community · fear · joy · love · performance · self-doubt · self-esteem · theater · trying

So, How’s the play?

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Oh, you mean that surprise piece of happenstance that’s underscored how unhappy I was at work by how happy I am in rehearsal and
performance?
That sudden flurry of activity that challenges me to quiet my inner
critic and do what I’ve written here I’ve always wanted to do: perform and
sing?
This universe of actor grumbling and sweaty mic packs and not
enough room at the backstage table and no air conditioning and that railing
that was never put in right and voice cracking and line flubbing and lighting failures?
Well, it’s fantastic!!
The buoyant aura of hard work and camaraderie, laughter and
support. Even when we’re elbowing for room at the table, or need to ask someone
for the hundredth time to hold your wig while you comb the bejeezus out of it –
you know you’re doing it in the service of something larger than you.
To be in performance
is so much more fueling than in rehearsal – like when they described
Sex
and the City
, they said “the City” was the 5th main
character. In a live performance, the audience is also a character, a member of
the staged community. “It’s a great audience tonight.” “They’re not really
laughing.” “They’re so into it.” You measure your performance not necessarily
by how much they laugh or applaud, but by what they give you and what you give
them back. And sometimes what you get is bolstering, and sometimes it’s not, but it’s always present. 
Creating something that never was and will never be again.
Flubbed it tonight? Live theater! Try it again tomorrow. Got your ridiculously long
wig stuck on a screw during an entrance? Have your co-actor unhook you and get
on with it. Didn’t get a laugh on that line tonight? Do it again tomorrow
anyway, because
you think it’s
funny. Try it differently. “Let’s get crazy,” to quote a line from the show.
In addition to all this, I’ve loved the backstage buzz.
People are talking about auditions and other musicals, and arguing about their
favorite. People are going over their next audition monologues and kibitzing
about where they’ll audition next and who the casting director is and if you
saw that one last play, and Boy Howdy what a success/disaster.
It’s thrilling to me!
Someone so new to this world, it’s like drinking from an oasis. People are
actually
talking about theater,
about acting, about what they’ll do next. And it’s inspiring me to continue
trying.
I know it would be very easy for me to not do anything for a
while, because of my upcoming job transition.
But, this play is part of the reason why
I’m changing career avenues. And much of the point of the changing avenue is to
change my schedule to accommodate
being in productions.
Hearing all the dressing room chatter about upcoming
auditions, I find I want to do more. And, like I wrote yesterday, it could be
easy for me to let this thread drop when it’s over – I know how to have a
flurry of activity followed by inaction. But being in the belly of the action,
hearing words fly back and forth and the encouragement and the excitement
shared by the other actors… I’m demanding from myself that I make these
outreach emails and audition calls now, before the play is through.
So, how’s the play? It’s changed and is changing my life.
It’s hard, and I feel inadequate, and I judge myself against
more experienced singers. I dread these two lyrics in the whole show and
challenge myself to not dread them, to be present and let it be what it’ll be
because it’s not the all of who I am or what I’m giving.
The show is fun and takes effort and requires me to be
present and accommodating and kind.
In short, the show requires me to live. And live bravely.
Amen. 

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adulthood · change · dreams · fear · fun · growth · reality · stagnating · theater

Baking a Life Worth Living.

