auditioning · fun · laughter · learning · theater · trying

Jazz Hands.

Yesterday was quite the hilarity.

I was called back for the dance audition for Addams Family the Musical, and it was just too funny and fun! There was a choreographer, who taught about 25 of us in a small side room off the theater, that had a wall of mirrors and a ballet bar.

There were people who were obviously dancers, and many who obviously weren’t. But, we’re shown this whole dance routine for about 40 minutes, going over part by part, to make up about only 2 minutes of dancing! Then we were called in groups of 5 to do it on the actual stage… Eek!

It was awesome and hilarious and super fun. I did alright. Everyone had to go a second time, and about half of us forgot it by then. Witness! Human’s amazing short-term memory!

I was called to stay afterward to read for one of the leads, and although I would certainly love to take that role, I don’t know if I have enough experience. I do think that I’ll take a role in the chorus if I get it. I mean, it was a lot of fun.

And the whole concept is just ridiculous enough to be my kinda ridiculous. And FUN.

A friend of mine always used to tell me: Don’t forget the “f” word: Fun.

That is the point of all this for me. Yes, theater is meant to be moving and evocative and a distillation of real life for two hours in a way that makes your hours outside of it gain meaning, at least for the few days after you leave the theater.

But, for me, knowing what I do about this very short mortal coil, I’d really love to have fun while I’m at it.

(Monday’s truncated blog due to workout studio shift.)

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abundance · aspiration · community · fear · fun · synchronicity · truth · trying

In case you weren’t sure, I was the one dancing.

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Last night, I got an email reply to my inquiry about volunteering for a day-long community social action project in the Fall. The
call was for artists of all types, and if I’m anything, I am an artist of all
types!
The email came back: YES! We’d love to have you; here are
some painting projects: Create a mural; touch-up-paint a building; paint a wall; help kids decorate bags for food that will be donated.
If you read my blog, Men at Work, about circumstances that have come to
fruition since being put in my “G-d box,” you may remember (as I do, since it’s
now tacked to my fridge) that in that box was a list of things I wanted to do,
accomplish, or participate in. The second on the list, just after “being in a band,” is painting a mural.
At the time I was writing my blog about it, the mural didn’t
seem so important anymore. In fact, I reflected, “Sure that’d still be totally
rad!”
but that doing a mural doesn’t feel as
prioritized as some of the other items on the list, like finding a creative job
I enjoy, or being in a musical.
And yet. Here’s an opportunity I would never have thought
would come to be an opportunity!
The email said the mural would be in collaboration, and
there’s more info that I’d gather from the committee members, so I wouldn’t be
doing this in isolation at all.
However, I notice, too, that my typical/habitual reaction is to say, “I’m not an artist on that scale or level, so I’ll take the job of helping the
kids decorate lunch bags.”
I know that’s my automatic response. I know that’s my fear
response. But, I also know that there’s validity in saying, I’ve never done
this before, and I would love to help, but I’d also need help.
And, so, that’s likely what I’ll say. I’ll be honest with
where my talents are, but also where my aspiration is. I mean, if I never, ever
step out of what my comfort zone is, how will I ever know what I am capable of,
hm?
That doesn’t mean taking risks at the detriment of a
community project just to say, “Of course I can do it.” It’s detrimental to me (and to them) if I take steps that are developmentally inappropriate out of fear or pride. That doesn’t mean not to stretch out of my comfort zone (which, FYI participating a mural at all is!!), but it does mean that I start with a 5 mile hike, not 10.

This all feels very parallel to the job of the lead role in the play I was offered. I know it’s a stretch of my talents. I know I’ve never done it before, but unlike the play, the mural is something I’d really love to do. I appreciate the organization, their mission, and think it would be a lot of fun.

More will be revealed. I will let them know my truth, and be willing to say, “I
don’t know if I can take the lead on this project, but I would love to be ‘second in command’ or co-chair of it — truly involved in its creation and completion.”
Instead of playing it safe with the colored bags (something I know I can land easily, have fun with but not be learning much), I think the way to “dare greatly” here is
to offer to help out on the mural however I can, and learn a whole lot on the
way. Then maybe next time, I can confidently say Yes to taking the lead.
Here’s to being willing to cross more items off that list! (And here’s to my “daring greatly” in the first place by writing to them that I wanted to be involved at all.) 

awareness · band · creativity · fun · help · life · music · presence

10 minute blog:

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(I know they say, Only speak if you can improve on the silence, but I felt I wanted to give you something this morning. Time is short due to doing my due diligence. And making up tongue twisters, apparently.)
Yesterday evening, I went to pluck one of the remaining
lemons from the tree in the backyard of our building. In it, I found a robin’s
nest with three sightless, flat and feathered chicks in it. Maws up and open.
I’ve been watching robins on the roof next door to me with
worms in their mouths for a few days now, as I sit here at this kitchen table, writing, typing, breathing. But I never imagined there was life happening right there! The ingenuity of the nest-making was astounding, leaves harvested
long ago, now time-reduced to a lattice outline.
It’s the noticing. The small moments when the chocolate
vegan mousse cake you doubted, actually tastes like gilded decadence. When you decide to send a “hugs”
text to your immediate family, just because it felt like a good idea this
morning. When you go back through old pocket calendars, and read all the quotes
and notes you’ve collected, including this rancorous gem from a rancorous man:
“I’ve gotten to the point where patience is a waste of time.” – or this one, “I
have a hard time taking my sanity temperature.”
For reasons hilarious and unknown to me, I seem to find
myself in my second band with folks who are at least 10 years older than me. I
love this. There’s little of the peacock chest puffing, and more of the genuine
delight in participating in something fun, something that maybe we all wish we
did when we were in high school, but didn’t. At least, I feel that way. And
grateful that I get to do it now, when I’m less likely to vomit vodka tonics on
myself.
Instead, I get to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon holding a
bass in a basement with friends, and come home and feel inspired to take out my
own guitar, and find out what I have to say anyway. 

calm · choice · death · fear · friendship · fun · laughter · life · living · recovery · self-care

"Push the Button, Max!"

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In the 1965 hilarious film, The Great Race, Professor Fate (Jack Lemmon) chases our hero, The
Great Leslie (Tony Curtis) around the globe. Whenever Professor Fate attempts
to unleash a hidden gem of an engine booster or booby trap, he yells to his
sidekick, PUSH THE BUTTON, MAX! – which Max does, to uproarious and hijinxed disastrous results.
It would have been a Leslie Nielsen film if it were done in
80s.
What sparked this memory this morning is how often there’s a
voice inside me egging me on to push the panic button. Come on, Max, this is a great idea! Let’s pull all ripcords, let the chips fall where they may! Damn the consequences, HOO-RAH!
Yesterday, I got an email from Kaiser to follow-up on some
routine bloodwork I get done every few months now, just to keep tabs on my
post-Leukemia cells. Apparently, my liver enzymes were elevated. Like,
Wonkavator-through-the-factory’s-glass-ceiling elevated.
My doctor wrote me that I had to come in for follow-up labs
right away, that if I drank alcohol I should stop immediately, and that she was informing my
oncologist, Dr. Li (which humorously autocorrected to “Dr. Lithium”).
Professor Fate wanted Max to push the button so bad. It’s bad news, it’s tragic, it’s cancer, it’s
death, it’s imminent! PUSH THE BUTTON!
But… here’s the thing I’ve learned about pushing that
button, from the movie, and from my own life experience: It rarely does
anything productive.
So, I texted my coworker and my boss that I would be in
late, that I was going to Kaiser, and then I called my
naturopath/chiropractor/nutritionist in SF and made an appointment with him for
that morning, too.
Because, this is how The Great Leslie would approach it:
Pause, Assess, Reframe, Choose Love.
Well, maybe he wouldn’t use those terms, but he would pause, at
least, and assess before leaping out of the hot air balloon.
I arrive at Kaiser, and walk down the hallway. I’m toodling
to myself, softly singing/humming tunelessly, just making notes up to distract
my thought-life. I realize I’m practicing something called self-soothing, a
practice I read about for babies learning to fall asleep on their own.
Instead of fully freaking out, I’m using a positive biofeedback technique to calm my pulse,
my panic. And, it works, a little.
After they take 7 vials of my blood, I drive into the city to see my chiro. The man I credit for saving my ovaries from nuclear annihilation
during chemo, with his supplements, nutritional advice, and amazingly accurate
diagnoses of what’s going on in my body.
I tell him that my Kaiser doctor said it had nothing to do with
having poured chemo into my body for 6 months, since that was finished last
March. It couldn’t possibly be related.
Assholes.
No: Idiots.
Of course my liver
and kidneys are still bouncing back, shmucks. I “love” the way Western medicine
brains work: There is no immediate cause of this that we can see, so it must be
something new and traumatic and deadly.
How about a patient history, assh— Sorry, Idiots.
It’s like telling someone who broke their ankle a year and a
half ago that that has no bearing on why they’re now experiencing pain in their
hips. … You guys did learn the whole,
“The knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone” song in medical school, right?
Anyway, my annoyance with Western medicine aside, I went to
the doctor I trust, after having done what the Western folks wanted me to do.
We did some muscle testing, which is like the coolest thing
ever. He handed me a small vial filled with clear liquid marked GMO corn. Told
me to hold my other arm out and try to resist his pushing it down. My arm fell
like an anvil. It weakens my system.
He held out one labeled organic corn? My arm stayed straight
as a compass.
We did this several times: Pasteurized milk? Down. Raw milk?
Up. Non-organic eggs? Down. Organic eggs? Up.
What I should offer at this point is that I have been eating
a ton of crap these past few weeks. Whatever cookies, candy, cupcakes have been
lain out at work, I’ve eaten – because I’m stressed. And sooner or later, my
ban against refined sugar and dairy yields, and I go to town.
I’ve also been busy so I haven’t been cooking at home, and
have therefore been eating take-out foods, which, although aren’t the worst
foods I could choose, are surely not all made with my liver in mind.
So, I’ve been tired, stressed out (as you’ve read), and
eating crap to boost me back up.
Yeah, apparently my overworked and Hirojima’d organs need
some TenderLovingCare.
(Heh. … Organs… lovin’… heh…)
Pushing the panic button does nothing for me except
exacerbate an already very sensitive system. I don’t like hearing that I really have
to stop eating the cupcakes at work, and not use half&half at Peet’s. Or, since it’s not organic, I can’t drink Peet’s at all. I
don’t like knowing that because of something I didn’t ask for I now have to
work extra hard to fix its effects.
But, What I like less is driving to Kaiser on a Friday
morning, thinking about the children I won’t be able to have. The life I won’t
be able to “figure out.” The X-Men movie I won’t be able to see.
Look, Death and I have a pretty intimate relationship. We’ve
fought an epic battle, and He’s waiting and watching in the corner, seeing if
my hubris will bring me down. If, like in Million Dollar Baby, I will let my guard down and He’ll have the chance
to (spoiler alert).
What I got to see from yesterday’s panic/not panic “opportunity” was that I still am pretty keen on this Life thing. That I can’t quit my job
without health insurance. That I stress out about things I don’t need to. And that I’ve accomplished a whole lot in the year and a half since I was diagnosed, things
I want to continue to do: play music, make art, be with friends, travel.
I don’t need to push the panic button to “wake me up” – Life
has a way of pushing it for me. Of pushing the button on the side of my cosmic
cell phone to illuminate the time and remind me to stop freaking out in my head
and get into my life.
So, today, I’m going to hum tunelessly as I get dressed, cook organic eggs, do (some) dishes, and head to an 11-year old’s birthday party to
shoot mini-marshmallows at my friends. Because that’s the text Life is sending me today. 

