If you are new to Sharon Wheatley’s blog, welcome! I write stories in “blogisodes”, and to start at the beginning of this story, go here.
Happy Tuesday and welcome to lovely LaGuardia Airport. I am such a fan of LaGuardia Airport, which is the best of the New York City airports in my opinion, especially if you live in Manhattan. Newark is too far–it’s in another STATE after all, and JFK (don’t get me started) you can ride your bike from JFK and get to Manhattan faster because of the traffic on the Van Wyck. Because it’s So. Far. Away. So we’re left with the smallest airport of the three, LaGuardia. Airport of choice (This advertisement was paid for by no one because I don’t have any advertisers here on My Own Space. What, excuse me, please speak up. You in the back? You say you’d like to advertise on my blog? Fantastic. I have no idea how you do that, but I’m finding out and will get back to you.)
Time warp. Now I am on the kinda bumpy airplane to Jacksonville, seated next to the lovely and uber talented Farah Alvin. Ooo, bump. Nick Wyman, please chalk up any typos to turbulence. So let’s get to the bottom of what I’m doing this week, shall we? Here we go.
Indianapolis Symphony puts together pops concerts that they then sell to other symphonies to perform. But Sharon, you said you were singing with the Jacksonville Symphony. Correct. A+. I was hired by the Indianapolis Symphony years ago to sing a concert called The 1950’s, The Golden Age of Black and White with the Jacksonville Symphony. They also do a 60’s show and a 70’s show (Farah also does these) and some other ones like a Las Vegas show and a Broadway Diva’s show….I don’t know them all, I only do the 50’s concert. I have done the 50’s show a lot, this might be the sixth or seventh time over the span of 8 years. Indianapolis Symphony has made a business of selling these concerts across the country and if you are lucky enough to be hired (it was one of the most lengthy audition experiences of my life), it can be a lot of income in a weekend. It is also basically everything you ever pictured as a little fat kid in Cincinnati belting your heart out to your Judy Live at the Palace record in your bathing suit with an audience of stuffed animals. Huge orchestra, floor length ball gowns, false eyelashes, gloves. As my friend Jacob always says, “This is fancy, kids. Red lips! Hair up!”
Farah and I are the two “girl singers” in the 50’s concert, and she sings the slightly more ingénue material, and I sing the torchy and comedy stuff. We also have a group with us called Chapter Six and they are an award winning acapella boy group (and by “boys” I mean “men” because they are all married with kids by now). It will be fun to see everyone, the last time I did this concert was in Milwaukee three years ago, so we have a lot of catching up to do. I can’t wait to see pictures of all those new babies!
Charlotte and Beatrix are not with me, if you are wondering. They stayed at home with Rob and his Mom, the super duper Marlene Meffe. Yesterday I asked if she would make her famous meatballs for the kids and Charlotte heard me and said, “What? You can actually make meatballs?” The way I make them, they come riiiiiight out of that bag from the frozen food section at Trader Joe’s. It involves microwaving. It’s exhausting. Marlene just squishes some ingredients into some ground beef and cooks them in a skillet and then bakes them. It’s so much easier than opening a bag (EX-HAUS-TING). Tonight the kids and Marlene the over achieving cook are making a cheesecake. Everything is right there in the kitchen—no need to go all the way down to midtown to order it at Junior’s. Cop out. If it doesn’t involve a telephone or a subway ride or a microwave, it’s not cooking, Marlene Meffe.
Oh, man. She’s totally going to ruin the kids while I’m gone. They are going to expect me to cook with ingredients.
Well that’s just about enough of that. Let’s get back to college. You are probably wondering if I put on the freshman 15. I did not. That said, I did realize well into the semester that built into my student ID was a meal plan (which I had paid for) and had to use. So, yes, I did eat in the “Café” which the students call the caf (as in de-caf coffee). This means that very often I was studying and eating at a table alone in the café. Although, more often than not, many of Rob and Sister Wife Amy’s kids from the musical theater program were there and would ask me to sit down. It was very sweet. But—I couldn’t. I had studying to do and let’s face it my time was at a premium because my home life was two kids to put to bed, not a dorm room.
People ask if I was self conscious going back to school with kids who are so much younger
than me, and you know, not really. I think because I work in theater and especially because I did Avenue Q for so long, I am used to having a peer group that is much younger. And sometimes I work with toys. Frequently I work with people who are just out of college, and it is not unusual for people to be cast in a Broadway show while they are still in college. So in my warped brain, we were all on the same playing field. Except they have that cushy dorm to go home to and I go home and give a bath and change diapers. Except for that, we are perfectly the same. Now how it felt for them to have me in class, that’s something you’d have to ask them. I don’t know. From my point of view, it was lovely.
Since we’re talking about this, I will tell you about one awkward thing. I was in a Playwriting Class to fulfill a drama elective of some kind. I remember when Aubrey (head of CCM’s program….played by James Lipton, remember?) approved me taking playwriting I was ecstatic. I get to WRITE for a drama class? I don’t have to memorize a Shakespeare scene? Brilliant. (Time warp–I am now in my hotel room in Jacksonville and it’s midnight. WOW WOW WOW was that flight bumpy.) Anyhoo, possibly the only odd moment came in this class because where I DON’T know a lot about a lot of things, I DO know a lot about theater. The class was very interactive and hyper and young and eager acting students who were constantly trying to flex their opinions by saying things like, “I hate musicals.” It’s funny to be me in a situation like that. I think that class all wondered whose Mom was sitting in class with them, and I was acutely aware of not only my age, but also of my resume. They had no idea I’d done anything–they thought I was just some creepy adult who wrote scenes that were odd and dropped the f-bomb a lot (I don’t drop the f-bomb in my blog, but I can’t seem to write a play without an angsty cursing teen). I remember talking to a friend about my problem and he said, “Tell them you’ve done Broadway. That’ll get their respect.” But I didn’t. Over time they figured out that I was Rob’s wife, which was hilarious because–I don’t know why–just because they all think he’s so serious or something–but I’m not sure if they ever found out the extent of my resume. Just as well. I kind of enjoyed being the weird old lady in the corner who writes bizarre scenes (refer to yesterday when I talk about how I like the bar to be low).
Okay, now don’t get mad, but I have to stop for the night. I have an early-ish rehearsal and it’s 12:37 am and I haven’t unpacked a thing. The great news is that I will have a lot of time to blog for you good readers this week because I don’t have to empty any potty seats or pack school lunches. So you’ve got that to look forward to. Okay? Okay. Tomorrow we’ll get to the midterms and beyond. It’s good. I promise.
To read the next blogisode in this series, go here.