Literally Just a List of Things I Want to Remember About My Children

So Jack turned three yesterday.

 

They grow up so fast. Literally nothing else they can do fast. Putting on shoes. Picking out what they want for lunch. You know, walking. But growing up… I swear sometimes I look over at them and feel like they look more grown-up than they looked AN HOUR AGO.

So anyway, in honor of my mommy nostalgia I decided to make a list of cute things that I don’t want to forget about how they were at this stage of life.

 

#1 Jack refuses to call hearts by their real name, he insists they are “farts”

#2 Casey’s favorite song is “Skidamarink”. No matter how hard he is crying, he will immediately stop if you start singing that song.

#3 Jack calls grandma and grandpa “grampens”

#4 Every time we go out everyone comments on how happy Casey is

#5 Jack has a major obsession with hats

#6 Casey loves to put toys in his mouth and turn them into actual whistles

#7 Jack has to point out every single cactus he sees… and we live in Arizona

#8 Casey eats his entire weight in blueberries… every day… like at what point does he turn into Violet Beauregard?

#9 When Casey crawls around on the floor, Jack joins in because he thinks they’re “playing doggies”.

#10 Sometimes it’s overwhelming. Sometimes it’s beautiful. Sometimes it’s just going through the motions and you don’t catch these little moments. But it’s always big love and big rewards.

 

HAPPY LIFE LIVING GUYS

My Incurable Beatlemania

So, I have a problem. The first step is admitting, right?

 

PART ONE: CATCHING BEATLEMANIA

 

Honestly, the early sixties hysteria of The Beatles is alive and well… in my freaking soul.

Beatlemania1

For more than a decade I have dealt with random bouts of Beatlemania. Like I’ll have this week-long urge to listen to their albums, watch documentaries, “A Hard Days Night” or even “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” if I’m really feeling it. Just this little burst of Oh yeah! I forgot that I really love them! And then after hours and hours of their music, the excitement dies down and I can go about my life again.

But something happened at the beginning of this year. I got a baaaaddd case of Beatlemania and it NEVER WENT AWAY. It’s been months. I don’t even get what is happening to me.

I can tell you that the timeframe is a DIRECT correlation with the difficulties that Daniel and I have been facing the past several months. It was just this one day, that I hadn’t really seen my husband in a while because of his horrendous work schedule and things were feeling grim. I was buckling Jack into his car seat and … there it was. A CD of A Hard Day’s Night in a box on the floor. So, I took it and listened to it. And I was absolutely and incurably infected.

I don’t really think that anyone knows how bad it really was, especially in those first few months. I mean, actual tears every day listening to their music. Watching the same interviews and documentaries over and over again. Beatles music from the time that Dan left to the time he got home (which was a looooong stretch).

Beatlemania2

Now, lemme just stop right here, because it’s about this point where somebody feels like they need to tell me they don’t like The Beatles. And all I gotta say to that is **IT’S OKAY. YOU ARE FINE.** You do not need to like The Beatles just because a lot of people do. Art is completely subjective. You do not have to be insecure about having a different taste from me.

SEE HERE:

https://www.gettyimages.ae/detail/video/john-lennon-interviewed-he-says-people-are-entitled-not-news-footage/100961692?adppopup=true

… Like, I don’t know. I don’t really care that they’re popular or not. I just like them. Their music and the them that make up the group. I’m just into it. I’m into the hysteria and the influence and the history. And dang, the songs honestly just fuel my freaking heart.

 

PART TWO: LENNON THE MYSTERY MUSE

coollennon

Then the Beatlemania grew into something else completely bizarre. A hurricane flood of creative juices that I could not even handle.

There was this influx of story ideas that all came from a weird fixation on a young John Lennon. Which, honestly is totally surprising. Truth. Because if I personally were to travel back in time and hang out with all of them, I can confidently tell you that I would get along with Paul the best. Paul and I have more common interests, I think. Stuff like, literature and theater, dogs and kids, generally being polite to people that don’t deserve it. That kind of thing. So I do not know where John came from. But he is the most aggressive muse I have ever had in my life.

disapproving lennon

I finally started a novel to appease this like, compulsive need. But, Lennon would not stop haunting me every day. Sitting in the effing corner like “When are you finishing the bloomin book?”

