Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Six Things You Should Know About Community Theatre

My involvement with community theatre began when I was seven and saw my second grade teacher "moonlighting" as a perky teenager in "Bye Bye Birdie"at our local not for profit theatre. At that moment, despite a total and complete lack of talent (well, not complete... I'm a BEAST on the kazoo), I sold my soul to the THEE AH TAHR and have never looked back.   Here's why.

1). Community theatre provides exposure and opportunities to art to those far from the "Great White Way".  Geographically and financially, Community theatre is way more accessible than Broadway or even national touring companies.

2). Community theatre fosters a sense of pride and solidarity within the community at large.  It is a chance for people from all over town to come together and say "Look what we've got right here!  We are awesome!!!!"  Your local non-profit theatre company is an ambassador of your town. It represents the people, the businesses, and the heartbeat of your community. It's a living, breathing portrait of who we are at our best:  when we work together -- for good.

3). Community theatre IS your community. These are your neighbors: your pharmacist, your Sunday School teacher, your Olive Garden hostess, your electrician... People you see and interact with every single day being brave and vulnerable enough to let you in on their other lives, their hidden talents, their truths. That's just so cool!!

4) Community theatre is actually pretty good stuff and a great bang for your buck!  So true, chances are you're not going to see million dollar chandeliers crash or multi-level moving set pieces transform like Optimus Prime at your local theatre. But you will see some beautiful sets and costumes, energizing production numbers, incomparable theatre magic, uplifting  characters and heartbreaking songs all for about the same as you'd spend on one movie ticket, a popcorn combo and a post show fro-yo. BUT LIVE IN LIVING COLOR!

5). Community Theatre has a place for you regardless of age, gender, race, identification or skill set. No sing, no dance, no problem!!!  We needs carpenters, tech nerds, salesmen, seamstresses, bartenders, painters, problem solvers, shoppers, writers, artists, photographers, hair and makeup artists, clerical wizards, computer geniuses, researchers, marketers, electricians, coffee makers, cookie bakers, and much much more!  And we don't care if you're old, gay or ugly. If you can breathe and your pulse is tangible, we will find a way to use your talents and be grateful as hell for them!

6). Community theatre is a  community in and of itself. You will become part of a family that has your back on and way, way off the stage.  For better or worse. In sickness and in health. Resistance is futile.  Not that you will agree with everybody all the time. And the drama is not always limited to the show. But that's not how DNA generated families work either, and frankly you don't have to climb in bed with or have Thanksgiving dinner with your theatre family, so....

I could tell you story after story about how being involved in community theatre has added color and magic to my life, but I'd rather you go find out for yourself!  Call them. Google them. Buy a ticket. Work a shift. Run a spotlight. Sing a song. The thing is this.  Get to know your community theatre and you will get to know, and love, your community.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Facebook Fouls : A Very Special Episode of Four Minute Musings

Ah, Facebook.  I am not gonna lie, I love it.  It is my own little wonderland of creative expression, high school reunions, book club and ladies night out. But it is also a wasteland of stupidity,self indulgence, and good old fashioned tittybaby-ing.  According to my teen age daughter, who knows EVERYTHING, b t dubs, only "old people" are really on Facebook anymore. Therefore, i. feel it is my duty as an American to provide you, the consenting adults of the interwebs, with the following PSA:

If you are one of the following Facebook posters, please reconsider your approach. It is only succeeding in making the rest of us accidentally on purpose hit that block button.

1). The vague-booker.  Either say it or don't. Your thinly veiled bitchfests rarely fool anybody.  We know what and whom you are talking about.  No, we really do.

2). The overposter.  I like hearing about your life. But I like hearing about other peoples lives too. When I scroll through my news feed and see post after post from the same person--what kind of sandwich are you quizzes, pictures of a tuna salad, breaking news updates from the car loop, recaps of everything you did since your last update seven minutes ago, Buzzfeed articles, reminders to share this post if I love my mother/father/kid/gynecologist--I begin to think that a) you have a problem and b) you need a job.

3) The Poor Me Jekyll and Hyde .  I sympathize with having limited funds -- we've all been there. But I promise you NOBODY feels anything but annoyance at seeing your posts of your new car/jewelry/vacation followed immediately by posts about how your kids are going to have ramen noodles and kool-aid for Thanksgiving and how you're looking for a good free school supply program. Priorities people!

4). The Mushy Love Talker. Unless you are actually sleeping with  Hugh Jackman (in which case, spill it bitches!), there is probably a more appropriate forum for your pillow talk, intimate details,  and innuendos.  Like your bedroom. Or a therapist's office.

