Saturday, September 27, 2014

and this is good

It’s been quite the month. 

didn't realize how much has happened in the last month until I was sitting at the bar grinning at one of my closest friends, trying to figure where to start.  She and I hadn’t talked in a month.   I really didn’t know where to start. 

And I was grinning.
ear to ear, my face hurt, grinning.
So many good things.

Remember a while back when I said I was done treading water?  Well, I just started swimming.  I didn’t consciously pick a direction.  I just moved.

I decided I wasn’t going to worry about what people thought.  No one knows what you’re thinking unless you tell them.  You can hint, but really, being blunt and honest is so much clearer. Harder, but so much clearer.

Twenty seconds of brave, that’s all you need.
With today’s technology you can be brave, hit send, and wait for the fallout. So much easier than being brave in person. 

‘Cause rejection so totally blows.

I stopped playing games.  I don’t have time for that shit. Time passes too quickly to be caught up in the viscous cycle of “did they get my hints?" - or - "oh, that kinda really hurt.”

fuck that.

I’m done.  I know how fleeting time is. I know that there may not be a next time.

So, I’m gonna tell you how I feel.
If I want to shut the door and kiss you, I’m gonna tell you. 

(yes, I did actually send a text with those words. No, there was no kissing.
But hey, no games. He knew I was interested. He just wasn't.)

 Six months ago I wouldn't have. Six months ago I would have pretended I had no feelings and walked away shy, scared, and numb.

Today I know that this may be the only chance I have to make my feelings known.  So I’d better make them known.

Anyway, back to the bar.

We sat at the bar, and I liked it.

All the tables were full, so we really didn't have a choice, but instead of dreading being in the center of the room where everyone could see me, I sat right down and grinned.  I spent all night watching people watch us.  didn't think we are particularly notice-worthy, but people were watching us. It was awesome.

didn't order my usual whiskey.  I wanted to try something new. So I ordered something new. When they were out of it, I asked the bartender to pick something.  He did, and I liked it.

We sat there for over three hours, eating, drinking and talking.  We even had dessert and coffee. 

SO MUCH had happened.

I’d told different people bits and pieces, but to sit down and try to explain not only what had happened, but how it had happened, the order in which it happened, and my thinking behind my actions, that was difficult.

Luckily, she’s used to my jumping from topic to topic and kept up pretty well.

I was amazed at what I was describing.
I was not describing things I would have done a year ago.
I remember the look on her face when I described how I had….just…laid it all out there for this particular puzzle piece of happiness to accept or reject.   

“Who does that?” was the look and feeling.
Obviously, Kristin does that.

‘Cause what do I have to lose?  Nothing.

Good things have happened in every facet of my life.


A month ago I couldn't see past the next week.  Now, now I have a pretty good sense of where my life will be in June. I can see to June.



June is eight months from now. 
In June, many happenings will happen, and things will change.
I know that.
I’m okay with that.

Happenings will happen before June, both anticipated and not.

When they happen, I’ll do what I feel is right. 
I’ll think about the options, analyze the consequences of my decision, ask for opinions.
Then I’ll do what feels right.

This month, I did what felt right.

I broke my own rules.

I sent texts after whisky.
lots of whisky.
seriously, copious amounts of whisky

Because it felt right.
was right.
is right.

I am happy and that is terrifying.

One of the lessons I've learned this past year has been how to accept the shit that life threw at me.
continually threw at me.
continues to throw at me.

I found myself  handling challenges with a grace I didn't know I had. Leaning on friends more than I wanted to.

learned how to accept what best for me and mine, regardless of my feelings.
I learned to ask for help when I needed it.
I learned to graciously accept help when I couldn't do it alone.
I learned to look past my own little hurts to the big picture. 
I learned to decide what was worth my emotions and what was not.
I learned to determine what really didn't change anything, so why fight it.

Lessons learned.

But these new lessons? These are hard.

Obviously, or I wouldn't need to learn them.

Accept the good with grace, don’t question it, just accept and enjoy it while it lasts.
Accept that I am worth waiting for.
Accept that people want to help. 
Accept that patience is necessary.

I hate this lesson.
I am not a patient woman.
Never have been. 

Obviously, patience is something I need to work on.
I am learning. I can maintain an exterior of calm acceptance and patience. 

Inside I’m stomping my foot and demanding that I get what I've been promised, now.

Now. Not later. Now.

I’m learning to breathe, smile, and enjoy the waiting.

These are hard lessons to learn. I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I don’t know how long I get to be happy. I’m learning to enjoy being happy and not question why, or wonder when it’s going to end. I'm learning not to fear the tragedy that will come tomorrow and smash my happiness to smithereens.

