I have the January blahs. Does anyone else? It’s very grey and damp in New York today, which doesn’t help. I am sitting by the window as I type hoping to drink in the small amount of daylight available.
I am also in that weird–my life has no structure, yet I am way too busy–place. I hate it. Rob and I were talking about this last night or maybe the night before last (I have no structure, so no sense of days!), that while he is busy, he is in a very structured routine. Basically, he described it as summer camp. He knows he has to be places from 9am-10pm everyday, and all he has to do is follow the schedule. Arts and crafts from 9-11, archery from 11-1, lunch, swimming from 2-5. You get the point, just substitute in show names for the activities like Myths and Hymns and Evita and another show but I always forget what it’s called and that is his day. An added bonus, everyone in the room is doing the same thing. A room full of people learning music, with a piano and a stage manager, and an assignment for the day. And breaks. And clarity.
Lovely! Busy, but lovely!
I have this whack-a-doo schedule that revolves around everyone else. Beatrix has school, I have to take her and pick
her up. Charlotte has school, I don’t take her, but I pick her up. Rob is busy constantly, so everything else lands on me. Right now, the car is leaking oil and the garage we park in wants it fixed because their floor is getting ruined, so that has to happen NOW, the laundry is overflowing and I managed to get it all together and down in the elevator and money on the card for the machine, but a neighbor has THEIR laundry in, and can’t seem to move it to the dryer, so it sits in the washer. And I wait. And yes, I could be that ass-y person who takes the wet laundry out and dumps it on the table, but……I don’t want to touch their underwear. Mostly because I just want THEM to be more on the ball, and I don’t WANT to have to do their work because they have something else going (a marathon of Real Housewives or something) and can’t be bothered to get it out.
Seriously! I’m annoyed.
In addition to waiting on everyone (even my thoughtless neighbor), I am trying to conduct business. The really terrific news is that this blog is getting some attention. Which I love! But, in most cases, I am still in the “proposal” stages or the “we need more information” stages, or the “let’s have a meeting or a conference call” stages. Which is GREAT, don’t get me wrong, but complicated, given my schedule, and a lot of it is on the phone. And my three-year-old hates it when I am on the phone and she makes a fuss while I am trying to do business (which is not fair to her….she deserves attention). And the dishes have to be washed. And the laundry. And auditions. And cleaning the bathroom. And grocery shopping. And, and, and. Oh! And then I went to get cash today and they froze it because they thought I was committing fraud. So that is helpful. I had to raid Charlotte’s piggy bank to get through the day.
Please stop whining and get to the blog.
Everyone who is reading this.
Okay, I am now laughing out loud at how incredibly whiny I am being. I mean….grow a pair, Wheatley, and buck up. I have to tell you that even though you aren’t all in this room with me right now and aren’t even going to read this until tomorrow, you have helped me enormously because I can picture you collectively rolling your eyes. I am not a coal miner. I am lucky. I am just….
Okay! I can live with that! But I am a decent storyteller, so let’s get back to something I’m pretty good at, and the laundry can wait.
I have to start this story by telling you that Traci Lyn (TLT) called me yesterday and reminded me that it was completely hush-hush that she’d flown to NYC to do the Avenue Q callback, because she had to take time off from Mamma Mia, which she’d been in for only a month.
She said, “No one knows I did that!”
I said, “They do now!”
So, uh, sorry to TLT, and please don’t tell on her even though Mamma Mia Vegas closed years ago and no one would have really cared anyway, well…maybe they would have, but not like “fired” cared. You understand.
Okay, so getting back to the story, TLT and I were all ready to play with puppets for a day. The beautiful thing about TLT and I going up for this job against each other was that it seemed to be a win-win for TLT (according to her). As she put it, “So I’m kinda rooting for you because I already have a job in Vegas, and if you get this job, we’ll live in the city and we can go running together all the time.”
It always involves running with her. She’s like being friends with a cheetah.
Puppet Camp. Let’s break it down.
