I Auditioned for Listen To Your Mother

I did it! Again…

For those who may not know, Listen To Your Mother is a yearly live production that “Gives Motherhood a Microphone”. It is made up of live readings on the good, the bad, the funny, the tragic, anything and everything that makes up motherhood. It is put on once a year, around Mother’s Day. This year is the Grand Finale, the last show.

I’ve read the previous three years and wasn’t sure I would audition this year. Not that I don’t LOVE rejection… I didn’t have anything written. I tried. So many times and ways. I’d get a paragraph or two in and scrap it.

I wasn’t happy with anything I wrote. I was talking myself out of going… What were the odds anyway? The past three years, I put so much work into my pieces. I remember that first year, sitting at my kitchen table… my tears blurring my sight and the ink. Feeling, literally like I was writing my heart out. I was so in touch with that pain that had happened a decade earlier… At that point, you could submit your story via email.

The second year, I took a different approach. A different angle. This year you had to read your piece in front of the producers of the show. I was so nervous. They were so nice though. They listened actively, were encouraging, I remember the rejection email even- they worded it in such a way that I didn’t feel bad about myself. They’d explained that each show was like a quilt, each story a patch. The stories that were not selected, it wasn’t a reflection of the writing or the quality of the substance, it just didn’t go with the rest of the blanket.

The third year, last year, they remembered me and were happy I came back. What can I say? I’m a glutton for punishment.

So, it’s that time of year again. They only audition four days in various locations. At the time I was signing up (telling myself I was just holding the spot, it didn’t mean I HAD to go… but in case I came up with something brilliant…) the only meeting place was the library in North East Minneapolis. I can drive downtown but I really don’t like to! So that was one obstacle.

I waffled so long, I had to check my butt for burns!

I didn’t even really decide whether or not I was going to go until 45 minutes before I had to leave.

I decided to use a piece I wrote several years ago… I wasn’t sure it was going to be anything like what they were looking for but it was either that or skip it. I didn’t want to have that nagging “what if” regret.

So there it is. I did it. I’m done. They said they’ll notify everyone in about a week.

*Breaking News* From the Listen To Your Mother website:

“Recently we proclaimed that 2017 would serve as LTYM’s Grand Finale season, closing out 8 consecutive smash-success seasons of live LTYM shows. Today, thanks to a licensing agreement with Miracle or 2 Productions, Inc. LTYM announces a new life for our beloved show! Beginning in 2018 it will be easier than ever for theaters (professional or amateur) and organizations/groups to host their own LTYM show events!!

LTYM has partnered with Miracle or 2 Productions! What does that mean?

LTYM shows will no longer be limited to a once-per-year Mother’s Day celebration! Instead LTYM shows will be available for production all year long and for performance runs (multiple performances per theater, as opposed to only one) beginning in 2018, in cooperation with Miracle or 2 Productions, Inc.”

So, I guess if I don’t get in this year, it’s not the end of the road… awesome.

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Happy Mother Fucker’s Day

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What an emotional, cataclysmic, clusterfuck today was.

It started when I woke up and went downhill from there. I hadn’t gotten Don a father’s day card and the only place open at 4:30 am was Walmart. My grudge against them isn’t nearly as strong as it used to be, it’s just that every employee there, you can tell- doesn’t want to be there. No one EVER asks me if I need help. On the rare occasions I DO need help (the kind they can provide) I have to hire a Sherpa to guide me through every fucking isle until we find a blue vest brave enough to stop, listen and point me in the direction of pencil boxes! I digress… for now.

So I’m at Walmart, in the card isle. I see all these colors and exclamation points, Number 1 Dad cards… and my heart falls into my shoes. I swallowed hard and reminded myself I was in public (like THAT ever stopped me from doing anything) and I took a couple of deep breaths.

Then I saw THE ONE. It was of (presumably a girl) in a white dress. She was on her tummy with her knees bent and feet crossed at the ankles. The photo was of this kid was from just below the shoulders down, you couldn’t even see her head. I imagined it was stuck in a book somewhere or perhaps a color by number page… What stopped me, what paused me, the thing that made me deaf, dumb and mute were the little red cowgirl boots.

Natalie’s red boots. The ones she wore to every contest and every talent show in her very first days of singing. She LOVED those boots. They were so her. Her own personal style of ruby red slippers. They brought her “home” to the stage, to the spotlight, where she was born to be.

