Bay's Travel Blog

I don't travel much, but blogging is trippy.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Lessons


Once upon a time, a long time ago -- OK, really just a few years ago -- I was lucky enough to work at the Clarence Brown Theatre on the UT campus in Knoxville.

It was a whim. I hadn't done a play in six years at that point in my life, and I thought I was going to go crazy if I didn't at least go to an audition. I saw a notice in the newspaper, and the CBT never holds open auditions for the great unwashed. (Y'know -- I'm not a card-carrying member of Actors Equity.) I went to the audition. I got a call-back. I went to the call-back. And while I was there with what seemed like hundreds of other called-back actors -- most of whom had better credentials and resumes than I -- I saw a girl who I knew was great.

Great. Like, dictionary great. Monumental, stupendous, stunningly better than everyone else.

And unbelievably, I was cast as her mother. Wow, I thought, what a terrible imbalance. There I was, play-acting my way through the role of a mother whose two children both die unfairly young, and there's Addie, being the most perfect Emily I ever had the privilege to see, much less share a stage with. I spent most of the production just freaking out at how absolutely sublime Addie was.

The thing was -- and I know you may groan when I say it -- the play was Thornton Wilder's "Our Town." Yes, every cheezy community theater, every high school drama club has produced "Our Town." It grew to be an enormous cliche long before I ever went to that audition. I had to read the play in high school, and I even worked on the stage crew when I was 14, and I saw it on TV and at two other community theaters before I ever got married and started living. I mean, I honestly thought I knew what it was all about.

Then I saw Addie play Emily. I had to stand there and pretend that making breakfast for this magnificent girl was an ordinary part of her life. It's a throw-away moment -- it's the kind of thing that you just do automatically, day in and day out, until the day that you can't do it any more.

Irony: My daughter's name is Emily.

I could go on forever about how I changed the way I dropped Emily off at school during that play. I used to tell her to rush, hustle, get out of the car and out of the driveway so the other moms could pull up and let out their children. During "Our Town," I started hugging my Emily before she got out of the car. It was a tiny moment, but I wanted her to know that every day -- every single day -- I loved her and appreciated her as a human being.

The night that my daughter came to see the play, she was out in the theatre with Wesley, and I was in the dressing room trying to put on make-up and my wig and get wrestled into that horrid corset. But I couldn't do it. I kept crying. I ran into Addie in the rest room, where I was trying to tidy up my make-up again. I will never, ever forget the way she hugged me while I stood there and bawled, "I didn't know it was going to affect me this way. I didn't know. I didn't know."

Addie just held me and patted me on the back, and then she turned in the best performance yet. I stood in the wings and watched her third-act monologue and tried not to cry so hard that the audience could hear me.

I suppose I could say it was Thornton Wilder who wrote the play and forced me to think about the importance -- and brevity -- of life and love. But really, it was Addie.

Last night I saw her for the first time in -- oh, too many years. She is a very, very good singer/songwriter now, and she's touring a bit for the next couple of months. If you get a chance to see Addie, go and get a glimpse of that poetry in her soul that made me behave a little bit differently. I'm happy to say that she is still a darling girl, and absolutely as talented as ever.

And -- her hugs are just as sweet as my own real daughter's, too.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Juicy Wednesday!

Dancing With the Stars and Project Runway? Be still, my heart!

Tucker Carlson very reasonably was eliminated from DWTS. I don't like his politics, I don't like his version of "the news," and I don't like the way he treated Jon Stewart, so I wasn't the least bit disappointed that his utter lack of dancing ability was rewarded with an immediate cut. He behaved nicely while he was on network television, but... bye, Tuck. No great loss.

I honestly can't wait until this massive group is trimmed down to a manageable size. Eleven -- yikes! Too many competitors!

As for Project Runway, Amy and I ranted and raved like maniacs while taping our podcast tonight. Tim's podcast is only 18 minutes -- ours may be longer than Tim's, and we don't even get to hang out with Michael! Rats.

All in all, a lovely Wednesday!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Stuff to be happy about

Things that make me inordinately, insanely, unreasonably happy on this lovely Thursday evening....

1. The world -- my world -- smells like the end of summer. Here in the foothills of Tennessee, that means it finally smells like midsummer in the highest hills of the north Georgia mountains. Every time I walk outside this week, I keep expecting to see Camp Cherokee and lovely Lake Burton. That's what it smells like out there in my autumnal yard. Those memories are too fabulous to surrender just because I'm almost 40.