“IDK when are you getting off my BUTT! You Liverpool WEIRDO. This doesn’t even make sense to write this. This has no benefit to my branding or career or anything.”

“I don’t care about that, love. I’m tellin’ you. I’m your muse. And I’m not going away until you finish the book.”

“I don’t want to write a book about you. You’re weird.”

“Well that’s a pisser innit? Coz you’re going write it.”

“No. You’re not even fun to be obsessed with. I’ve seen like 15 documentaries about you in the past eight weeks and you know what they all say? They say, ‘Oh, Lennon… really interesting guy’. YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS JOHN? IT MEANS THAT YOU WERE FREAKING WEIRD WHEN THEY MET YOU.”

“Alright, listen… can you finish the book by April?”

“Excuse me?”

“I wrote books quicker than that you know.”

“Yeah, but you are… I… John, now be reasonable here.”

“Write the book or keep waking up with Paperback Writer stuck in your head every morning. Your choice.”

“John, please. Think of my children, okay? Think of my husband stuck at work, I’m basically a widow! I have to run an entire house by myself.”

John puts his feet up on the table and pushes my laptop over to me with his Beetle-boot. “Right. Better hurry and finish it then.”

 

… FOUR MONTHS LATER AFTER RE-WRITING IDENTITY CRISIS AND THINGS HAVE CALMED DOWN…

 

“Hi!”

*startles and screams at John’s manifestation on my couch, spilling a bowl of popcorn all over the floor like a campy comedy*

“Right. So, listen. That book you started a few months ago…”

*eyes my hallucination suspiciously* “The one that I’m 40 thousand words into? What about it?”

“I just don’t feel like there is enough of me in it.”

“… I told you I don’t want to write a book about you. And I’m not going to. Go away.”

“So right then, here’s a really fantastic idea… completely new book. But this time. Actually all about me. Joost lichrally a bewk about me this time.”

*throws my ink quill to the ground and flips writing desk over*
Honestly, not sure what I’m going to do. I’m still trying to ignore him. But it is reeeally difficult…

dontlisten

PART THREE: SEEING PAUL MCCARTNEY AND REALIZING A DANG OL’ DREAM

 

A couple of weeks ago, it happened. I saw an actual Beatle, in real life. Like we were in the same room. Singing the same songs. Sharing the same moment.

 

I don’t want to be dramatic but… (see above).

That concert (to me) was comparable to when I witnessed a solar eclipse. It was something that I had always wanted to do, but never thought that I would get a chance to.  Like that guy is pushing eighty. There was not a lot of time for me to snag this bucket list check mark. And then I did, dude.

When he came out and picked up his steely base in his left hand. That iconic chord of A Hard Day’s Night rang out. I SCREAMED. Okay. And I’m not talking about a little “Woo Hoo! Yeah!” I mean it was like an actual uncontrollable piercing screech that rang out through the stadium.

Screamlemania2

And if you are thinking that I flew into hysterics and bawled for three hours like a teenager from 1964… uh, you’d be right, bro. A PACK AND A HALF OF TISSUES LATER. No, but I’m being completely serious. I actually sobbed almost the entire time. The guy on the other side of me actually nudged his date and gestured to me like ‘What year is this??’ The only difference between me and the OG fans is that they’re all like, “PAULIE! WAA! MARRY ME!” And I’m like, “PAULIE! WAA! I’M A PART OF HISTORY RIGHT NOW!”

I can’t help it that I’m a huge nerd. But, hey look. I get obsessed over stuff. I just do. Titanic, Cleopatra, Abraham Lincoln, Pompeii. But this time. This time. I could actually see in person this historical figure that I had come to know so well.

 

Paul: Alright, I’m gonna play a song now…

Literally everyone: YAY! WOOO! YEAH!

Paul: Alright, I’m gonna tell you a story now…

Just me: YAY! WOOO! YEAH! Talk about George Martin!

 

We had a seat right in front of the piano… He came around to play it. Stopped right in front of my section. Pointed up to my ROW. Waved… And made little binoculars over his eyes to show he was looking right in my exact direction.

