Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Joseph's Song

To my surprise, I’ve been asked to sing at both services of church on Sunday. Not only has it been a long time since I sang, but I’m floored that my parent’s church has asked. Maybe they think I can’t decimate a Christmas song too much.

I’ve chosen “Joseph’s Song” originally recorded by Michael Card. It’s a simple little piece that I’ve always loved. It doesn’t stretch the range too much, but it’s so theatrical and that appeals to me.

It’s rare that we see or hear something from Joseph’s point of view. In fact, after the birth we know very little. His is an important part of the story, in some ways forgotten and disregarded. This little song makes up for that in so many ways.

As I have been rehearsing it, I have found myself getting emotional to the point of sometimes not being able to get through it. I’ve done this song many times during the holidays, back when I was singing regularly. It is one of a very small handful that I always got requests for.

Like a Stephen Curtis Chapman piece as it is deceptively simple. While not difficult to sing, I can actually do all three keys on the accompaniment track, which is rare. It’s the lyrics that make it complex, compelling and moving.

The song sings and listens like a stage play, with a defined three acts, each with its own conclusion. The words themselves roll easily off the tongue. As I’ve been rehearsing, They have struck chords of confusion, acceptance and love with subplots of anger, submission and faith.

I love the setting of the song. For those unfamiliar with it or the Judeo-Christian story of Christ’s birth, the setting of the song is Joseph, husband to Mary, holding the Christ child in his arms and talking with God. The song glides through all the emotions of a father holding his child and the first realization of all the responsibility that entails.

When I performed the song before, I always felt it was about Joseph’s choice, made months before the birth. Now I’ve come to realize that it is more about the moment, the conflicting emotions of that choice and how to carry on.

In oh so many ways, the legacy of Joseph is the realization of the circumstances of a life accepting the impossible and fearlessly forging into the strange unknown. In this song, he is at the very moment when everything he had been told, everything he believed in, waited for, prayed fervently for and had faith in has come to life, and is innocently sleeping in his arms.

For the first time, I think I understand the thoughts that had to have been running through his head. I’ve never totally comprehended the whole story in human terms. I've also found that when you can make a realistic connection the more mariaculous it all becomes.

Maybe it’s the maturity of my own faith. Possibly it’s the realization that there is a parallel, though in no way ‘supernatural’ with the point I now stand in my own life.

As I sang the words before, I had no real connection to the song, other than similar emotions of theatricality I could recall and use. Now as the words, hopefully in tune, come from my mouth there is now a common real emotion that breathes to life as I sing.

I understand the fear of being at a place in time so powerful I am not sure in which direction to step. I believe with no doubt that there is a reason why I have reached this point, but deal with the struggle of whether or not the whys of how I got here are important. I am overwhelmed with the responsibility of making sure the next step I take forward is done with confidence and direction.

And I know the confusion and hurt of being a fallible human and needing to know the reason behind it all. I feel the fear with every breath of not being prepared to be go through the moment I now find myself in. I am consumed by the moment itself, wanting to go back and change just a few things so that I can truly enjoy the moment, to absorb it more fully, understand it and use the knowledge to take on the next.

Like Joseph in this song, I also cling to the promise, the hope and protect the innocence of what I hold in my arms. For Joseph it was the baby who would become known as Jesus Christ, who would, no matter what your stance, religion or beliefs, in arguably changed the world.

For me, I only hold what’s left of my heart, my dreams and my life. I know there is something there worthwhile. I’m just not sure how to get all the pieces put together into the puzzle that will best fulfill the plan.

I am joyous that I have a chance to sing again, if only the one time. I am thrilled at a chance to do something creative and am blessed that such a simple little song can be used as catharsis for my own emotions.

While I doubt that my three minutes of warbling will change the world, I do look forward to the possibility that it will touch someone if only for a moment and make them understand whatever is deigned in their hearts they need to understand and carry on.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


It was a grand mish mash day. A little of this, a little of that and nothing done, nothing changed. My place is space wasn't moved.

Jackson doesn't seem to realize what a big dog he is. He is, after all, still a puppy. We are attempting to train him. Having been around another little dog before he came home to us last week, he keeps zipping across the creek into a neighbor's yard.

They have one of those little foofey things and Jackson beelines right over to him whenever he gets a chance. The neighbors don't want him there, so whenever he violates his perimeters we chain him up. Needless to say, he is currently spending a lot of time chained.