5). The I Guess My Invitation Got Lost Overthinker.  If I post a picture of my trip to the zoo and you are not in it, it doesn't mean I don't "like" you or didn't want you there.  It means I went to the zoo and monkeys are cute.  That's it. Sometimes I just go to the zoo.
It's not a slight. It's not a snub. It's just a zoo.

6). The I Pooped Today Braggart.   Just no.

There you go. A little advice from someone who admittedly spends way more time on Facebook than is probably healthy. But in all seriousness, the playground that is social media has changed the way we talk, engage, and interact with each other in some really amazing ways.  But in other ways it had blurred the lines, smudged the filter, and magnified things that were easier to ignore when they weren't in black and white.  My mother used to say "if you wouldn't say it to your priest or your grandmother you probably shouldn't say it at all". Still very true, and still very relevant.  And with that, I am grateful for all of you who haven't blocked me. Yet.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Five Local Establishments That Should Exist

I admit it, I'm very lucky. While some women have to juggle working full time jobs and being full time moms, I have the luxury of being able to focus on the 3 m's:  my man, my mini me, and my manicure.  I do not take this good fortune for granted. I appreciate muchly my husband's commitment to bringing home the bacon so I can be committed to bringing up the baby who, in full disclosure, is almost 16.  That being said, I still find that 24 hours per day is seldom sufficient for efficient task completion. For that reason,  I humbly propose the merging of some local businesses and service providers  to maximize the use of my time.

1). Nail salon / Oil, Lube and Filter Change.    Imagine, if you will, a one stop shop for maintenance of both your car and your feet.   Instead of sitting on a sticky vinyl chair playing Candy Crush while your Toyota gets a tune up, you could be lounging in a massage chair making small talk with your neighbor.  No extra time required!  MOMMY BONUS:  one charge on the debit card means your man never knows you treated your tootsies!

2). Dance Studio / Internet cafe.  If I could have sipped on a chai latte, answered my email, updated my calendar and checked Edline while my budding ballerina plied and arabesqued, she'd still be in dance classes!  MOMMY BONUS:  you have a reason to ignore the catty dance moms!

3). Bank/ Post Office.   Face it.  If you can avoid parking and getting out of the car you jump on the chance.  So combining two tedious tasks into one drive through lane seems brilliant to me!  Just stick your power bill and your deposit in the little tube and watch it make its magic!  MOMMY BONUS:   if you also have to send a wedding gift to your cousin Myrtle in Omaha, you can get cash, a card, and a stamp right there without having to turn off Outlander on Audible!

4). Gym / Grocery store. Now this will still require you to do both things, but imagine the benefit of combining the inevitable into one frustrating but eventually successful search for a parking place!  Plus, if you shop right after thirty minutes on the elliptical while still in your sports bra you increase the likelihood of passing over the chips in favor of some sprouting Ezekiel bread.  (Results may vary). MOMMY BONUS:  you can look like shit because everyone will look like shit!  #win

5). Parent-Teacher Conferences / School Car Wash Fundraiser.  Take a deep breath, close your eyes and let the glorious possibility of killing both these birds with one stone roll over you like you just ate an entire cheesecake in Christian Gray's secret room. MOMMY BONUS:  all of it.

Time Management. Multi tasking.  Call it what you will, it's all part of the reality of the world we live in. And nobody is better suited and more skilled at it than we are, ladies!  We might as well embrace it!  Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to get my eyebrows waxed and my cholesterol checked at the spa/lab down the street!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Shit I Learned From 20 Years of Wedded Bliss

Twenty years. Twenty years.  Let me say that one more time. TWENTY YEARS!    Do you people have any idea how long that is?  Let me tell you.  It's a long damn time! During the last twenty years we have collectively experienced  Forrest Gump,  Hurricane Katrina, OJ Simpson, Monica (Lewinsky and Geller), five Summer and six Winter Olympic Games, the war on terror, the new millennium, American Idol, and Harry Potter.  Not as universal an experience but just as noteworthy is that it has been  twenty years since I married my husband. My Hero. My stuck up, half witted, scruffy looking nerfherder.  He is every bit a scoundrel and a saint and I wouldn't have him any other way.  Some days (weeks, months, years) have been the very definition of "wedded bliss". Some have been, in a word, notsomuch. But they've all been worth it. Because I have a great life, an amazing kid, and a lot of experiences and memories that have created and transformed me.   I also have a shit ton of very good advice for anyone thinking about signing on for the long haul.