I LEPT FROM MY CHAIR AND SCREAMED AND RATTLED BOTH OF MY ARMS AND MADE SUCH A DARN SPECTACLE THAT THERE WAS NO CHANCE HE DIDN’T AT LEAST SEE MY MOVEMENT SO THERE I MADE EYE CONTACT WITH A BEATLE AND I WILL FOREVER HOLD THAT IN MY HEART UNTIL THE DAY I DIE.

screamlemania

 

It’s just fun. It’s fun to be in love with a thing. And it’s fun to be so passionately moved in a creative way. I’m sure the Beatlemania will fade away eventually, but I’ll always love them for saving me from just a really crappy year.

Wow. An Apology Plus Book Update

Okay. Dang. Things have been rough.

 

But I am getting back on track now. No more month-long absences. For reals this time.

Remember when I had this clean set schedule at the beginning of the year? Um. Forget about that. Throw that out the window. It’s dead. Unbuckle that dream and step into this dumpy carnival ride of broken hopes

I don’t know where the heck to start anew, so I’m just going to talk about writing first because that’s my baby. . . well, other than my actual literal babies…

So almost every day I get asked if my book is published yet. FOR THE RECORD, I have now created an entire page solely dedicated to my published works. Books that you can buy and read TODAY. But, as far as this one novel. Man. It’s been a hard three years.

headache

 

Um, writing a book is no joke. It’s definitely a long term relationship with your story. The other day, I went back and counted how many actual times I have written this novel and I basically cried into an open carton of ice cream for the next few hours.

 

“Identity Crisis Season One through Six.docx”

“The Other Five Percent First Draft.docx”

“The Other Five Percent Second Draft.docx”

“The Other Five Percent – Third Draft.docx”

“The Other Five Percent Merged Draft.docx”

“Identity Crisis MS Full.docx”

“Identity Crisis New Draft One.docx”

“Identity Crisis Second Draft.docx”

 

Yup. This is the eighth time I’ve re-written this story. The EIGHTH time.

But it’s not just drafts. It’s a lot of other stuff too. My writing folder looks pretty ridiculous.

just ridicky

It’s so much work. And like, do I want to make a whole blog post complaining about it? Not really. But I’m just so anxious to move forward with other ideas. I’ve been working here and there on other books and then coming back, so I have all of these other projects that are just taunting me from the sidelines.

Here. I made a helpful graphic, so you could see how much I actually have done… but not done.

helpful graphic

Also dozens of short stories and poems that haven’t been picked up or developed yet. It’s a lot. A. LOT. So much that I just feel frustrated creatively. But I’m just so freaking tenacious like I NEED to finish this book and have it be a product that I’m okay with. Even if no one sees it and it was all just for me.

Basically, what I’m saying is, at this point unless an industry professional tells me to re-write… this is the last draft. If it doesn’t cultivate any interest this time around, I’m actually fine with that. I have learned so much writing this book, and I feel that I’ve really developed my craft in a way that would have been impossible without it.

I am only a couple of months away from finishing the editing (probably). Then I’ll go back to querying because I solidly promised that I would do that for myself. And yeah, it would be super easy to publish on Amazon or something, but ultimately getting a literary agent is a goal/hope of mine. And I don’t want an agent just for a gatekeeper like I want someone who can help me sort through the sea of ideas I’m drowning in (see above) … (sea above MUAWAHAHBLABLA).

Eh. Anyway. I’ll let you know.

But look. I updated my book’s artwork since apparently, that’s a thing I do now. And re-wrote my ‘blurb’ since this is basically THE EIGHTH COMPLETELY NEW VERSION OF THIS THING.

IDENTITY

What happens when the principal won’t let you quit your school’s honor club? How about teaming up with the school drug dealer to spread the rumor that you’re a hopeless troubled burnout…

Ever since she caught the Student Mentor’s President cheating on her at Homecoming, Elle McKernan is looking for any excuse to get out of her commitments as secretary. When the principal adamantly refuses to let her off the team, she turns to local school psycho Ronnie Gonzales to ruin her reputation and get her kicked off for good! Collaborating with a troublemaker, however, proves to be impossible without making any actual trouble. And to further complicate matters, she finds herself rebounding for Ronnie instead. Will she be able to abandon her mild-mannered ways and step into the new persona she invented? Or will she stay true to herself at the risk of losing the only friend she has left?

