For the love of theatre!

Sitting through an audition provides an opportunity for some fascinating people watching.
There are those people who try out because being onstage would stroke their ego into gargantuate proportions. It's not because they are interested in acting, or cast chemistry, or evolution of character. They come for the audience greetings at the end of the show; the compliments, the praise, the gushing and hugging and handshaking. These are the people who refuse ensemble parts because if they don't have the leading role, they wont be involved at all.

And there are those people who can't stay away because they simply love everything about the theatre. Yes, they come hoping for a certain role. But in the end they'd rather be involved on any level in the show, because being around actors and scripts and costumes and lighting is so intoxicating, they can't live without it.

O, the plastics and geeks of theatre.


To play or not to play

I have an audition on Friday.
I'm scared out of my mind. It's the first audition since my confidence was shattered a few months ago in what can only be called the most ridiculous, fraudulent series of events that ever surrounded the casting of a play. Suddenly I am second guessing all of my instincts. I feel like I made some sort of mistake in that whole process, but it's hard to learn from a mistake when you don't even know what it was.
The show is called Damn Yankees. It's a musical from the 50's about baseball and a man who sells his soul to the devil in order to make his team win the World Series. The whole thing is rather campy and corny, but it has a certain charm as well. It's wrapped in the honesty and innocence of a bygone era - the seduction scene is extremely tame compared to today's lewd standards - and you can't help falling in love with it.

The risk of failure grows according to the amount of passion you have invested. The thought of 'striking out' on Friday terrifies me because I want it more than anything. Being onstage makes me feel like I'm living in TechniColor - all my senses are heightened, defined, expanded. The lights come on and instead of stage fright and an urge to flee, I feel utter confidence and a sense of "This is why I was born".

This passion is the reason I'm so afraid; but it's also the reason that I must keep trying. I must continue to take chances, because even a mere chance to be onstage is better than being in the audience forever.


One Mind

This morning I was sitting and humming to myself, and thought how nice it would be to spend a weekend in Seattle sometime as a little getaway from normal life with My Dear Hubby.
As I opened my mouth to suggest this - literally the very moment my lips parted, My Dear Hubby said "We should go to Seattle."
My mouth stayed open. Gaping. Amazed.
"Yes, I think we're definitely supposed to go!" I said at last, laughing a little and feeling very weirded out.

I know married couples begin to look and think alike after a lifetime of being together, but after a year?

Celebrity Look-alike

I am always getting celebrity comparisons. For years it seemed that every other person I met would exclaim, "You look just like Scarlett Johansson!" And I would smile ruefully and shake my head.
"Really? You think so?"
"Yes! It's amazing you look exactly like her!" They would assure me, sometimes mentioning my fluffy hair and full red lips. I would keep smiling and thank them, but inside my head I was stamping my little foot and declaring 'No no no!' See the thing is; I've never particularly cared for her. Not to be uncharitable, but I don't find her attractive, and I don't like her acting style whatsoever. If I was in the mood to ruffle some feathers I would voice my opinion, and chuckle inside during the ensuing defense of her beauty and talent. So usually I just smiled and took it as a compliment.
Sometimes Rachel McAdams would be mentioned, or that girl from the iceskating movie. I even got a Taylor Swift - tho I'm a mere 5'3" to her astonishing 6' height; but it was nearly always Scarlett. This went on until I pixied my hair, and the comparisons abruptly ended.

Over the last year my hair has grown into a bob with a mind of it's own, and I took the plunge and colored it a rich dark brown with a subtle hint of red. I felt gloriously like my own unique, individual self.
My sister and I were walking downtown, and in an effort to explore shops we'd never been in before entered a scrapbooking store next to my work.
"Oh my god! You're Alice!" someone shrieked. I spun around, wildly startled, to see a woman practically leaping at me from behind a table. My first instinct was to grap my sister and throw her at the oncoming commotion and RUN for my life. Instead I covered my terror with a calm smile and said "Excuse me?"
"You're Alice! From Twilight! You just need to flip out your hair and change your outfit but you look just like Alice!" she babbled ecstatically. "We're having a Twilight Festival and need an Alice look alike to do psychic readings. You could just make stuff up you know, like, OOH! 'I see a handsome man in your future' or 'you will have ten kids and five dogs' and oh it would be so much fun you're perfect!" She paused for breath but as soon as I started shaking my head she plunged headlong into persuasion. "Oh I just can't believe this! You know you want to. It would be so much fun! Doesn't she look exactly like Alice?" she demanded in my sisters direction. Halleleyah was practically in stitches trying to conceal her laughter and could only say "oh hm um I" before she was run over.
"You don't have anything going on next weekend right? You'd love it - we really need someone - oh my goodness you look exactly like Alice!"
 I finally recovered enough to find my voice, and tried to politely refuse. It was not very effective, and we made our escape as quickly as possible.

