Life Update: Partially Drowning

I may or may not have been in a pretty grouchy mood when I wrote this. But this is real. This is our life right now. Take it for what it is.

 

The Residency

Look. I’m going to be completely honest with you. But we are just miserable over here. If you don’t already know, Dan works 12hr+ shifts for twelve days straight through. Like sometimes his work days are longer than Jack is even awake. Which means they never get to see each other anymore. He is a zombie. And I am a single mom. And that’s how life is right now.

Okay. That’s not fair. Single moms have it worse because they are also sole-providers of their household. But zombies DO have it better because at least their hearts are dead.

I will say one thing though. My admiration for my husband has at least tripled since he became a resident. He does not feel the same way about himself. Which probably has to do with the way he is crapped on at his job.

“So is resident short for ‘resident toilet’?”

I do not know how he keeps it up. Honestly, if it had been me. I would have peaced out five years ago. Like the first week of Pharm school. What a man. What a man. What a mighty patient man. Say it again now!

 

The Babes

Casey is the happiest lil’ thing you ever did saw. He’s always smiling. In fact, he’s smiling at me right now. Wherever we go, people comment on how happy he is. He’s honestly the most cheerful baby I’ve ever met.

I found out I was pregnant a year ago and I was sure that the new little baby was going to be the most challenging part of the year. But you know what? He wasn’t even close to being the hardest. He is SO EASY. Like, I thought my eldest was easy. And he really is. But this kid is like a little pink smiley angel of some kind.

Jack is doing both stellar and not stellar at the same time. He is going through the terrible twos. Some days I just want to rip my hair out. He gets upset over EVERYTHING. He can’t eat fistfuls of powdered parmesan. DISASTER. He has to walk to the car. END OF THE WORLD. You put on the wrong YouTube video. GAME OVER. And most of the time it’s like you have no idea why he’s screaming and crying and you just kind of stare at him while he’s rolling around. He’s finally catching up on a speech delay but I think the still-present communication barrier is sending his frustrations through the roof.

 

The Writing

I feel like a freaking plastic bag caught in a tornado. Just whipping around from here to there and having no direction at all.

I started coming up with this new novel-plotting technique. Because 1) I’m desperately pragmatic when it comes to book writing and 2) developmental edits are like ten thousand splinters beneath my eyelid. So I came up with what I felt like was a good system and I started practicing it on the one book that I knew OH SO WELL. (The story that I had been working on for more than two years.) And as I was re-plotting, I came to the dreadful realization that… I am going to have to re-write this book A-FREAKING-AGAIN. I don’t even know what draft this is. Five? Six?

I stopped querying immediately. And ugh. It was a complete gut job. I wrote 20k new words, stitched it all together and zapped the monster with lightning in my mad scientist lab. And through all the sweat, tears and finger cramps I FINALLY had slapped together a sixth draft.

And you want to know what? When I stepped back to admire the work I had just done… I realized, wow… this is truly, truly, truly not good.

It still needs extensive work. Particularly the ending which is completely nonsensical. I shut my laptop and whispered, ‘I need a break from you’. It honestly was the same feeling as when your hair gets so hopelessly snarled and tangled that you bust out the kitchen scissors. I need a break. I need a torrent affair with another story. Or SOMETHING. Work on an entirely new thing, until I’m a better, smarter writer and then regroup.

I won’t lie. Giving up is really tempting right now. I could just take my little butchered story, thank it like Marie Kondo and then shove it into the bottom of a Goodwill box.

 

In four months so much will be better for us. Jack will likely be talking more. Residency will be over and I could have time to invest into these projects. But for today, we are just slogging along to the finish line.

COLLECTIVE: THEATRE MISHAPS (PART TWO)

WHAT IS YOUR FUNNIEST / CRAZIEST THEATRE MISHAP STORY?

(Some of these stories have been re-written / re-worded for clarity sake.)

 

#1

When I was 14, I played Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood. In one scene, I had to open a ledger and peruse through it. For the last performance, the stagehands pasted photos of morbidly obese nude women onto the ledger pages, kind of like what you would see on “adult” greeting cards at Spencer gifts. I had a very tough time keeping a straight face.