1). Pick a good one. Seriously. If you love travel, steak dinners and hiking, it's a good idea to avoid choosing your life partner from a pool of agoraphobic vegans with hay fever.  Also, if you like having a HOME and maybe the occasional FOOD, I recommend eliminating any potential love interests without a plan, a decent work ethic, or a willingness to be a grown-up.

2). Be aware of the "Suck-It-Up" gene.  It's real.  Some people are born with the ability to go with the flow.  They know instinctively that being cooperative and humble is not the same as being a doormat. And then some people are not.  If you have this gene, congratulations. You more than likely have a successful career, a good group of friends, and normal blood pressure.  If you don't have this gene, seek coping strategies NOW.  Do not attempt to embark on this journey without some way of compensating for your debilitating mutation.  Learn to suck it up. You won't have to be the one to do it every time. But you will not HAVE very many times at all if you can't.

3). Dance the Dance -- in other words, rock the mother-in-law tango.   This is your partner's MOM. It is very, very dangerous to ignore this fact.  Go above and beyond to show kindness, consideration, and most importantly, respect, to your MIL.  This is not always easy but it IS always important.  She can and will use her power for evil if provoked. Of course, mine personally has obviously never done so, but I've heard of some that do.  Do you have a particularly wicked MIL?  See paragraph above.

4). Expect to hate his/her fucking guts some days. I'm not gonna lie to you. This happens. It is normal. It is as normal as puking after eating too much guacamole.  You may grow quite weary of guacamole. You may LOATHE guacamole for a while. But don't give up on the guacamole. Just because it makes you sick today doesn't mean you won't wake up craving it tomorrow.   Don't assume a temporary distaste for the guacamole is equivalent to life threatening guacamole allergies.  Your partner is GOING to piss you off. I promise.  And you will piss him or her off. I promise.  But that doesn't mean you quit.

5).  The number one way to be disappointed by your partner is to expect him/her to react in any given situation the same way you would.

So that's the shit I've learned from twenty years of wedded bliss.  There is more, of course. Little things that are just as important. Laugh a lot and laugh often.  Be each other's biggest fan.   Don't lose who you are as in individual outside of who you are as a couple.  Close the bathroom door while you're in there. Most of all, fall in love all over again every day.  To my nerfherder, thank you for twenty unforgettable years of intergalactic adventure and joy. I love you. You know.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Real Challenge

Just putting this out there.... ALS is without a doubt one of the crappiest diagnoses out there. Not to minimize anybody else's experience, just making an observation. In working in neurology, I met several ALS patients and  their selfless caregivers. This shit sucks. Hard. 

Imagine Han Solo stuck in the carbonite --  his thoughts, emotions, anxieties all still perfectly functioning but nothing else. Even if he could force a scream nobody would hear it. That's everyday for the thousands of people living with AND dying from this under acknowledged, under funded disease.  Every. Single. Day. 

I didn't get the "ice bucket challenge" at first. It seemed like a chance to look good on Facebook and avoid donating money which felt weird to me. But then I realized it's not just about the money. My kid asked "what the heck IS ALS anyway?" And I told her. Now I get it. 

Don't get me wrong. The money is important. So so important. Nothing can change without money. Research. Treatment. Cure. Support. All of this depends on money. And the ice bucket challenge HAS raised money. Lots of it. Which is good. 

But what the ice bucket challenge has really raised is awareness.  It has opened a dialogue. Sure the videos are fun. And funny. But the real challenge here has been getting people to make themselves mildly uncomfortable just long enough to think about how lucky they are. To get people to get it. We can shake off that ice water, wrap up in a towel, post it on Facebook and feel all proud  for being so compassionate and generous.  People with ALS can't. And no Princess Leia is going to be able to change that. 

So I'd like to add to the challenge. Don't forget.  Don't forget what it's about. Don't forget why it matters. You may have taken on the challenge because someone "nominated" you or "called you out" and if that's what it took that's great.  But now you know. Now you know how it feels to have your nerves jolted and ignited.  You know how it feels to be Han Solo, if just for a few seconds.  You know how it feels to be "frozen."  Don't let it go. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

So I've wanted to talk to you about this for a while now, but even four minutes is hard to find!  In fact, it's almost as hard to find four minutes without a "real job" as it with one.  Of course, the four minutes I DO find now are much more pleasant and come with freshly painted toes!   But anyway, the subject at hand today is one I take very seriously......

Diet Coke.

