Pre-Journey Jitters

This ride is not all that it seems to be:
this on-the-road-home, suits two,
carries more – there’s unrest onboard,
and the air crackles with trouble brewing.

Seems we’ve brought along our bad
selves, shadowy figures resembling
adolescents – the in-your-face, life’s
not right, and I-know-it-all types.

There’s insolence in one’s actions,
rebellion in the other, no tolerance
in sight – doors slam, plans alter,
chaos threatens to put us in the ditch.

Until crazy pushes the Done! signal
and we withdraw to our corners,
buckle in for the ride, focus on
pending destinations, happily

embracing anticipation, imbecilities
set aside, preferring to believe that
this adventure is leading us towards,
not running away from, the unexpected.


Day 204 “The Element of Action”

I dug the business card out of a zippered pocket inside my purse, and straightened out its curling edges. Eight years I had carried this card, transferring it from purse to purse, telling myself that one day I would make the call.

Today was that day.

My kids were the ones who propelled me into action. They had come home unexpectedly Saturday night, their adolescent feet thumping on the stairs as they raced down to find me sprawled out on the couch, sipping a glass of wine and watching Trading Spaces.

“Mom!” they exclaimed in unison. “This is what you do every Saturday night! You need to get a life!”

I was quite content with my same ol’, same ol’, and they were the ones that were home a day earlier than expected, so this would not even be a conversation if they had stuck to schedule, and I told them so.

“Seriously, Mom!” my teenage daughter mustered a mother-like authority. “If you don’t start doing something else, we are going to stop coming home.”

“Yeah, Mom,” my son added. “It’s depressing.”

“Really?” And you’re Dad’s house isn’t even more depressing?, I wanted to say, but let it go.

So here I am, card in hand, about to make the phone call that could potentially change my life – or at least get me off the couch on Saturday nights. Admittedly, the last few weeks have been reruns anyway, so it wouldn’t be like I’d miss anything.

I dial the number and wait through several rings.

The thing is, as much as I have wanted to do this, I just kept telling myself I was too busy, it was silly, I’m too grown up, and so on.

“Mysteries R Us!”

“Hi. I got your number from…, er, I mean, I have your card… and I was wondering…do you need anyone…er, are you looking for actors?” Great! I’ve blown it from the outset.

“Yep! We’re holding auditions Thursday night. 7:00. Can you be there?”

“This Thursday! Yes! I mean, perfect!”

I jot down the address and hang up before the person on the other end is deafened by my the sound of my adrenaline rush.

I jump up and down and pirouette around and giggle like a little kid.

* * *

The audition room is everything I remember from community theater – stuffy, musty, and crammed with props. Six of us are auditioning, everyone but me, I assume, seasoned actors. Scripts are passed around, and I am invited to read the part of the Nurse.

The others jump in with emphasis and emotion, and I am looking at the lines and coming up with zero inspiration. The guy to my left is actually making the director laugh with his impromptu rendition of an Australian accent. The woman next to him makes her voice all sultry and seductive turning her character into a real killer. My lines come out monotonously, flat. Maybe this is why I hesitated for so long. I clearly don’t belong here.

“Alright,” the director calls. “Scripts down. We’re going to do some improv.”

For the next ninety minutes, the director throws words, occupations, and scenarios at us demanding we conjure characters and comedy. Certain I have already blown the audition I throw myself in, sparring wits and daring to be ridiculous.

Then it is over.

“Anything else I should know about you?” the Director asks.

“I did theater in High School, and for a few years after,” I offer pathetically. “Oh, and I don’t do accents.”

“I’ll call you in a couple of weeks when auditioning is complete” the director advises us at the door.

Shamed, I drive home wondering if they would let me try again now that I know the procedure. I contemplate throwing out the card.

When the call comes, I have forgotten my night of misadventure and am immersed in my job.

“You’re in!” says the voice on the other end as if this is the continuation of an ongoing conversation.

“Excuse me?”

“Friday night. We’ll need you here at 4:00 to fill out some paperwork. You’re playing Ivana BeBuff, a millionaire heiress. You can find a costume here. We’re on a 6:00.”

* * *

Six years, and nineteen characters later, I spent very few boring nights in front of the television. All because of one little phone call.

Oh, and I still don’t do accents….at least very well. But that just adds to the comedic effect.

* * *

Life is full of many wonderful surprises, if we are only willing to make the first move.

Risking Excellence

I am with my son’s friend, and we are headed to meet John downtown where he will be competing in a skateboard competition.  John is a very gifted skater and the odds are good that he will win, but he is nowhere to be found.  As time passes, I feel more and more anxious that something has happened to him, and begin to search in closets and corners, anticipating I am going to find him dead.  Suddenly, a car pulls up, dumps a body, and squeals away.  A crowd gathers, and as I make way through, I know it is John.  He is not dead, but severely beaten, enough to stop him from competing.

I wake up,  immediately afraid for my son, but once I am conscious enough to remember the focus of today’s writing, I realize the dream is about me.

I was eight-years-old when school officials began to pull me out of class and subject me to a series of tests.  “She is gifted,” they told my parents,” and we would like to accelerate her one grade and enroll her in a special class with her peers.  She will have to attend school across town, and transportation is not provided.”

My mother didn’t know what to think.  I was a girl, and according to her, girl’s who were smart did not do well in life. (Doing well, in my mother’s eyes, was being a stay-at-home mom with a husband who made a lot of money.)  My father supported the decision.

Gifted children often feel like an anomaly, and I was no exception.  I knew I didn’t fit in at the regular school, but I somehow always felt like they made a mistake with me and I didn’t belong in the gifted class either:  these kids were so smart and, well, geeky.  I didn’t think I fit the mold.  Academically, however, I thrived.  The self-contained classroom was far more engaging and intellectually stimulating.  I loved school!

After school was another matter.  While I was driven across town each morning, I had to take two city buses home each afternoon, arriving long after my old classmates had been dismissed for the day.  The bullies waited for me, and I soon became game for their taunting, and physical abuse.    When we moved out of town in the middle of grade eight, I was thrown in with the regular population and the rift was apparent.  A town thug was hired to beat me up one day after school.

I learned to hide my abilities, and refrained from competing with others.  I developed the expectation of being beaten, both literally and figuratively.

As I’ve mentioned before, John shares my introspective side – that part of me that doubts, questions, and turns things over and over.  The friend that accompanied me in the dream suffers from depression and delusions.  I have that side to myself also.  Combine the introspection with the inability to see beyond negative thinking and there is an expectation of futility:  why try?

John is a gifted skateboarder, and if the dream was real, I would encourage him to hire a bodyguard and go for it.  By objectifying the issue, is the dream telling me the same?  While you may have been beaten at times, you still hold the same bright potential, so don’t give up.  Just let go of the expectations.