It breaks my heart, but it has to be done. Thank heavens, I never had children. Discipline and potty training would have sent me over the edge.

He doesn't bark much. At least not until the neighbors who live behind us walk their pig. Jackson freaks out whenever he sees Roscoe.

Roscoe can take or leave Jackson, but whenever he sees me, he comes oinking. Talk about not knowing your size. Roscoe jumps up on me like a puppy. He weighs, well he's a pig. I always end up on my behind and whoever's walking the unkosher, uncouth animal has to haul him off me.

My only problem with Jackson is he likes to sit in my lap. He's a border collie, shepherd mix. He is well past the sitting comfortably in my lap stage. I've been sitting on the steps the past couple of days and pushing his bottom half to the step. He doesn't seem to be catching on real quick.

I still feel he's awful lonely, but maybe I'm dealing with it better. It's nice to have that happy, waggy tail waiting for me first thing in the morning and when I come home from work.

Mom and Dad seem to be spending more time with him, too. Maybe it will all work out. Perhaps I should think about putting them on a chain when they extend their boundaries.

I may want to think about that one, though. What's good for the goose...

...the chicken dances on....

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


All day long I've had a family Christmas tradition on my mind, one that I won't be a part of this year. It was always something I looked forward to every year for the last fifteen, since we started it. Alas, this year it's not meant to be.

The Saturday before Thanksgiving my two cousins in Maryland, Debbie and Diane, along with my Aunt Rachel and I gathered in Debbie's kitchen and spent the day baking Christmas cookies. It became known as Cookie Day. The four of us assembly lined homemade cookies until well after dinner, producing a hundred dozen or more.

There were certain types we made every year; cinnamon strips, oatmeal, peanut butter, sinful variations of chocolate. Every year we added a few new ones, recipes we'd found during the year we wanted to give a try. We took requests, too.

The rule was you had to submit your recipes to Deb by Halloween. She then coordinated everything. She'd split up the ingredients and arrange the baking order. She had two ovens, i.e. why her house was always the bakery, and she'd arrange the baking so the oven temps started at a lower temperature and went up as the day progressed.

It was a great day of fun, chat and chocolate, peanut butter, etc. Family members dropped in and dropped out all day long. We switched stations, mixing, cookie sheets and baking.

Then Sunday after church, we'd meet at Aunt Rachel's for lunch, whose house is between Debbie and Diane's. After a great meal, we'd trot back over to Deb's for any last minute touches to the cookies, i.e. drizzling icing and divide them up equally amongst everyone who pitched in.

Most of the family simply had them around the house until Christmas. I always took mine to work that Monday as my gift to my co-workers. I think I looked forward to that most of all.

So all day long, I realized that this Saturday was Cookie Day and I wouldn't be there. Maybe next year, I'll do the same thing in Tennessee or be able to travel to Maryland for the bake fest. Even if I just do it myself next year in my kitchen here, I will.

After thinking about it all day long, I came home and checked my messages. I was floored at the number to my email and on Facebook from former co-workers at Barnes & Nobel lamenting that they will miss me on Monday, because I will not be bringing in cookies.

I hate to sound "punny", but that is so sweet. It's good to be remembered for something. I think of all the jobs I've had, my job as newsstand lead in the Lancaster, PA Barnes & Nobel is the one I loved the most. The co-workers were all like family, and the customers to some extent even more.

Unfortunately, this year I will be giving my Lancaster family only cookies of the heart. I hope those that lament the lack of confections on Monday will at least remember me fondly and know that were it possible I'd be there encouraging them to ruin their waist lines.

I miss you all, and believe me I'll be missing Cookie Day more than you,

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Hulu has not been kind today. I hate it when it gets even more temperamental than usual. We have “The Dish” a.ka. “The Dump” and it is non-compatible with TiVo. So when I have time to watch tube I Hulu, when it’s in a good mood, which wasn’t today.

Mom and Dad spent almost the whole day in Boone, which was nice for me. I don’t often get a day of solitude. I’m not sure whether that’s good or bad for me, but I take what I can get.

I didn’t pull a “Risky Business” or anything. It was just kind of nice to roam around the house and the yard knowing that I wasn’t going to get interrupted every few minutes. My parents mean well, but they aren’t real good at understanding the term “privacy”. I do my best not to violate theirs, but then I’m not sure they even understand the term. Maybe I don’t either.