But don’t worry, I won’t eat any. 😉

ambition · band · choice · commitment · community · fulfillment · fun · gratitude · happiness · joy · music · opportunity · synchronicity · theater

Band Aid.

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You know, it was right around a year ago last June that I
stood up with a group of 4 other people and played bass with a band in front of
actual people in an actual venue. – I’d started playing in May.
This month, I’m being invited to do so again.
I’ve picked up my bass literally once in the last 6 months,
since our final show on New Year’s Eve, or the final show I played with them
before I left the band to pursue theater.
This switch, this focus of my energies in one creative
direction (one that I’ve always wanted to pursue, but never let myself try or
admit or commit to) has turned out pretty darn well in these last few months: I
got real headshots, auditioned about a dozen times, performed in one play, one
staged reading, and am preparing as the lead in a play at the end of the
summer.
These are all great things.
But I miss the band.
I miss the immediate gratification of playing with people. I
miss the noise, the movement, the sound, the collaboration. I miss the
laughter.
Theater is performance; being a musician is a performance;
but there’s a difference. The former is literally more staged. It’s not like I
have acres of experience in either, and maybe I simply fell in with a great
group of people for my first band – which I did. But whatever the formula is
for happiness, I felt that when I played.
A friend once asked me what it was like to play with the
band. What it felt like. And I took her question with me to band practice that
week, and noticed how I felt as we fiddled and fixed and went over and over and
moved into a rhythm, and went totally off the reservation with funny lyrics and
made-up progressions: I was smiling. I was bouncing on the balls of my bare
feet – the only way I could practice – and I noticed that I felt content, engaged,
in the moment, fun, funny, “on.” That’s what “happy” felt like.
Next Sunday, I’ll get to practice with a new group of folks,
a friend and his friend, to prepare for a potential show in July, before my
theater rehearsal gets going. I’m feeling nervous and jittery – wanting to get
the music charts NOW so I can practice, be perfect, be better – because if you haven’t followed along,
I’ve only been playing a year, and not that consistently at that!
I want to build my calluses back up. I want to remember
where C is on the fret board. I want to bounce on the carpet in my bare feet.
I love this theater stuff, … but I love the band better.
(P.S. I’m just reminded to reflect that it was only a little
while ago that I wrote here that I wanted to “band” again … and here it is. Word.)