I Wrote 10,000 Words in a Single Day

Hey, so here’s an accomplishment. I took the “10 K in One Day” writing challenge, drafting ten thousand words of my novel in a single day. It was (rightfully) more difficult than I thought it was going to be. BUT I DID IT! I can’t run a marathon, but I CAN DO THIS THO!

20190526_210241_0000.png

If you’re not a writing nerd, here are some general word counts for reference:
The average paragraph is 200 words
The average American term paper is 2,000 words
“The Great Gatsby” is a little less than 50,000 words.

Here’s a vlog of it, if you like those kinds of things or would rather hear my gross rambly voice. (Apologies beforehand: the sound is all over the place, I do not know how to work my new editing software.)

 

Life Update: Hi! So, it’s been a secret disaster

Hey, remember when I had a weekly blog and then dropped off the face of the planet for a couple of months?

So it’s been more than two months. I feel bad about that. This is literally the longest that I’ve ever gone without posting anything since I started the blog. (Even after having a kid.) I was secretly hoping for things to settle completely before coming out and having to talk about this. BuUuUUuuUUuuut that hasn’t quite yet happened, so … I’m just gonna talk about it, I guess.

 

dep1

 

My husband and I play this game when we’re stressed out. I call it, “Lay the Cards.” When we’re anxious about something we come up with four different outcomes.

  1. The absolute best dream outcome that could ever happen in your wildest imagination.
  2. A good outcome that’s also realistic.
  3. A bad outcome that’s more realistic.
  4. The absolute, complete worst outcome you can think of suffering through.

We look at all the outcomes and try to come up with how we would respond to each scenario, therefore ‘laying out all our cards’ and preparing for anything.

Well, one night we played that game… and the absolute, complete worst outcome that we came up with… ENDED. UP. HAPPENING.

Of all the times we have played that game, that has never happened to us. Never ever.

I don’t want to get into the details of things, because overall I just feel like that’s unprofessional. (Even if it’s not my profession.) But basically what I can tell you is that a situation got to a point where it was completely out of our control and Dan was forced to end his residency only ninety days shy of graduating.

We were told from multiple sources that an early termination from a residency would result in being “blacklisted” from ever getting a job at a hospital or clinic. And if that doesn’t seem so bad, let me concern you by phrasing it another way… You could spend five years of your life, get into an unbelievably massive student loan debt and be told you’re not getting your dream job only 12 weeks away from qualifying.

BUT YOU KNOW FREAKING WHAT?

It’s been six weeks. And Dan GOT A JOB. AND IT IS IN A HOSPITAL BY THE WAY. Let me just rewrite that for any abused lil’ pharmacist. MY HUSBAND GOT A JOB IN A HOSPITAL WITHOUT A RESIDENCY. IT IS POSSIBLE AND REAL TO DO SO. The coolest part about the job is that it’s the exact same company that he wanted out of residency anyway. The un-coolest part about the job is that it’s part-time so… Foot in the door, but we’re still looking to take another job. 

Um. So yeah. It’s been hard to write. Upkeep simple things like this blog. In theory, it seems like I should have MORE time to write now that Dan is home to help with the kids. But I’ve been spending all of my free time elbows deep in Google job searches and ad posts. I’ve actually developed a long term twitch in my both my left eye and right eyebrow soooo… yikes? Daniel keeps telling me to write, but it’s been hard to motivate myself to do ANYTHING lately.

 

dep2

 

It sucks. We have a lot of dreams and plans now idling behind a blockade. We’re likely going to be staying in Arizona for a good long while. But that’s hard to say as we’re still interviewing for full-time positions right now. So, sorry for anyone hoping for the Manwill return to Utah. And sorry for being a buttface and not updating this blog. But lots more news and interesting(?) posts to come.

Celebrating a Friend’s Book Launch: Cleo Under the Surface

Hey guys! I wanted to draw your attention to a great new YA sci-fi set to release tomorrow. The book is available exclusively on Amazon and if you preorder today, it’s only 99 cents!

CT Barnes is a personal friend of mine, she’s been working hard on this project for a while now, so go on over and show her some support!