Jackson and I took several long walks today. I have to admit; I am trying very hard not to get too attached to him. Even though a puppy, he’s a big dog, a border collie/shepherd mix. My parents just can’t handle him, so I fear that they will return him soon.

As much as it will break my heart, I think that’s probably best for him. He’s used to being around two children and another dog. Suddenly finding himself living with two old people, and another not that far behind, has got to be miserable for him.

I’ve told them if they are going to do it, to do it quickly. They seemed to be hesitating. I think because they think he makes me happy. He does, but I don’t want the lovely, lively creature to be miserable either. So whatever is best for Jackson, will make me happy. Apparently there was another family that wanted him, if they have kids I think it would make Jackson happy.

I also sang a little today. It seems like such a silly thing, but I got a couple of my old tracks out and warbled a little in the car. It made me feel good.

And I spent a few hours reading. For some reason all my life whenever my mother found me reading she always told me to stop wasting my time. “Go do something constructive like watch T.V.” So I don’t get the chance to do it unless they aren’t around.

My favorite way to read is to sit down with some hot tea and read a book from start to finish. That’s a rare treat. Today I got about halfway through Fannie Flagg’s new novel “I Still Dream of You”. I love her style and wit.

You probably read “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop CafĂ©” or saw the movie. That’s her most famous, and I think one of the worst. Oh, I adore it, but all of her other stuff is sooooo much better. I usually give copies of her “A Redbird Christmas” or Lee Smith’s “The Christmas Letters” as gifts. Two great suggestions for those of you looking for moving, funny family holiday reads.

Other than that it was a simple Tuesday. I like it when the days are just days. They don’t all have to be special. They just have to be lived. Today was one of those days.


I know it’s Tuesday, but this was the first chance I had to continue a week of daily blogging. I just felt that I wanted to document a week for myself. You know, one of those self-examination things.

It was a long day. The first time in a long time I’ve had to work non-stop, 11 am to 10 pm. It was a test of stamina and endurance. I don’t think I’ve ever spent that long popping in and out of freezers before. I had this image of my looking like “Lucy Ricardo” when she looked herself in that freezer on “I Love Lucy”.

Basically, I think, I’ll just be working on days the store gets a truck, Monday Wednesday and Friday. Monday is a two-truck day, regular frozen foods and ice cream. I hate ice cream now. Those cases are heavy and sometimes sticky. It’s not pretty when an anal retentive gets a fifty pound cardboard box of Moose Tracks stuck to his shirt.

Like working newsstand at Barnes & Noble, stocking frozen foods fits into my sense of order and organization. I found the most frustration with bags of broccoli florets. I can’t get them to lay pretty. I’ll figure it out.

And I am slowly getting the three aisles of freezers to look nice. I don’t have the time to just pull it all out and arrange it neatly, but since as I get stock I have to rotate it I am slowly getting it all “anal retentified”.

Now if I can just get my body used to the physical labor. The mountain air, and the recent rains are playing havoc with my joints and rotator cuff. I was pleased that when I got home last night at thawed out I hadn’t added any new cuts or scraps. That’s a good sign.

Of course, there are some bruises on my fingers, wrists, forearms and neck, but they weren’t my fault. Some ten year old kid thought it was funny to race away from his mother and kick the freezer doors closed on me. He’d slam the door on whatever body part I had stuck in there and race back to his Mom laughing like a maniac. Unfortunately, she thought it was funny, too.

She didn’t think it was funny though when the little a-hole pulled the full shopping cart over on himself. The kid wasn’t hurt, darn it. All I could think while the kid squalled and his mother blamed her undisciplined child's behavior on the store was “Karma, kid, karma.”

While the job is physical, it’s not mentally taxing. I’m still trying to figure out where specifics go, but that will come in time. It’s not like the newsstand where things were laid out in a logical order. I’ve learned the categories, but why aren’t all the different types of peas in on place, and all the Banquet Chicken dinners in one place instead of sprinkled through out? It drives me crazy, but I’ll live.

Everyday I always run into people I know or from my past. It’s kind of like having your life pass before your eyes but getting paid for it and confoundedly dull. It’s one of two grocery stores in the county, so I’m not surprising that eventually I’ll run across just about everyone.

Most of the people I don’t recognize until they tell me their names. Most don’t bother identifying themselves, assuming I remember them. Frankly, if I don’t recognize you either time is your enemy or I forgot who you were for a reason.