I’m trying, really trying.

Long story short, I’m happy.  

Happier than I've been in a hell-a-long-time.
Right now, every facet of my life has some happiness in it.
I’m enjoying it while it lasts, not dreading the end, or waiting for the knife in the dark.

And this is good.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


She closed the door behind her, listening for the soft click of the latch. She leaned against the door, eyes closed, enjoying the relative quiet.   She opened her eyes.

This was home.  Everything here was hers.  She would never share any of this.  It was all hers.  Behind her, on the other side of the latched door, was reality. That, she shared. Happily.
But this was hers.

To her right, the room opened to a cheery little sitting room.  There was a cozy little hearth, fire cracking and a pot of water heating over the flames.  An overstuffed and much patched chair was next to the hearth.  That’s where she could curl up in, tuck her feet under her and enjoy her solitude.  Across from the curl-up chair the work table stood, scarred and stained.  Her work table was big enough for her to spread out when she worked on her things.  A simple wooden chair was haphazardly set near the table. Everything in that room was well loved, homey, warm and quirky.  Nothing matched, nothing clashed.

Directly opposite the front door was the corridor. Two smallish, gleaming, polished cherry tables stood at the entry. The corridor was a wide hallway lined with grey industrial shelving units.  The edge of the first set of shelves lined up perfectly with the doorway, the tables were technically not in the corridor, but they belonged to the corridor.  The edges of the tables lined up exactly with the edge of the shelving units.  There was a measured gap between the table and wall which was exactly the same as the gap between the table and the shelving.  The left side matched the right, precisely.

Stacked haphazardly under each table were the boxes and their lids.  The boxes were made of a thin wood, the exact shade of the tables, but with a matte finish.  They were lightweight but strong.  They had been designed like cardboard filing boxes. Same size, shape, everything.  They all matched. Identical.

To her left was dull white wall that had a door at the exact center.  The door was slightly open.  Barely open, the casual observer would’ve thought it was closed.

For the last several months, the only time she’d been home had been to quickly cross the room to one of the cherry tables, dump her unfinished things into a waiting box, shut the lid and set it in the first empty slot on one of the shelves.

Today she carried nothing.  She walked slowly towards the corridor. She smiled. So many things.  All hers.  The shelves were all identical; the boxes, identical.  The spacing between the boxes was precisely the same as every other space on the shelves.  She spread her arms out, fingertips barely touching the row of boxes on either side.  Slowly she walked down the hall, feeling the smooth, polished wood under her fingers.  Each box was precisely placed, the same distance apart, parallel to the box set just so along the opposite shelf.  All this order and symmetry was so peaceful.  The silence was blissful.  The only noise was the soft patter of her bare feet on the cold concrete floor. She relaxed, simply enjoying trailing her fingers in peace. Every so often there would be a box out of place, just enough to not be perfect.  She acknowledged those imperfections. Those boxes contained her unfinished things.  When they were done, they’d get lined up perfectly.

The only light came from the sitting room. As she walked further down the corridor the hall got darker and her fingers found less and less boxes out of place.  Her steps slowed and she turned.  She took a deep breath, filling her lungs with the scent of old cedar, forgotten flowers and cherished books.

Hugging herself, she walked back towards the light. She stopped in front of a set of boxes near the entrance; nearly all of these were unfinished.   She carefully selected one, pulled it down and carried it back to her work table, bare feet warming  on the hardwood floor of the sitting room.  She set the box gently on the table and with a deep breath lifted the lid.

What seemed like hours later she quietly slid the lid back into place. Exhausted, but happy.  Done. This box was done. She walked the box back to its proper place in the corridor, setting it just so, perfectly aligned with all the other straight lines, the space between the edge of the shelf and the edge of the box just precisely perfect.  Her eyes caught on all the boxes askew around this one finished box. Her smile faded and she began to despair at the number of unfinished things.
Spinning on her heels, she forced herself to look down the corridor, down the endless rows of perfectly placed boxes fading into the darkness.  Nodding sharply she turned back around, refusing to look anywhere but forward.  She’d finished all those.  She’d finish these too.  Just, not today.

Crossing to the hearth, she poured the boiling water into the waiting mug and curled up in her chair. Holding the steaming tea to her lips she drank in the scent of lemons, chamomile and spring rain.  The tea was too hot to drink, so she wrapped her hands around the mug, enjoying the warm peace.  The sitting room was not silent.  Not like the corridor.  The steaming water hissed, the fire crackled, somewhere a cricket chirped, and the water dripped occasionally.  Nothing was symmetrical here.  Happy angles and quirky colors dominated the space. Askew was normal. It made her happy. It too was peaceful.