The dear woman pops in every day that I work. She cannot remember my real name, but calls me Alice, and is forever trying to convince me to participate in the numerous Twilight events in Forks and Port Angeles. (I hold firmly to my charming refusal, but I'm afraid that one day I may crack!)

I'm sure the comparisons are well meant, but with acting being my passion I can't help balking at the thought of being exactly like another actress out there. I don't want to be the next Scarlett Johansson, or Alice Cullen (I don't actually know her real name). If I burst onto the scene, I want people to know it's me, Charisa Silliman, without a hint of anyone else.


My Chum

My sister kept a blog for years. I don't remember if she started one because I did, or if I was the little sister copy-cat. It was most likely the latter; everything Odessa did was marvelous in my eyes, and worth imitating. We would regularly read each others entries, and leave comments that only we could appreciate or make sense of. The magic of sisterhood is that you have your own secret language - even if you're using English words the meanings are entirely different in the context of a sisterly conversation.
Her postings became sporadic throughout college, mine as my life settled into uninteresting routines without her. She was the source of my inspiration; the other half of my brain; an eerily similar yet slightly more mature perspective thru every event in our lives.

I haven't had the courage to read her blog since her death nearly 4 years ago. It's funny how even tho you miss someone with every atom of your being and the pain of their absence is so brutally persistent that you would give anything to have them with you, you still avoid anything that brings you too close to them. Somehow the pain of remembering is even harsher than the pain of losing. Just the thought of hearing her voice in her posts makes me literally shake. All of my creativity - music, theatre, and writing - died with her. This blog was rather a surprise to me; little parts of me were waking up after four long years. Like muscles that have been paralyzed and unused, my inspiration was weak and malnourished, but with time and use it would grow strong again. I thought that I had healed at last.

But healing from an amputation doesn't mean that your limb grows back. And even tho I can read music again, and I wear her jackets, and I don't scream into a pillow every horrific, sleepless night, the gaping void she used to fill in my life still exists.
I didn't realize tho, how much of herself she left for me. So many of her thoughts, musings, and personal stories in writing, so I wouldn't forget who she was and how well I knew her. I'm working up the courage to read her postings; to open the land of memories for exploration again. I started by reading over my own old blog and finding her in blurbs about our concerts, photo-shoots and jobs together, and in the comments she left. I wrote briefly about the term 'chum' and what a comfy, intimate, life-long friendship sort of feeling it invokes. My darling sister responded:

"I completely agree. Shall we be chums? Forever and ever? Please do say yes. :)"

(Her blog is called Andante. You can find it on my Site Seeing links.)


Once upon a Neverland...

There is something magical about mist. It's like wrapping a present in pretty tissue paper, instead of a paper bag. Or newspaper. Or a towel, for that matter ( yes, based on a real incident).  Mist is different than fog, in that fog is h***bent on hiding everything. It becomes an annoying game of hide-and-seek; trying to find the car in front of you before it's too late, searching for a road sign, wondering if you really know that guy you waved back to or if you just made a creep's day. Fog is worrisome, and seems to enjoy being that way.

But mist. Ah, mist is indeed magical. Instead of hiding the world, mist takes delight in revealing it, gently bestowing enchantment on the most ordinary, mundane things. As it clings low upon the grass, you can't help but look for tiny faeries asleep in their misty beds. And when mist tiptoes over the water, your childish fantasy that mermaids do exist returns. Somehow it lifts our tiresome grown-up concerns and whisks us - if only  momentarily - to Neverland, where none of us ever really grew up.


Relatively Beautiful

Today hasn't been so bad.
Well, apart from the fact that I thought I'd be working a half shift and wore the shoes that are comfortable only for a few hours and then proceed to deliberately torture my poor little feet, and then after I arrived at work got the call that my coworker is ill and could I please cover the rest of the shift? Well I need the hours, so of course I said yes. But now I'm wondering if an extra 4 hours makes up for the terribly unpleasant sensations my shoes are causing.

When I was younger I watched a movie (lost to memory now) in which the heroine sighs "Ah, let us be beautiful, or die in the attempt!" The reckless use of the word 'die' invoked such romantic passion in me that I readily bought into the pathetic mantra without considering the consequences. It seems that women are in such a frenzy to match our fantasy ideal of beautiful, that we turn a blind eye to the unique charms we each naturally possess.

I spent last evening with a very dear girlfriend watching movies in our pajama's, feasting on popcorn and drinking copious amounts of rum and cola. As is so common when two or 3 females are gathered, the Body Issue arose. We became vulnerable while confessing our deepest insecurities - how our bodies have changed - our struggle to reconcile our present appearance with the memory of how we looked at 19 - and most shockingly, how very very crazy our husbands are about our forms now. I began to ponder  this as the buzz wore off, and wondered: Why is it, that despite the whole-hearted appreciation that the most important people in our lives have for us, we are determined to view ourselves as insufficient, imperfect, and undesirable? We are taught to rebuff a compliment with a self deprecating remark. To look at our girlfriends with comparative envy, as if simply being a different shape or size gives them an edge of superiority.

