Saturday, July 30, 2011
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Monday, July 25, 2011
2:00 p.m. – Fold laundry and talk with John. He asks, “What happened when the power came on last time?” I tell him that the A.C came whirring back on, and the lights that hadn't been turned off and then... lo and behold, just at that second, the power's back! What a coincidence! Do the happy dance, a.k.a. late 80s hip-hop, once more. Feel saved, literally and in the religious sense. Make no resolutions this time, but wonder how I can legally and safely reproduce the high that comes after a major inconvenience is reversed. Figure that it was definitely some kind of controlled brownout thing with the power going off at 4 a.m. and coming back on at 2 p.m. Now please don't let their be a part III. Mama's over it.
Friday, July 22, 2011
This past week was a hard one for me, and not because of the SAHM thing. Not because Chicago was undergoing a heatwave and outside, it was, to quote a line from the defunct HBO series, Rome, “as hot as Vulcan’s d—k.” It was because I went to an audition. Yes, I dared to take my one-class-a-week, chasing-after-toddlers, sleep-depraved ass to an audition for the Chicago Lyric Opera’s production of Show Boat.
And I rocked it. I made it all the way to the end, along with five other African-American women. They took my measurements for costumes for the love of God. They let us know that four women, three company members and a swing, would be needed, and the other two would be cut.
Everyone was congratulating me, telling me how well I'd danced. No one could believe I had two little kids and was pushing, ummm, rhymes with shorty. I was sure I had it. Finally it would be my turn. Avenged for The Color Purple, when I flew to NYC, made it to the end and no cigar. It couldn’t happen again. IT COULD NOT. That would be grossly unjust. I had a family to help support, not to mention a kid in preschool and one in daycare. Surely I’d get the job.
I did not get the job.
The following day, at almost 4 p.m., I got the phone call. The kids were asleep. I was still hopeful when I raced to the phone, and answered. I suspected something was not good when I was waiting all day, but, hey, I’ve been called all times of day to be rejected and accepted. But the voice on the other end of the line was halting, not sunny. She asked me how I was doing. Why ask how someone is feeling if you’re going to tell her they’ve won? It’s if you’re about to tell someone a loved one’s just driven off a cliff, that’s when you’re concerned. Maybe your news is going to make them swallow a bottle of pills or fall on a carving knife. When she told me “Unfortunately, we're not going to be needing you this time,” my voice got really small. I wanted to ask why. Was it my height? My dancing? What? But what was the point? They didn’t want me. I got the audition rejection equivalent of “It’s not you, it’s me.” She said, “We were very impressed with your audition. We will keep you on file if anyone backs out.” I thanked her, said good-bye and hung up. Shocked and stung.
I didn’t tell anyone about going. I know a few close friends are reading this and going, “Huh?” It was kind of like the first trimester of pregnancy when you keep your news to yourself so if it doesn’t work out you have no explaining to do. I was hoping to spring the good news on everyone. Now, in need of comfort, I called my best friend, Tara, a former ballerina who had danced for Suzanne Farrell and Christopher Wheeldon. She was surprised and proud of me for going, and made me see what a coup it was for the mother of two little kids, a woman who does so little for herself, who rarely takes class, to make it so far. “But why is it never me?” I blubbered to her like a child. “How come it’s never me?” Tara made me realize that I had a decent career, and that if I wanted to audition I should keep going.
That’s the thing. Can I keep going? That job was perfect for me. They needed three black females proficient in musical theater. Not ballerinas, not contemporary divas, but old school, musical theater jazz babies. Do I have the energy and the self-esteem to keep putting myself through this? Do I have the wherewithal to compete with twenty-somethings who are in fabulous shape? To lose jobs to people with less training, less experience around whom I danced circles? And to know that that’s just the business, that’s just the way things are?
I know it’s beyond my control, and I have to believe what Tara said. I have started to heal. The big difference this time is my children. When I looked at Riley and Aria’s little smiling faces the morning of the audition, I thought no matter what happens, I still come home to this. Disappointed or not, I have to be there for them. Before kids, I would have spent the day wallowing, bawling to everyone who’d listen. I would have seriously considered setting fire to my dancewear and running to the nearest Taco Bell to put in an application. I would have been two steps short of needing either medication or an intervention. (Yes, I take these things pretty hard.) Now I have no choice but to be Mommy. It’s a pretty powerful distraction -- an amazing way to stay out of my head. (Except when I started weeping openly at what a failure my life had become when Aria removed half-chewed food from her mouth, tossed it cavalierly to the floor, dumped out her bowl and I had to crawl around on the floor to clean up). When I told Riley that they didn’t want me to do the show, he said, “Probably then I will have to do it.” Not sure what he was thinking, but it was super cute. He continues to give me hugs whenever I look sad.
So will I keep going? I think I have to for as long as I can. Dance is too much a part of me. Maybe I’ll get another show by the time I’m 50. And talk about a coup! As long as a show is right for me, why not try? Also, auditions are somewhat fun outside of the rejection factor, which is very tough on your ego. You see old friends and make new ones. You sweat, learn some new choreography and perform. It’s a huge personal challenge – emotional and physical. Then there’s the fact that I’d love to show my kids tenacity (but not stupidity, as in staying too long at the fair) as well as how to deal with setbacks. (Say what you will about my taking spiritual guidance from a lululemon bag) And boy did that audition give me some good material for this blog. I may not have gotten the show, but I still have a new stage! Ba-dum-bum Bum!
