Take Back the Moment!

•July 7, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Live theatre is visceral, in your face, immediate. It is also a breeding ground for mistakes and embarrassing moments. As an adult, I am pretty flexible and able to deal with these mishaps. When I was in high school, I was not so self-assured. My senior production of Guys and Dolls was almost my undoing.

I was so proud to get the part of Adelaide, the long-suffering fiancé of Nathan Detroit. It was a belty part, and frankly, I was stealing the show. My comedic timing and accent were the hit in our small community and I even did some physicalization, changing my hair, my walk, my hand movements. These were unheard of in my high school, and especially for me. I loved the theatre where I could take on a persona so unlike my own.

Adelaide was on in many scenes and had a dozen costume changes. The most challenging part as a 16 year old, however, was the “Take Back Your Mink” song. I had to do a strip-tease and then walk around in lingerie for the remainder of the song. By dress rehearsal, I was confident, though, having practiced the costume changes at least a dozen times.

In our final dress, all my guy friends were in the audience—the strip tease was their favorite part of the show. No worries. I was particularly flirty that day, with only them in the audience. They were hootin’ and hollerin’, all of it encouragement to the girls that were on the stage, actually. The dance was great, but half way through, I would rip off my tearaway long red gown to a red lace camisole and slip, discrete, but sexy..

I was strutting my stuff, flipped off the pearls, the hat, sexily removing my long gloves. Then stood center stage to rip off the gown. I grabbed the side ripped it off and all of the cat calling stopped immediately. I kept singing, a little less sure, and then it built back up to a crescendo with stomping and yelling. I ended the song in my usual pose on top of the piano to great applause.

Grabbing the dress, etc., I rushed off stage to dress for my next scene. My director was waiting back stage for me.

“Don’t ever pull that again!” she yelled. “The show will get shut down,”

“What?” I replied confusedly, rushing to the dressing room to change. She followed.

“Wear the slip, LaDonna, this is a high school show”. “What??” I repeated? And looked down at my teddy. Well, where my teddy should have been. In the rush for the previous scene, I had missed some of the undergarments. I had just stripped down to a black bra, panties with garter belt, and character shoes with high black heels. I gasped and looked over at her mortified. “oh my god” I whispered.

I was very conservative in high school about my dress, was quite the preppie, and I had just done a burlesque show for 6 of my friends, and my boyfriend, in the gym of the school. The custodians had also all stopped in to watch my song. I didn’t think I could leave the dressing room. I really didn’t. My director quickly recognized my panic and also realized I was not going to ever leave that room again! She personally helped me into my next costume, reassuring me that it was fine, not a big deal, surely no one even noticed. ….right.

I made it through the next scenes until the end of the rehearsal and tried to run to my car to avoid my friends. No such luck. They all knew it was a mistake but relished in it. They were surrounding my truck when I went outside. The catcalls began. I raised my head and walked towards them as if I knew what had happened.

“Like the show guys? “ I asked huskily.

“yeah”…a few said….confused.

“Well, I had to do something to liven up the rehearsal!” I said as I climbed into my truck, slowly pulling away.

They all stood there, dumbfounded, wondering if it was really me playing a joke on them.

I went home and cried and it took everything in me to finish that production. My friends still talk about it, and I only recently told them it was a mistake and how very very horrifying it was. They were shocked!


History repeated

•July 1, 2011 • 2 Comments

The atrium at the English Building. UIUC.
Early mornings, late nights.
Scrambling to get papers written by hand to later put in a tiny word processor.

I sit here now with my new laptop. The trees are gone, the sofas torn, yellow foam stuffing exposed, like the ugly fat sucked out in liposuction.

What once was lovely and inspiring–skylights, curved conversation centers for group work, tables for eating and gathering with colleagues–sit empty, austere and institutional instead of the embracing space of old.

Yet I am here with colleagues, each writing and sharing. The space isn’t important, or is it? My previous posts in this writing marathon were thoughtful and caring….now all I feel is stark distance from my surroundings. THIS place should feel more comforting. It was my haven for so many countless hours of graduate school. I feel displaced, disconnected, discontent.

That’s the way University remodels go, I guess. It’s only been 25 years since the last remodel….nothing in University time moves quickly. Just like my memories.

singular memory

•July 1, 2011 • Leave a Comment

He won’t remember those moments of his childhood where we just explored
Walking hand in hand as the clouds gathered, deciding whether or not to storm
We explored ancient trees, he and I, sitting between the exposed roots, telling stories, making up voices and characters.

Then a sprinkle, a deluge, and we laughed as the rain would soak us, running from tree to tree playing hide and go seek with the sky.

After the quick storm scattered, the puddles were there to explore, to stomp in, to look for fairy kingdoms. He acorn tops floating were the hats of the elves, he assured me, and he would look for tiny footprints or other items of clothing.

His blond hair would curl around the top of his earlobe as his hand curled around my fingers, pulling me to the next adventure.

He wasn’t quite four and no longer remembers the Mom and Marc moments, but I do, and I remember each time I see that sparkle of wanting to learn more in his eyes. His excited words curling around my heart.


•July 1, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Beatnik in Paris Cafe

Smokey cafes
Inspiration for so many poets
Ginsberg, Kerouac, Sinclair, Burroughs
Drugs, Sexuality
Words dripping from the page with contempt and anger
Yet an undertow of love and acceptance
Audrey was the pretty face
To block out the ugliness of society
Black turtlenecks, Black pants
Sitting in shadows experimenting with the fringe of life
I’m in orbit, man…..
Time for the Hippies

habit of love

•July 1, 2011 • 1 Comment

Completely covered
Hidden from all except your husband
I’ve played a nun so many times, the habit stifling in its severity
Heat gathered under layers of unbreathable cotton
Breasts chafing with sweat and course fabric
A sacrifice for the play, the production, so unlike your true losses
Chastity, humility–words I barely accept as authentic
You trust HIM implicity
A faith I never understood, though envied
To me it was hurried memorized phrases
Going through the motions, up, down, cross
What would it be like to feel so utterly loved
Every cell knowing it belonged
Easy to joke about the garb
Perhaps the joke’s on me….

resistance is futile…

•June 30, 2011 • 2 Comments

a common enough phrase (but have to love the Borg reference)….yet I do it again and again. I resist. I push back. I am stubborn about ridiculously small items occasionally. I’m a woman.

I resisted the iPhone, standing by Blackberry until my shoulders ached from the weight or carrying around the newest version, resisted a MAC, now can’t believe how user-friendly it actually is, and resisted an SUV, now thoroughly loving my Ella Fitzgerald, my black and sassy Sante Fe.

I wish I were more open to change, but I hold back, reluctant to believe that new is always improved (often I am right). Antibacterial soap, water bottles instead of tap water, blu ray….all have not changed the world the way they promised. OK, these are minor, but so are the things I resist.

I hate change. I am a woman.

balancing act

•June 29, 2011 • 2 Comments

I love to watch Cirque du Soleil perform. Their ability to keep themselves suspended in the air defies gravity. I envy that.

I struggle to keep my life afloat somedays. Juggling children’s needs, friend’s needs, lover’s needs, professional needs, and household needs is a never ending slight of hand game, robbing someone to appease another, stealing out a meeting early to make another one late. I continue to move through the intricate steps of the routine making everyone happy with only a vague sense of disappointment in their minds.

The pressure started in the 80s when I used to watch the Enjoli commercial where the woman did EVERYTHING.

Why do women put such pressure on themselves? I know I am still a people pleaser (though I do say no more often than I used to….). I hate to be unable to accomplish ANYTHING. Oy vey. It’s time for someone to make ME some bacon.