Yesterday morning, the weather outside was muggy, much like my head. I moved about the kitchen getting myself tea, starting breakfast, chatting with Mom. Standing at the kitchen sink, washing dishes, I spotted Owl fly into a tree from the property below. I very excitedly pointed him out to Mom and we stood there, both with our binoculars, squinting at Owl in the tree as he pulled apart a robin for breakfast. Based on his size and coloring, and the fact that he didn’t object when I called him that I was pretty sure he was Larry.
Last night, after a long rehearsal and a drive home through the mucky night, Husband told me that one of the babies was in the tree just outside the office window again. He’d tried to show me the baby the night before but my eyesight at 1 am is pretty much eyelashes. Last night, I was a bit more conscious and in need of an Owl pick me up so outside I went, Tigger the Dog trotting happily by my side.
I always feel awkward flashing the beam of the flashlight around the yard at night. I’m always sure some neighbor will get freaked out by the light sneaking in his window and call the police and then I’ll have to explain to the lovely officer that I was only looking for baby owls and they’ll have to cite me for something and I’ll end up with a police record that sounds a bit crazy. It’s a weird worry, but it’s a worry. BUT I’d had a long day and baby owls were just the thing I needed to make me feel better so flash the trees I did.
And then Tigger the Dog startled, barked a terrified bark and looked up. A baby Owl had just dropped something on her head. Pointing the beam up, I saw them - two of them - sitting on the branch high above TTD and trying to pretend that I wasn’t looking at them. We had a moment, TTD, Owls and I. They were all eyes and eyebrows and fuzz. TTD was a quivering mass of questions and I was trying to figure out how to get up there and hug them.
It was a neat way to end the day. And it was even more awesome to have Mom here to witness the wonder of our Owls, to be just as crazy as I am with her binoculars and commentary.
That was yesterday. Today, just now, Mom and I were standing on the sloping kitchen deck, looking about the side yard for Owls. We could hear the Robin complaining loudly that someone was too close to his/her nest. We looked about the back yard, scanning branches but found nothing. We stopped really looking and began a discussion about my dying plant in the pot on the deck, I looked up, Mom looked up and we both spotted Mrs. Owl staring at us through a break in the treetops. She let us watch her for about five minutes and then flew off toward the nest. Both pleased with our moment with Owl, we came inside and set about making breakfast.
While the Mom is here, she gets to use the lovely brown granite guest bathroom with the tub that doesn’t drain properly because it has a P-trap or doesn’t have a P-trap and an S-trap. It does or doesn’t have something in plumber speak that means the tub won’t drain. I was very apologetic but she was fine.
I should I remembered. At the Mom’s house, showering is a many-stepped process.
Step One: Put a bucket under the tub faucet and catch the cold water coming out of the tap so that it can be used in the garden.
Step Two: While the bucket is filling with cold to warm water, adjust the curtain on the window – which is boob height on an average person - so that the folks on the sidewalk don’t see any naked bits and bobs, and pull the shower curtain tight to the wall as a security measure.
Step Three: When the water is finally warm, pull the shower curtain back enough to remove the bucket from the shower/tub and engage the shower by pulling the diverter thing down.
Step Four: Ensure the shower curtain is carefully tight to the wall, disrobe, use shower curtain to cover one’s front while carefully stepping into the shower tub and holding the window curtain tight to the wall on the right so the folks on the sidewalk/street don’t see one’s naked top half.
Step Five: Scoot over to the faucet and adjust the temp with one hand while pulling the window curtain tight to the left so that the folks on the sidewalk/street don’t see one’s naked jiggly bits.
Step Six: Shower
Step Seven: Turn off water and reverse steps four through six.
Step Eight: When the shower curtain is tight to the wall, proceed to dry and dress.
Simple? NO! Last summer, while staying there for work, this totally happened to me while attempting to shower -
I accomplished tasks one through three and was halfway through step four when I spotted the bottle of isopropyl alcohol on the counter. "That might work to wipe off some of the black paint on my nails.", I thought...
When I opened the spray tip, it broke off. Not seeing that as a warning of what was to come, I turned the bottle upside-down and squeezed. The 20+ yr. old plastic bottle promptly burst into pieces, spraying alcohol goop all over the bathroom, my hair, my eye, my body etc. I dropped the bottle in the sink and attempted a quick clean up with toilet paper - which rapidly disintegrated into paste.
One eye dripping with goo, I proceeded to skip the rest of step four, quickly stepped into the shower and shoved my head under the spray. Neglecting to pull the window curtain tight on the right and, therefore, exposing myself to the masses outside. I didn’t care. Alcohol in the eye isn’t pretty. Minutes later, with it out of my eye and the burning now a warm glow, I managed to pull myself together enough to finish step five through eight.
