Proverb for the Day Archives – May 2019

Focus on the shape and the wiggle will come.

Teach children how to think, not what to think.

Bad people have a little bit of good and good people have a little bit of bad.

The most powerful thing about leadership is empowering others.

A gentleman holds open doors but doesn’t assume you can’t open a door for yourself.

Take the opportunities that support your goals.

Don’t wait for an engraved invitation to live your life.

Reading is sexy.

Bring joy to everyone’s lives, especially your own.

Go where you are celebrated, not where you are tolerated.

The grass may be greener on the other side, but have you considered the water bill?

Everything I want in life cannot be found at the ABC store.

Logical phallusy is the invalid or otherwise faulty reasoning that a woman needs a penis.

Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.

The best things in life aren’t things.

Just because something is natural does not mean it is good for your body. Poison ivy is totally natural.

If you honor life, you must honor the living.

The problem with a reasonable argument is everyone is not reasonable.

You can’t get where you want to go unless you start where you are now.

Done is better than perfect.

Everyone does not engage in rational self interest.

If life was a popularity contest I would be dead by now.

A costume should enhance the character in your act but should not BE your act.

Life is hard.

Don’t let the bad days convince you that you have a bad life.

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Not a “Pretty Girl”

I am not a “pretty girl.”

I don’t mean that in a self-deprecating way. I don’t think I am unattractive. I do okay. But, what I do mean is that I am not one of those “pretty girls.” You know… the ones. The girls that have been praised, petted, and pampered for being pretty. The girls who KNOW they are pretty. The girls that expect things because they are pretty. The girls who turn around and expect that someone will be fawning over them, gaping at them, taking their picture, or just BE THERE … FOR THEM. At least, that is what it always feels like to me.

As I said, I am not that girl. I never have been.

Again, this is not saying I am unattractive. Oh, yes, I can absolutely feel unattractive. And I can feel beautiful, when I am all dressed up with makeup on and confidence abounds. But, regardless, I never learned to expect anything. I don’t expect anything.

My parents taught me to be self-reliant. To do things for myself. To not rely on (or maybe not even trust) other people. So, I don’t expect people to be there for me. Certainly not on a whim. I am not sure I even want them to be. One of my girlfriends asked, when we were on a girl date, “so, when two fems are out together, who opens the door?” My pragmatic answer, “Whoever gets there first.” Because in my world, I appreciate people opening doors for me, but I also open doors for them. Because, I don’t expect those things from people. When I applied for my current job, the job application asked if we were willing to carry 50 pounds. This was an office job! Why would they ask that? Well, because we carried things. Computers, books, and documents. Lots and lots of documents. Yes, I carried 50 pounds. I was young and working with a lot of older white men. They let me carry my 25 or 50 pound boxes back and forth. Usually one of them would ask me on my last box if I needed help. I think it was on purpose. I would always tell them no… even if it hadn’t been my last box. Because I didn’t want to be that girl who couldn’t carry my 50 pounds. I didn’t WANT to be that pretty little girl who needed someone else to do part of my job for me – even if it was the unglamorous, uninteresting, box carrying part of my job. I wasn’t going to helpless or act helpless when I didn’t really need help.

I am also not a pretty girl because I like to disappear. No one taught me to be invisible, but sometimes I crave it. Sometimes, I want to be so nothing, so inconsequential, that I fade into the background. Don’t look here, there is nothing to look at, no one to notice. Of course, I never do that on stage. But sometimes, in daily life, fading into the background and being invisible is ideal. It would also be helpful, I think, if you are a thief or an axe murder, because even if there are witnesses, they never really SEE you. I always think of Neil Gaiman’s book Neverwhere and his characters comments that they aren’t really SEEN. And there are times that is tragic, and times that it is a benefit. Which you think, that makes no sense. But it does. Because there are times you want to be anonymous and there are time that you want be seen. And you would really only understand both the power and the helplessness of being invisible if you have been invisible.

So, no, I have never been a pretty girl. I have been invisible far too often to be a pretty girl…

Proverb for the Day Archives – February and March 2019

Ask for help with gratitude, not with shame.

 

Never get comfortable.  Keep pushing the envelope.

 

I am always willing to give my opinion.

 

Sometimes you have to stand when other people tell you to sit down. Sometimes you have to speak when other people tell you to shut up.

 

What you want tomorrow may be different than what you want today.
Having a penis does not make you more of a person.

 

If society is fucked up, it won’t get better just because we travel through space.

 

The problem with stupidity is that is doesn’t just impact the carrier.

 

Life is a work in process.

 

I am all for a fight, but it should accomplish more than just giving myself a black eye.

 

Broken crayons still color.

 

I don’t have to be the best at everything, but I would like to be the best at something.

