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Which details a dismal dabble in community theater

(This summer, I read a memoir written in second person: House of Prayer No. 2. It was weird. It inspired me to produce some second person detailing a dismal dabble in community theater.)

Say you join an acting class because you want to be in a play and you think the other people who are signed up will be recently divorced women and you could act as well as any of them. You show up to the Main Street theater and your classmates are kissing each other and referring to plays they’d been in—Every night we did Cat it was like a difference performance; the energy was amazing—and talking about the haunted ballroom—I was painting scenery one night, and I swear, the can flew off the ladder right at my head. I’ve never been so scared in my life—and you realize that all these people know each other and have performed together and you wonder if there was a prerequisite for this class.

But during introductions, there’s the film director who moved to North Dakota because she met a guy on the internet and she’s waiting for him to retire so they can move somewhere else, and the ripped guy with the long, black braid from the utility company across the street who says he wants to do something besides stare at a computer during his free time and who doesn’t come back after the first class, and a shy girl who’s painted scenery but never tried acting before.

When it’s your turn to introduce yourself you decide not to say that you want to be in a play and instead make up something smarmy about how you’re always asking your students to do things that are hard for them, so you want to keep challenging yourself. Then you silently gag.

The first class, you have to lay on the floor to relax and tense your muscle groups, and everyone has brought yoga mats but you and a kid with rotten teeth. You have old bath towels. Later, when you and the kid are assigned to read a script together you wonder if that’s how the teacher decided who to pair. You can tell the kid really wants to be an actor. He takes a cab to class and one time after the class had been moved to an old college building because people were rehearsing for a real play in the theater, and then it was moved back again, the kid took the cab to the wrong place and couldn’t pay the fare back to the theater. When you go to the season announcement party, you see him schmoozing with the seasoned thespians. You feel sorry for him, because when you practice a scene from Retreat to Moscow, you can tell he can’t read very well. Then you think maybe the director put you together because you’re a teacher.

Also on the first day, the director has everyone form two rows along the edges of the narrow practice room in the basement. One at a time, you walk down the center and everyone tries to decide from which part of your body you lead. He leads from his shoulders…her knees… his forehead. For the life of you, you can’t figure out where they’re getting this. When it’s your turn, you try to forget that in real life you deliberately avoid walking in front of people who may look at you. You remind yourself that you paid $30 for the class, and what was the point if you’re not going to do what he tells you? So you walk the gauntlet as naturally as humanly possible and the director says you lead from your abdomen. That’s a very earthy, maternal way to lead he says. Are you a mother? Do you have children? You say no, and he looks dejected and you feel sorry for him and say that you work with children at school. He brightens and says Yes. It’s also common for women who are around children a lot! You begin to think he’s making this all up as he goes along.

At the third class, it’s obvious you kind of suck. Once, after you read a different script with two other girls because the kid took the cab to the wrong place, the director told you you had some natural instincts and the classically trained singer in the front row with red streaks in her hair and blue lipstick rolled her eyes. You realize you squandered your chance at community theater when you lived in PoDunk and the only requirement to be in a play there was upward mobility. That was because the theater was in some guy’s hayloft.

One night after class you and the director and the kid with the rotten teeth and two other classmates are talking and you ask if you have to be able to sing to try out for a musical. The director says there are some parts where you sing in a group. You should audition he says in the same voice you tell a first grader It’s OK. Don’t worry about it after he’s shut the door on your foot and the cuticle of your big toe is gushing blood on the carpet.

You know, don’t go into it really wanting a part, just go in for the experience he says. Which is even funnier because when he gave auditioning advice during class, he told everyone to go into an audition one hundred percent. Be confident. Give it everything you’ve got.

They keep talking and someone mentions an idea for a Christmas show that combines the theater company and the symphony and smarmy holiday cheer. That should get those stingy Republicans to open up their wallets and support the arts says one of your classmates. You don’t tell them you are a stingy Republican with a tight wallet because you figure that will blackball you from any show forever. The conversation ends and everyone drifts to their cars and you think Well it was only six bucks a class.