MOM'S NEW STAGE would love to hear your most memorable audition story - be it good, bad or particularly ugly! For non-performing artists - any submission/application process will do. Please include your story in the comments to this post or in an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. All submissions are eligible for inclusion in a future post. Please include your name, city and state, as well as your e-mail address so that I can contact you with any questions. Thanks!
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Monday, July 18, 2011
A week ago today, Monday, July 11th, the Chicago area suffered a horrible thunderstorm. Huge trees were knocked down,* bringing power lines with them. 860,000 Com Ed customers lost power. Some people in in the northern suburbs did not have their power restored until Friday night - four days later!
So in comparison I got off easy. Real easy. But if you had told me last Monday what I was enduring was just another inconvenience, I would have tackled you.
My day went as follows:
8:10 a.m. - Set out in car to drive to teach college level modern dance class. Think it just looks like another partly cloudy day, and feel skeptical that severe thunderstorm warnings are in effect, until the dark silver blue sky looming over downtown is visible.
8:30 a.m. - Get caught in monsoon-like conditions three blocks from work. Begin driving with nose pressed against windshield. Hear on radio that my neighborhood will be among the hardest hit.
9:00 a.m. - Hear that accompanist is stuck on train. Feel a palpable lack of motivation from the few students who managed to arrive on time. Wish had brought Ipod and had charged it for that matter. Run through several musicless scenarios and find each as painful as an unanesthetized root canal. Decide to join the yoga class across the hall, much to the students’ delight. Take class as well, not knowing what a high point this is in my day.
10:40 a.m. - See two voicemails left by my mother who is watching Riley and Aria, my 2.5 and 1 year old. Learn that the storm hit hard and the power is out. Children were terrified. Call Mother. Be asked the location of fusebox. Argue the futility of fiddling with a fusebox when the building/block/neighborhood/city has lost power. Explain fusebox’s location behind a picture in the hallway nonetheless. Drive home as fast as possible, noting all the fallen trees when I get back to my neighborhood.
11:00 a.m. - Arrive home to find the apartment as hot as a just-ran-the-marathon crotch. Also find wrong picture removed from the wall. Hug and kiss children. Assess the situation. No hot water. No stove. No internet (Eff me for not replacing the battery in my MacBook!). No opening of refrigerator or freezer. Are completely parched and have no liquid save tap water. Realize that escape routes such as the movies or the mall are not an option with young children who require a nap in their bed. Feel an anger and despair not felt since Job. Recommence discussion with Mother about the fusebox and the meaning of hallway versus front hall. Open all windows, which have not been washed since W’s Administration, and feel like an overheated, sloppy housekeeper. Wunh-wunh-wunh-wuuuuuuunh…
11:30 a.m. - Call husband and try to make plans for tonight’s dinner and sleeping arrangements. Beg him to come home early. Call other moms in neighborhood to learn who has the fortune of electricity. Learn that a tree fell on a friend’s car. With her husband in it. Yes, he was okay.
12:30 p.m. - Finally go out to eat after a hot, tired, hungry and thirsty Riley finished melting down, claiming that he hated restaurants when the opposite is true. Enjoy delicious lunch on my mom. Everyone behaves. Ok, yes this is definitely high point #2.
1:30 p.m. – Go to produce market to buy milk for the baby since the fridge must remain closed. Buy berries and like a doofus, forget to buy water, cold drinks and ice.
2:00 p.m. – Attempt to put down 2 kids who depend on some combo of warmed milk, air conditioning and white noise machines to get to sleep.
2:10 p.m. – Riley down, Aria crying. Muttering, grab Aria up from her crib to “play.”
2:15 p.m. – Try to supervise Aria while negotiating plans for evening. Dinner at my Mother’s condo nearby. Settled. A lovely friend has offered us her vacant and furnished condo that happens to be in same building as my mom’s. Feel lucky at the same time as super hot, bored and persecuted. Call and text friends to bitch and complain. Catch Aria eating a stick of sunscreen, squeezing behind the angled entertainment armoire (with about a million wires behind it) and trying to climb in kitchen garbage can. Restrain self from slitting wrists.
3:15 p.m. – Reattempt to put Aria down with more cold milk.
3:20 p.m. – Aria screaming. Abandon nap attempts. Put Aria crying, in Jumperoo where she will eventually fall asleep. Get in bed with the phone and a notebook.
3:30 p.m. - Quiet. Personal time!! High Point #3! Yessssss!
4:45 p.m. - Everyone awake. Prepare to go to Mother’s building.
5:00 p.m. - Power is ON! Rejoice! Text friends. Call husband. Do happy dance with kids. Feel a little silly that I felt so wronged by the day’s events. Ruminate about what a cushy, spoiled American I am (when a day in my stifling, boring, hot-water-free apartment would be paradise to many in the world), before going back to the witching-hours business as usual, hoping that next time, I will handle things just a little bit better.
* A fallen tree eastbound in Madison Park. Photo courtesy of Maja Fiket.