She looked at the white wall across the room, its precisely placed door and the murmurs of sound behind it.  She was damn proud of that door.  Hell, she was damn proud of the room behind it too.  She had built both.  Looking at the door she was overwhelmed with sadness and acceptance. Old feelings, she knew, but still they tugged at her heart.

The door was a work of art, and she had created it.  Before it had been a door and a room it had been a hall, twin to the first, but lacking shelves and boxes.  This hall had been a crazy mess of everything that spilled out into the sitting room and into the proper corridor.  She’d cleared out all the chaos, carefully packing each scent, color, and taste into their own perfectly symmetrical wooden box on her perfectly parallel shelves.  Adjusting them, just so, perfectly in line.

The hall was not empty though.  Sounds cannot be contained in her perfect wooden boxes. She knew. She had tried.

Oh how she’d tried.

The attempt had threatened to destroy everything; the chaos had swirled into the corridor, into the sitting room, everywhere.  She had had no home, no safe place.  She had to live with these sounds, unless she wanted the rest of her world to be destroyed. So, she built the room and the door.

She turned the long narrow hall into a room.  A room with no corners, a true circle, symmetrically perfect.   If she had trailed her fingers along those walls, she would have felt the thick texture of muslin that has been painted over and over.  She had covered the muslin with layers upon layers of paint, trying color after color, until she realized the flat black paint that reflects no light was right.  No footsteps could be heard when she walked into that room. The concrete floor had been covered with painted muslin too.

When the room hadn’t been enough to contain the sounds, she’d created the door.  She was still amazed that she had made that. The edges of the door were capped in hammered silver.  There was no latch, nothing to keep the door closed, just the silver edges reflecting the firelight.  After trying and failing to keep the door closed an uncountable number of times, she’d accepted that the door would never shut, or, more precisely, could not stay shut. So, she’d covered the latch with the silver cap.  It had been so pretty, she’d done all the edges.

That’s was just the beginning.  Inset into the door, randomly scattered like stars, were faceted gemstones of every size, shape, and color.  The smallest was no bigger than the tip of her pinkie finger, the largest almost fist sized.  She’d drilled holes through the door and set the stones with gold and silver scrollwork.  Flowing vines, curls, and curves laced the surface of the door. No lines, no angles, just a beautiful mess of colors and curves.

From the inside of the room, the door was a scattering of flickering rainbow stars. With the door only open a fraction of an inch, the room inside was blacker than a moonless night.
And the sounds stayed there.  They spun along the ceiling, creating a layer of noise above the warm, humid air.  If she stretched her fingers up, she could just brush their iciness.

Dangerous that.
Twice since she had deemed the door finished she had done that.  She had slipped into the darkness, arms outstretched, and fingers touching the icy air.  Eyes closed she had slowly spun in circles, letting the sounds spin with her, until she was at the vortex of an overwhelming whirlwind of sound.

She let go and gave into the madness.  She loved the chaos.  It felt more perfect than lines, angles, boxes, or tea.  Both times she had been terrified she wouldn’t be able to find the door again.

Terrified that she would get so caught up in the spinning darkness that she would forget to look for the door.

Terrified that the joy being part of the whirlwind of madness and chaos would be greater than the glittering stars she’d set in the door.

Terrified she would not want to look for the door.

Both times she’d forced herself to open her eyes, look for the stars and spin toward the door. Both times she’d forced herself to want the glittering stars of brightness. Breathless, she had stood in the  center of her home; chaos, symmetry, and cozy comfort flooding her with the whole of who she is.  Never had she felt so complete, so perfect, so exhausted. Those brief moments of completion had cost so much.

Lost in the memory of release and perfection, she brought the mug to her lips, but it was empty.  

Empty.  Yes, those moments had cost so much.

Silently, she set the mug on the hearth, extracted herself from her cozy chair, and walked to the front door.  Hand on the worn glass knob; she turned, eyes taking in the door, the corridor and sitting room.

Sighing, she slipped back into reality, closing the door behind her with a soft click.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Sharing Space - paws and pausing

 My Amy wanted to share a bit of my space again.  More about My Amy, and a list of her posts here.

Paws and I hit up our favorite breakfast spot yesterday morning. On the way into the restaurant, she ran ahead of me: a long-legged figure in small jean shorts, purple Crocs, and a blue and white striped shirt with ruffled shoulders.

Her shorts were too big and when they started falling down she stopped and tried to hike them up. I flipped over the waistband and on she ran.

So simple. And yet.

It gave me pause.

Sitting in the booth and coloring with her, cutting up her food, asking her to sit back down when she’s eating, giving Eskimo kisses: all of it was a moment of revelry for me, like I haven’t felt in a while.