2. I had a completely delicious and totally scrumptious roast beef sandwich today -- at a real deli. It was the real deal -- piles of rare roast beef on chewy, freshly baked bread, with brown mustard, lettuce, tomato, and thinly sliced provolone. I haven't had a sandwich that even approached such lusciousness since my sister took me to NYC in October, 2001.

3. The movie "Invincible" is really, really good, and I saw it in a really good, clean theatre on a digital projection screen with fabulous sound.

4. The sunset today was absolutely gorgeous. Seriously. I was driving around in the countryside on my favorite winding, rural, country road, and I came around a curve at the top of a small hill and saw a sunset over a green hillside that would make your heart stop. It was beautiful. I didn't have a camera, but I'll carry that picture in my head for days. It actually made me cry. The sun was a soft, peachy orange, surrounded by pink clouds. If you tried to make a paint that color, people would say it's unrealistic. It isn't. I saw it just this evening.

5. I leave for Walt Disney World in 17 days. We're going to have a magnificent family trip, filled with magical memories to make up for the less than stellar trip we had in 2003. (And all of the problems that year were MY fault. I was terribly sick when we arrived. It went downhill from there.) We're going to have an Illuminations fireworks cruise on our second night, and we're going to the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party on Woodrow's birthday. We're going to have a simply magical vacation, and I cannot wait.

6. We got the Prius its 30,000-mile tune-up this afternoon. It doesn't have 30,000 miles on it yet, but since we'll be driving to Florida soon, we wanted to pamper the darling hybrid-technology automobile. It is now purring even more happily than it was before, dining on its usual meal of a drop or two of gasoline and hugging each tree it passes as I drive it. Soon we'll put new tires on it, too, and then it will be a perfect Prius in every way.

7. My podcast with my sister. I listened to our last two shows on the iPod this afternoon, and I honestly laugh out loud at some of the nutty things I actually say when I'm not thinking too hard. Podcasting rocks!!

8. I found a new bead store this afternoon. It is not as good as Lilly's Bead Box, I'm afraid, but I just like looking at the beads and stuff. Beading is fun! I wore my new bracelet and got two compliments on it! That's pretty cool, huh?

9. Let's call a spade a spade -- I have a lovely husband who adores me, kids who really, truly like me as well as love and respect me, a cat who thinks I hung the moon, and parrots who sing to me and laugh just like me. I live in the sunny South; and I actually like most of the people with whom I must deal. I am one lucky girl.

There. Those are the things that make me happy tonight, and I am sure I will find even more lovely things tomorrow. It's all in the way you look at things, you know? I hope you have stuff to be happy about, too!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Voila!


I finished! It only took two days, and I sacrificed two nails to the effort. Ahhhhh, creativity rocks! I really intended to make it for a prize for one of our podcast contests, but I love it so much I'm tempted to keep it. Greedy? Yes! But -- look at that bracelet! That's almost as much fun as the one I had in college with little tiny beer cans all over it!

(Also, my cat Hector loves it.)

Don't forget -- after Project Runway, Amy and I will be recording and uploading a quick podcast special. Jeffrey has immunity this week (DARN IT!!!!), so we'll be waiting to say goodbye to Kayne. That's my bet, and I'm sticking to it.

Please let there be lots of Tim Gunn in this episode!

Reprieve, R&R


The governor called Miss Snark and granted a stay of execution -- the remaining 25 queries for the current Crapometer won't be finished until next weekend. Ah, sweet relief! I was gonna die, just knowing that my query is absolute crap. Now I have three more days to breathe like a normal person. Then on Saturday, I get to rip my hair out all over again. Why did I do this to myself??

While I'm passing the time, I started the project from August's Club Stamp kit (as pictured above). It's a bracelet. Woo hoo! I love beading projects. I'm supposed to make some shrink-plastic charms, but I don't know if I will. I'm scared of shrink plastic. LOL! I have some silver charms to add to it and some more beads, but in general, me likey. I don't know whether to keep it for myself or give it away!

