A Spoonful of Sugar

It has been a particularly stressful week what with everything going on. The tree thing, the kid in the hospital thing, the cross-country flights thing, the Presidential Twitter-spewing thing, etc etc. The cross-country trip added a few extra complications with missed rehearsals and a performance, rescheduled film shoots and wholesale meetings, plus the logistics of suddenly moving the 25 year old to Pittsburgh on 3 days notice. My head was spinning from keeping everything together mentally while trying to reign in the chaos.

People say, “it’s the little things” that make all the difference. Honestly, I always kind of thought that notion was crap…an excuse to do the bare minimum. I have always tried to do the grand gestures and would beat myself up if I found myself lacking in the time of a loved one’s crisis.

The fact of the matter is that this week proved the “little things” have a huge impact. The pancake dates, lunches, and dinners. The long drives to the airport just for a selfie and a hug. Taco Tuesday at our old stomping grounds. The offer of a bed for a night or three. The guy at the Indian restaurant who remembers your name and your “usual.” Karaoke at our favorite dive bar. Pho. All the latest juicy gossip. The hugs. The hugs. The hugs.

When you haven’t seen some of these people in three years the fact that they are willing to put their lives on hold for you for even just a few minutes means everything.

So while next week will be nutty as I try to catch every ball that got dropped while I was gone, just knowing how loved I am will make that bitter pill so much easier to swallow.

Friends and Family

My son had surgery this morning. He found himself in a bit of a healthcare pickle that resulted in having to have surgery. On his poor jaw/neck.

I have been a parent for 29 years. This is the first time (unless I’ve had a stroke of amnesia) that one of my babies has had to be operated on inpatient.

I panicked…kind of.

When I heard the news a few days ago I kept my composure (mostly) until I remembered that my sick baby was in the Pacific Northwest and I’m in Pittsburgh.

I’m also broke.

Self-employment is a bitch sometimes.

I took to Facebook (which is where I always go when I have a feelingly insurmountable obstacle) and asked my brilliant friend circle about possible solutions. Yes, I could have googled it but the collective knowledge of my buds has always outperformed a Google search.

My friends came through and then some.

What I was hoping for was a few links about possible assistance to get a desperate mama to her sick little boy. Within the hour I had donated plane tickets, multiple offers of places to crash, dozens of messages of love and support, and some friends even sent traveling cash.

I also had an extended attack of “I’m the luckiest girl alive” blubbering sobs. I don’t know what I have done in my life to have earned the love of these people but I am eternally grateful for them.

So, this morning my baby had surgery and I was able to be there soon after he got out of recovery.

They say friends are the family you choose. Thank you to my friends for being a part of my family.

If a tree falls on your house . . .

but you don’t overreact was it that big a deal?

Yesterday, The Bruce and I were at our shop. We had only been there about 20 minutes or so when one of our neighbors arrived to let us know that a (different) neighbor’s tree had fallen onto our house.

We just sighed.

This was just the latest in a series of WTF events over the last few months: a drunk driver slammed into our car, our business credit card got hacked, the various frustrations with the family court and foster care systems (and as I am writing this I had just found out that one of our older children who still lives in Washington had to be admitted to the hospital) … of COURSE a tree fell on our house.

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The Bruce and I just gave each other a tired nod, he went off to inspect the damage, and I stayed at the shop and put out the daily fires of business ownership.

At no point did either of us really (over)react.

For anyone who knows The Bruce, this should come as no surprise. He is notoriously chill and laid back. Nothing seems to faze him. Ever.

ME, on the other hand….well, let’s just say that I have been told that my stress level is “legendary.” Over the years, my health had been affected by the sheer amounts of pressure I had been putting on myself. I am famous for flying on in fits of rage one minute and being totally fine the next. I am not known for holding this stuff in.

And yet, a tree falls on our house….nothing.

It should be noted that the damage is minimal…under the circumstance and that it was absolutely a matter of “it could have been SO much worse” but I didn’t know any of that yet. A tree fell on our house and I didn’t so much as raise my voice.

Is this what adulting looks like or has the chaos just given me higher threshold for nonsense?

There have actually been studies about it and it seems that over time dealing with highly stressful situations and successfully navigating them helps you build up almost an immunity to it . . . something akin to a vaccine.

According to an article written by Clifton B. Parker for the Stanford News, “Stress leaves an imprint on your brain that prepares you to handle similar stress the next time you encounter it. Psychologists call the process of learning and growing from a difficult experience stress inoculation. Going through the experience gives your brain and body a stress vaccine.”

So maybe the next time someone gives me a hard time about having too much going on in my world, I can just remind them that I am building up my strength for when really big stuff happens . . . you know, like a tree falling on my house.

Be sure to check out the great article about stress at:

https://news.stanford.edu/2015/05/07/stress-embrace-mcgonigal-050715/

Picasso at the Lapin Agile – first rehearsal

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First rehearsals are terrifying. Even more so than opening nights. Audiences can be much kinder and more accepting than fellow actors. I have all kind of crazy thoughts that go through my head at first rehearsals. I fear that everyone else will be better than me. I fear that they all will already be best of friends and resent this interloper. I fear that they will spend the entire time wondering how on earth I managed to get cast. (Have I mentioned that I am a touch neurotic? That is typical of actors but I suspect I may have special super powered crazies in that department).

This was a particularly scary first rehearsal because the rest of the cast had already been working together for a week and I was the “odd man out.” I am probably a “recast” of that character (which was written to be a male character) because of the lateness of my arrival and that rehearsals had already started before I finally got my “please come be in our show” email.

As the cast arrived (I was the first one there – as per usual), most people either looked at me like “who is that” or they approached me because they had heard I was the Soap Lady.  I suppose there are worse things to be known for (like being asked for the 9 millionth time why I have so many kids) but if we are being honest with ourselves, I would rather be known as that actress who makes soap than that Soap Lady who also acts.

Anyway, Sagot is a hoot and I am TOTALLY NOT what the script calls for…50-ish male, rotund (well, I am scarily approaching THAT part but I am working to fight that off). If I can’t actually BE a Big Old Dude then I intend to have the presence of a Big Old Dude. I will let you know how that works out.

Picasso at the Lapin Agile opens May 4 at the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre. Check out http://www.throughlinetheatre.org/main-stage/ for more information if you are interested in seeing how I pull this off.

 

What? You’re doing something else??

There is a lot going on right now. A lot more than usual. A few film projects. 5 scripts currently hanging out in my purse. The soap business is taking off. It is about to be Farmer’s Market season. I have a few readings and THREE full theatre productions booked out. My ridiculous Monologue Project (I’m doing a monologue a week for 50 weeks. Check it out here.) I am trying to finish knitting the Bunny Vest for Miss L’s birthday.

Plus all of the kiddos (did I mention that we have 8?).

What more perfect time to start documenting all the crazy?

The plan is to use this page to organize my thoughts, overcome the obstacles, vent the frustrations, etc without bombarding my poor Facebook friends with a bunch of extra posts to sift through.

Thank you for caring about me. If we aren’t friends yet, I hope this helps in getting to know be a little better. If we are friends, please excuse my mood. I’m … well… awake.

Life is too long to be bored — Samantha Story-Camp (is it weird to quote yourself?)