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“It was the fantasy made so real that I teared up a few
times, wanted to pinch myself, and thought over and over and over, how is it
that I am here?
How did this happen?
And I can trace the arc of it and still be amazed to be
this woman[…]”
This is a quote from my friend Carmen’s blog today, or last
night actually, the woman who began inspiring me to write a blog at all, and
then a blog-a-day (or, almost a day. Self-care [aka sleep!] comes first during this month, sorry
avid readers!).
Our paths have been divergent but so parallel over these few
years, I once proposed we co-share a book based on our blogs: Her adventures in
Paris, having moved there for her 40th birthday, and her triumphs and struggles
there; My adventures in Cancer-land happening at the same time, as I turned 31, and the
strangely similar triumphs and struggles.
Today, was no different: She was visiting New York City for
the first time. I am in a musical for the first time as an adult.
Her words make me reflect and become present once again with
the amaze-ball nature of where my life and energies currently are.
But, I also was very keen when I first found out I was cast
about the words I used. I made sure to not say, “I can’t believe it.”
Sure, I couldn’t believe it! But, I wasn’t going to say
that. I believe in the Law of Attraction-style woo-woo stuff, and in my
readings on it, when you say things like, “I can’t believe this is happening to
me” or “This is impossible!” or “This can’t be happening” – even though they’re
amazing things – it’s my belief that the “Universe” hears that, that you hear that, and if that’s really your belief, then
they can fade or change to support your belief that these amazing things aren’t
actually happening.
Who knows? I don’t. But I’d rather be on the safer side of
things!
So, when I told my mom, I said simply, “I’m so excited. I’m so grateful.”
I do have to stop saying, “I’m so nervous.” SURE, I am nervous. I
had another voice lesson yesterday, and it’s helping me feel more comfortable
in the lower register of my voice, but I won’t yet say I’m confident. It still
feels like straining and yelling. But I’m getting more used to that
discomfort…which I guess is another way of saying, “Getting comfortable”!
I am astonished by and pleased with the woman I am and have become. And I also know the places where I strive to grow
and build and commit, and lay foundations for an even more “me” life.
I know progress is slow. My voice teacher said that it’s
about first finding a place to build the house, before you even begin to think
about what it looks like or furnishing it. You have to find the firm ground to
stand on before you can build anything on it.
And, I’m doing that, slowly.
It’s strange sometimes to be the age I’m at. About to be 33
next month, and feeling so much older than some, and so much younger than
others. Explaining to the 11-year old Pugsley what a revelation the cordless
phone was when I was a teen. Even my new co-worker, age 22, fresh out of
college, and so bristling with energy.
And then, there’s most of my friends, who are older than me,
who hear me talk about the brevity of life and how there’s so much more I want
to do, and give me the “You’re so young, you have so much time” face.
I get the feeling that this is the center (or the beginning
of the center) of adulthood. When you know you’re not a child, really learning
the world and who/how you want to be in it; and neither are you a middle-aged
person, knowing that you are pretty well set in your personhood for the rest of
your days.
It’s a period of final gelling that I feel. (Though I know
learning and growing and changing is a lifelong process.)
But I sort of feel like all the ingredients have been
gathered, have been mixed, and we’re waiting to see if what I’ve assembled is a
sourdough or cupcake batter.
I do hope it’s cupcakes.
I am the woman who knows she eats 90 eggs a month (yes, really). Who knows she
buys only Ultra Soft toilet paper, but the super eco-friendly paper towels. Who
knows how to pay her bills on time, and knows she still won’t do her dishes
until pressed by her own revulsion!
The woman I am looks for the hope, even in the desperate
times. She relies on friendships built during the “ingredient assemblage” time,
and knows they are in fact ingredients of this current and future life.
The woman I am struggles with self-doubt, and celebrates her
moments of self-encouragement. Falls short of ideals, and laughs about it when
she can, and shares about it when she can’t.
“How did this happen? How am I here?”
I don’t have to pinch myself. I don’t think this is a dream.
I do have to remind myself it’s a nuanced, challenging, changing, and ultimately
precious reality. 
And the woman I am looks eagerly forward to licking the icing. 

career · dreams · exhaustion · fulfillment · meditation · theater · work

Day 21

Today ends the 21-Day Meditation “Challenge” by Deepak Chopra and Oprah I’ve been following this last month. Today’s “thought” is about Fulfillment.

And despite coming home on Tuesday night (finally tucking into bed after a chaotic day of work and a busy night of rehearsal) and bursting into quiet tears of overwhelm, today as I get ready for the day, the soft tears are of a different sort.