Well, only part of eight… I stepped out of the shower and onto a big glob of the alcohol goo on the floor and only just managed to catch myself before completing a fall worthy of the Stooges – arms all akimbo, strange grunt yells, the whole deal.
During all this I, of course, forgot to complete step eight. Forgot to pull the shower curtain to the wall. Forgot that the folks on the sidewalk were getting a glimpse of my odds and ends and proceeded to just sit down and laugh myself silly while slowly get high from the isopropyl alcohol fumes.
It became instantly clear to my why the Mom takes baths.
And good thing since a bath is something she’s forced to do here because of the P-trap/S-trap issue. Unless she likes showering in a quickly filling tub with weird bugs that seem to live in the trap swirling about her ankles. And the Mom should totally love the fact our brown granite bathroom is lacking any sort of window covering. Sure, it’s just squirrels, chipmunks and owls getting to see her jiggly bits but I’m happy to do my part to make her feel at home. I'm just that fantastic of a hostess.
My cussing has spiraled out of control in the past few days. I’m sure it’s connected to the Mom being in town and that teenage part of me that knows that she can’t punish me for cursing. I’m also sure the fact that I’m a wee bit stressed about my brain farts on stage with these lines is not inspiring a clean mouth. And, I’m sure my no longer being around children on a daily basis has not helped. I’m able to drop the F word into middle of every word I say.
It’s not pretty.
I started off yesterday with totally good intentions to cut out profanity all together BUT then I took a friend to the airport and got stuck in traffic on the way back, I got stuck in traffic on the way to a 9am tech rehearsal and then I dropped countless lines, rewrote the script by doing parts of Act Two in Act One, and just about melted down on stage. And this was all before noon. The F word was the only thing that made things better.
I know it’s a temporary fix, like chocolate, but chocolate was unavailable and the F word was. And it was a good one.
I chatted with a songwriter the other day that told me she took it – the F word – out of her vocabulary a year ago because she was worried she’d say it on stage. Now, she was still peppering her conversations with other cuss words but the might F was missing. I was impressed. She was as prolific as I am with it.
I tried for a short while to say, “Shut the front door!” but the Mom was not pleased with that phrase either. Perhaps she’s not pleased because I am totally not able to say, “Shut the front door!” quietly and subtly. To get the effect I wanted, I would pseudo shout it, biting off the ends of each word. Despite my age, the Mom almost grounded me.
Husband is Scottish and they have a delightful mess of phrases and insults that I should pick up. You can call someone a Muppet or a Cabbage or, if you really want to insult him or her, a Bawbag. But those phrases don’t roll off my tongue the way the F word does. And my angry argument looses steam when I slip into a bad Scottish accent to make a point. Not to mention that Americans are not insulted when they are called a Muppet, are totally confused by being called a Cabbage and need a full definition of what a Bawbag is.
I could cut cussing out all together and become the lady the Mom raised me to be. I could adopt the southern insult and “Bless her heart” every time I want to call someone the word that rhymes with witch. Or Mom could try what the Grandmother did to me once and wash my mouth out with soap. Not that that helped much. I just made sure she wasn’t around when I swore.
I guess I could put change in a jar every time the F word slips out. But who has change these days? Well, except the Mom who carries around a purse filled with them. And charging myself for my fowl mouth takes a certain amount of trust and faith in my follow through – I’m very a good liar to myself about whether I deserve to be punished or not. I can justify every profane word.
I need a patch for cussing or hypnotism or someone one to smack me every time I swear. Come to think of it, all that would do is inspire more cussing. I suppose I’m just going to have to accept me the way I am, F word warts and all. And avoid the Mom and a bar of soap for the next two weeks...
My mother is in town for a few weeks. I have currently managed NOT to revert to an angry teenage girl but it’s been close a few times. But it is only day three.
So far, I’ve only sneered at her choice of foot wear – socks and Birkenstocks - and laughed outright at her gardening pants worn as regular pants with the socks and Birkenstocks. I didn’t forbid her to leave the house “dressed like that” like I would have when I was a teen. I even I let her wear her silly bushwhacker sun hat and my old dress shirt with the said gardening pants that she’s hemmed herself.
I didn’t scream “MOM! How could you?” when she talked to the person at the pet store like they were friends and like the person cared if she was visiting me from California. Or when she made conversation with the checkout lady. Or when she answered the helpful but never sincere “Finding everything you need?” question posed to us by the Target lady.
