Where the inside of my mind leaks onto the screen.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Tapestry

If I could draw the moment, I think I would start with a boot, draped in pants.  Which probably sounds as ridiculous as I would hope it would look.  Because to capture the moment, my pencil would have to capture ridiculous.

If I could freeze time, I would catch Stephanie mid-story and BreaAnna mid-laugh.  Melina would be primping her bow in the reflection offered by her own shadow.  Alisa's eyebrows would be arched in equal parts amusement and thought.

And I would be happy.

But I am neither the Master of Time and Space nor an artist.  I have only what some lovingly refer to as the words I sometimes vomit onto my computer (thanks, Skye) and the endless analogies that course through my veins.

This time, it is a tapestry.

I am so grateful for the HUGE number of friends that have come to see the front of the tapestry, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at the Empress.  Seriously.  So grateful.

But while the performing is rewarding, it is not why I do theater.  There is so much more that the audience doesn't see.  If you could spend an evening backstage, you would get to see the tapestry's underside. (And hear a whole lot of funny and occasionally inappropriate conversations, but "that's another story... nevermind...")

Oh, I have done some shows with a backstage tapestry that looked something akin to a 6 year old's first cross-stitch.  But in my favorite shows, backstage runs like clockwork, each thread overlapping in the same pattern night after night, creating a design not meant to be displayed but organized and beautiful in its own way.

If I could draw the moments, I could weave the threads.  I could capture the tapestry and keep it.  And I wish I could. In some way I can't quite explain, I know that my threads in the show have sewn some necessary pieces of my soul back into place.  And I worry that on Saturday when we bow for the final time whether my thread alone will be enough to hold the tenuous happiness in.

Here are just a few of the threads I hope to keep after the lights go down.

  • Alex, whose thread is that special kind that changes colors so smoothly that you've suddenly reached green before you even realized you have left blue: when he waits for me at the bottom of the stairs as I tear around the corner straight from an exit, his hand extended and his face betraying his worry that we will miss our cue.
  • Logan, whose thread I cannot see but instinctively know runs in organized, parallel lines, strengthening the whole tapestry: when he passes me in the dark as he exits and I enter before the lullaby and we each extend a blind hand to wrap a brief arm around the other's middle.
  • The Brides, a colorfully braided strand that cannot be separated without damaging the composition: when we sat in the hallway before receiving our gifts, overlapping our skirts and turning the hallway into one big quilt.
  • Nick, a dark brown that blends effortlessly in and out of the patterns: when he stands in silence then wordlessly offers me his hand just before our entrance.
  • Jordan, an unassuming gray completely unaware of the depth his presence adds to the palette: when he says, "Thank you," every time I help him change his shirt.
  • Roy, a vibrant neon that cannot quite distract from the symmetrical patterns in which it is woven: when he threw his shirt over three brothers in a dark hallway and it landed precisely on my shoulder, when he carefully sets me down and stabilizes my balance until I no longer have a blanket on my head, and when he counts down the moments until Logan turns the corner to climb the ladder.
  • Gaylon and Julie, two shades of tan, used nearly always in tandem: when they smile at me every time I dance or flit or spin through the green room carefully arranging their expressions to hide from me the fact that they think I am a bit crazy.
  • Raymond, a noticeable orange, confident in any configuration: when he creeps to the music of the suitor's final crossing.
  • Evan, whatever the unicorn equivalent is for thread: when the only thing predictable is his unpredictability and his ability to make me smile.
  • Michelle, the edges to which all threads must eventually lead: when she doesn't let anyone else zip her dress and I love knowing she needs me for a minute. 
Sure, many of these people are legitimately a part of my normal life.  So in theory, maybe the tapestry will hold a bit longer.  But I've done this before, and I know how it works.  Saturday night as we turn in the costumes and strike the set, each of us will tug a bit at our strings.  At first the tapestry will stretch, straining to cover its new dimensions.  But it won't hold for long.  Each vibrant strand will walk away, weaving already into the next design, forming already the next picturesque moment.

If I could draw the moment, I think I would start with a boot, draped in pants.  Which probably sounds as ridiculous as I would hope it would look.  Because to capture the moment, my pencil would have to capture ridiculous.  

If I could freeze time, I would catch Stephanie mid-story and BreaAnna mid-laugh.  Melina would be primping her bow in the reflection offered by her own shadow.  Alisa's eyebrows would be arched in equal parts amusement and thought.

And I would be happy.

The front of the tapestry.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Hero in Me

Sometimes I want to climb to the top of the nearest mountain and proclaim the awesomeness of m eldest child at the top of my lungs.  Since today is his birthday, it seems like a good time to do that without embarrassing him too terribly.