The question that has been rattling around in my head for months again rose to the surface. Do I want to be a mother?

Since the first time Younger Girl fell asleep in my arms I have wanted to have a child of my own.

I love being with the kids who are my nieces and nephews.

The tantrums, the fights, the piggyback rides, the explanations. Love it.

The questions that come from nowhere. Once, when she was about 4, Older Girl turned to me, twisted up her face, and said Amy, why do soldiers like to fight?

Try fielding that one.

The delights that come from nowhere. After a particularly fun outing, the Seattle Boy asked me can you be my mom?

And explaining to a six year old why that made me cry was a little tricky.

These 16 kids range in age from 13 to six months, and they own my heart.

I have climbed trees and chased chickens with them.

I have made them peanut butter sandwiches, folded their laundry, and soothed them after bad dreams. We have had dance parties. We have gone on trips.

We have talked about everything from starting middle school and bullies to why ladybugs fly and how come it’s naptime even though THEY’RE NOT TIRED.

They’ve invited me to their graduations, told me about their friends, and blown their noses on my pants.

They have taught me a million times over the joyful parts of being a parent. The best and hardest parts, in snippets and weekends and hours.

Now I’ve got kids whose permission slips I sign.

I call their doctor’s offices, fight to get them the support they need, talk to their counselors, and worry about them at night.

I buy them birthday presents and take them to lunch.

Sometimes they call just to shout at me. Sometimes they want to show me their art projects. Sometimes I am the one they blame.

I try to imagine the best futures possible for them.

Then I try to keep the promise I made: I’ll do whatever I can to make that future happen.

They have taught me a million times over the gut-wrenching parts of being a parent. The parts that keep all parents hyper-vigilant and waiting for the morning.

We talk about everything from if they are happy where they are and what they’re worried about to what the coolest part of school is so far and what they had for lunch that WAS SO GROSS.

Sometimes they cry like their hearts are breaking right in front of me.

Try fielding that one.

I’ll never get it right. But at least I’ll be there.

My mom has always told me two things about having kids: there’s never a perfect time for it, not really. Better times than others, sure, but never a perfect one. And that being a parent is the hardest job a person can have. One that is, in the end, completely worth it.

Do I want to be a mother?

Aren’t I sort of one already?

On a strictly-part-time, not-the-total-real-deal-because-my-heart-isn’t-actually-walking-around-on-two-feet, you-can’t-totally-know-what-it’s-like-til-you-have-one-yourself kind of basis of course, but still.

If my mother, and my sister-in-law, and my dear friends are any example, being a mom is about loving someone else so much that you’d lie down in traffic for them.


It’s about being there for the big moments and the rough ones and the fun ones and the amazing ones.


It’s about the worrying, the protecting, the conversations. 

It is messy. It is hard.

It is incredible.

Check, check, check.

Last night, putting Paws to bed, she refused to let me snuggle her. Nothing new, she’s been doing that for several months now. So while she curled up with her baby doll and tucked it in, I lay next to her and softly sang some off-key lullabies.

To be honest, I’m not sure that Momma, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys was originally intended as a lullaby but hey, if it works then go with it….even though the first time she sings ‘little warm puppies and children and girls of the night’ at preschool will be interesting.

Just as I think she’s dropping off, she rolls towards me. Her small warm hands reach out for me and she cradles my face.

I lean in and kiss her sweaty forehead, smelling the soap that we used to wash her face clean during her bath.

Mamy, she mutters. Is ok, Mamy. Love you.

Love you too, Bug, I whisper back. More than anything. Always.

Messy. Hard. Incredible. 


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Fly On My Wall - reasons for smiles ii

smallest child: "I like hugging you right before you go out with friends."
me: "Oh? Why?"
smallest child: "Because you smell good."


"...yes i really do want to know."


Boy: "My mom likes superheros...well....Mostly just Thor and Captain, really just the blonde avengers."


Me: "How was your first day of school?"
Eldest child: "So, my music teacher was impressed that I knew the choral warm-ups
...and she was impressed you were my mom
...then all the boys were impressed that you're friends with the guy who makes the superheros fly in Marvel Universe Live
...I have the coolest mom. ever."


"Did I mention it makes me happy when I see the little green light blinking on my phone that means someone sent me a message?"


Me: "How was school?"
Smallest child: "Shiny."


*watching Firefly together*
Smallest child: "what's a whore?"
Me:".........someone who gets paid for sex."
Smallest child: "okay. thanks."

Thursday, September 11, 2014

saying goodbye

Today was horrid.
I woke up instinctively knowing it would be, but not really knowing why. Got the kids out the door and went back to bed, actively avoiding the day.