 

I am so old I remember when digital clocks were cool.

 

Life is good, but that doesn’t mean I am not struggling a little with it.

 

Sometimes I get fed up with being a continued disappointment to myself.

 

The end of the story is just a beginning to the next one.

 

Art matters.

When you don’t like how sausage is made you can either scream at people who eat sausage or find a better way to make sausage.

 

A disagreement is not the same as a fight.

 

Of course you can have an opinion.  And I can choose not to listen to it.

 

Delay is the antidote for anger.

 

I don’t suffer fools gladly but I do like to make fools suffer.

 

Hell hath no fury like me when I am slightly inconvenienced and hungry.

 

 

You are not a failure just because you are not the best.

 

Our world expands when we read.

 

My bucket list isn’t very long but my fuck it list keeps growing.

 

Life is a journey best traveled with wine.

 

Persuade me, don’t coerce me.

 

Fly with your own wings.

 

Stop displaying your stupidity like you are a peacock and stupidity it is your plumage.

Working on the Script for Dollhouse Monsters

I love Mr. Velvet. Not that it is a surprise, because we are married and all… But, I have been a little surprised (and, I admit, relieved) to find that I am loving working with him writing the script for our July theatrical/burlesque/cabaret production Dollhouse Monsters. Now, I have worked with Mr. Velvet before because we co-wrote Just Another Zombie Holiday Show. The process for that script went something like this:

Mr. Velvet spends 15 minutes writing a brilliant comment/joke/portion of a scene. He then hands me the computer to read it and I do. It is great. I try to hand the computer back to him and he says something to the effect of: “That is enough for tonight. I am tired.” And I panic, knowing we have a very tight deadline to get the script out to the cast, so I spend another hour or more writing the ends of scenes, connecting in the acts, and so on, until Mr. Velvet is ready to provide his next moment of brilliance.

So, I was thinking we would be doing something similar this go around. But, I was surprised. Now first, I want to make it clear that the topic matter is based on the real lives of the cast – Lady Malavendra, Dee O’s Mio, and myself. So, to some extent, we are not creating new subject matter. On the other hand, we are sifting through a lot of life stories to find the moments we want to highlight and finding ways to make those moments mean something in the context of what we are trying to create on stage. I liken the process to taking a full-course meal and trying to distill the flavors into a series of amuse-bouches. (mouth amusers…) Except these are for the brain…

Some of the scenes Mr. Velvet drafted alone with edits by me. Less scenes have been drafted by me with edits by Mr. Velvet. But some of the scenes have been a process where we sit huddled together passing the computer back and forth as first one, then the other, writes a few lines or changes the language in lines one of us has already written. While our brains are on the same pathway, we have different ways of getting there and the combined result is stronger. Even when we are not actively writing, we have conversations on how to deal with issues, problems, how to distill the intent, how to make a moment meaningful. Sometimes problems are resolved ½ an hour after a long conversation when Mr. Velvet texts me an idea he came up with on his drive to work. The sifting back through the written materials to find or emphasize commonalities and differences has also been a critical component of drafting this script. Structure is also critical as I try to build in non-static time or space or create on-stage ability for costume changes and solo preparation in this primarily three-woman show involving stripping. (Note: with the Velvettes serving critical roles as back-up dancers, ancillary characters, stage kittens, and dressers!!)

While we don’t always have the same trajectory in the process of this production and where it is going, we both want to create a relevant and enjoyable theatrical/burlesque experience.

This also doesn’t mean everything is smooth. When Mr. Velvet drafted an opening for the second set that involved minimal costuming for the three main characters I was initially against it! This was a whole intermission without a complicated costume change! What a waste of time!! Although disappointed in this “waste of time”, I realized that his idea made the most sense for the trajectory of the show and I found a way to work with it… In another situation where I wanted to write scenes about difficult issues impacting young female teens, the conversations with Mr. Velvet (and the cast) made me realize that this topic matter was better served in an actual group act. The impact is still there and we are showing instead of telling.

I am getting excited (and nervous) about our production, and we still have tons to do. However, I feel like our script is in a pretty solid space. Now just to finish the choreography, costuming, and do all of our script memorization and rehearsing… (maniacal, hysterical laughter follows…)

Mr. Velvet says we need to work on a novel together next. I told him I am okay with that – just as long as we start AFTER July…

Too Much or Not Enough?

Do you ever have good things offered to you, and want more good things? In fact, you are sad if you don’t have more good things offered to you, because you loved the good things that you were doing? But do you have those times when you do have too much of a good thing? I have.

It isn’t because you don’t love those good things. You do and so do I! But most of the good things I am talking about (creating or curating shows, performing locally or in different cities or countries, creating new acts and new costumes) take time, take money, and take commitment. I realize that the older I get and the more I do, my time and commitment are huge commodities and I should be valuing them more than I do.