Fulfillment.

Two years ago on Yom Kippur I was diagnosed with Leukemia. Last year around this time, I hosted an “I Didn’t Die” party and played in a band on the bass I’d carried for over a decade but never learned to play. This year on and around the anniversary of my diagnosis, you’ll find me onstage in musical theater, another dream set down for over a decade.

Fulfillment.

In workland, I continue to feel like the hockey player who gets checked into the boards, my own path crowded out by the demands of others and by the very nature of the perpetually-behind game in which I find myself. I continue to know that things need to change, want to change them, do research on changing them, … and haven’t (yet) changed them.

I continue to desire giving myself the “right” kind of time to flesh out ideas for a different mode of working, one that means more fulfillment, less time, more stability. I continue to lament that the nature of the game I’m in doesn’t allow for pausing. Except when you’ve been sent to the bench. Which I call Netflix-binging. But that kind of pause isn’t productive, and I know this.

I am looking for the space in which to create a different kind of life, to have the space to dream and plan and implement. And, it’s not this exact moment. Which can be really hard for me. Believing as I do, that my stasis in this position (over-working and underearning) creates a dissatisfaction in me that bleeds into other areas of my life, and keeps me feeling less-than and stuck and not ready or viable or worthy.

And yet.

As I’ve spoken of it, one foot may be in the bear trap, but the other is passionately trying to walk anyway – or, as in the Addams show, to tango. I continue to have one foot in the direction … no – in the reality of a vision and a dream of mine. It’s not the direction, it’s the reality.

And truly, how different I know this is than it was. To be in it, instead of dreaming of or lamenting it.

Can you be half-way fulfilled? I dunno. But, I do know that the hours spent in band, in rehearsal, in laughter, and in friendship are times of pure engagement, presence, and self-forgetting (sometimes!). That absence of commentary, of doubt, feels like the presence of fulfillment.

If I have created, and worked hard toward creating, a third of my waking hours to be ones of fulfillment, I have to acknowledge that the scale is tipping. It isn’t there yet. I still lament and cry and question if I will pursue, but those hours spent in joy …

*insert silent wonder*

balance · fun · health · joy · love · responsibility · self-care · theater

In Training

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Dear Blogosphere,
Apologies for the sporadic posts these few weeks. First
there was sickness, then my mom in town, and then, of course, the Monday 5 a.m.
shift at my gym.
And in thinking about the structure of the next few weeks, I
don’t know that I can promise you anything more than a few pixels.
This Sunday began the first full week of rehearsals. 4 hours
Sunday, 3 each night this week. And assumedly, each weeknight until opening
night on September 19. It really is like a part-time job!
And so, I’ve come to think of my approach to this time as
though I’m training for a marathon. To the best of my ability, I am going to
aim to be completely conscious of the food I eat, the breaks I force myself to
take from my desk at work, the sleep I manage to slip in between rehearsals and a
day job.
I have this phrase I wrote down a hundred years ago that is
taped to my closet wall and has taken me as long to come to understand and
believe: Treating myself like a precious object will make me strong.
And I believe this is the perfect time to begin to implement
“acting as if” that’s true (because, I somewhere believe it is). The body is a cautious and delicate scale. In these few weeks and months, I’ve gotten to see that my own scale is
particularly sensitive (liver trouble, K.O.’d by a virus, my acupuncturist saying my body was ripe with signs of stress).
So, balance, intentionality. Vigilance. Yes, it’s the
absolute busiest season of my work year – like a retailer between Black Friday
and Christmas. But, as we’ve seen, I can’t show up to work if I’m not healthy,
and I’m not healthy if I’m not intentional. So, I have to be my own trainer,
stopping the clock to take a walk outside. Deciding, No, I won’t have 4 cups of
coffee to power through my day. Yes, guy at the store who watched me put the apple
back and reach for the organic one that’s a dollar more expensive, yes, I do
need to eat this instead.
I’ve set up a “crash-pad” at my friend’s house who lives
between work and the rehearsal theater so that I can go and chill out a few
hours after work without having to either rush home and back or sit at a café
and spend money or be interactive with anyone.
I’m going to begin going back to my gym a few mornings a week,
instead of the once I’ve been doing. I’ve been meditating almost every morning
for 10 – 20 minutes. And, we’ll see where the blog falls on the self-care
scale, considering the few moments of sleep it ticks away.
Finally, I’d like to make sure that I get time in with my
“brain drain” crew, spending an hour with people who normalize my experience
and help my thinking to turn down in decibels.
“Meetings, Movement, and Meditation” has arisen as my
prescription for health, and I am hoping to treat myself as the worthy
patient and doctor of such self-care, which will enable me to show up fully,
mind, body, spirit.
Because… I gotta tell ya, This shit is So.Much.Fun. !