And thus ends your unremarkable foray onto the stage.

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Summer: Week 8, 9,101112…

Forget this.

What a dumb idea. haha…

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Summer: Week 7

“A woman who rides a bike? You almost never see that. Cool!” commented the man who pulled up to the library on his bike as I unlocked mine from the “No Parking” sign.

Yep, that’s me–revolutionary feminist–making waves in the male-dominated sport of Bicycling to the Library.

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The happenings of this week were so fantastical, so outlandish, so absurd that you would not believe me even if I had pictures (which I don’t).

The errands run, the books read, the laminating cut, the tomatoes watered–these are depths of activity the mind cannot plumb.

The beefy men bribed with supper to relocate the blue bookshelf. The miles cheerfully biked downhill with the wind, which were miserably reversed–our spirits buoyed by swapping tales including, but not limited to, having to “pack out” a hiker’s puke while a guide in Montana. The cherry stem tied in a knot by the venerable Mrs. C–using only her tongue. The rivers paddled upstream and down, the islands trampled underfoot, the mosquitoes recruited from the plagues of Exodus. The maps drawn in the sand, the burgers consumed at midnight.

These are not the sort of things you can capture on film. (Film? Who am I kidding?)

…actually, I just got tired of taking pictures.

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Summer: Week 6

Monday:

Finished painting the shelf thing. Now it just needs to get back to the school before the custodian thinks I’ve swiped it for good.

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Tuesday:

My friend house sits for a doctor during the summer while they pop off to Italy for a few months. They have a lavish home down by the river. She made Roman chicken and we ate it on the patio. It was an appropriate meal, as their entry features a life-size gold bust of Julius Caesar.

This is not the actual house. But it’s similar. More Caesar, less marble.

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Wednesday:

Helblabi and I decorated Mrs. C’s classroom with streamers, confetti, balloons, meat and cheese trays (just the one) and other items which guaranteed her students an even shorter attention span than usual. Happy Birthday! Mwhaha.

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Thursday:

Had some lovely folks over for supper, a rousing game of croquet, and a fire! The fire pit’s first proper fire–aided greatly by dryer lint and fire starter sticks.

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Friday:

Spent the Fourth with the family in the north unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Turned out to be the hottest day of the summer, so, while we did some hiking, most of the day we drove around, trying to avoid heatstroke.

Other, more intrepid hikers preferred to wander in the blazing sun, became disoriented and dehydrated, and had to be air lifted out of the park. So…seeing the sights from an air conditioned van was definitely the less expensive option.

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Saturday:

Took the canoe to the river for its first wetting of the season. ‘Twas only a brief jaunt because a) I hate paddling against the current, b) it was really hot, and c) a storm was a-comin’.

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Sunday:

A lot of these have been happening this summer. Such a great series!

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Posted by on July 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Summer: Week 5

Slow down, summer!!

Monday:

Came back from camp. We didn’t miss our turn this time.

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Tuesday:

Subbed again for summer school. Only these kids were much better behaved, and consequently, this was me. (I didn’t even have to smack anyone with that pointer!)

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Wednesday:

Worked some more at the school, mainly on the filing cabinet. I didn’t take any pictures of the files–beautiful as they are–but  the cabinet’s in the back there–grinning in all its organized glory. Papers…ugh.

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Thursday:

Pleased to report I did not go to the school at all! Instead, I spent the morning and much of the afternoon painting with my crafty friend. Her boyfriend’s uncle made the frames and she stapled fabric over them and–free canvases! She worked on the puppy and kitty and I labored over the yellow swirl–for five hours. That’s the kind of detail-oriented artist I am. It ended up as the background for these hangings I made for my library nook! The letters are made from fabric remnants from the rocking chairs. Pinterest’s got nuthin’ on me!