And, so I am stuck in a conundrum, if you will. I WANT to do ALL THE THINGS. I am SAD if I don’t get to do ALL THE THINGS. But, in reality, I am only one person and all the things take time. Even when I think I have that time, it means giving up other things that I value, including time with my spouse, time with my friends, time with my pets, time sleeping, and sometimes it means giving up my health and bits of my sanity. And most of the time it is totally worth doing A LOT OF THE THINGS. But, I realize it is never worth doing ALL OF THE THINGS, because I run myself too ragged to enjoy ALL OF THE THINGS.

And, then I also have a job… which pays me good money and lets me spend money on a house, and all things I need to live on and the things I need to create my art. And that takes time and commitment, too. And so, I have had to say no to things… I had to say no to a Burlesque Festival in New Zealand – a country I really really want to visit, and I had to say no to Carnaval with Kellita, which I have done before and is super fun – all because I already have too much to do. Now, some of that too much is work too much but a lot of that too much relates to fun and amazing shows and opportunities that I had already committed to before these opportunities came up.

In a similar perspective, an acquaintance of mine is going skiing in Austria for seven days. He is worried because he has never skied for more than 2 days at a time and he is going for seven days. When a friend advised him to “take it easy” and “monitor himself” and, perhaps, “take a day away from skiing while he is there,” he stated “BUT I am spending a TON of money on this trip.” But, to put this in perspective, if you have never skied more than two days and you push it on your third day, while exhausted, and hurt yourself, you could end up not skiing at all for the remainder of the trip. But, for example, if he skied for two days, took a break on the third day, skied four and five, break on six, ski on seven, he would actually ski much more than pushing himself to ski every day when his body is just not up for it. And he would probably have more fun doing it. (Not to mention time to do some other sightseeing as well.)

So, I don’t know about you, but I am discovering that I need to say “no” more, even if I am saying “no” to things I actually want to do. Otherwise, too many “yes” obligations may send me to an early grave… or at least to bed in pain and wanting to be dead. Now to find the balance… (maniacal laughter follows…)

I Am Worthy

Do you ever have those lessons that you keep having to go back to because you just can’t seem to get them right? Yah – me too. I mean, we all have something that we are not as good at. Mine was always sports. Although I didn’t care about them, so that didn’t really matter.
But, my current failing lesson is really all about myself – my worth as a dancer, a worker, a spouse, a daughter, a human being. On one level, I know I am fucking amazing. On the other, I am getting older, tired, crankier. I see people doing things all the time that I can’t do. And I have always been a person suffering from imposter syndrome. You know, that underlying feeling that someday, someone is going to find out that I can’t dance, I don’t do my job sufficiently, and am a really shitty human being that hasn’t ever had to grow up and still acts like a spoiled 10-year-old child. I know, I know. You would think I was talking about our current Orange-in-Chief…. However, there is a strong part of me (my inner bitch, if you will) that self-shames. Is it good? Absolutely not. Is it easy to fix? Absolutely not. I have apparently been self-shaming since I was a child and that stuff isn’t easy to let go!

So, I keep trying, I keep taking classes, getting help, looking for new tools. Because I know that this isn’t the way to be. Does it motivate me? Sometimes. But it doesn’t make me happy. And I spend enough time dancing, performing, and living, that I would like to have more appreciation for myself and what I do. Including appreciation and allowance for myself to do nothing. Or even to fail occasionally.

As I performer, I find a lot of us tend to go from the “I’m amazing,” to “I suck,” altogether too quickly. So many of us, including myself, are overly dependent on external stimuli and positive feedback. Which is great! I love positive feedback. I love positive comments. But, often, as a teacher and a show producer I usually don’t get any feedback. I feel like people expect me to just give others positive feedback, or else people think I have my shit together enough that I don’t need to hear feedback.

I also have the strong inner bitch in my brain that often ignores or demeans the positive feedback I get from others. Like: “They don’t know what they are talking about.” “They are only telling me I am good because they want to be in the show.” “They are my friends, of course they are going to say something nice.”

And of course, real feedback is nice, too. Like, how do I improve? How do I make myself better? Which is really a rare gift, because most people are not equipped to provide that type of feedback, and certainly not when they are there just to enjoy a show. So, my inner bitch feels like it is her duty to tell me when I am not stepping up. To tell me when someone is better than I am. To tell me what I screwed up. To tell me when that was okay, but it really wasn’t up to par. To tell me that I am not good enough, not smart enough, not nice enough, not patient enough, not creative enough, not, not, not, not not…. All in the name of making myself better. And, the result is I ultimately make myself an emotional mess. Isn’t performing and creation fun?!?