 

Cleo: Under the Surface

“Cleopatra Travers can’t remember what happens when she’s sleepwalking. Her parents know. They witnessed something they aren’t telling Cleo-and now whatever she did has carved a canyon of space between her entire family. Cleo’s parents are afraid of her, which makes Cleo terrified and unsure of herself.

Not receiving the love and acceptance she longs for at home, Cleo tries to fill the void at school. Now, as her junior year ends, she is finally becoming popular. But her plans become disrupted by the resurfacing of a forgotten crush and new discoveries about her sleepwalking that risk the exposure of her long-kept secret.”

 

 

If you’re an author and have a book coming out or recently published*, I would love to support you by featuring your work on my blog! Contact me  if you are interested. Obligatory free of course, I’m just trying to connect and support the writer community!

*Erotica would probably not be a good fit for my small audience. Thanks.

12 Things I Think While Watching Kid Shows with my Toddler (2019)

Parents, I know you feel me.

 

#1

Me: Which TV show do you want?
Jack: *picks the one with the most annoying voice actors*
Me: … … Okay, movie night. Mom’s choice.

#2
Why do I find the Dad’s voice from Daniel Tiger so sexy? Do I need to see a therapist about this?

#3
Chris from Sesame Street is a gosh darn treasure. Prove me wrong.

ChrisKnowingsElmo

#4
I honestly didn’t know it was called an “excavator”…

#5
Blippi makes thousands and thousands of dollars every time he plays on an indoor playground and I need to reevaluate my career choices

#6
Johnny Johnny how do you feel about tooth decay?

#7
Okay, how is “Cocomelon” a more marketable name than “ABC kids”? 

bath

#8
Mm-hmm shark doo doo doo doo doo doo… Stuck in my head doo doo doo doo doo doo

#9
Hello, I’m the mom from Ryan’s Toy Review and I do COCAINE

#10
How does Cheesy from Super Simple Songs look so much like my friend Josh? lol

Image result for Cheesy super simple songs

#11
Not much of a surprise when you watch them open this egg 30 times a day

#12
Childless person: Um, your kid watches a lot of YouTube…
Me: *shows them my brother finger*

Literally Just a List of Things That Remind Me of My Childhood

Erasers in the shape of caterpillars

Picking dirt out of the cracks of my shoes with a pencil

Having twenty to thirty stuffed animals in my bed because I felt too bad to pick just one to sleep with (a la Toy Story)

Tying one end of the jump rope to furniture when we didn’t have three people to play

Razor scooter slamming into my ankles

Keeping my pencil shavings in a clear pink plastic box just for the heck of it

Having black marks all up against the side of my hand from drawing at school

Adding a Sailor Moon graphic to my love letter confession

Hoarding and eating an entire box of Thin Mints

Grey McNuggets

Lisa Frank fuzz on my leggings

holysmokes

Bangs almost as high as my bows

Waiting forever to go on a field trip

Changing your favorite color was a conscious decision

Blisters on the back of my knees from monkey bars

Having a lot of mystery scrapes and bruises

Star sixty-nine

Our big black boxy TV which was so amazing that we had a “big screen TV”

Roller skating in our unfinished basement

Falling in love with Cluefinders

cluefinders

Pretending that the freshly fallen snow was a new planet and stepping onto it dramatically

Getting yelled at by the lunch lady for not eating fast enough

Being devastated when I couldn’t find my toys

Making forts in the bunk bed by tucking blankets into the bars

Sleepovers at Grandma’s House

Sneaking into the creek behind my school

The smell of the “Science Room”

The smell of the lunchroom

My baby brother’s bald little head

Eating spaghettios for the first time ever

The seatbelt rubbing my neck uncomfortably

My armpits hurting after someone picked me up

Being too scared to ride on my dad’s shoulders because it was so freaking high

Going to Disneyland but lowkey being terrified of the drops on Pirates of the Caribbean

Being scared of my loud uncles

Feeling like getting in trouble was the end of the world

Making up a lot of outrageous and elaborate stories (oops still do this one)

Wishing I was an adult and could do “whatever I wanted”

Getting sidewalk chalk on my knees

Collecting snails in a yellow pail

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.

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