authenticity · children · deprivation · friends · fun · laughter · self-love

Dive In

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I never actually go in
the pool. For years, 6 of them, my friend and her family and our friends’
families go out to the east East Bay for Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day
weekend. 

There is a pool there. I attend by the side. Perhaps I’ve gone in the
hottub, but I can’t even remember doing that. I lay on my towel or a pool
chair, slathering in sunblock, catching up, chatting, sharing with these women
I see only occasionally, and it’s
wonderful, this catching up chatting and sharing, but I never go in the
pool.
On Saturday, before I left for the weekend, I made a
commitment to a friend that I would actually go in the pool. I made a
commitment to let myself have fun. To enjoy what was being presented to me, to
not literally be on the sidelines of my own life.
It’s hard – or it has
been – to let myself take part. I’ve been so reserved, analytical, watching,
the consummate wall-flower, when in fact I
feel anything but.
And so, at some point soon after the sun had soaked far
enough into my skin to want relief, I walked into the water.
I’m a slow pool-acclimator, as I am a slow band-aid puller.
Later that night, the women-folk stayed up to play a board game, and my
strategy was to move slowly but eventually around the board. I admitted, laughingly,
that it’s the same way I play chess with my brother: I move pawn after pawn.
One little square at a time.
After my first timid entrance into the water, and a few laps
across the pool, my heart rate up, the water refreshing, my second entré was
different. I was inspired by my friend’s daughter, who lay over an inner
tube, head back, dousing her hair in the water. Only nine, I watched her
luxuriate in the tactile and sensory pleasure, the instinctual joy of just
letting the water carry her hair out into the water. Of soaking the top of her
head, running her fingers into her scalp to get each follicle up and satisfied,
eyes closed, in the moment, in the sensation, in the freedom of doing what felt
wonderful just for its own sake.
My second time in, all the others were under the shade by
the house, and I waded in. About half-way wet, I just dove in. I let my body be
strong and carry me to the bottom. I borrowed some goggles, and played the same
game of fetch I’d watched the kids play, throwing plastic sharks to the bottom,
and diving down to retrieve them. Seeing under water, holding my breath in that
suspended moment, moving quickly and gauging the time I had left before I had
to surface. Running my hands along the bottom, and pushing against it with my feet to
shoot up through the clear water. I laughed.
It was invigorating. It was fun. It was entertaining and
special and out of my ordinary. And on my way out of the water, I lay back into
it, soaked the top of my head, however briefly, and luxuriated too. 

community · dating · fun · laughter · theater

Meet Cute

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It was last Saturday at Live Oak Theater. Auditioning for a
staged reading set in Texas. Trying to remember how Texans sound, trying to
channel my memories of True Detective and Saving Grace to get close. About 10
of us are milling around the lobby, there’s only one young cute guy I can
see across the millers, tall enough to see me back.
He walks over and makes introductory chit-chat. I
tell him he looks familiar, because he does. I ask if maybe I’d seen him at
other auditions. He says he doesn’t think so. That he’s
trying to get something in before he moves to LA next month. I inwardly resign
this one, and try a cheerful, Well that’s
a big move! The producer calls my name.
I don’t see him as I’m walking out of the audition. And that
is that.
Until last night. While at my friend’s tattoo shop opening,
I look across a very different enclave of millers, and see him. He smiles, I
wave. I go back to my conversation, but the nag to excuse myself and not miss
the opportunity prevails. I walk over toward him and his friend, a girl.
He replies, they’d heard the music as they were walking by,
and decided to check it out. No, they don’t know any of these folks at all.
Total coincidence. We laugh and light chat, and I walk back over to my
conversation.
Some bit later, he walks over to me, says they’re going to
take off. Asks if I’m ever in LA. No, not really. When does he move? Three weeks. But he’ll be up to visit sometimes. He offers a, Maybe we can get coffee
or meet up or some other I want to see you again euphemism. I offer my phone
number, he calls it. Exchange complete.
Exit stage right, man with the ocher skin and topaz eyes.