#2

I was in a show that was very dependent on the timing of the sound cues in the music. Opening night, we were at the very climax of the show when the wrong music started playing. No one knew what to do because we were waiting for the sound cue but we were also supposed to be in real peril. So for a full five minutes all of us were yelling “Oh no!” As we stood awkwardly in our places.

freeze

#3

I ran lights for footloose and hit a cue too early… the cast had to do the last 5 or 6 seconds of a song in the dark.

#4

I did a monologue for a… “scholarship program” (read: beauty pageant). The mic went out for my entire performance. They rushed me offstage, gave me a new mic and sent me back out to reperform for the judges. But since I was being judged, I couldn’t do worse cuz then they’d see I let the tech difficulties get to me but I also couldn’t do better to show I had nerves the first time…. so I had to perform identically well… most stressful/weird performance.

april

#5

One time during Romeo and Juliet, Tybalt’s pants ripped completely open down the side. It was during a fight scene so he couldn’t even fix it.

#6

When I was Long John Silvers years ago, I had my leg in a sling so it looked like I only had “one leg” as the script goes. One of the barmaids spilled a bit of water and as I went across the stage my crutch slipped on the water sending me flying across the stage into the pirates.

crutches

#7

My best friend had written a monologue for his drama class in high school. The monologue was a crazy and violent guy who was yelling to himself. I remember one line was, “You should have taken your pills today now you’re going to have to hurt someone!” He stayed after school to practice and a teacher in the other room overheard him. She was FREAKED OUT. She got the Vice Principal to go talk him down and they almost called the police!

#8

This is not me personally but a young lady I knew was playing Kitty in The Drowsy Chaperone. During Toledo Surprise, she fell down and ended up fracturing her wrist. It was closing night and she still had to finish the second act.

ouch

#9

This one wasn’t during a live performance, but one time after a play I was joking around with my friend. I was trying to be “sexy” and I seductively wrapped my leg around one of the doors on set… only I didn’t know that one of my fellow actors was on the other side. So I accidentally creepily wrapped my leg around him!

#10

When I was in Hamlet, Hamlet and Laertes had a fight in the graveyard involving a pickax. Long story short, Hamlet got a pickax to the head. I didn’t realize what had happened because his back was to me. He fell forward and I rushed forward to grab him like I was choreographed to do and I remember thinking “that’s a lot of blood.” He cut his monologue short and rushed offstage. He and I had a scene together immediately after that and he came on holding a wad of paper towels to his head. We spent the scene taking turns holding the paper towels to the gash. He finished the show and then we rushed him to the hospital where he got 10 stitches. No more pickax after that.

 

Yikes! Stay safe thespians.

MINUS ONE: A Skit by Val Manwill

I obviously love stage mishaps so much, I mean, I’ve dedicated the whole last two months on it. But you know what’s even better than stage mishaps? A stage play ABOUT mishaps! Noises Off anyone??

Well anyway, a handful of years ago, I tried to write my own play within a play. And this is what I ended up with. It’s called Minus One. It’s quite an amateur piece of playwrighting, so that’s fine, just look past that. It was intended to be performed by 9th – 11th graders, if that gives you some kind of an idea. But I thought that it would be fun to share! So HERE YOU ARE:

 

 

 

 

MINUS ONE

By Val Manwill

 

 

 

 

 

ACT ONE

 

“Hamlet” rehearsal. SERVANT 4 enters, sets a sword and goblet on a table, then leaves. CLAUDIUS & LAERTES enter.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Here, young Laertes. A sword unbated.

LAERTES:              Heh, heh, heh. I’ll anoint my sword with an unction so mortal that there is none that can save the thing from death that is but scratched withal.

CLAUDIUS:          Let’s further think of this, if this should fail—

 

Enter HAMLET

 

HAMLET:              Dearest Laertes! Give me your pardon, sir.

DIRECTOR:          (interrupting from the audience) Stop! Stop!

 

The actors groan.

 

DIRECTOR:          Hamlet. You were early. Again. I don’t know how you manage to be a perfect seven seconds early – every. Single. Time.

HAMLET:              I am sorry, but it’s incredibly hard to hear from the wings. I think it’s that air vent.

