Monday, March 23, 2009
Now, however, Sam won't just fall asleep anywhere he gets sleepy. If there is stuff going on, he wants to know about it, and be a part of it. And he won't just stay on the blanket when you put him there. Now he can get into trouble. Now, if I left him on a blanket in the middle of the scene shop, I'm fairly certain he would figure out how to use the table saw and build me a bookshelf. And I just don't have room in my house for any more furniture. Also, he refuses to wear safety goggles.
My point to all this, though, is that I feel like I'm slacking off in my duties as a cast member. I should be staying later, coming earlier, working harder. But Sam needs to get home to go to bed. He needs to eat at regular times. Sure, he has a really late bedtime (it's not because he's not a good sleeper, but because we don't go to bed early, either, and he's on the same schedule we are) but I'm trying to keep it as consistent as possible. That prevents me from staying at the theater till the wee hours, or staining the stage (nothing to do with bedtimes, everything to do with keeping him away from paint fumes). This week, I've felt like a slacker mom and a slacker actor, giving neither activity my full attention. It's like when I did a show in high school, and my grades would slip during tech week. (For my non-theater-oriented friends, tech week refers to the week before the show opens, during which you add lights, costumes, sound, set, props, etc....simply put, it's a week notorious for having late nights, frustrated actors, and a psychotic-for-lack-of-sleep director. Oh, and cranky techies. [Techies are the people who do everything but perform: lighting and sound design, running the light and sound systems, building sets, moving sets, painting sets, making costumes, altering costumes, repairing costumes...ok, the list is endless, and, for the most part, thankless. Some of the best techies I've ever known are also excellent actors, and the BEST stage manager I've ever had in a show was fifteen years old. She's now a freshman at Winthrop, and aspiring to be a drama teacher. She will also be amazing at that, I'm sure. Anyway, techies deserve our respect. They deserve our thanks. And, frequently, they go without both those things. Having been a crew member before, I'm well aware of how little the tech crew gets recognized and appreciated. That's one of the things I love about FIRE: everyone works crew. So everyone gains a healthy respect for those who make a career of it. It's not easy work. And you have to walk around looking like Johnny Cash. (Again, for my non-theater-minded friends, the technical crew wears black. Traditionally, it's so they won't be too obvious when they're moving set pieces during the show. More importantly,it makes them look intimidating. And they don't have to do laundry as often that way. If you know a techie, buy him or her a black t-shirt. It will be a well-appreciated gift.)]) That being said, tech week is rough. But it's also fun to see all those elements finally added into a show. It's when you see who is truly devoted to the company, and who is just there to wear a cute costume and have their name in the program. Separating the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. (Not me, though. As I explained earlier, I have a baby, and he gets really unpleasant when he's sleepy. I'm wheat all the way, at least in spirit.) It's when you see all the elements of a production come together to form a (hopefully) cohesive unit. It can be beautiful, exciting, and terrifying. It's the one time I feel okay letting my laundry pile reach truly ridiculous proportions and not making beds. It's a great excuse! ("Go to the gym? Sorry, can't. It's tech week." Accompanied with an apologetic shrug, this is a fabulously effective excuse for not doing things you didn't really want to do in the first place. "Help you move? Sorry, can't. It's tech week.") Anyway...