So far, I haven’t run across anyone who made my skin crawl. I’m kind of looking forward to running across them. I am anxious to see how I handle it. I’m ready for that band aid to get ripped off. Perhaps that means I’m getting better.

What does surprise me are the number of people I recognize and snub me. I really doesn’t bother me, but I do wonder about the snub. I have heard pretty much all about my life, behind me back, none of it correct.

Are people foolish enough to think I can’t hear them when they are less then five feet away? Sure I have my head stuck in a freezer, but there ain’t nothing wrong with my hearing. Most of these people who feel the need to tell their companions about me, I swear I’ve never met.

They always seem to substantiate their “facts” with “so and so told me". I usually am glad my heads in the freezer so they can’t see me laughing about the fact that I have no idea who “So and So” is either. Today alone I have been abandoned by my wife to raise my three kids, just gotten out of prison, once made a porno film now available on line and retired from the government.

I guess I should be flattered, but it makes me feel like Paris Hilton. I’m the Paris Hilton of Redneckia. It would be more flattering if I were thought of more like Ricky Martin. At least I’d been doing something brave and not just stupid.

People say not to worry about it. They’re just jealous. I could take it to mean jealousy if they were getting their gossip even remotely correct. Let’s just face it, there ain’t a lot about my life to be jealous of. I just find it ridiculously petty, and I get angry with myself for letting it bother me.

Face it; it’s the part of Southern charm that I find evil. Everyone is so sweet and kind to your face. I have learned, the hard way, the kinder and more friendly they are the better you are to stay as far off their path as possible.

I have come to terms with the fact that they think it’s unkind to be honest to your face if they don’t have something nice to say. What I see when they do a complete 180 when you turn around is shameful cruelty.

I try to convince myself that I don’t pay for their sins. However, I have learned that in small towns in the South, you may not pay for someone else’s sins, but you do pay a price for what others assume. Unfortunately that price is usually pretty high.

If nothing else, I'll end up with a nice collection of stories and characters for "Odd Rocks Across the River". I'm hoping Ryan Murphy will read it and decide to use it for the premise of the TV show he's developing for Kristin Chenoweth. Wouldn't it be great for my future wife to play all three of the female characters? A restraining order is kind of like an engagement, isn't it?

However, I don't want any one to think that all of the people in this area or patrons of the store are mean an nasty. The overwhelming majority are sweet, endearing and adorable. There are just of few pustules that stand out, loud mouths who think that every one agrees with them.

I had a wonderful conversation with a couple about my age concerning the fact that we never dreamed we'd live to be in our fifties. I don't think I knew them, but I look forward to seeing them again. And there have been a small handful of people who remembered me from a play I had been in years ago. That is always a jump start to the heart.

Regardless it was Monday all day long. I was deliciously worm out by the time I got home. The dog was wet. Dad was in bed. Mom was still hoping Bristol Palin would get voted off "Dancing With the Stars"

...and the chicken dances on...

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Sundays have always been a special day for me, even growing up. Now much, much later and still growing up, Sunday is the day I look forward to.

As a child it was church and family. The most vivid of my childhood memories took place on a Sunday. An only child, my mother had a brother and sister with five children between them, all of us living within a few miles of each other. I like to joke that we were raised commune style, the six of us cousins are more like brothers and sisters.

Regardless, on Sundays you could almost always find us all together at one house or another. We attended the same church then retired to our separate homes for lunch and by late afternoon we all ended up under one roof. The parents did whatever parents do while the six of us; three girls and three boys terrorized Mother Nature.

By dark, it was popcorn and all of us kids gathered together in front of the tube to watch “The Wonderful World of Disney”. Then we’d find some other innocent trouble to get into before being ripped to our separate homes for bed.

Even as we grew older, Sundays were still a time for worship services and visiting, either company at your house or going to visit someone else. Before I moved back to Tennessee, Sundays was still at time that a cousin or two, all but one and now myself, still in Cecil County, got together for snackin’ and chattin’.

I miss that. I miss the days when on Sunday you found your way together with someone you loved or a trip somewhere with family of heart or of blood that would bond a memory to your soul. I keep waiting for company. I should just stop making excuses, get off my duff and go visit someone.