HORATIO:            (pokes his head from the curtains) It’s true. You really can’t hear a thing back here.

DIRECTOR:          Do you understand what’s going on in this scene?

HAMLET:              I, uh—

DIRECTOR:          They’re plotting your murder.

HAMLET:              Yeah…

DIRECTOR:          Isn’t that kind of hard to plot your murder if YOU’RE STANDING RIGHT THERE!?

HAMLET:              … Oh.

DIRECTOR:          I’m done with excuses. If you can’t hear the lines then count to 30 in your head and come out on stage. Take it again.

 

THE ACTORS reset and begin again.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Here, young Laertes. A sword unbated

LAERTES:              Heh, heh, heh. I’ll anoint my sword with an unction so mortal that there is none that can save the thing from death that is but scratched withal.

CLAUDIUS:          Let’s further think of this, if this should fail, I’ll have prepared him a chalice.

 

CLAUDIUS takes the poison from LAERTES and pours it into the cup. LAERTES dips his sword into the poison cup. There is an awkward pause and then enter HAMLET.

 

HAMLET:              Dearest Laertes! Give me your pardon, sir. I’ve done you wrong.

LAERTES:              I am satisfied in nature.

DIRECTOR:          Okay. Better!

 

Enter HORATIO, GERTRUDE, and SERVANT 4 who is carrying Hamlet’s sword. SERVANT 4 hands Hamlet the sword. LAERTES does a super goofy fencing maneuver but has one hand holding up his pants.

 

DIRECTOR:          Stop. Laertes why are you only using one hand?

LAERTES:              My fencing pants are too big. I’m trying to hold onto them.

DIRECTOR:          Safety pin it.

LAERTES:              I can’t reach back there.

DIRECTOR:          Where’s Angie? (Calls) Angie!

HORATIO:            She’s helping the army of Fortenbras change in the green room.

DIRECTOR:          Then grab one of the servants running around back there to help you. We are grown adults, people! This shouldn’t be that hard! Continue please.

 

HAMLET and LAERTES fence.

 

DIRECTOR:          Servant 4 move to the back please. Further please. Thank you.

GERTRUDE:         The queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet.

 

GERTRUDE picks up the cup

 

CLAUDIUS:          Gertrude, do not drink.

GERTRUDE:         I will, my lord. I pray you, pardon me. (drinks)

LAERTES:              (aside to CLAUDIUS) My lord, I’ll hit him now.

 

LAERTES stabs HAMLET. They fight, HAMLET stabs LAERTES with the poisoned sword.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Part them! They are incensed!

HORATIO:            They bleed on both sides!

GERTRUDE:         (overdramatic) The drink! I am poisoned.

 

GERTRUDE dies in the most over the top way possible. THE OTHER ACTORS roll their eyes. THE DIRECTOR stands and applauds.

 

DIRECTOR:          My dear! Brilliant as always. That was fabulous! You were flawless.

GERTRUDE:         Well, of course it was. Would you expect anything else?

DIRECTOR:          Absolutely not. Please go on.

HORATIO:            (continuing) Treachery! Seek it out.

LAERTES:              It is here, Hamlet. Hamlet, thou art slain. No medicine in the world can do thee good. The king, the king’s to blame.

HAMLET:              Here, thou incestuous, murderous, damnèd Dane, Drink off this potion. Follow my mother.

 

HAMLET forces CLAUDIUS to drink the poison. CLAUDIUS dies.

 

LAERTES:              He is justly served. Forgive me, noble Hamlet. (dies)

HAMLET:              Horatio, I am dead. Thou livest. If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart—

 

Suddenly, HAMLET makes the most obvious and ridiculous ‘blank face’ as he forgets his line.

 

DIRECTOR:          Stop! (To himself) So close. We were SO close!

HAMLET:              I forgot what comes next.

DIRECTOR:          How do you NOT have your lines memorized 2 hours before we OPEN THIS SHOW!

HAMLET:              I’m sorry. I just kind of freeze up you know?

DIRECTOR:          Trust me, I know. Everyone in the audience knows! It’s that stupid face that you make.

CLAUDIUS:          I can’t work like this.