Is this just me? I know a lot of us are fucked up, but there are so many special, individual ways to be fucked up. So, I am trying to make myself less fucked up. Because telling yourself that you suck and getting older is not a super good combination because eventually my body is going to stop doing some of the things it does now. I mean, it already doesn’t do things it did when I was 20 or 30…

So, I am working on positive self-talk. Although, apparently, I need to find “special time” for that (that I never give myself because busy) because I need to focus in a way that I don’t seem to be able to do when I am walking down the street or sitting on public transportation, although my normal inner bitch seems to work just great 100% of the time! I think it is because I have spent so much of my life down-playing other people’s positive comments about myself, that I sure as hell don’t believe them when I talk about myself, either.
So, I am working on it. If this was a January post, I would say this is my 2019 goal, but since it is February, I am going to say I am working on becoming my own Valentine. Because you really should love yourself most of all. (And no, inner bitch, that is not selfish!!)

So, if you are struggling with this, too, I wish you all the positive thoughts for your loud inner bitch. (I find that ice cream is not effective long-term for keeping mine quiet). Hope to share more as I move down this path of – hopefully – improvement. Just remember, you are worthy, and I am too!

Proverb for the Day Archives – January 2019

It’s never too late to change.

No amount of guilt can change the past and no amount of anxiety can change the future.

The world is darkest when we keep our eyes shut.

If you retaliate correctly no one will ever know you did.

You can’t conquer the world while you are hiding under your bed.

You can’t understand any one else if you never take time to listen to anyone other than yourself.

The best way to tell when someone knows nothing is when they say they know everything without actually telling you anything.

No one knows everything.

Some people can talk for hours without saying anything.

You can argue with me or ignore me, but you can’t diminish me.

Love is best when seasoned with self respect.

Sometimes you just need to let go and enjoy the ride.

Being civil is not a sign of weakness.

Procrastinate like there is no tomorrow.

The best way to predict the future is to create it.

If your actions are a deterrent to someone doing evil, you have accomplished something positive.

A longer comment does not necessarily mean it is more comprehensive.

Don’t be lulled into inaction.

The most frightening monster of all is man.

Sometimes it is better just to delete a comment than lower yourself to respond to it.

The world doesn’t have to be like this. We can make it better.

Remember who you really are.

Go forth and be a decent human.

Ignorance is bliss. Except for the rest of us.

Humor is the weapon of the powerless.

Augmentation is not the same as contradiction.

I don’t always act my age, but when I do, I’m boring.

Proverb for the Day Archive: December 2018

I really don’t have time to learn from my mistakes, I am too busy making new ones.

I am not like you and I never will be.

Some people should use a glue stick instead of chapstick.

Decisions are not forever.

Every day is the end of the world for someone.

Don’t let the day be a total waste of makeup.

All I ever really needed to know, I learned from the Twilight Zone.

Other people will judge you. Don’t do it to yourself.

I could be who you want me to be, but it is better to just be myself.

There should always be enough time in your life for yourself.

When you have nothing it is easy to risk everything.

Just because you are struggling, does not mean you are failing.

Sometimes our priorities shift because our mood shifts.

Learn to admit when you fuck up.

Solve problems instead of just complaining about them.

It is not really hoarding if you have cool stuff.

If you’re not on, you’re off.

Housework won’t kill you, but why take any chances.

Anyone who thinks we need more eye contact has never been a woman alone on a bus.

When I am tired of shopping I sit down and try on shoes.

Follow your dream. Unless your dream is to live next door to me and have loud screaming children.

Holidays are a good time to visit family and spend a lot of time with their pets.

I would leave Santa cookies and milk but my Santa likes vodka and petit fours.

I remember the words my mother always said to me: “What the hell is wrong with you?”

My alone time is for everyone’s safety.

No one ever notices when you are provoked, only when you retaliate.

We must all do things that do not use our strengths.

Let each year bring more wisdom and experience and not just more grey hair.

The Rabbit, a performing arts story (based on The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams)

There was once a performer named Rabbit, and in the beginning she was really splendid.  She was curvy and yet sweet, as an ingénue should be; her hair was a lovely brown with a bright glossy sheen, she had long naturally dark lashes, and her cheeks were round and pink.  During the Christmas season, when she played roles suitable for a sweet ingénue, the effect was particularly charming.

There were always other performers on stage.  Performers playing various roles in the Christmas program: a rat king, a nutcracker, some fairies, but Rabbit was quite the best of all.  For at least two hours the audience thought they loved her, and then the show was over, the families went to dinner, and the great hustle and bustle for Christmas preparation began and in all the excitement, the ingénue Rabbit was forgotten.