career · clarity · health · progress · self-care · theater

Round and Round She Goes!

Waking at 5 am to do work-trade at my workout studio doesn’t make for a lyrical blog, so I figure I’ll just give you a “state of the union” update on a few things I’ve been writing about here recently.

Yesterday, I had my first vocal rehearsal for The Addams Family. It’s sooo low, this range, so I’ll do the best I can! Which, I think will be alright! I also took my first voice lesson last week in over a year, and I really like the woman I met with. She’s in SF, but I think, for now, at least through the play (Opening Sept 19), I’m not in a position to shop around at the moment.

I also wonder if I should begin auditioning again, too. As I once heard, “You’re only as good as your next play”! Which is a great discouraging mantra!! But, perhaps instead, I’ll look at audition lessons or acting lessons, too. It’s not that I have the finances for that at the moment, since

I’ve begun acupuncture again, following all the medical upswing of the last few months with my liver, et al. But things have calmed down. Medically and emotionally. I had an ultrasound of my liver about a week or more ago. They found that, indeed, there were fatty or scarred areas on my liver which were likely causing the elevated liver enzymes that incited the doctors to panic in the first place. They can’t tell from the ultrasound if it’s fat or scarring, but in either case, the dr. said that we don’t have to do anything except watch it. That there were just small spots on the image. Nothing seriously damaged at all. Or even moderately damaged. Thank god. The irony of a sober person developing cirrhosis was just too galling.

In the meantime, I’ve begun again with the acupuncturist I used to see (who’s also in SF, so I try to stack my time there), and I think she’s been influential in helping my system calm down and regulate. Granted, I see and have been seeing my chiropractor/naturopath, (who, using muscle testing, was able to diagnose liver scarring!) but I wanted some additional support, since things were “showing up” in my ovaries, and I know that the chemo may have knocked those ladies out of alignment. The acupuncturist, I began seeing for fertility/womanly issues about 7 or 8 years ago. She’s known me for a good long while, though I haven’t seen her in a few years. It’s nice to have that long-term relationship, and she remembers things about my life and my progression that I’m surprised she does!

Next in Team Molly accrual, I met with a woman yesterday about a “fulcrum”related topic. I want to find a way to work less and earn more, so that I can actually not live paycheck-to-paycheck and dawn-to-dusk for the rest of my life. I believe it’s possible, and have been reaching out to people to ask for their suggestions on this.

She, this friend of a friend, suggested something that I’ve had suggested twice before: Teach writing to kids.

Bu- But, B, B…. but I don’t know how. But it’ll be hard.

Mainly, I don’t know how, and that means that I throw up all kinds of barriers to mask that vulnerability, like “it’s hard,” it’s competitive, I don’t have experience, etc etc etc.

These are not very true. That I don’t know how to go about it is. But that’s why I reach out for HELP! The same woman I met with yesterday said that she just paid… wait for it… $200 for a 4-hour class for her child.

I’m sorry, what?

In a class of 6.