No epiphany struck me while I mulled it over. I don't think there is a quicky solution to the Body Issue. Perhaps it is simply a stubborn mental decision to defy insecurity. To rebel against all your self-loathing instincts and pummel yourself with love and goodwill. To accept the pleasant things people say about you as truth - could it be that you really are sexy? Desirable? Adorable?
I realized that the Love of my Life has never lied about anything. And it's nice to believe that I am actually as beautiful as he tells me I am.

I'd love to hear your thoughts - feel free to comment!


And you, my book, whom I love.

I read books.
Well, not just read them. I devour them. I inhale them. I pick one up in my hands, and it is directly absorbed into my brain. I choose my books even more carefully than I choose my friends - I will not buy a book unless I am certain that it will get along and fit in with all my other books - and oh! I have ever so many other books. 3 whole bookcases full of books.
When we moved into our tiny, vintage house on 4th Street, everything seemed perfect. The house is full of weird, charming quirks - bright yellow countertops, original glass doorknobs, a pantry built into the wall, no room for the refrigerator (or no room for a table, depending on how you look at it), and we fit perfectly. Almost. Once we positioned the piano, couch, shoe rack, and my magnificent, hideous lucky gold chair, I realized that there was only room for 1 bookcase. One. Uno. I would have to choose only a few books out of the twelve-ish boxes that eagerly awaited in the garage.
How do you choose a favorite book? Is it based on your feelings when reading it? Or how strongly you relate to the characters in the story? Does it have to do with the sentiment attached - the memory of an era, the circumstances in your life surrounding your introduction to the book? I haven't any children, but it seems as impossible to me to choose a favorite book as it would be to choose a favorite child. I will draw a little curtain over the ordeal now, to protect the intimacy and agony of the books involved. Suffice it to say, my bookcase presents a curious selection - from The Color Purple to L.M.Montgomery's Emily books, and from C.S.Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia to several Ayn Rand novels.
I was recently introduced to The Time Travelers Wife. It was glued to my hands; I could not put it down until I had finished it two days later. Never do I remember being so intensely connected to the people in a book before. Every emotion they experienced became my emotion. I laughed when they laughed, I ached with their pain, I panicked when I saw the end and could do nothing to fix it - nothing to stop it - to keep the happiness living. I cried as if the man I love had lost his life. The story shot into my soul, came to life there. I have not seen the movie, nor do I think I will - I don't want to see another persons interpretation of it.
Every once in a while I meet a person who says they don't like to read. And I wonder what sorts of cardboard words they have experienced, to give them such a distaste for it.


slowly workin'

The sun is streaming thru the high ceiling windows, making a valiant effort to lighten the dark, dismal sky. Rain is falling in careless straight lines, like a trillion tiny, lazy torpedo's.
"No one will be shopping today" I think out loud, addressing the racks of winter coats and scarves. A woman with a bright red umbrella, dark red coat, and faded red trousers scuttles down the sidewalk, not even glancing in the window.
Not that it's different than any other day at work.
I have a new job. It's at a private clothing boutique named after a flower. My hours are piddly (yes I said piddly, it's a word), and the only time we're 'busy' is after 3 when all the teeny boppers are released from school and flood the downtown area. They bop in, carrying on chat-fests with each other and their cellphones simultaneously. My greeting fazes them, and they pause, trying to remember what the fitting response is to "Hi! How are you?" Generally a confused nod and tentative wave is what they come up with, and then I am invisible - until the urgent question inevitably arises "Do your jeans go down to a size O?"
In the mornings an occasional cluster of middle aged ladies meander in, relieved to be out of the house and 'out on the town'. They thrill over our inexpensive earrings, scarves, and "are your sweaters really that cheap?!" Happily scolding themselves ("I really shouldn't be shopping - but look how cute!") they ask me questions, ask for assistance, ask for my opinion ("Can you tell I have a tummy?"). This is when I feel like I actually have a job. I step into my salesgirl persona, even my voice changes (I don't know why, and I can't help it - I have a 'salesgirl' voice) and I become efficient, reassuring, flattering without gushing, and innocently charming. I become every woman's daughter and best friend. I've learned how to tilt my head just so and smile out from under my fringe of dark bangs, eyes wide and convincing (you know you deserve this!). They think I'm adorable and buy all kinds of stuff.
But most of the time business is very slow. I tidy the mountains of camisoles, button all the coats, organize the jeans. The store is spotless within a half hour of clocking on, and then...I wait. And watch the rain battle with the sun for dominance over the sky.