Sundays have become so ritual these days. I got up this morning, walked Jackson then showered and went to church. At lunch, walked the dog and then watched what Hulu, which isn't always kind to my old computer, would let me.

I miss my church in Maryland. I had only been a member for a little over a year before I made the decisions that brought me here. I had been a member at the church I grew up in, but found another that ironically seemed more like family. I’ve never attended a church that had people walk up to you and when they said “How you doing?” honestly meant it.

I was just started to get really involved in it when I moved. My cousin Diane was a member there, and I served on the hospitality committee with her. This meant that I helped plan and “do” social events planned through out the year. I helped with the cooking and clean up. It was fun. Of course, I always loved being around Diane.

They had a great little Praise & Worship team that I got asked to be a part of. Any excuse to sing and I’m there. I loved it. Music is kind of the way I worship, although I’m sure some would prefer that I worshiped a little more quietly and little more on key.

I am now attending the church my parents go to. For a small country church it has enough attendance for two services. I enjoy sitting between my parents again, but to be honest, I am extremely uncomfortable there.

I do like the pastor, Lonnie. He’s intelligent and educated speaking with compassion and heart. He’s a good man. When it comes to pastors he’s got big shoes to fill when it comes to me. I worshiped under the guidance of two wonderful and powerful young men, Russ Reaves and Timothy J. Kraynak, but Lonnie does a fine job. He’s probably the closest thing I’ll find in East Tennessee to the sort of “Preaching” that speaks to my heart.

Now the music at the church is another thing. They do have a nice little Praise & Worship team; the members vary from week to week I assume depending on who’s available to rehearse. Almost always there is a woman by the name of Louise Johnson whose voice and demeanor remind me a lot of Southern Gospel legend Vestel Goodman.They do a fine job with more contemporary songs.

Then there is the choir itself. Let’s just say they are a “Shut up and Sang It” kind of group. There is nothing wrong with that. They do pretty much exclusively Old Time Gospel music, which I adore. I was even part of a Southern Gospel Quartet for years.

However the choir at this church doesn’t pay a lot of attention to rhythm, pitch, or harmony. There is nothing wrong with that, and the churchgoers seem to enjoy it. I say good for them. If someone is getting enjoyment or joy out of it, who I am I to stand up and say, “Excuse me, but could everyone at least sing the same words?”

I have to admit that today during the sermon that I realized something. I think the reason why I am here, and at that church particularly is that I have unresolved anger issues that I need to deal with. I thought that I had forgiven and moved on, but I think maybe I just shoved the anger in a box, labeled it forgiven, shoved it the back closet of my brain and moved on.

I’ve not been able to get Thom Bierdz book “Forgiving Troy” out of my head today. If you haven’t read this book, go grab a copy now and get ready for a moving rhapsody of success, horror and forgiveness. This is a stunning look at the other side of success, the struggle with self worth and mental illness and the imperfect perfection of letting go of pain to find the true meaning of "You" through forgiving the unforgivable.

Thom Bierdz and I exchanged emails for a few months about ten years ago, as he was just completing this book. At least I think it was Bierdz and I. For all I know it was a secretary or a stalker or something, regardless it was via his personal website. We are close to the same age, and I was just beginning to notice some cracks in my mental veneer.

At that time I was not aware of the tragedies that had disrupted him. I knew we were about the same age, I a few years older, and remembered him from “The Young and the Restless”. I saw an interview with him on “ET” or something and wanted to look at his artwork. I found his website and ended up sending an email and a brief exchange started.

Then I went to Africa for the first time, came home and had a car wreck and never got back into the email exchange. I did however purchase the book, by this time knowing the story of his courage courage, torment and struggle to forgive his brother. The power of it did more that resonate, it changed me.

I don’t think I understood why his story keeps popping back into the recesses of my head until maybe today. There is so little here in East Tennessee that gives me peace or happiness, because I have not really forgiven. Granted nothing happened as shocking or horrific as what Mr. Bierdz had to endure, but things happened that destroyed my trust, my faith and worst of all my hope.

They say that acknowledging the problem is half the battle. I fear that it is only the beginning, but I am ready to try. Some of the pain is so ingrained, like my bike scars from childhood; they will be difficult to remove. It’s not that it must be done; it is simply something that should be done.

I want to not feel looked down upon by the entire population of East Tennessee. I want the freedom to be myself in public without fear. I need to forgive the ostracism, the assumptions and in some cases the hateful lies that cause me to cower with a weak smile on my face until I can make it to my car and sob out loud in my car.