For a long time she lived in the world of extras and the background chorus, and no one thought very much about her.  She was naturally shy, and not having a degree in the performing arts, some of the more formally educated performers quite snubbed her.  The technically trained performers were very superior, and looked down upon every one else; they were full of modern ideas and pretended they were Real.  The Shakespearean fight choreographer who had performed in London for two seasons and lost most of his hearing, caught the tone from them and never missed an opportunity of referring to his swords in technical terms.  Rabbit could not claim to be technically trained in anything, for she didn’t know if what she really wanted to perform even existed or if there was training involved and she thought that anyone without a formal degree or certification program must be quite out-of-date and never be mentioned in modern circles.  Even Timothy, the veteran military performer with the limp, put on airs and pretended that his military experience gave him special insights into the performing arts.  Between then all, poor Rabbit was made to feel herself very insignificant and commonplace, and the only person who was kind to her at all was the performer known as Horse.

Horse had performed longer in this theater than any of the other performers.  He was so old that his brown hair was bald in patches and showed the age spots through his sparse hairs, and most of the joints in his body were creaky from performing previous tricks or movements of amazement on the stage.  He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of technical performers arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by crack or break and leave the performing arts, and he knew they were only amateurs at heart, and would never turn into anything else.  For the magic of the performing arts is very strange and wonderful, and only those performers that are old and wise and experienced like Horse understand all about it.

“What is REAL?” asked Rabbit one day, when they were sitting side by side in the green room, before the others got there to get ready for the show that night.  “Does it mean having a television show or an Oscar or a lot of awards?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said Horse.  “It’s a thing that happens to you.  When an audience loves you when they see you performing onstage – not just watches you, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said Horse, for he was always truthful.  “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” Rabbit asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said Horse.  “You become.  It takes a long time.  That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or have to be carefully kept.  Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your naivety has worn off, your fresh perspective has dropped out, and some even get loose in the pants and very shabby.  But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

“I suppose you are real?” said Rabbit.  And then she wished she had not said it, for she thought Horse might be sensitive.  But Horse only smiled.

“The audiences made me Real,” he said.  “That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can’t become unreal again.  It lasts for always.”

Rabbit sighed.  She thought it would be a long time before this magic called Real happened to her.  She longed to become Real, to know what it felt like; and yet the idea of growing old and, perhaps, shabby was rather sad.  She wished that she could become Real without these uncomfortable things happening to her.

There was a person called The Producer who ruled the stage.  Sometimes The Producer took no notice of the performers hanging about, and sometimes, for no reason whatever, The Producer would go swooping about like a great wind and hustled them onto or off of the stage and sometimes even out of the theater.  The Producer called this “casting” and the performers all hated it, particularly the aging ones.  Rabbit didn’t mind it so much because so far she had only been thrown about inside the theater, even though the places weren’t particularly good ones.

One evening, when the show was about to go on, The Producer couldn’t find a dancer that always closed the first set of the show.  The Producer was in a hurry and it was too much trouble to hunt for someone entirely new at show time, so The Producer simply looked about, and seeing that the green room door was open, The Producer made a swoop.

“Here,” The Producer said, “can you dance?”  You’ll do to go on at the end of the first set.”  And he threw a costume at Rabbit, told her the music choice, and when the time came, Rabbit was thrown by herself out onto the stage.

That night, and for many nights after, Rabbit danced a solo at the end of the first set.  At first she found it rather nerve-wracking and uncomfortable, for she didn’t really know what she was doing or how well she was doing it (or not.)  Sometimes Rabbit was so nervous and discombobulated that she could scarcely breathe.  And she missed, too, those long moonlight hours in the green room, when the focus was on the stage so the back rooms were silent, and her talks with Horse.  But very soon, she grew to like it, for the audience used to clap and applaud and sometimes even recognized her and gave her flowers after the show was over.  After The Producer had gone home for the evening, leaving the theater for the stagehands and performers to ready for the next show, some diligent audience member might hang out at the performer stage entrance to catch a close-up glimpse of a performer or ask for an autograph.  And when the nights were cold and the audience had vanished from the theater, Rabbit loved to snuggle into her coat and scarf and dream how it might be one day to be on a really big stage in a really big theater with a really appreciative audience.  She would still be dreaming when she reached home and snuggled into her little bed with her blankets up under her chin and her arms gently clasped around her body all night long.

And so time went on, and little Rabbit was very happy – so happy that she never noticed that her hair was getting thinner and starting to grey, that her legs were getting creaky and her toes popped, that her eyes were developing wrinkles, and that her costumes were losing their beads and rhinestones.