HAMLET:              I’m sorry, really. I just don’t know how to improvise Shakespeare.

DIRECTOR:          I feel so unappreciated right now. I have given you the most coveted role in all of the last 500 years of theatre. I made you. When I met you, you were in a public library reciting The Night Before Christmas.

HAMLET:              That’s not fair. . . everyone loved my rendition of The Night Before Christmas.

DIRECTOR:          Just do this show – THE RIGHT WAY! Please! Surprise me for once. Continue.

HAMLET:              Draw thy breath in pain To tell my story. dies

HORATIO:            Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince, And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!

DIRECTOR:          Aaaaaand curtain! Good. Well, almost good. I feel like – things are too cluttered in this ending. Uh Servant 4?

SERVANT 4:         Yes?

DIRECTOR:          I don’t think we’ll be needing you for this ending scene. It doesn’t work with you there. You’re blocking most of the action.

GERTRUDE:         I think this scene should be for leads only.

DIRECTOR:          That’s just what I was thinking. Servant 4, thank you, but you’re cut. Everyone else, let’s set for this show.

 

Everyone leaves the stage except for SERVANT 4 who is almost in tears.

 

SERVANT 4:         “Cut”? Fine. I’m going home!

 

SERVANT 4 runs off the stage

 

 

ACT TWO

 

THE DIRECTOR stands on stage this time acknowledging the audience.

 

DIRECTOR:          Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all so much for coming to our version of the beloved play Hamlet. I wanted to give a quick message regarding the final scene- Act 5 scene 2. This scene is a very, very serious part of the play and we would appreciate it if all cell phones were turned off and uh, no talking please. Without further ado – The finale of Hamlet.

 

THE DIRECTOR sits down, and CLAUDIUS & LAERTES enter.

 

CLAUDIUS:         Here, young Laertes. A sword unbated—

 

CLAUDIUS & LAERTES look down at the table realizing the key props are missing.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Here is not a sword unbated.

LAERTES:              (scoots closer to the curtain and speaks loudly) Uhhh- Perhaps Lord Hamlet could bring me my sword.

CLAUDIUS:          Hamlet is going to bring YOU a POISIONED SWORD?

LAERTES:              Or perhaps I’ll fetch the sword myself! (Runs off stage)

CLAUDIUS:          (calls after LAERTES) Hey a chalice too. A chalice! (Follows LAERTES off stage)

 

Enter Hamlet

 

HAMLET:              Dearest Laertes! Give me your pardon, sir… I have … done you wrong?

 

HAMLET looks around confused at finding himself alone on stage.

 

LAERTES:              I have the sword!

 

 HAMLET ducks down behind a chair as LAERTES enters with a sword from stage right and CLAUDIUS with a bottle of water from stage left.

 

LAERTES:              I’ll anoint it with an unction so mortal that there is none that can save the thing from death that is but scratched withal.

CLAUDIUS:           I’ll have prepared him a chalice.

LAERTES:              A bottle?

CLAUDIUS:          A CHALICE!

 

CLAUDIUS takes the poison and puts it into the bottle. LAERTES tries to get his sword in the bottle but the opening is too small.

 

LAERTES:              (whispering)  It won’t go!

 

From behind the couch, HAMLET silently counts to 30 on his fingers..

 

HAMLET:              Dearest Laertes!

 

HAMLET pops up from behind the chair startling CLAUDIUS and LAERTES who violently spills the water in the bottle.

 

HAMLET:              Give me your pardon, sir. I’ve done you wrong.

LAERTES:              (sarcastically) I am satisfied in nature.

 

Enter HORATIO and GERTRUDE

 

CLAUDIUS:          (to HORATIO) Give him his foil.

HORATIO:            What, Me?

CLAUDIUS:          (through his teeth) Just get it.

 

Exit HORATIO. LAERTES begins his elaborate and goofy fencing move.

 

LAERTES:              Come, my lord.

HAMLET:              I – I can’t fight you without a sword.

 

LAERTES’ pants drop to his ankles.

 

LAERTES:              Very well. I shall fight you… when you have… a sword. If you’ll excuse me just a moment.

 

With his pants still around his ankles he waddles off stage. HAMLET sits in the chair, waiting.