I have only smiled when she presented a tiny purse filled with dimes and pennies and nickels and said she intended to use them. I was quick on the draw and paid with my card instead. And I pointed out the large glob of white sunscreen on her face and suggested gently she rub it in instead of taking a paper towel to her face like she used to do to me
I’m doing well.
I have, however, spoken to her like she was a child and not my mother and was told off. “Don’t speak to me like I’m two years old. I can follow directions. I’m not a toddler.”
I have made fun of her attempts to get down Husband’s new basement stairs without the benefit of a handrail, creeping down the steps, holding onto the walls so she doesn’t fall. I’ve only laughed a little bit. And taken a picture or two. But I didn’t post them on any social media so, points to me.
I’ve not limited my cussing at all. In fact, I think I’ve increased my use of the F word and have started peppering every other word with it. She’s only winced a few times. I figure I’ve got another day in me and then I’ll get shut down when Mom uses her scary mom voice with my full name used, every syllable sharp and biting.
And I have tried to feed her on numerous occasions – not literarily feed her but tried to make sure she would eat, like she was totally incapable to do so on her own, like she hadn’t been eating when she was hungry her whole life. And I’ve told her how to operate the gas stove. And the shower. And the sink... I’ve pretty much talked to her like she’s stupid more times than should have. I know better. She knows I know better.
A few more days of this and she’ll show me that she’s the parent, set me right and send me to my room. A few more days of this and I’ll be thirteen again, slamming my door and screaming, “ I hate you! You’re the worst mom ever!” To which she’ll reply “Good. I’m trying.”
I’m so happy she’s here!
The show I’m in opens on Friday. We have three more rehearsals before our first audience on Thursday and I’m not ready.
We’ve had four weeks to get this show on its feet and we should be ready but I feel like I've only had three since I lost a week to the flu and a snot filled head, lack of energy and issues with breathing. A total excuse, I know. Lots of theatre shows go up in less. I’m just trying to stop beating myself up because that’s not helping me feel ready at all. It’s just adding panic to the process, which is never helpful.
Yes, I know all my lines. That's not the problem. I know them - I just don’t know where they come in the play.
And I’m only slightly kidding here.
It doesn’t help that this script is filled with lines that repeat and answers that lead in different directions, down different roads of inquiry. And that these repeated lines are not limited to a scene; they are peppered throughout the play. It’s a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ series only we’re trying to get off the stage and you can’t go back and pick a different ending. Well, you can but really, that just makes the play longer.
For years now, Mother and I assumed that Grandmother had issues with memory and that is why they had problems on stage during her production of Ages of God. Why they kept looping between acts, why there were large pauses as someone tried to figure out where they were and how to move forward. Grandmother, I was wrong.
The plot is a Psychiatrist trying to find out if Nun who was found with dead baby killed said baby. I was wrong because the Psychiatrist, the part I’m playing, is the one who leads the questioning, who can bring things back on track when things get wonky, who should be able to get the play from point A to point B. And it’s not happening. Why? Because I ask who the father was, who knew she was pregnant, who killed the baby at least a million times, in slightly different ways throughout the play. It’s very confusing.
Last night, the woman playing Mother Superior and I tried repeatedly to finish the two pages we’d dropped in act one. We - well, really it was me - answered several of her qualifying statements with the one sentence that would lead us into the missing scene. We covered the same ground over and over and over. It would have been entertaining to hear what our panicked brain was saying while our mouths were moving with dialog, “Um…. haven’t’ we been here” “Yes, but I don’t know how to get back out!” ”Me either!”
At one point, towards the end of Act One, she paused. I’m not sure if it was dramatic effect or if she went up on a word. All I know is I saw the end of the Act in sight, knew what had to be said, and I said it, fast and quickly. I turned a ten-line back-and-forth dialog ending into my own personal mini monologue, said it quickly and got the hell off that stage.
It’s good that we can find the humor in this right now. And again, I really mean me. I’m pretty sure the director and the producers are not as amused. I know the stage manager who has to follow the script sure isn’t entertained at all. But it’s a dark show and humor is the only thing keeping me from crying and napping. Brother deals with stressful emotional situations by napping. I always made fun of his ability to drop off into sleep when the world was falling apart around him but I’m following suit with this show. I managed two naps yesterday. Perhaps if I sleep with my script under my pillow, things will all make sense by Thursday… Or perhaps, the production staff will take my suggestion to heart and tape the shows road map up on the stage where the audience can’t see it. I’m pretty sure I can hide a frantic study of it while on stage looking like a smug and self-righteous Psychiatrist…
So, um... coming to see the show? Sure won’t be boring…
My name is ej. I'm a girl. I say that because with the short hair and the short initials, folks aren't always sure. More brilliant insights to who I am in About me