One Spring came, and there were long daytime rehearsals for a new show put on by The Producer.  They had dances, and singing, and lines to be learned for this lovely magical new show that was about to be produced.  And once, when The Producer was called away suddenly for a meeting with his bankers, Rabbit was left with some time on her own in the theater.  She was there very late and overheard The Producer coming back, bringing the bankers with him for a tour of the new theater improvements and stage sets.  They were talking about the new production.

“Must you have your aging Rabbit in the role?” the banker said. “Fancy all that fuss for an old dame – and an amateur at that.”

The Producer gritted his teeth and tried to talk politely to the banker.

“Give me Rabbit anytime!” The Producer said.  “She isn’t an amateur, she’s professional.  She’s REAL!”

When Rabbit heard that she was happy, for she knew that what Horse had said was true at last.  The theater magic had happened to her, and that she was an amateur no longer.  She was Real.  The Producer himself had said it.

That night she was almost too happy to sleep and so much love stirred in her little heart that it almost burst.  And in her wrinkle-surrounded eyes, that had long ago lost their naivety, there came a look of wisdom and beauty, so that even The Producer noticed it next morning in the theater, and said, “I declare if Rabbit hasn’t got quite a knowing expression.”

That was a wonderful summer.  The Producer opened the new show and every night when the audience came to the show, Rabbit would perform to rapturous applause.  She felt wrapped in the love of the audience throughout the whole show and then afterwards she would be content knowing that she was Real through the love of the audience.  Daytimes were spent in new rehearsals with The Producer planning new shows or sometimes just going for walks, or tea, or going to the costume designer to discuss and fit new costume ideas.  One afternoon, while Rabbit was as the costumers, she saw two elegant beings walk into the shop.

They were performers like herself, but quite young and well-toned.  They must have had a lot of personal funds or a very wealthy producer because they had very fancy clothing which fit them like a second skin, instead of staying a floppy rumpled mess like hers often did.  Their feet padded softly on the ground, and they crept quite close to her, whispering back and forth to each other behind elegantly cupped hands while Rabbit starred hard at them to try to find some flaw in the seemingly perfect façade.

They stared at Rabbit, and Rabbit stared back.  All of the time their lips were twisted in a smirk.

“Why haven’t we seen you performing in the big theater?” one of them asked.

“I don’t feel like it” said Rabbit, for she didn’t want to explain that she was not technically trained.

“Ho!” said one of the performers. “It’s as easy as anything, with the proper training,” And he a gave a big jump in the air and slid effortlessly into the splits.

“I don’t believe you can!” said the other performer.

“I can!” said Rabbit.  “I can jump and do the splits higher than anything!”  She meant in her dreams, but of course she didn’t want to say so.

“Can you dance en pointe?” asked the performer.

That was a dreadful question for Rabbit had no formal dance training at all and couldn’t even abide wearing those uncomfortable pointed shoes, let alone dance in them.  She sat in straight-backed chair and tried to tuck her feet out of sight.

“I just don’t want to!”  Rabbit said.

But the performers had very sharp eyes and this one spied her feet and looked.

“Look at her huge feet!” He called out.  “Fancy a dancer with such big feet.  Do they even make pointe shoes that large?”  And he began to laugh.

“I do dance en pointe,” cried Rabbit.  “My feet are not big!  It is just the angle you see them!”

“Then stretch out your feet and show me, like this!” said the performer.  And he began to twirl and spin until Rabbit got dizzy just watching him.

“ I don’t like dancing,” Rabbit said.  “I do other things as a performer.”

But all the while, Rabbit was longing to dance and she felt like she would give anything in the world to be able to dance beautifully.

The perfomer stopped dancing, and came quite close.  He came so close that his long luxurious hair brushed up against Rabbit’s cheek, and then he opened his mouth and jumped backwards suddenly.

“She isn’t a performer at all!  She is not a professional performer! She isn’t Real!”

“I am Real!” said Rabbit.  “I am Real!  I am Professional!  The Producer said so!”  And she nearly began to cry.

Just then the door opened, and The Producer came inside, and with a stamp of feet and a fling of hair, the two performers disappeared out the door.

“Come back and perform with me!”  thought Rabbit.  “Oh, do come back!  I know I am Real!”

But there was nothing voiced and there was no responding answer.  Rabbit felt all alone.

“Oh dear!” Rabbit thought.  “Why did they run away like that?  Why couldn’t they stop and talk to me?”

For a long time, Rabbit stayed, pretending to look at costume designs and hoping that they would come back.  But as the day progressed and show time neared, the performers did not return, and The Producer took her back to the theater.