Until I am able to do this I will never be past this numbing depression. I will succeed. I will forgive…and be forgiven. I will be at peace. I will.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


When being interviewed for my current position, I was asked what kind of job I was looking for. My honest answer? Lounging by a pool while a myriad of blonds peel and feed me grapes for $100 an hour. It’s not quite worked out that way.

I am enjoying it. It keeps me busy, but it is much more physical than I am used to. My body must adjust itself. I was used to constant movement, but I am constantly lifting and moving boxes of frozen food fifty pounds or more. Between my age and the rotator cuff surgery I had a few years ago, it will take a while, if ever, that I don’t come home exhausted.

Plus there’s the added element of the freezing temps. Even with gloves, my fingers get cold and a little numb. I’m sure that too will ease in time. What I am surprised at his how much I am slicing and cutting my fingers without my knowledge. I don’t realize it until I get home and kind of thaw out.

I also need to remember not to lick my lips in the cold temps. My lips are dry, cracked and beet red. If anyone says anything, I’ll just fess up to finally having a torrid make out session with Kristin Chenoweth. At least then, they won’t think I’m a total dork.

Funny, one never thinks they will end up where they are. I don’t think I ever thought about where I’d be or what I’d be in my fifties, but here I am, and I’m pretty sure this isn’t what I expected. Not that I have regrets, this just isn’t at all what I expected.

Granted, while I am not blaming anyone but myself, my situation is a result of things totally out of my control. Now I did make the decisions that put me in the situations where I could be backhanded across the psyche a couple of times with no warning, but essentially I’m the one who said “Let’s give this a shot”. I just didn’t mean it literally.

Saturday nights used to be so much different for me. I was never a big party guy, although I would be lying if I didn’t admit to having done my fair share. I was also never big in the social pool. Maybe that was part of my problem.

Working, that’s what I used to do on Saturday nights. Opening up cases of Toaster Strudel and ripping the skin off my knuckles is not the kind of work I’m talking about. I have worked a number of jobs where I was scheduled, and probably because of the way my life was in my 20s & 30s, is why it never bothered me.

Saturdays in many ways are and will always be two performance days for me. There was something wonderful and satisfying knowing that you slept in on Saturdays and relaxed, because you knew you were going to being using every ounce of strength you had. By the time the evening curtain was down and the make up was off, you were still bouncing off the walls.

I miss that, dearly. I especially miss the days in Nashville, when I not only did a couple of shows, usually a musical, but also a late night Improv show. I loved that, finishing up very late at night/early in the morning sometimes knowing you had a great night, sometimes awed at the power of someone else on the stage or knowing that it just sucked.
Nothing can compare to that.

Off the record but up front here, I am not a singer, but I can fake it. I have three left feet and ten big toes, but be patient with me and I can fake being a dancer, too. Adding the bizarre range I have, a nice bass register, nothing in the middle and then a nice tenor range I never had a qualm about going out for musicals.

Being a character actor, I was happier when I had the chance to play a lot of different roles in one production. Now I didn’t mind nice juicy roles, but I always looked so young and I’m not your attractive leading man, so as I aged I was difficult to cast. If you were casting a musical where you needed one actor to be six different people in two hours, I was your man.

While I had my share of successes, I think I always excelled in shows that were either ensemble or multi storied; “The Good Doctor”, “Greater Tuna”, “Cloud Nine”. I think my record (other than ‘Tuna”) was either a production of “Annie Get Your Gun” where I think I was a different character in every scene and a production of “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” where I played seven different roles.

Now I love to sing, but it’s probably the hardest thing for me to do on stage when not part of the chorus or duet, blah blah blah. Solos terrify me, ironically after I leave the stage. Maybe I shouldn’t admit this, but usually after every solo, I throw up. Stage managers I work with just know this and are prepared.

I remember dear Margie, who stage managed a musical version of “Tom Sawyer” written and directed by Richard Kinter. I played Sid. I LOVED that role and that production, but I had this big time solo in the last act. After I finished it, I had to run around to the other side of the stage and make an entrance for another scene.

Margie would just be standing in the wing, calling cues as I ran off after the song and held up a bucket, which I promptly barfed in. She handed me a tissue and a squirt of Binaca as I dashed past her to hit my next mark.

