Thursday, May 1, 2008

Stage Mother: The Callback!

The Matron was a bit disappointed that the callback was so, well, uneventful.

She was also surprised, considering that several days ago, this message appeared on the answering machine. Conjure upbeat female voice:

"Hello! This is a message for Scarlett from the Children's Theater. Because winnowing down from 350 people was just so much fun, we decided to hold yet another open call in order to add a gazillion more children to the mix! That means Wednesday's callback will be the first of two! Instead of a 15 minute solo audition, you'll be doing singing, dancing and improvisation in a group. The final callback we save for the anointed and their runners-up."

Spool forward to Wednesday. Scarlett yawned the whole way there. "I'm so tired. How long will this take?"

Matron: "Aren't you a little bit excited?"

Scarlett (shrugs): "Not really."

Once there, each child received the same number they were given at their original audition. Scarlett pinned 226 to her chest. The Matron nearly fell over when 502 walked by.

The Matron, having learned some lessons, brought papers to grade and Riding Shotgun: Women Write about Their Mothers. This is a perfect book. She thinks you should read it!

And Scarlett yawned and languished and sighed and read her book as they waited in Rehearsal Room B. She nearly fell asleep, she was that noncholant.

At precisely 7 pm. someone came in and said: "Okay Group B! Step on up!"

Scarlett could barely stand, she was that weak in front of her mother. "Bye Mom," she moaned.

But in a magical moment, the Matron happened to catch a glimpse at her daughter -- who thought she was out of the maternal eye range -- and friends? The Matron now understands what the phrase 'gleam in her eye' really conveys. That child radiated and blew, energy just flying off of her. Those eyes blazed.

The Matron is not quite sure why Scarlett must establish portrait of stoic disinterest in front of her mother (and father). She suspects that her daughter wants to make clear: this is mine, not yours. So they will not share in the experience, in anyway, whatsoever.

And this Stage Mother thinks that is a very fine idea!

During the audition, the Matron kept her head low. She thought grading papers would make her far more unapproachable than reading so she spread out the whole darn mess and worked.

She did follow, however, the activities of another Stage Mother who had caught her eye earlier because she looked like her child's personal trainer. First, the woman wore a polyester workout suit with the top neatly tucked in. This suit was pink. Pop, pop, pop pink! With little white flowers around the edges. For some reason, this bothered the Matron who believes that pink flowered sweat suits in women over fifty are, well, frightening and possibly illegal. Contributing to the look was behavior: she carried her daughter's gear (the child was not a teen, easily 16) and handed her the water bottle whenever those lips required moistening.

The amazing thing was the daughter drank and handed the bottle back for her mother to hold, poised at her side for the next sip.

Maybe the Matron was doing it all wrong! Because earlier when she noticed all these water bottles and gear (what were these people carrying in the big bags?!), she asked Scarlett: "Do you need a drink of water?"

"I'm fine."

During the audition, Pink compared notes with several other mothers. They discussed upcoming auditions, directors, company politics and fine arts training. There were several groups and couplings, actually, parents who knew one another from previous shows. The Matron listened from time to time, but all they talked about was their children.

Yawn. There's a war going on, folks! A black man and a woman are duking it out to be President! Husbands to complain about! Jobs to discuss, local politics, and don't forget Al Franken!! Say it isn't so, Al. The Matron just can't help but be annoyed at you for owing $70,000 in back taxes from 17 states while you're running for Senate. She thinks that's just sloppy. Now even she doesn't want to vote for you! If your mistake means six more years of Norm, she will personally come after you!

And she has a secret weapon.

Friends, online and off?

The Matron now understands two things. First, the Stage Mother material is so rich, so textured, so fundamentally screwy and askew (and she means the psycho-dynamics, the people, the hours, the competition - every last little bit) that this could make a very fine book? The next YA novel?

Second, she now knows she possesses an amazing secret weapon. A tool so powerful that it can only be deployed with gratitude, respect and care-- your beautiful, unstoppable, indomitable good energy!

Because today this message appeared on the answering machine. Use the same voice you did for the first one: "Hello! This is the Children's Theater calling for Scarlett! Scarlett, we would like to see you at the final callback for Madeline and the Gypsies. The callback is one hour, 7-8 pm, this Sunday, May 4! Congratulations."

That zip and pop in the child's eye? The Matron can't help but think it was you. Thank you for that good energy!! She also believes that collective power planted that book idea. She's doubly indebted.

One more time? Sunday, 7-8. Aim that ray.

The greedy writer that lives inside the Matron? She thanks you!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Mistake She Made

When the Matron was a Wee Miss, she spent several summer weeks in giddy anticipation of Brownie Camp. Wee Miss was new to the world of Girl Scouts and was a prime candidate for a badge of any sort, so organized, efficient and ambitious was she.

Wee Miss was not just attending Brownie Camp. She would reign.

So imagine her complete and total psychological collapse when this exchange took place:

Wee Miss: "Mama! It says on the calendar that today is Thursday! And the date is July 23. Is that true?!"

Mama: "Why yes."

Wee Miss: "BROWNIE CAMP STARTED ON MONDAY! I missed Brownie Camp!"


Wee Miss: "How could you forget Brownie Camp!!! How could you!!"

Mama: "Mary, honey, I am so sorry."

Now, Wee Miss was fundamentally altered at that moment. How indeed? She had been prancing about in Brownie Camp cloud all summer, tossing Brownie Camp glitter and painting Brownie Camp dreams.

But her mother forgot the very thing that was most precious to the Wee Miss. Her dream. Worse, her mother knew about the dream. Watched it dance and plot every day. It was impossible to overlook.