So Friday night, I was at the theater making enormous, towering Ziegfeld Follies headpieces (to call them merely "hats" would be quite an understatement)to loosely resemble wedding cakes. I'm the queen of the hot glue gun (well, princess anyway....Mimi's glue gun is bigger than mine, AND it's pink...I'm so jealous), duchess of chenille strips, and countess of glitter glue. And, perhaps, the tulle fairy. It was a blast. And there is going to be some wicked-awesome headgear on that stage once opening night rolls around. Here's a bizarre non-sequitor: today, driving to rehearsal (because that's the only place we drive anymore), I looked in the backseat, and Sam was looking through a Sandra Boynton board book. (I highly suggest you go pick up some Sandra Boynton RIGHT NOW. She's a big hit around our house.) I'm not quite sure how he knows to do this, but he always, always turns the book right-side-up. He has never, in the past two or three months, looked through a book while holding it upside-down. Well, he was looking at the book, pointing at the monsters' noses and eyes (both big deals right now for Sam) and I mentioned to Husband that he was turning the pages back to front, not front to back. "Well," I remarked, "that's how I read magazines, so I guess it's not a big deal." It's important, at this juncture of the anecdote, to know that Husband is not from around here, so I frequently misunderstand him. He's a foreigner, you know...from Philadelphia. So when he answered me, "Yeah, that's how Merlin has to read books," I thought he said something about an umbrella. I, being understandably confused, asked him why he had mentioned an umbrella. Husband has a...quirky...sense of humor. So he said, "Oh, yeah, that's Merlin's dog. His name was Umbrella, and he had to read books backward."I paused. Then said, "Merlin would never have named a dog Umbrella. That's just ridiculous." Then Husband pointed out that it said a lot about me that I was totally willing to believe that Merlin's dog could read, and backward yet, but drew the line at him being named Umbrella. Yes, naming the dog Umbrella was where I found the story to be truly unbelievable. On the way home, four or so hours later, I argued that one might question him for believing that Merlin really existed in the first place.
But whatever. I love my Husband. I truly believe that he's the only person who has ever really understood me.
We had a fun adventure in parenting last night. Or, more appropriately, a misadventure. We went to Olive Garden for dinner. The Parents-in-law had given Husband a gift card for his birthday, and since I didn't feel like cooking last night (it was tech week!) it seemed like a perfect solution. And it was, for the most part, a very successful evening. See, I am one of those really lucky parents (get ready to hate me...a lot) whose kid is really Good In Restaurants. Plop him in a high chair, hand him a packet of saltines, and he's good to go. He waves at people passing by with trays of food. He flirts with waitresses. He plays peek-a-boo with his napkin. He holds lively conversations ("La wah da da? Ya. Da da? Ga ba da!"). He tries a variety of food off your plate, then eats his peas without complaint. Last night, he ate a breadstick, which was a really big deal, because it had butter on it. He VERY rarely gets to have butter. "Sometimes food" and all that. But it was a special occasion...you know. Tech week. But Husband and I have not been the couple who has to take turns eating while the other walks around the restaurant with a baby. We've never had to pack our food up to take home because the baby won't stop screaming. We were wary of taking him to a restaurant when we was first born, because it's one of my pet peeves to be trying to carry on a conversation while some kid is screaming and throwing food at the next table. And I just don't want to be that kind of person who ruins other peoples' dining experiences. I'm thoughtful like that. But when Sam was a week or so old, we took him out to breakfast, and he slept quite peacefully in his Graco Snug Seat. After that, we swore that if we could just play a soundtrack of plates clanking and people dropping forks, our kid would konk right out. Once he started sitting in a high chair, he really enjoyed looking around at people, and then he discovered how much fun it is to eat solid food. Now, going out to dinner is his favorite activity. Waitresses who previously swore off children forever find themselves seriously rethinking their life goals because of our little ray of sunshine. They don't know that he only smiles at them because they bring him food. They think they're something special! And that's what Sam brings to the world. He makes people feel good. Maybe now that I've gone and admitted that my child is great at restaurants, he's going to start being awful, and I fully acknowledge that should that happen, I would totally deserve it. But for the time being, he's great. A dream, through and through. The secret is to not go out when he's overdue for a nap or overly hungry. It's a pretty simple formula for keeping your baby happy all the time,actually: don't let him get too tired or too hungry, and he'll be fine.