No, no one died.  

Today I started applying for jobs.
Real, non-theater jobs. Full time jobs.
Jobs in hospitals, banks, offices, and call centers.
Jobs other people would consider careers.

Not me.

Today I took the first steps towards letting go of my career to have a job.


Because “real” job + kids doesn't leave enough time for me to stage manage.
 and there isn't enough stage management work in my area to pay the bills.


Today I let go of a career that fits me perfectly and truly brings me joy.

Don’t, please.
Don’t tell me it’s not letting go, it’s just putting it on hold
because right here, right now, it feels the same.

I’m walking away from something I love with all my heart.
Willingly walking away.

I spent a good part of the day crying.
All kinds of crying.
tears slowly tracing paths down my face
all out sobbing.  

Grieving the loss of a love.

Everything changes when I get a job.
And I have to be okay with that. 

Every decision I make for the next eight years won't be about me, it’ll be about them.

My three littles.
except they’re not so little anymore
more like half-grown humans.

My happiness takes second place to what’s best for them and that is going to continue to until they graduate high school.
I wanted them.
I love them.
This is as is should be.
I know this.
I want this.
I would chose nothing different.

Doesn't change the hurt.
Doesn't diminish the devastating sense of loss.


goodbye first rehearsals and closing performances
goodbye production meetings and late actors
goodbye quiet theatres and noisy dressing rooms
goodbye piano tech and final dress
goodbye standby 
goodbye GO.

goodbye my love.

don't worry, I will not be miserable.
It’s not in my nature.
I will find my own little happinesses.

There are good things in my life right now.
There will be good things in the future.

There has to be.
See, I’ve noticed that my littles are happier when I’m happy.
They smile more when I smile more.

I've been smiling more recently.

So, I plan to be happy, as far as anyone can plan these things.
I’ll find some happiness somewhere in the daily drudge of routine and sameness.  

I don’t know what comes next.
I don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

I do know that today, given all the options I could see, this is the right choice.

It’s time to knock on all the doors and see which windows open.

There’s a tiny kernel of hope in my heart that I’ll magically find a job that works in such a way that it allows me to continue doing what I love.

A tiny kernel.


Monday, September 1, 2014

stupid irrational fear

I hate new.  
No, that’s not true.  New is generally fun.

Confused yet?

Anxiety. The completely irrational fear that is anxiety.

A recent example. 

A friend I went to high school with (and haven’t seen in  17 years) was stopping in Eugene for a bit and posted that he’d be happy to meet up for drinks with whomever in the area and had time.
Totally sounds like a good time, right?
I was looking forward to it…until mid-afternoon, when my subconscious realized that this was NEW, 
and my subconscious DOES NOT LIKE NEW.

My fight or flight response kicked in.  
My heart started racing and I couldn't think straight.

I cursed internally.    
So not my favorite thing to deal with.  I hate it. But, I know what to do.  
I sighed and began. 

(I used to have to physically stop and sit somewhere, now I can usually do it all internally, and continue whatever I was doing when my subconscious decided to be stupid.)

Here we go.

Step one: Break it down. What’s new?
New people.  I’ve not seen any of them in a long time. So, obviously, that counts as new. Not completely new, because I do actually know them.
New place.  I’ve not been to where we’re going. Dammit. So, google it. Great, now I know where it is.

Step Two:  Tell someone.  Don’t keep it bottled up.
Text sent.  Done.

Now, I am in control, not my subconscious.
My heart rate slows and my tremor is back down to barely noticeable. My tummy is still in a knot, but I can deal with that.

I promise myself french fries.

I still have an hour or so before I need to leave, so I continue cleaning and mentally keep the irrational fear trapped in a box in my head.

In the car, I listen to Sinatra on Pandora.  Lovely.  Some of my favorite music. 

All’s good. 


I realize I offered to pick him up.

Ah hell.  Kristin.  That was stupid.  So stupid.
You haven’t seen him in 17 years.  

What were you thinking?!? What if he’s turned into a serial killer rapist, or worse, a blathering idiot?

Luckily for me, he wasn't an idiot. Or a serial killer rapist.

One of the first things he said was, “You still have pink hair!”  which instantly made me smile and the anxiety shrank to almost nothing.

It came back though, once I was in the new place.  

But I outsmarted myself.

It’s a new place. It’s a new place. It’s...
Yes. BUT…
It’s not new to go to a new place.
I’ve done that before. 

Ha! Take that, you stupid irrational fear

Whiskey and fries and laughter.
Catching up with old friends, remembering why they were friends.

Take that, you stupid irrational fear.