Years passed, and Rabbit grew older with more wrinkles, but The Producer loved her on stage just as much.  Rabbit’s hair was dyed to keep away the grey, and her wrinkles were hidden with makeup and sparkles, and in some places she began to lose her shape a bit, as she was no longer an ingénue, except to The Producer.  To The Producer, Rabbit was always young and beautiful and that was all that Rabbit cared about.  She didn’t mind how she looked to other people, because theater magic had made her Real, and when you are real, shabbiness doesn’t matter.

And then, one day, The Producer was ill.

His face grew flushed, and he grabbed at his chest.  The paramedics came and rushed him off to the emergency room.  They said it was a heart attack and it was very bad, but The Producer was still alive.  Rabbit went to the hospital, when she could, because she knew The Producer needed her, but she knew The Producer needed her more on stage because they needed to make money and The Producer would have to pay the bills and now pay the hospital, as well.

It was a long weary time, for The Producer was too ill to plan new things, and Rabbit found it rather dull with no new shows and costumes and acts to plan.  But she settled down patiently into the current production, and looked forward to the time when The Producer should be well again, and they should have rehearsals for new shows and plan new costumes, and make new art for theater.  All sorts of delightful things Rabbit planned, and while The Producer lay half asleep in the hospital, Rabbit would creep up close to The Producer’s pillow and whisper them in his ear.

But presently, The Producer got worse and then The Producer died.

The funeral was a bright, sunny morning, and the windows stood wide open.  After the funeral, the performers and stage crew gathered together in front of the grave talking about the future of the theater.  New Producers were going to buy the theater and produce new shows.  They were coming by the theater tonight to talk about plans for the next production.

The New Producers were a triumvirate, and very young, and very decisive.  They told the performer cast about the plans for the next show, involving an ingénue, and pirates, at the seaside in the summer.  “Hurrah!” thought Rabbit.  “The next show will be featuring the seaside!  I would love to portray the seaside.”

Just then the New Producers caught sight of Rabbit.

“What about this old thing?” The New Producers asked.  “That?” said The New Producers. “Why, she can never play an ingénue!  Fire her at once!  What?  Nonsense!  Get a new ingénue!  We can’t have that performing here any more!”

And so after the show that night, Rabbit was handed her severance pay and a box for her personal items and then she was escorted out of the theater with her meager possessions as she was not allowed to keep her rhinestoned costumes, even though most of them were worn and shabby by now.  She would have to find a job as rent would come soon enough and she didn’t know what she would be now that she wasn’t an ingénue anymore.

That night The New Producers were pleased.   They would create a new show and find new performers.  Real perfomers.  Professional performers.  They would have splendid talent in the new show and that was a such a wonderful thing that The New Producers could think of nothing else.  And while The New Producers were dreaming of the new show, Rabbit sat in her home thinking.  She felt very lonely.  She was scared and shivering a little because she had always performed in this little theater, never anywhere else.  And now she was no longer wanted.  She thought of those long hours in rehearsal and the long hours performing – about how happy she and The Producer had been – and a great sadness came over her.  She seemed to see all the rehearsals and all the shows pass before her, each more beautiful than the other.  She thought of Horse, so wise and gentle, and the wisdom that he had shared with her.  Of what use was it to be loved and lose one’s beauty and become a Real performer if it all ended like this?  And a tear trickled down her wrinkled face and fell to the ground.

And then a strange thing happened.  She decided she would audition for other shows.  At the bigger theaters.  So she went, without her rhinestoned costumes and without her own musicians.  And she auditioned.  She came onto the stage in the big theater and she did her thing  – a little dancing, a little singing, a little talking.  She performed.  Because she knew, because the audience told her many many times, that she was Real.  And then she finished, but there was no applause.  Only silence and then a “Thank you,” as she was dragged offstage by the stage manager.

She put on her coat to leave and a woman came up next to her.  “Rabbit,” she said, “don’t you know who I am?”  Rabbit looked up at her, and it seemed to Rabbit that this woman was familiar, but she couldn’t think where.

“I am the BIG and Powerful Producer,” she said.  “I take care of performers that the audiences have loved, that audiences still love.  When you are no longer the ingénue, then I come and take you into the theater, because you have developed skill and wisdom and strength, you have mastered your craft, and I give you other roles, and I turn you into something Real, I turn you into a professional performer.”

“Wasn’t I Real before?” asked Rabbit.

“You were Real to your audiences,” The BIG and Powerful Producer said, “because they loved you.  Now you shall be Real to every one.”  And The BIG and Powerful Producer took Rabbit into rehearsal.  It was still afternoon.  The rehearsal room was large and well lit and did nothing to hide the wrinkles around Rabbit’s wise eyes.  The cast was rehearsing, dancing in sparkling shoes on the hard wood floor, but when they saw The BIG and Powerful Producer they all stopped dancing and stood round in a ring to stare at her.  “I’ve brought you a new cast member,” The BIG and Powerful Producer said.  “You must be very kind to her because she is wise and talented and has a lot to offer us in this theater.”