First, there's this:

"My Cousin's Hero" - Digital Art Entry in the "Inspirations" Contest
The things I am proud of (specifically):

  • His conceptual representation of the theme "The Hero in Me."  
  • That he understands and embraces his role as role model in the lives of his brothers and cousins.
  • That Red, as Adam consistently refers to him, would happily play right into the photo shoot.
  • That Adam quickly and confidently navigated Photoshop, eating everything up as fast as I could teach it to him to piece together the two original photos and then add filters for maximum effect.
  • That something as cool as this kid literally came out of my body.
  • That my son is ridiculously handsome (and reminds me so much of his dad).
  • That he wrote this as his description for the project, "When my cousin Red cries, he comes straight to me.  I feel like a hero because it makes me feel like he looks up to me."
Then, just for fun, there's these tidbits from recent text conversations with my recently annointed texter:
  • I asked Adam what cake design he wanted for his birthday, and he sent me a picture of Call of Duty Black Ops.  I responded, "That is not a cake!  I would have to have some mad skills..."  He immediately responded, "You do.  :) "
  • After I sent a "Thanks for being so responsible" text, he sent back, "I know I'm awesome."
  • The day I left a note that said, "Text me when you wake up," I received a text at 10:45.  It said, "I woke up at 9:30."
I've always enjoyed having Adam around, treating him as much as a grown up as his behavior allows.  I am looking forward to living with a legit 11 year old and excited to watch him enjoy this next part of his adventure.

Sunday, January 17, 2016


Meet Sarah.  Having recently  made the trek west from Alabama, Sarah is still trying to figure out exactly where she fits into her new Oregon home.  She spends much of her time observing the other girls and trying to figure out the appropriate ways to act.  Although she takes a bit from each of the six girls in her social circle, Sarah can't help but hang on the wise words of Milly.

Although she has her pick of suitors, she's being courted most directly by Zeke, a handsome young man whose manners remind her of the southern hospitality she left behind.  

What Zeke may not realize is that although Sarah loves to be the center of attention at the parties, she's never been kissed, and the thought of being alone with him (or any other man), scares her half to death.  When Milly describes going off with her husband Adam to a sheltered cabin just for two, Sarah makes up her mind to entertain suitors in public only!

But Sarah didn't account for meeting Frank Pontipee, a handsome mountain man whose shirt matches her favorite hair bows and who happens to be as tall as a church steeple, a major selling point for this southern girl who wants to be taken care of and protected on the Oregon frontier.

And then there's Frank's unique ability to sweep her off her feet - literally.

Things get a little complicated for Sarah, however, when she realizes that both Frank and Zeke are willing to fight for her.  Unable to decide between the two, Sarah decides to leave it up to whichever man leaves the social dance as the winner.

When Zeke picks a fight with Adam, the oldest Pontipee, she figures she has made up her mind and will continue to allow Zeke to court her.

Much to Zeke's delight, she even decides to let him give her one little kiss, if he promises to close his eyes first.  Sarah gets her first kiss, alright.  But not from the genteel Zeke.

Just as Sarah is deciding that kissing isn't as scary as she once thought, she realizes she isn't kissing Zeke at all.  Unprepared for this turn of events, she kicks and screams all the way through the mountain pass, contributing to the avalanche that keeps her trapped with Frank and the Pontipees (and five of her closest friends) for the winter.

But Frank has his charms, and it isn't long before he's convinced her to give kissing him another try.

Although she can't shake her obedient nature and her shyness still makes her a bit hesitant, Sarah gives into the entertaining game of being courted by Frank.  She even learns to make a few moves of her own.

A bit drunk on the power she wields over Frank, Sarah eventually gains confidence in herself and in her place in life.  Not only that, but she starts to see more than just fascination in Frank's face.

Sarah starts to realize it isn't really a game anymore, and that she can't imagine being with anyone other than Frank Pontipee for the rest of her life.  But the coming of spring brings with it the knowledge that she will have to get permission from her family and the town before being allowed to marry Frank.

With the help of a little, white lie (Sarah and the other girls each claim responsibility for a baby the townspeople hear after the spring thaw), Sarah is able to stand with her best friends to marry the Pontipee clan.

Sarah even gets Zeke's blessing - in the form of a shotgun wedding.

As Sarah holds Frank's hands, they listen to the preacher speak the words that will bind them.  She looks up into his eyes and sees that he's actually crying.  In this exact moment, Sarah falls completely in love with Frank.  And she knows that she is all in.

I'm proud to get to be a part of this (and six other love stories) in the Empress Theatre's Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Purple Ink

I woke up this morning with Willy Wonka lyrics on my mind. "I write my thoughts down in purple ink and think positive."  I have to say that it sounds like a pretty good plan.

You've heard the story of the two wolves? The ones that live inside of us, battling out the good and evil? As the story goes, the determining factor is which wolf you feed.

Then there's the small differentiation surrounding the way Mormons view Christ's death, choosing to focus on the Resurrection more than the Crucifixion.

Throw into this recipe the fact that "lack of control" has left me feeling a bit off balance for the last year.  And you get this:

Today I choose to think positive. I choose to feed the right wolf. But I have a bit of a problem. When I glance inwardly to check the reserves, there is a huge, heaping pile of food for the Big Bad Wolf. And only a small pile of the good. Some days I drown in bad memories of this day, specific and overwhelming and right at the surface. While I do think there is some merit to airing them out now and then, today I want to make a pile of good food so big that I can't even see the other pile.

Can you help me?

I am looking for your positive experiences that happened in the hours or days after Tyler died. The tender mercies. The times you laughed. The times you cried, but in a good way. Please help me relive those today. Through your descriptive inagery, take me there and let me stay awhile.

Write your thoughts down - in metaphorically purple ink - so I can think positive.