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Friday:

Subbed again. (See “Tuesday” for my demeanor) Dried some parsley and oregano in the dehydrator from the herbs I planted earlier. The parsley is especially prolific and something had to be done.

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Saturday:

My parents and B. helped me move this cubby thing from school to the garage. My mom and I spent most of the rainy Saturday painting it dark blue. It’s not quite done, though. While we painted feverishly, B. and my dad installed a new toy in my kitchenette!021001

Sunday:

A friend and I bought and planted some flowers for her patio, and I picked up this cheerful marigold. We also ate frozen yogurt at one of the many, many frozen yogurt places that have been sprouting like parsley all over town.

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Posted by on June 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Summer: Week 4

Monday:

I had nothing to do with this, but my skillful dad whipped up this sweet bookshelf for my library (in a matter of minutes). It still needs to be stained, but it’ll fit right into the space under the existing shelf.

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Tuesday:

My roommate and I used to buy these in Prague as consolation after really awful school days. We’d take them to a park full of roses halfway between school and home and sit on the grass (Which we were never really sure we were allowed to sit on, because the grass in every other park in Prague was covered in wine-swilling loungers, and no one but us ever sat on the grass in this particular park.) and eat them very slowly and and forget we were teachers.

A month ago, I noticed them at the grocery store here! I didn’t buy them, because they’re the Cadillacs of ice cream bars (they come in a box of three–that’s how exclusively decadent they are) and I had sticker shock. But later I saw them on sale. Mmm…if you have not experienced a Magnum bar, you probably should.

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Wednesday:

After a very long day of working in my classroom (which I also did on Tuesday, and again on Thursday) I went to dinner with these goofballs. We ate amazing cheesecake and laughed a lot.

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Thursday:

Worked some more in my room, and thought, “I should have taken before and after pictures.” But…I didn’t. Here is a nicely organized shelf, though!

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Friday:

Had a lovely patio brunch with this cutie and his momma. :)

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Saturday:

Well, actually Friday I headed to camp. And stayed till Monday. So these pictures are from the whole weekend. It’s always a good place to be.

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Posted by on June 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Summer: Week 3

Monday:

Did many things, one of which was to toddle down to ye ol’ public library and pick up this volume by Anton Chekhov. I once took a quiz entitled: “Which classic author is your soulmate?” or something like that, and it was dear Anton. So I figured I’d better read something of his. Meh. I’m not sure if it’s a crummy translation or what, but I’d hoped my soulmate would have a better handle on subject-verb agreement.

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Tuesday:

Again I did many things, the chief of them being: 1) mowing the lawn  and 2) buying these excellent pillows

 

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Wednesday:

I substituted in third grade summer school. No photos were taken, but basically this was me from 12:30-4:45:

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Then I went to a birthday party.

Thursday:

Some friends came to visit and we were up to all sorts of shenanigans, including, but not limited to: geocaching, visiting Ft. Lincoln and On-a-Slant Village (where we witnessed the unearthly beam of light), and living it up at an amusement park.

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Friday:

They were still here, so we shenan-agained. And I found this book at a thrift store, which is only funny if you’re me or maybe three other people:

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Saturday:

Headed to my parents’ where I attacked the two closets full of teaching stuff from PoDunk. I threw some, made a pile for the thrift store, and boxed some to take to my new room. When all was finished, two closets were whittled to half a closet full. My mother was thrilled.

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Sunday:

After church, my father and I spent four and a half hours of Father’s Day geocaching. We each found four. Eight caches in one day! And we were on foot! My dad found the really hard ones–tiny containers hidden in clumps of trees where your GPS goes all wonky because it “can’t get a clear view of the sky.” I found the easy ones–giant ammo boxes only cursorily covered with leaves. And I only got two ticks. ‘Twas a successful day indeed.

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Posted by on June 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

 
 
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