show that I cannot emotionally or physically honor right now swallowed me up. But quitting meant quitting. And my cats! Don’t get me started.

I was scared.

And that’s not looking underneath! How does one even begin? My whole life has been a sham, a joke. I’ve been so blind, careless, STUPID. I’m too old to change this. I give up! I was curled in a ball in my closet, scream crying. My cats were so scared. I couldn’t handle their panicked faces and efforts to climb up and comfort me, so I hid in the closet and shut the door. I could see their little feet pacing, and it made me cry harder. Sometimes I apologized through the wailing, and I could hear their desperate mews.

And on it went. I was in danger this weekend. I felt brutalized.

He knew. He knew what his behavior could do to to me. He’s seen it. He’s held me, contained me, comforted me, and the whole time he just wanted to get away.

Fair enough. This shit ain’t easy. But he endangered me this weekend, with malice and purpose. And she deserved it.