I felt the tears, warm from my eyes, make their way down my cheeks. My jaw started to tremble as I thought of my father who is experiencing his first Father’s Day after losing a child. I thought of my husband, who should be celebrating twice as much today, for the son he never got to meet… interesting side note, if you ever feel crowded in a Walmart isle? Start crying and watch people slowly back away…

I got the other things I needed and then stood on the front step for almost five minutes, wondering why the hell the escalator wasn’t moving…

I listened to some songs that Natalie had recorded, that I hadn’t heard before. Her voice sounded… stronger, clearer and I involuntarily started to shake my head in disbelief. “How can she be gone? LISTEN to this! All this talent, all this potential… I KNOW her. THIS is her life. She wouldn’t risk it all… for a fleeting high.”

But that’s the thing. I don’t think she saw it as taking a risk. She was cocky, (she’d be the first to tell you) she *knew her limits. But her limits reset after treatment. She even wrote a paper on relapse prevention! Tailored to her! Was she so arrogant that she wasn’t even listening to herself? I don’t know. I’ll never know.

EVERY fiber, molecule, atom, etc. KNOWS this was an accident.

Sometimes that’s a blessing, sometimes it’s torture.

It could have been worse. A lot worse. She didn’t want to leave. She wasn’t ready. I read and heard some of her journal entries… She was happy. Enjoying the “little” things in life that we come to find are the big things. I know at lease one of her former selves would’ve laughed their ass off at Natalie coming to appreciate something as simple as being able to bring a drink into the group room. Getting to wear her own clothes. A passage in a book. I was so excited for her. It renewed my own excitement of sobriety. I am happy it wasn’t an intentional thing, an accident.

Another part of me wants to shake her and scream “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?” An accident? There’s no such thing! It was careless. Reckless. How could you RISK not only your life but of those around you? What a fucking waste…

I feel myself getting caught up in the emotion again…

After I got home, I did some stuff around the house. Hanging curtains, pictures, finding spaces for all the various pots and pans… Then it was time to sort the laundry. I sat on the floor, surrounded by clothes and something caught my eye. It was one of her shirts. Her smile, her smell, her voice, her warmth all came flooding back. Before I knew what hit me, I was curled up in a ball. I rocked. And cried. And sobbed. And swore. I told whoever would listen, so Don and Tayla, that everyone was lying to me. She’s NOT gone. She CAN’T be gone! What am I supposed to do without her? With this giant, gaping hole that only she could fill?

“It’s not fair!” I cried. “She gets to be up there with my baby and grandma and I want her baaaaaack!”

Tayla had come in and sat down next to me on the floor. She had one hand on my back and in her most reassuring voice said “it’s ok mom. You’ll get to see them so… You’ll get to see them some day.”

I caught that. She almost said soon. She almost gave me permission.

I asked her for some Kleenex and calmed down. She got up to leave but I grabbed her hand. “Hey. Just because I’m sad and I miss them, that doesn’t mean… I mean, I want to be here with you and dad. I love you both so much.”

I have to wonder at times how much psychological damage I’m doing to that girl… I’m sure I’ll find out one of these Mother’s Days…

 

Take It Away, Erma

“When God Created Mothers”

When the Good Lord was creating mothers, He was into His sixth day of “overtime” when the angel appeared and said. “You’re doing a lot of fiddling around on this one.”

And God said, “Have you read the specs on this order?” She has to be completely washable, but not plastic. Have 180 moveable parts…all replaceable. Run on black coffee and leftovers. Have a lap that disappears when she stands up. A kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair. And six pairs of hands.”

The angel shook her head slowly and said. “Six pairs of hands…. no way.”

It’s not the hands that are causing me problems,” God remarked, “it’s the three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have.”

That’s on the standard model?” asked the angel. God nodded.

One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks, ‘What are you kids doing in there?’ when she already knows. Another here in the back of her head that sees what she shouldn’t but what she has to know, and of course the ones here in front that can look at a child when he goofs up and say. ‘I understand and I love you’ without so much as uttering a word.”

God,” said the angel touching his sleeve gently, “Get some rest tomorrow….”

I can’t,” said God, “I’m so close to creating something so close to myself. Already I have one who heals herself when she is sick…can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger…and can get a nine year old to stand under a shower.”

The angel circled the model of a mother very slowly. “It’s too soft,” she sighed.

But tough!” said God excitedly. “You can imagine what this mother can do or endure.”

Can it think?”

Not only can it think, but it can reason and compromise,” said the Creator.

Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek.

There’s a leak,” she pronounced. “I told You that You were trying to put too much into this model.”

It’s not a leak,” said the Lord, “It’s a tear.”

What’s it for?”

It’s for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness, and pride.”

You are a genius, ” said the angel.

Somberly, God said, “I didn’t put it there.”

 

Erma Bombeck, When God Created Mothers