If you know anything about me, you know my love for Diet Coke ranks right up there with my family, bedazzled flip flops and free shipping.  It may even trump free shipping.  I crave it before I open my eyes in the morning as most dreams contain vivid images of tiny little bubbles rising to the top of an ice filled glass.  Usually being carried on a tray by David Beckham but that's another blog post altogether....

I even have a definitive ranking of HOW I like my Diet Coke:

#1.  A 20 ounce bottle fresh from a near arctic level cooler.  The ratio of carbonation to beverage in this method of delivery is 100% perfect.  

#2.  From a can into a glass of ice with a twist of lime.  Lots of ice, and if possible, a straw.  A can without the glass is acceptable only in the case of an emergency.

#3.  From the fountain of a sit down restaurant where my Diet Coke is frequently refreshed by an over eager server.  I make it worth their while, trust me!

#4.  From a drive through or convenience store fountain.  Wendy's is preferable to McDonalds, but only with extra ice.  However, if McDonalds is the only choice, it's just as good in a FOAM cup with a McDonalds straw.  They have a larger diameter and are better in general.

The point to this is to show you how much TIME I devote to thinking about Diet Coke.  It occupies a good, no, a GREAT portion of my day.  And i know it's bad for me.  That's why I've made several failed attempts at kicking the habit.  I've gone as many as 27 days without a Diet Coke.  But then..... pizza.  Or brownies.  Or oatmeal.  Some things just taste better with bubbles.

As I write this, I am less than 24 hours away from a conference in Baltimore I've been looking forward to and anticipating for months.  I have everything ready, I have all my ducks in a row.  I even have a cute little 1950's dress (and matching shoes, natch!)  for the Retro Prom on Saturday night.  What I don't have are the balls to ask how and where I can secure Diet Coke in the middle of the night from my dorm room.   And this is a problem.  

#justforthetasteofit  #prayingforvendingmachines


Friday, January 31, 2014

F**k You, Weather, or Why I Hate Cold, Rainy Days -- Four Minute Musings with Kitty Dementia

I hate being cold.  And I hate being wet.  The obvious exception, of course, is when emerging from a steaming hot tub at a five star Canadian ski resort and being handed a toasty towel by an adorable pool boy who quickly raises the heat by promising a world class shopping experience nearby and letting his gaze rest a little too long on my rack.  But that's it.  That is the only time I find it acceptable to be wet and cold.  And there's a reason for that.  Several actually.....

1)  I come from Puerto Rican blood.  That means I am genetically predisposed to thriving in warm, sunny environments that promote strappy sandals over soppy snowboots.  In other words, being cold is not in my DNA.  IT CAN AND QUITE POSSIBLY MAY KILL ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Is there a little Viking in me from my Danish grandmother?  Probably.  But that is recessive.  Very very recessive.  Because the Boriqua triupmphs over any and all other genes. 

2)  I live in Florida.  The Sunshine State.  WTF?????  Go back and check your brochure.  NOWHERE does it mention freezing rain, gray skies, and flooding potholes.  When it looks like Eeyore and the Snow Miser have collaborated on the weather, I feel like I've been cheated.  Scammed.  Like I stood in line for 4 hours on Black Friday for a Super Wii-Xbox only to reach the checkout and get handed an offbrand Operation game.  Not the same thing at all.  You lied, Florida, you shady bitch.

3)  Nobody looks good in sweatpants.  Ever.

4)  No matter what you do, short of literally lighting your toes on fire, you cannot warm them up when they are wet and cold.  I can put on the fuzziest fluffiest socks,  socks that look like they were jacked from Muppet Studios, and my toes will still feel like a bag of Sam's Club frozen meatballs.  And if your toes are cold, you are cold. Period. 

5)  It just makes me sad.  Despondent.  Glum.  Meloncholy.  Wobegone.  There's something about the drizzle that sucks the joy out of me.  I'm usually a happy girl -- I love tutus and tiaras, glitter and glitz.  I love Doris Day and Disneyworld.  I love Sunshine.  And Lollipops.  And Rainbow's for fuck's sake!!!!!  I AM PINK!!!!!!!!!!!!  I DON'T DO GRAY!!!!!

So there it is.  My rant on the rain.  My column on the cold.  My manifesto on why Manolo's trump mukluks. I hope that wherever you are you are feeling the sun on your face and the sand between your toes.  If not, I hope you are close to the mall.  Because with a new lipstick, a fruity drink, and a pair of sassy sandals you can fake it.  And that's a Kitty skill worth learning.

Love you all,

HRH Lady Kitty Dementia