The misadventure part of the evening, however, occurred after dinner. We were walking out to the car, full of endless breadsticks and good will toward our fellow man, and Sam got ahold of the car keys. This is a frequent occurrence. One might suggest that we get him some toy keys. Nothing doing. He knows. Just like he knows that the remote control to the DVD player we used to have isn't the REAL remote control and is therefore no substitute for the one Mommy and Daddy use. At some point between Husband unlocking the car and putting Sam in the car seat, Sam pushed the lock button on the key clicker. Neither of his parents noticed. So Husband tossed the keys in the front seat, closed Sam's door, then tried to open the driver's side door...and couldn't. Sam was in the car. So were the keys. But we weren't. Luckily, the same thing had happened to Mama N pretty recently, and she had told me about it, so I was able to call on her experience and know what to do. While Husband contemplated breaking the passenger side window to get him out, I suggested that we call Pop-A-Lock. They didn't answer, so we called the police, who, we can only assume, have a super-secret direct line to the Pop-A-Lock people, and they had Papa Lock himself at our car in the Olive Garden parking lot in twelve minutes. Granted, they were the longest twelve minutes of my LIFE, but Sam was removed from his car seat in short order, and I am forever indebted to Papa Lock. And here's a bit of good-to-know: if your baby locks himself in the car, Pop-A-Lock doesn't charge you for coming to unlock the car. Isn't that just a really nice thing to do? Papa Lock was really kind, too. Very nice. Didn't treat us like we were complete idiots at all. I was convinced they would deem me an unfit mother and take Sam away from me right then and there, but he told me that people do this kind of thing all the time, and not to worry about it. Huh. Sam was pretty furious about the whole debacle, and after five minutes of me popping up into his line of vision from behind the car door (good for the thigh muscles, by the way) he was really tired of being in the car by himself. He started screaming and crying and generally breaking my heart. It was the worst feeling in the world, to be able to see him and hear him but not be able to pick him up or comfort him. Horrible. So after we calmed him down, we went right to the store and bought him a toy. We felt REALLY bad about it...even though it was Sam's fault. Little punk.
Must get some work done now...but not too much. After all...it is tech week.
Friday, March 20, 2009
We've made our goals (hers is a number, mine is a mindset, but we're on the same track). We know how to get there (walking, not eating entire tubs of Ben & Jerry's, etc.). And most importantly, we're in it together.
I've lost 55 pounds doing Weight Watchers in the past 14 months. I cannot say enough about how great the program is. Eating right is no longer a huge issue; it's become pretty much second nature. But getting in exercise has been tough, especially over the winter. While I don't mind getting out in the cold and/or rain myself, I do feel bad taking Sam out in it. So I'm glad it's warming up.
Sam likes it, too. We had a great time at the park yesterday. He loves meeting other kids, and exploring the playground equipment. When we walk, I sometimes have to bribe him to sit in his stroller with a cracker or a drink of water, but once he's strapped in, he calms right down. While he doesn't usually go to sleep, he does like to be pushed down the path. We try to narrate the trip for our children, making us sound like really lame tour guides. ("To the left, you will notice the dog. Dog? Do you see the dog? What does the dog say? Arf, arf? That's right! Now, coming up ahead will be a bicycle. Do you see the bicycle? Can you say bicycle? No? Moving on. On your right, there is another dog. Dog? Do you see the dog?") Baby Girl has a Houdini-like ability to get out of her stroller, and when she does, Sam looks at her as if to say, "Lady, you're crazy. Don't you see how awesome it is to sit back in the shade and not do jack?" He's pretty chill, my Sam. He takes after his mommy. Thus the need to drag my butt off the playground and around the trail.
I 'm such a Beta Mom. An Alpha Mom would never prepare sloppy joes and tater tots for her family for dinner, as I did last night. To be fair, it was a special request from Husband, and watching Sam eat tater tots was hilarious. Also, we had to be at the theater at 6:30, and by the time we got home from the park, I had an hour to make dinner, eat, shower, dress (they're so picky about wearing clothes to rehearsal) and get Sam ready to go. Truthfully, it's a miracle we eat anything but Easy Mac. At least the tater tots weren't fried, right? Right? I'm just trying to get through one day at a time.