In any case -- it's September! The weather is glorious! Tonight a thick fog rolled in, and I can't stop myself from going out to the porch to gaze at it every few minutes. The mist swirls around the porch light as if it can actually feel the heat from the lightbulb. The crickets and frogs sound muffled, almost hollow, and the street lights are the softest shade of white. There are few things as glorious as a late summer, nighttime fog in the South. Oh, how I wish autumn wouldn't come!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Dying slowly

Miss Snark's Crapometer rolls on, crushing writers' hopes and dreams beneath her stiletto heels. As of this writing, she has posted 54 queries-n-excerpts. Of those, only five have been worthy of requesting a partial.

Please note that cruel word, "partial." An agent reads your query and your first pages and says, "Sure, send me a partial." You send a fraction of your manuscript. The agent then can read the partial and reject the whole of the project on that bit alone. It must take forever to get an agent to actually request the whole manuscript, read it, and decide to represent it.

Writing is the most masochistic practice in the world. I can't stop writing. I keep wishing someone would read my writing. But dang, waiting for the feedback is excruciating.

Theatre is much nicer. You audition, you get a part, you practice, you perform, and then someone gives you applause. It's so much more immediate and satisfying.

But I haven't done a play in -- three years? I think? I write every single day.

Something about this equation is all wrong.

Anyway, about the Crapometer. Of the five partials Miss Snark has said she would request, none were mine. My query hasn't made it onto the page yet. I'm both immensely relieved and dreading the moment it does appear. I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that what I wrote is absolute garbage, and I cannot believe my hubris at sending the thing in for bludgeoning.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Where, oh, where is the weekend?

Wait -- this is the weekend? I'm toast. I need a vacation. I need a vacation from planning my vacation.

This week has been absolutely insane. And not in a funny, clever, I can make this humorous kind of way.

- My sister's wreck more than a week ago is turning into hell. She did nothing wrong, which even the police noticed, yet somehow her insurance company -- the people we all pay to keep us covered in the event we're hit by an idiot -- is dragging its feet about doing the right thing. I hate insurance companies. They're evil. All of them. They exist only for profit and for bilking honest people out of their rightful coverage.

- Our Walt Disney World plans changed a great deal on Wednesday. Wesley suddenly discovered there's a Halloween event in the Magic Kingdom on Woodrow's birthday. (Yes, I had told him, but that was months ago and he was overwhelmed with other plans at the time.) An entire day was spent trying to decide whether or not to chuck our previous plans and go to the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, or to keep our original plans and just try to pretend we were missing out on something. I finally ordered the party tickets. (From a really nice cast member.) I cancelled our original dinner plans. I made new dinner plans. (With a really not-nice cast member.) I tweaked the itinerary to within an inch of its life. I scraped my brain in an effort to come up with a suitable costume idea that didn't cost a fortune *or* would make me excessively hot. Woodrow -- the birthday boy -- is the only person in the whole family who doesn't plan to wear a costume to the shindig. Hmmmm.

- Miss Snark is holding another Crapometer. If you do not read Miss Snark's blog, this makes no sense to you. Suffice it to say an anonymous agent is offering to act like an agent and reject your query, and she's doing it publicly. I waffled for the full 12 hours that she was accepting entries, and at the last possible minute, I sent my crap in. I really figured my query would be lost when the random-number-generator picked only 100 entries from the 459 that made it to Miss Snark. I was wrong. My number was chosen.

Now Miss Snark is, indeed, posting people's queries and first pages, and she is rejecting all of them. (She was up to number 21 the last time I had the courage to look. That's 21 rejections out of 21 queries.) That would be bad enough, but the 359 people whose queries didn't make it through the random drawing are *skewering* every query they see on the basis that their query was randomly skipped for *this*?

I don't know for whom I feel the most sorry -- Miss Snark, because she is having to read all this stuff and comment on it; the randomly skipped queriers, because they don't have a chance to be rejected publicly; the accepted queriers, because they're getting slaughtered out there; or me, because my query is going to be just a ... a trainwreck. I honestly do not know what is wrong with me that I keep putting myself in such positions. I keep hoping it will be a learning experience. I keep hoping I won't fall apart.

I keep thinking I should forget where Miss Snark's blog is until next week.

- Project Runway is so disheartening. I dislike Jeffrey so much, and now he has immunity for another week. But I'm grateful for the podcast listeners who follow the Grits to Glitz Wednesday night specials.

- Email is so uplifting! This week we've heard from Tennesseans, Las Vegas fans, California devotees, and even a Brit! That is the coolest thing!

I need a nap. When is the weekend, again? Oh, shoot, if today's Saturday, that means it's football time in Tennessee.... yep, definitely need a nap......