And she shook Rabbit’s hand and then held it in her own.  “Perform, Rabbit, and prepare for the world.”

But Rabbit stood quite still for a moment and never moved.  For when she saw the cast members dancing around her, she suddenly remembered that she couldn’t really dance, and she wasn’t trained, and she had big clumsy feet.  Then, as someone gently brushed against her, she looked down at her big strong legs, her dancer’s legs, that she worked hard at developing in rehearsals at the other, smaller theater.

She could dance!  She was beautiful!  Maybe she wasn’t an ingénue, but she was amazing and talented, and she had so much to offer to the world from her experience in The Producer’s theater.  She gave a leap and a spin and the joy of moving was so great that she danced and twirled around the room as the others did and grew so excited that when at last she stopped to look for The BIG and Powerful Producer, she had gone.

Rabbit was a Real Performer at least, at home with the other real performers.

Autumn passed and Winter, and in the Spring, when the days grew warm and sunny, the New Producers went out to the BIG theater to come up with new ideas for their productions, because the audiences were not what they should be and their performers where new and unfocused.  And while the New Producers were watching the show, one of the lead performers came on stage.  She had wrinkles on her face and places where it looked like the grey hairs were peeking out near her hairline.  About her face and voice there was something familiar, so that The New Producers talked to each other:

“Why, that looks just like Rabbit that we fired when we took over the theater!”

But The New Producers never knew that it was their old Rabbit, on stage as a Real Performer and more fabulous than ever before.

Giving Thanks

While I am not an unthankful person, I realized this Thanksgiving that I really am not very good at being a thankful person. Periodically throughout the day I received email and text messages wishing me a Happy Thanksgiving, which I returned, of course. But, I wouldn’t really have thought of sending out these messages and texts to people. I noticed on Facebook how many people were giving thanks for people, for their dinner, for a myriad of things. Instead, I was cooking, cleaning, laundering, costuming and wondering why I wasn’t getting more stuff done and thinking about how I could make my day off the most productive AND have a kick-ass meal with Mr. Velvet, as well.

This is not to say I didn’t take some time to relax. I slept in. I had guinea pig play time. I watched a movie with Mr. Velvet. But, I didn’t think about giving thanks, I thought about what I needed to do and what I could get done.
I am not proud of this mindset. Last year, during my show “Just Another Zombie Holiday Show,” teacher, mentor, and friend Kel Wil sent me a lovely voice mail. She told me how much she enjoyed the show and asked me if I was reveling in my accomplishment of creating it and putting it on stage. I was not reveling. I wish I had been reveling. I was worrying. About the next show, the next project, the next thing to do on my list. I don’t take much time to appreciate what is around me or to appreciate myself.

Again, it isn’t that I am not grateful for what I have in life, but, like a lot of people, it is easier to focus on the things that I didn’t get or I didn’t achieve or the stress I had to deal with than the actual things I accomplished, the good times I had, the great things that happened to me. I always see the flaws in my own work, think what I do is not good enough, seek perfection (whatever that is – somewhere in my brain I know other people must have it), and sometimes I even forget that I am supposed to be enjoying what I am doing and not punishing myself for not doing everything even better. I sometimes have to stop listening to music just because my brain starts telling me I need to find something to choreograph, because I can’t just enjoy some brain off-time while driving in my car listening to tunes.

It is a dirty, never-ending-spiral when you focus on the negatives. Because you can’t see the positive, you think everything is bad. You have improve, you have to get better, you have to do more, you can’t say no to yourself or to anyone else because you may never recover from that missed opportunity, assignment, or task. From the negative, I think, stems the striving, the doing, the accomplishing, instead of the being. I have always told people that I am not the friend that people have fun with. I am the helping friend. The doing friend. As if my lack of being useful would make me invisible or even hated. It goes to the saying, “What have you done for me, lately?” Which may not be said out loud very often, but which is emblazoned in my brain. Note: I know that I have some true friends – people who are there for me regardless of what I do for them – and I have a caring, loving husband. Who I also do a lot of shit for, but who would love me even if I didn’t.

So, I am working on it. Some days better than others (as working on things usually happens.) I am trying to write down good things (which I am behind on doing, because writing this was apparently way more important.) and focus on positives more and negatives less. Focus on me. Give thanks for what I have and what I have accomplished. Revel in what I have done and revel in just being me. This doesn’t mean I am going to change who I am, but sometimes I (and that is probably a lot of others out there, too) need to appreciate and admire what I have done and not just worry about what needs to be done next. I hope you already take the time to give thanks and to revel in yourself. If not, maybe you can take the journey with me.