Mama N and I went to Sam's Club today with the babies, then to lunch, and, swear to God, we were going to go get some worthwhile outdoor exercise, but instead we collapsed on the floor at her house while our children climbed all over us. Midway through a diaper change, Sam just got up and left, crawling all over their living room without anything on his bottom. He's going to regret that in about twelve years. Because there is now photographic evidence of his nudism. So when Baby Girl is head cheerleader, and he's trying to ask her to the prom, he's going to have to live that down. Poor Sam.
We're headed to the theater to do some work on the set stuff tonight. Hopefully, Sam will sleep through it. It's another weird evening for the boy. Bless it.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
The minute five spotlights shone on the stage, the audience (more on the audience later...let's just say I would have gone just to people-watch) came completely unhinged. Behind me was a woman in her thirties, with two children with her, both between eight and eleven years old. She was wearing what I think of as a "mommy uniform": polo shirt, light-colored jeans, sensible shoes.(This is, of course, completely different from my "mommy uniform" of whatever shirt is cleanest, paired with whatever jeans have the fewest tiny knee-level handprints, and flip-flops. This is the reality of being a Beta Mom. Also, my hair usually gives me away. People can tell that if I didn't have a baby, I'd have twelve cats.) She had a respectable short haircut and sophisticated glasses. She was a bona fide grownup. I would guess she teaches third grade. Well, the second they started singing, she lost all semblance of respectability and screamed her head (sensible haircut and all) right off. Then this crazy girl with huge curly hair started screaming, and her husband cruelly took pictures of it. It was a great show. Even though they are in their fifties, they danced, jumped off platforms, and sang for over two hours. That's an amazing feat in itself. So I gave up, dropped the ususal "I'll enjoy anything, but with an air of detached superiority" attitude that I usually sport, and had a blast.
And you know what? I'm glad I had to wait so long to see them. I am confident enough now that I can, without any shame, declare that that concert was, in a word, sublime. It was everything I always dreamed it would be, but now I have everything I wished I had when I was eight. If that makes sense. I went to this concert with high heels, cleavage, lipstick and pierced ears...all things I coveted when I was eight. I was with a boy who bought me stuff and leaned over to whisper (well, let's be honest, scream...it was pretty loud in there) in my ear that I was beautiful. I didn't have a curfew. I was, for about three seconds, the girl dancing on the Jumbo Tron. I waved my hands in the air, oh yes, like I just didn't care.
I think I enjoyed myself a lot more at 26, watching these sixty-year-old men trying to convey street cred than I would have as an eight-year-old, in the shadow of older relations, with my pink plastic glasses and Dorothy Hammill haircut, certain that even if, my some miracle, I got to meet Joey, there was no way he would even want to talk to me, much less bring me up onstage and serenade me. So sad.
I think the reason they, in their seventies, are still able to draw a crowd, after fifteen years of being the punchline of a forgotten joke, is that most of those women are women just like me. Women who didn't stop loving them when they stopped being cool, and have been in the closet about it ever since. Maybe those short years that they were popular were the only time most of those women (myself included) liked anything mainstream. I think 1992 was the last time I was able to strike up a conversation with any of my peers about something popular. Sure, it's easy to talk to theater kids, or speech team dorks, or other moms, but someone assigned to sit next to you on the bus for a field trip to the science museum? Forget it. You might as well be drinking that lukewarm can of soda you were allowed to pack in your lunchbox all by yourself, sister, because nobody in the third grade knows jack about Sondheim or Shakespeare. And maybe they'll beat you up or call you names because you do.
