~ I have my first audition in five years with a professional theatre here in town. While I’m excited to be getting back into theatre, I’m petrified as I haven’t acted in about 3-ish years, I haven’t sung anything except karaoke since my vocal register changed (pregnancy wreaks havoc on EVERYTHING) and, after thorough review of every performance I’ve ever given, I’ve pretty objectively realized I’m not much to look at on stage, nor do I have any level of awareness or implementation of any techniques I may have learned in my 5 years of arts school education. I’m afraid I’m going to look like one of those idiot ‘American Idol’ contestants who’s too deluded to realize they should stick to something else.
~ I just got back from a seriously blissful weekend in Atlanta. While the trip was primarily to visit with my husband’s family, I spent about half the time visiting with my own family and friends which was just incredible, almost to a degree I wasn’t expecting. The Bear and I drove my mother’s behemoth 1998 Suburban down for the 6-hour trip a day early (we had piles of babythings to return to my cousin who gave them to us mistakenly believing they were through with having children) and spent a night and an extra evening visiting with one of my oldest and dearest friends (it’s interesting; I haven’t known her longer than any of my other childhood friends, but she’s the only good friend I can say I’ve been close to the longest.) in her AMAZINGly posh little neighborhood in the Highlands area of Atlanta. The Bear and I stayed with her and her poor, unassuming fiance who was so tolerant of Chloe’s incessant excited squeals while he was recovering from a very very recent oral surgery that I feel I owe him a kidney or something. Anyway, being able to catch up and spend some actual “hang-out-and-talk-about-stuff-other-than-general-catch-uppery” time with her was a rare treat and then being able to see her again the next night at her family’s Football Marathon Extravaganza was even cooler. (Best meal I’ve had in years. Literally. Her brother smoked melt-in-your-mouth barbecue and this crazy Bacon Explosion – we called it the Coronary Log – that was woven bacon wrapped around sausage wrapped around bacon and smoked into a magical, life-shortening log of majesty. And then her dad provided home grown Georgia peaches for homemade peach ice cream that almost made me start speaking in tongues.)
Aside from getting to have a social life with real, actual friends who aren’t obligated to be around me for familial or occupational reasons, I was able to visit with my siblings one morning for a mind-altering breakfast at the Flying Biscuit where I devoured an organic pumpkin pancake stack drizzled with maple syrup and pralines that, also, made me consider going into the priesthood or taking Jesus as a groom. We hit the Decatur Book Fest which wasn’t nearly as cool as I was expecting (I was hoping for book sales galore and only got indie authors hawking their wares en masse) but I did get to meet the guys from Mental Floss and yell at them for monopolizing all of my productivity and spare time with their addictive informative site and intriguing trivia. Plus, I got one of the founders to sign a book for me! Whee! The highlight of this whole thing, however, was that I got to spend some time with my siblings who I always just assume want to be around me to see my daughter. However, when my brother seemed genuinely excited to hang out with us sans Bear later on that evening I’m not sure I’d been so touched in a very long time.
And THEN, as if my weekend wasn’t emotionally rich enough, I got to stop off at my cousin’s incredible little bungalow in Roswell, Georgia where he and his wife made us lunch and their daughter spent two enamored hours bringing the Bear into hysterical giggles I haven’t heard other than when she’s being tickle tortured (Always go for the feet with little wet wipes. Works every time, even during frantic sobs of age-associated protest.) I tend to gravitate toward my cousin as a means of shared sanity as we both have been the ones in our families who have absorbed that swept-under-the-rug dysfunction and have had the residual emotions manifest in our mental states. Because of our shared experiences with years of therapy and learning how to implement those tools into the sanity surrounding us, we have a lot in common in that we look at things objectively and are often the ones accused of being melodramatic or just insane by those who would rather blame and ostracize the “crazy one” for familial craziness instead of beginning a process of self-evaluation and transformation themselves. (::Sigh::) Nonetheless, while both of us have reached a point in our lives where we’re emotionally self-sufficient and no longer willing to sit around and whine about being victims or other cowardly shows of general laziness, we have a mutual understanding of the ability to look at dysfunctional insanity and disassociate with it on a personal level, which is something I often feel very very alone in. It’s always nice to be able to get together with him and compare notes although sometimes I feel bad that our conversations usually go that direction before moving on to anything else, simply because we see each other so rarely and it’s such a sense of relief to have someone who understands who is also within the family. (Luckily, both of us have fantastic spouses who are objectively level-headed but still always on our team… even if we’re wrong… That being said, there’s something to be said for having someone who can understand and relate to my exact situation because he’s witnessed and experienced the exact same things from the exact same people. There’s definitely a sense of validation there.) And he’s always the first family member I send an email to when I’m dealing with great emotional upheaval or conflict in my personal, family-related life as he’s distant enough to deal with the situation objectively but close enough that he can make observations about the usual participants and the roles and persuasions they embody within the family dynamic.
All this being said, that poor guy has gone through far faaaarrr more family insanity and mental fuckery than I eeever have (selfishly, I’m unbelievably thankful for this) so, while his life experiences are always to caricature-esque extremes, I feel like I can really learn a lot from his journey to self-realization and his ability to emotionally liberate himself and find happiness in his own life. It’s very inspiring, although heartrending to hear, let alone to physically observe.