Of course, I haven’t been on stage in over ten years. Ironically until about a year and a half ago, I was mostly singing to fend off my creative withdrawl, in church, for weddings and funerals. I always did my little Josh Groban imitation and quietly slipped out to worship the toilet as soon as I could.

Maybe it’s a good thing I’m not doing any of that anymore. I have Saturday night’s now to uhm…well…think about what I used to do on Saturday nights. Maybe that will change.

I always said I got out of theatre because I was tired of being in my thirties and still being cast as children. Now that my age is QUICKLY catching up to me, that decision will be rethought.

For now, I am content putting one foot in front of the other in a freezer smashing my fingers and chapping my lips so you can have Jimmy Dean Sausage Biscuits for breakfast. Just remember, in my mind I’m performing in public and throwing up after my big number.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Power of My Own Stupidity

A character in my novel says, “I enjoy the power of my own stupidity” in a chapter that I posted not long ago. Ironically that little quote has been bouncing around in my head non-stop lately.

I’ve started working again. Just a part time, minimum wage job stocking frozen food at a grocery store. It’s a fine job with nice people.

I feared working in public. I still battle being past the walls of my room, but the actor in me kicked in. As soon as I clock in this character I’ve created, known as me, kicks in.

The other day, as I was stocking ice cream a woman came to me and asked where all the “Nippelodian” flavor was. I smiled and told her I was unfamiliar with it but “Let’s look.”

Quickly she grabbed a carton and said, “Here it is. Right in front of you” with obvious disdain. She held it up to my face, pointed to the word “Neapolitan” on the carton and sounded it out phonetically for me as she pointed with her finger, “Nip-pul-oh-de-ann”. Finishing her lesson with “Can’t you read?”

I apologized and told her I had always called it Neapolitan.

She shook her head in disgust and said, “It’s French, you can’t talk the letters the way we do.” With that she tossed it in her cart smashing two loaves of bread to oblivion and was on her way. Probably to complain to someone about all the smashed bread on the shelves.

I just laughed to myself and continued to fill up the case with Blue Bunny. Not more than a half hour later a man came up and asked where all the “Nippelodian” ice cream was. Obviously, I’ve been wrong…about a lot of things.

Maybe that’s one of the reasons I’ve been having so much trouble shaking this depression. Oh, I’m functioning blindly and faking being normal real well.

That’s part of it. Trying to prove to the world that everything is fine, when you know that what few strings are left of the fabric in your mind are worn, frayed and snapped.

It’s so exhausting. I don’t want to function. I just want to lay flat out in a road somewhere and just let my mind and body throb.

The mental pain is hard enough. The constant ache of desperation takes its toll on me. The consistent clawing at my psyche to rid all the ache gives me headaches, robs my sleep and then plasters the scarring with guilt and shame.

The physical pain is even worse, especially in the last week since I’ve forced myself to become physical again by taking this much needed job. People don’t realize how physically painful severe depression is. Of course, most people aren’t even aware of others in depression, not a true malignant depression.

It is as though your body is trying to reject your mind. Every muscle of my being is sore and tender from the fight. My skin is covered in scratch marks from itching the rashes that come and go, mostly at night making what little sleep I get a nightmare.

I’m fighting, one foot in front of the other, and I am so tired of it all. I see pity or misunderstood disdain all around me. I am constantly battling tears; anger and the need to just pull inside my head, protecting myself from the hurt, the hurt I cannot control.

But I am getting better. I swear to God with every scratch of my fingernails, I am getting better. I am able to concentrate more, on other things beside the overwhelming desire to just stop and not move on. I am demanding that I concentrate on anything but the black vacuum sucking the life out of me.

I write a lot, obsessing about the novel. I know it’s not good, but I have to get it out. I keep fighting going back and starting from the beginning again. I’ve moved on to the second book of the trilogy, incorporating bits and pieces of what little of my mind is left into the main character.

The struggle to put into coherent words somehow gives me strength to deal with it. I avoid drugs, except aspirin and Tylenol PM. I can’t afford the medical/psychiatric attention I probably need anyone, so this is what I am doing.

But I continue. I have to. That’s have the battle isn’t it? It has to be. I pray minute by minute that I am doing the best that I can. That how I deal with this is intelligent and the right thing to do.

Then like Kellen in my novel maybe I am just holding on to the power of my own stupidity. But them, that power is really the only true defense any one has.