 

GERTRUDE:         (slightly panicked) Uhh the queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet.

 

GERTRUDE picks up the water bottle.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Gertrude, seriously. Do not drink.

GERTRUDE:         I will, my lord. I pray you, pardon me. (drinks)

 

THE DIRECTOR crawls “inconspicuously” on the stage and places a new cup on the table. GERTRUDE begins her dramatic over the top death scene.

 

GERTRUDE:         The drink! I am poisoned. (dies)

CLAUDIUS:          Um, actually dear. (Pointing to the new cup) I believe this is the poisoned one.

GERTRUDE:         Oh.

 

Gertrude gets up, walks over to the new cup and takes a sip.

 

GERTUDE:           Oh NO! The drink! I am poisoned. (Re-dies)

 

THE DIRECTOR drags Claudius offstage by his robe.

 

CLAUDIUS:          I will return. Delay the sword fight. Tarry!

 

CLAUDIUS and THE DIRECTOR exit stage left as HORATIO runs in stage right.

 

HORATIO:            I’ve got the sword. I’ve got it!

 

HORATIO trips on the water spill and is knocked unconscious. HAMLET turns around and breaks the fourth wall, making the same ridiculously blank face as earlier. He stands up.

 

HAMLET:              (attempting to improvise)  Tis . . . tis . . . twas . . . the night before Christmas and all through the house. Not a creature was stirring not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care-

 

Suddenly LAERTES rushes in with the original goblet and splashes HAMLET in the face.

 

LAERTES:              Aha! It is here, Hamlet. Hamlet, thou art slain. No medicine in the world can do thee good.

 

Re-enter CLAUDIUS with another sword.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Part them! They are incensed.

 

THE DIRECTOR enters stage right and picks up HORATIO’s limp body. He moves him around like a puppet.

 

DIRECTOR:          (as Horatio) They bleed on both sides!

GERTRUDE:         (from the ground) The cup! I am poisoned!

DIRECTOR:          (as Horatio) Now cracks a noble heart.—Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing me to my rest! CURTAIN! CURTAIN!

 

THE ACTORS freeze and SERVANT 4 enters, addressing the audience.

 

SERVANT 4:         The moral of our little play is that no one person is bigger than another. No matter how small of a part you think you do, you can make a GIANT difference!

 

fin

 

Almost Getting Killed By a Pen Lid

During the school play, we were all goofing around on stage after a show. In this particular play we had a cap gun, which isn’t unusual for a school play. We were annoying theater kids so OBVIOUSLY someone had the gun and was swinging it around and yelling… probably while singing show tunes or using some kind of bad English accent. I mean, whenever were we not doing that stuff? What else do you expect from us?

Anyways, after pointing the gun at just about every single person in the cast, he holds it over his head and pulls the trigger. KA-BLAAM! It was the sound that you would expect from a real gun. I mean, we all stopped in our tracks, like what? Did that Pinocchio gun just become a real gun? On the ceiling above the stage (yes you could see the ceiling, it was a small stage) embedded into the tile was a blue pen lid.

pen lid

Someone had shoved a pen lid into the barrel of the cap gun and it had shot out as if it were an actual bullet. Now, obviously, some high school kid did this as a joke. I’m sure they just thought it would be funny to see the gun jam and then we would have to adlib some crazy thing on stage. BUT I think they seriously underestimated the drama of the drama department.

I immediately jumped to the conclusion that, HOLY FRICKIN TOLEDOS, this was a set up to have someone in the cast killed.

makin

At the end of the third act, the gun is shot randomly around at the cast during a struggle… so if this one actor hadn’t been goofing around before a show, someone would have gotten a pen lid stuck two inches into their body. It was like wedged so hard into the ceiling too. I remember we had to stand on a chair and really yank it down. I mean OBVIOUSLY, this was the dealings of a MURDERER. I was ready to call the police.

Looking back at it now, I’m sure it was just someone in the cast who was trying to play a prank. I’m sure they didn’t come forward at the time because I was about to slap a pair of handcuffs on someone. I never found out for sure who did it, even though you bet I tried, Watson.

clueb

So anyways, that was one of the times I almost died in front of an audience.