Wee Miss picked up this little black ball of pain, sorry and rage and swallowed it whole. She nurtured that ball. Took it out and shined it up from time to time. As she grew, Young Miss picked up the burden. She felt that ball growing and rolling, in the pit of the belly for years.

Until one day Aging Miss realized --- there was no money. Her mother hadn't forgotten. Wee Miss talked about Brownie Camp every single day. That was the year at the cusp of food stamps and welfare, the lost father. Her mother had nothing--no food stamps, no money, no husband, no job, and no money for Brownie Camp.

She felt sorry for her mother, that very young single mother who struggled so hard to build a life for her three young children that she pretty much abandoned her own. And, the Matron saw herself, again, in a new light, how sometimes our grievances operate more like self-inflicted wounds.

Last week, the Matron returned to this moment and her personal journey because of this phone conversation:

M: "Hello, Great River Montessori Charter Public School! I'm calling to see where Stryker is on the waiting list for Junior High. The letter we got said he was #37 in February. Hopefully, he's much higher now."

Long ominous silence.

GR: "He's not on the waiting list."

M (alarm!! alarm!!): "What! Of course he is!! We filled out our application on time! You know me! We've been to that school, inspecting, thirty million times! His heart is set on it!"

GR: "Mary, you read the letter but we never received your confirmation form. If you read all the way down on the letter, you would see that you were to fill out a form accepting the spot on the waiting list and return this to us. We never got yours. We're way past 37. He would've been in."

Silence. Because the Matron is crying (an activity she continued just a little bit once the phone call was over, too). She saw that '37' and read no more. She chucked that letter.

Stryker is now #19 on the list but has been informed that the list does not move that much over the summer. He's enrolled at two other junior high schools.

But his heart? His dream? His fondest desire? Great River.

This, my real-life and online friends, is a private mama-venting post. For the moment, the Matron is not offering to Stryker that she has made this mistake. If he asks or questions his position on the list, she will tell him. But she's not introducing the topic.

She hates to think of her son shining his own black ball into something permanent.

Mistakes, anyone?

The Matron's is still bringing her great, great mama pain.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The World, The Job, The Daughter Or How To Work Everything into One Post

People occasionally ask the Matron two questions about her blog.

First, how much time do you spend on that damn thing?!

Because the Matron prefers reading and writing to direct human contact, she could spend every waking moment engaged in those activities, online. But she limits her writing time to half an hour.

The second, more frequent, question is: don't you ever run out of things to say?

Never! In fact, she has the opposite problem. She has opinions on just about everything under the sun and is happy to share them. Her mind is just one big pinball machine, popping between this and sliding through that.

Even before noon, items of interest had come to the Matron's attention. First, she heard Antonin Scalia pronounce the Constitution dead. We should leave it exactly as those 18th century founders intended.

Convenient perspective if you're a white man. The rest of us had to fight for that vote.

Then, she gasped in horror when Karl Castle told her (this would be the radio voice coming from National Public Radio) that an Austrian man kept his daughter in a dungeon for 24 years. Where he raped her. All the time. Six children are on the planet as a result of that torture. A seventh died and his body was put in an oven.

He had a wife and family upstairs who claimed to know nothing about the dungeon, the incest/rape/torture, the body, the children.

She just cannot comprehend that degree of evil. The Matron stands and reconsiders her faith in people's fundamental goodness in the face of news like this.

Wait, she is going to not use the word 'person' to describe that monster. That will help.

Pain and politics in just one blog post. She also wants to write more about global warming and how we can shrink our carbon toes, all that. But her half hour limit forces her to be picky!

There's also Mary Kay Blakely to consider. The Matron never forgot hearing this co-founder of Ms. Magazine give a radio interview, in which she credited communal energy as the source of her recovery from a deadly, two-week long diabetic coma.

About 20 years ago, Blakely fell into this coma. She was dying. Thank goodness she had friends like Gloria Steinem, good women friends --the very best kind -- who are inventive and loyal beyond all else! Her friends sent thousands of messages to thousands of people asking everyone to send Blakey healing energy.

Create those waves! Will her to recover! If the Matronly memory serves, these thousands focused their brain wattage and collectively envisioned Blakely's recovery simultaneously, at an allotted hour.

And Blakely woke up!

The Matron has goosebumps, just thinking about this!

So now she needs to thank all of her kick-ass incredible loyal friends in real life and online for that massive, unstoppable wave of good will that carried on April 15th. Just like Gloria Steinem!

Not only did she get the job . . . she got the offer in a New York minute, slam dunk, hands-down winner!

She accepted the offer. But. She spent one moment in silence, sending energy and support to all the adjuncts, everywhere. She understands herself to be pretty darn lucky. . . to have had that wave!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Not to be greedy, but the Matron has more energy suggestions.

First, send Scarlett that blast of good energy and success sometime between 7 and 8 this coming Wednesday, April 30th! She has her callback for Madeline and the Gypsies at the Children's Theater. And the Matron has a confession! She really wants her daughter to get in that play! Why? For the blogging material. She is clear that it has nothing to do with Scarlett and is all about HER.

Second, perhaps if we collectively envisioned Scalia a circus clown he could find a more suitable occupation? He sort of has the look, already. Don't you think there's a Bozo-like quality to the contours?

Finally, because the Matron really does believe that most people are good, she hopes that every single person who hears about that woman in the basement --throughout the world, every person and there will be millions -- sends this woman some focused love and prayer and peace.

She hopes humanity can somehow save that woman, now.

And if anyone remembers the Blakely story and knows that the Matron has it all wrong, please don't tell her!

She's happy to be a believer.