So yeah, it was a great weekend for me and a surprisingly emotionally refreshing one to boot. Granted, the Bear has gotten to an age where she’s really selective about her choice of activity and hates being redirected with a passion (It’s so bad that if we try to pull her off a staircase she’s been playing on for ten minutes in public, she’ll fling herself on the ground and begin screaming and kicking. This happens no matter what personal agenda goals of ours conflict with hers, even to the more minute detail, like changing her diaper when she would rather sit and play with her toes. It’s EXHAUSTING.) so it was really hard to go along with the adamant plans of the in-laws without flat out refusing. There were a few times that they were intent on doing a certain thing at a certain time and were inflexible about it, which is perfectly fine and honestly completely understandable and even relatable to us as people who used to have lives with plans and agendas but, being that we have a child who often restricts our freedoms and abilities to do anything according to regimented plans we were constantly trying to assert our inability to participate, which was taken more personally than intended. We were adamant in insisting the group go on without us and enjoy their time in town while we joined them while we could but that usually backfired on us as well. So we found ourselves stuck in awkward positions such as the Sunday morning incident when we took the Bear to a hot, overcrowded zoo filled to the brim with Labor Day Family Vacationers during which she only showed interest in – again – climbing stairs, running after her peers and… that’s about it, actually. As predicted she showed little to no interest in the animals who were barely visible in their tiny but hilly entrapments and, after realizing that we had plans different than hers, began fussing about everything. She didn’t want to be carried, she didn’t want to walk, she didn’t want a juice box, she didn’t want anything in particular but to scream and insist on pushing the stroller up and down a massive ramp and then scream more at us when we tried to thwart her plans. In addition to battling an oncoming migraine that lasted the rest of the evening, I was practicing breathing techniques to restrain myself from angrily reminding everyone that I did say this would happen and that we would definitely have been better suited for her to have visited in the early-to-mid afternoon, after her nap when all the other kids were still taking theirs and she could have a little more breathing room like my husband and I said at the beginning. (I’m sorry to sound like a ruthless bitch here but we do, after all, spend all our time with this little person. We do have a general idea of how she functions and her inability to adapt to anyone else’s plans. It’s a flexibility we’ve been forced to learn in order to keep screaming meltdowns to a minimum and maintain some semblance of sanity.) When the Bear fell asleep in the car before we left the parking lot and was awake by 1:30 p.m. within an hour of us laying her down for a nap, I was even more frustrated by the validity of my prediction. (It was the one time in my life I honestly wished I could have been wrong just to avoid more of the I-told-you-so’s-and-why-doesn’t-anyone-listen frustrations.) ::sigh:: And, of course, when we insisted that the rest of the group stay and get their money’s worth out of their visit, we were met with genuinely well-intended “of course nots!” which were appreciated but not out of character and was even more of a reminder that this often happens in such situations that could easily have been avoided. I’m definitely not saying that it doesn’t royally suck to have a child who is such a prima donna and demands her way on schedule all the time (it totally does), but, knowing that this is the sort of person who is often among the most popular in this sort of family gathering, I would think that those around us would try to accommodate that for the sake of everyone’s sanity at the least. The weirdest part of all of this is that it’s beneficial to EVERYONE involved when concessions are made to keep her happy as we are all given more time to enjoy ourselves and nobody’s having to run off to quell her fussiness, so, again, the insistence on ignoring our always-accurate warnings is beyond me. Especially since there have been a surplus of consistent examples to back my assertions’ accuracy. Still, though, we’re frequently ignored when we attempt excuse ourselves from late-night public dining ventures (again, always from the best intentions from this group of people who just want to include us) and other out-of-synch plans that inevitably end with elevated stress during an epic meltdown.
However, I was incredibly grateful at the offer to take the Bear off our hands for an evening while me and the hubs enjoyed a night out on the town (Don’t go see “Extract”, by the way. Not much to talk about at all and I’m not even sure it’s worth a DVD rental in six months. Seriously disappointing with a protagonist story very similar to that in “Office Space” without nearly as much relatable humor and sense of direction or varied levels of emotion. Everything just felt hollow and forced and, while the cast was full of individually appealing personalities – Mila Kunis is funny, quirky and hot, as always. Jason Bateman is handsome though a bit bumbling and uncertain… as always. Beth Grant is a particular highlight, returning as one of the most hilarious obnoxious bitches imaginable which, despite her real-life sparkling personality, is what she’s simply genius at. – , together they were just like an eclectic collection of thrift store furniture “finds” that are divine by themselves but look like an apartment in a schizophrenic’s mind when flung into the same room. Not an ounce of chemistry in the whole group. So there’s my mini review.) And I was secretly relieved that the in-laws were the victims of Poopocalypse II later in the evening as I’m not sure my heightened exhaustion and end-of-day stress could have handled such an involved event while keeping myself from breaking into tears. (Again, a 6-hour trip with someone who loathes confinement more than myself is taxing of multiple days’ worth of energy and emotion.) Greg and I went to an actual party with real adults that had other stuff to talk about than having babies and then we went out to a movie and stayed out until midnight. I cannot remember the last time we did that together. 11:30, sure. But midnight? Not since I was pre-pregnancy. Amazing.
~ So I’m gearing up for a big week here. Recovery laundry and babycare from this recent trip, a last-minute monologue cramming session, a trip back to Myrtle to return my mom’s car this weekend… it just don’t stop, apparently.