***If you are an actor auditioning for AVENUE Q anywhere, you should know that this was MY experience at puppet camp, and it is based on my memory from 6 years ago, so don’t—I don’t know–don’t think this is how it always goes. (My legal team made me say that. And by “legal team” I mean the lawyers from LAW AND ORDER who are currently on muted reruns on my TV.)***
We walked in and we were handed….ping pong balls. They weren’t just ping pong balls, though, they were custom
made with pupils and an elastic. Wait–let me see if I can find them. I used to have a pair but the kids always steal them. Sit tight. Found them, and here they are. Please note that one of the eyeballs is smushed, which it wasn’t before. I love my children. Anyhoo, the point is, despite looking simple to construct, they are apparently very hard to make. Something about getting the focus of the eye done correctly. We all strapped on a pair of ping pong eyeballs and looked in the mirror. I think there were maybe 8 of us, and the camp was being taught by a professional puppeteer and cast member of Avenue Q named Peter.
I want to give you an immediate sense of how hard this is, so we are going to do an exercise.
Puppet Lesson #1.
Pretend like you have ping pong eyeballs on your hand, and they are sitting across your
knuckles. Bend your arm so it is close to your body, but your hand is facing out. Relax your fingers. Look at the direction your fingers point. See how they drift to the side (the left side if you are right handed and vice versa)? Shift your hand so your fingers are facing front, making your pretend puppet eyes look straight ahead. The best trick for this is to point your middle finger in the direction you want the eyes to look. Do you see how you have to wrench your wrist in an unnatural way to get the eyes to look straight ahead? Feel the burn. Get used to it.
Focusing the puppets eyes hurts. Now do that for 8 hours, and get reminded every 30 seconds that your hand has drifted back to the left. Rinse and repeat. Welcome to puppet lesson #1.
I could talk you through the ins and outs of puppet school one lesson at a time, but it would take forever. The day progressed, we went from ping pong balls singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” to managing double rodded puppets with a boa wrapped around them, while singing a torch song ala Mae West.
Allow me to cut to the chase with the finer puppet points.
1) Making a puppet talk in a way that looks realistic, and not flapping around like a talking head, is a real art form.
2) Making a puppet walk is harder than it seems. Making a puppet walk and talk and look natural and look in the correct direction is nearly impossible.
3) The puppets are really cute.
4) The puppets get really heavy.
5) The puppets start to weigh 1000 pounds after 20 minutes.
6) By the end of an eight hour day of carrying those blasted puppets around who refuse to look straight ahead or move their mouth when told, there is not enough alcohol in the world.
7) You can not get drunk, or even drink because the next day is the biggest audition of your life in front of everyone important and it is 22 pages of material and 2 songs and misbehaving formerly-cute puppets that now weigh 45 thousand pounds.
8) Based on what your body feels like the next morning, and specifically your right arm, you need a sling to keep it from just dangling lifelessly by your side, let along pick up the puppets and make them look animated and interesting and SING and DANCE and ACT.
It was bad. I was terrified. Eight hours had taught me that I had no idea what I was doing. Flashes of my CATS audition passed before my eyes. I told Rob, there’s no way I was going to get this show. TLT was also a mess, she kept saying, “I think I’m too little for these puppets (she’s very small, that TLT cheetah). We decided we’d do our best, because at this point, we had little to lose. As she said, “All I care about is that ONE of us gets this job.”
TMI (Too Much Information) MOMENT ALERT (proceed at your own risk). I will end on this note. Nine hours after starting this cranky blog, I just got my period, which explains everything. If you’ve read this blog from the first story, you might remember that I don’t keep track of it, and it is a surprise every month (I think I explain this in Thirteen and Three). When Rob came home from work a few minutes ago I discovered it and then I cried and he laughed and then I laughed and now I feel much better. Thanks to both of the readers who are not unsubscribing after this TMI moment.
Happy Birthday to my loyal and wonderful reader, Nick Laurence Kirchmar. Everyone take a quick second and send positive healing energy and birthday wishes to Nick who is battling severe health problems. Thank you!
(To read the next post in this series, go here)