My first introduction to NKOTB was, as all things contraband were, through my older cousin. She was the holder of all things cool. She wore Malibu Musk and jeans that were intentionally ripped. I idolized her. The second she placed those headphones over my (UNPIERCED) ears, I was part of something cool. Spending the night with her, I was allowed to stay up and watch them appear on The Arsenio Hall show (minus Jonathan, which was a shame). For a few years, I was cool. Well, not quite cool, but at least I knew what was cool. Then, all of a sudden, it was lame to like them. Sure, I had the Jonathan doll (with that awesome cardigan? and the earring?) but I wouldn't bring him out when my friends came over. When my cousin and my brother torched the posters they had made to take with them to the concert (yes, the one I wasn't allowed to go to...and yes, I'm still bitter), I knew I couldn't like them anymore.
But now. Oh, yes, now.
They're a wonderful thing we call RETRO!
But the eighties brought us Joey, Jordan, Jonathan, Danny and Donnie...
Sure they're in their eighties, but I can still scream my head off in not even a remotely ironic way when they sing Cover Girl. It's funny how when you get older, you just stop caring what other people think. At one point, while waving one arm in the air during Hangin' Tough (if you're a true fan, you know when to wave your arm in the air), I turned to my husband, who was smiling a sort of "I'm humoring this woman because I love her and I'm a little bit scared of her" kind of smile, and I screamed (not because I was angry, but because it was REALLY loud in there) "Don't you even THINK about judging me!!" That's going to be my mantra now, for all time. You don't like how I'm raising my kid? You think I need to lose weight? Sorry, sister, it's not your place to judge. I've worked really hard, and overcome some huge obstacles to become who I am today, and while that may not seem like much to anyone else, it's a huge deal to me, and no one has any right to take that away from me. Sorry. I just had to get that off my chest. It had relatively little to do with my concert-going experience, but it's been bothering me for a while.
Last night, I let go of all inhibitions. I drank a really watered-down Bud Light while watching this guy trying not to enjoy himself. I totally bought a Cover Girl tank top. I forgot every horrible thing anyone ever said to me about being a dork, a nerd, ugly, or stupid. I forgot every eye that ever rolled in my direction, every nasty thing said behind my back.
And I shook my long hair and I danced.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
We don't spend a lot of time in fast-food establishments, mostly because we gave up all things fried for Lent, so it was a pretty big deal for Sam, even though he enjoyed green beans and pureed beef instead of chicken nuggets and fries. I, not wanting to break my Lenten discipline, wisely ate pie for lunch. Somewhere, angels are polishing my halo.
I was really surprised with how well he rolled with the punches today. He was laid-back, mostly cheery, and made people love him. He stood up by himself for a good bit, drank some apple juice, and was pretty good during Funny Girl rehearsal. He's in two musical numbers, and is handling the spotlight remarkably well. Here's what I figure: Husband is in the show. I'm in the show. We can either leave Sam with a different babysitter every night, or we can let him be in the show, too. He looks good on stage. But what I love is that we haven't radically changed our lifestyle because we have a baby. Sure, we go to fewer parties, never see any movies in the theater, and we're more careful with our language, but for the most part, we're still doing the things we love to do. And we're not just leaving him out of it, either. Sure, it would be easier to leave him with a sitter, or put him in day care, but I love it that he will grow up around great actors, beautiful music, and he will know how to properly deliver a Shakespearean monologue. Very important skills for a child to learn.
At the end of the day, I felt a little bit guilty for carting Sam around everywhere. But then I tally up the scoreboard: he ate three meals and two snacks, had two naps, met some new friends, and properly performed all his "choreography" (he gets carried around by a girl who waltzes with him, so he doesn't actually do any work, but he smiles beautifully).
I am exhausted. And I'll be singing the song "Henry Street" in my sleep tonight. So, I think, will Sam. Long live the Burger King.
Monday, March 9, 2009
It was wonderful, sitting at a table on the sidewalk, people-watching, feeding Sam bites of spaghetti. I love spring.
We're spending tomorrow teaching a Shakespeare workshop at a high school in Rock Hill. There is almost nothing more fun than getting paid to talk about something you're crazy in love with. Especially with someone you're crazy in love with. Speaking of which, hottie husband got a haircut today. He looks way less homeless now. People had started offering to buy him coffee.