She said that, in this area, you can charge at least $30 per kid per hour, and have a small class. She said that the teachers also offered help with personal organization for the kids, helping them clean out their backpack, organize their homework schedule, organize their life, because, if you haven’t figured this out — not all parents know how to model this for their kids.

Point is. This is the 3rd time in as many years that the suggestion has been made to me about doing supplemental education for kids. And I would love to do that. I have the passion, and the good intention (despite my practicality about the numbers), and the acumen with kids. I just do. And I don’t want to be a “classroom teacher;” I just have watched and am continuing to watch too many of my friends work really hard for a diminished ROI.

Fulcrum, man.

Good for me for reaching out and being open to ideas. Now, the work will be to create a curriculum, a program. Eek.

And that’s where the help will need to come in. But I know plenty of people who can, and the things that I don’t know, I have the wherewithal to find help for that. She sent me the links to several programs in this area that offer similar services/classes that I could model my work after. It’s exciting, nerve-inducing… and I hope I do it!!

Lastly, for fun, I’ll tell you that my “Great Caffeine Reduction Experiment” is going well! I’ve moved from 4-5 cups of coffee a day to 1-2! Granted, I went to bed at 8, then 9 pm for about 2 weeks, and am still tired by 10pm! But I think a) that’s more normal, and b) might pass. In any case, I think it also helps my body, and my energy, which I’ll need. Not to mention my voice, since coffee is dehydrating.

So, things continue to move. … And the Tarot card I pulled recently is the one about intense rest and reserving of energies. So, I cancelled one of my coffee dates this weekend (with a girlfriend, don’t get excited!) to fulfill that need. But I think there’s more rest to come.

As someone once said, “On most days, I meditate 30 minutes. On days that I’m very busy, I meditate an hour.” (and I say this soooo metaphorically at the moment!!)

acting · clarity · community · dreams · friends · joy · life · theater · truth · trying

My Brain Reads Like a Cafe Gratitude Menu…

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I am pure, undiluted joy.
Honestly, you could culture my blood for Potions class.
There was an impromptu dance party.
I left an incoherent bubbling message on my mom’s voicemail,
and called my brother, too. Who told me I’m awesome. And who I told back that
he is, too.
For those who don’t follow my Facebook feed, I found out this morning that I got the
role
of Morticia in “Addams Family: The
Musical.”
The one I don’t even know how I found the audition call for.
The one I auditioned for this weekend to my own mediocre reviews. The one I was
called back for, to my own mediocre reviews.
I’m sensing a trend here: What I think, and what reality
tells me, may be two very different things.
And, here, for the better.
The astounding thing to me is this is the second lead role
I’ve been offered in as many months. From, “you know your height gets in your
way” to “please join us” … Wow.
There’s a quote that called me to sit for a moment in
silence on my bed, breathing heavy from the fist pumping, Elaine-thumbs-out
dance party:
Don’t forget to pause a minute and thank G-d for
everything
.
Thank you. Thank you, Universe, for conspiring for me. Thank
you, Molly, for showing up even though you’re scared and doubtful. Thank you,
FRIENDS, for receiving those phone calls and texts that ask you to send me love
and support. Thank you, friends, for sending love and “likes” and hope.
I need you way more than you know.
And you always show up, which is marvelous – like, something
to marvel at. Really.
The play will run mid-September to mid-October. This means
that I will spend my October 7th birthday in performance.
I spent my 30th birthday with fondue and friends. I spent my
31st in a hospital bed, saying, “Next year: Brunch, huh?”
I celebrated 32, indeed, at brunch with a dear friend and her two
kids whose laughter is part of my salvation.
And, god willing, I will spend 33 in pursuit of a dream I
have let languish in a faded costume closet. The clothing of another woman in
another life.
Life moves and shakes, it do.
And part of my work is to accept that these costumes, these roles, these friends, this love, this life … are for me, too.
Let’s throw open the doors, pull out these moth-eaten
dreams, and hold them up to reality. They may be more solid than I’ve wanted to
know.
Thank. You. 

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.)