A few days ago I had a rather lovely déjà vu.
I had added power steering fluid to my car, wiped my hands with a napkin, and then picked up a piece of bread with butter and jelly on it to take a bite. I saw my hands were still kind of stained by the grease, but I ate the bread anyway. I was SO hungry.

I remember watching my dad lean up against the big wheel of a tractor, and eat a sandwich made with white bread that my mom had brought to him out in the field for lunch. As he ate the white bread  became gray from the field dirt on his hands–he ate it anyway because he was SO hungry.

I would say, “Dad, your bread’s dirty!”

He would answer “Ach–a little dirt never hurt no one!”

I smile now to think of my dad. It may be 24 years since he left this world, but I think of him still and miss him so.

Dad Me first birthday

Dad helps me unwrap a present on my first birthday.

What brings me back to this particular theater company? I was enjoying a nice slice of pumpkin pie and it occurred to me that I might take in a show this evening. With so much theater available in the DFW area, what’s the deal with this little company on Vickery Blvd. that keeps pulling me in like a magnet?

I guess there’s just a certain charm about Stage West Theatre …with its walls of art and casual preshow wine and dine. Wait–no, that’s not it! Hah! They simply put on a fine show–hands down good theater. I wouldn’t keep coming back to a company with fine art, food and wine unless my appetite for a well-performed drama or comedy was not consistently satiated. Tonight my theatrical appetite was well-fed.

Stage West’s presentation of David Ives’ “The Heir Apparent” was brilliant, boisterous and frankly–fun! Sure, the costumes were charming, the set well constructed and the lighting apropos, but well, the acting was silly, charming, ridiculous and highly entertaining. The cast embraced the rhyming couplets with a vengeance and spewed them out with obvious pleasure. The audience was delighted, as was I. This poetic style of writing can fall flat as a five-day-old open can of soda, but not in the hands of this talented cast and director, Krista Scott.

With excellent directing, Scott wove a complicated comedic tapestry from what the playwright, David Ives has concocted in his English adaption of this 18-century French comedy by Jean-François Regnard. It’s a wonderful blend of the old and the new. Smooth references were inserted about healthcare costs and other modern-day issues. There were also coy lines full of puns such as “Here’s to holy matri–money” and “he’s a lawyer no bigger than a loophole.” That’s some fine writing going on there.

The plot’s pretty straight forward about heirs trying to get rich from a cranky dying relative. Jim Covault as Geronte played crotchety to a tea. Lucy Given as Isabelle was a naughty nursemaid with an eye for seizing the moment. Taylor Whitworth as Lisette was gloriously gaudy in puffy pink gown that reminded me of a  snowball cupcake. Whitworth was obnoxiously sweet and fabulously fluffy with subtle facial expressions that were a saccharine success. Jesse Elgene as Eraste managed to walk the line quite well of a dedicated but certainly a deviously-motivated heir apparent. Even Madame Argante, the matronly gold digger charmed me. Judy Ketih had obvious fun playing this character.

The constant weaving about of humorous antics and silly action twists by all the characters kept viewers on their toes. I can’t say that the ending gave me any shockwaves of “Oh my God, I can’t believe it ended like that!” But who cares? I witnessed a short-in- stature, but long-on-wit lawyer shuffle around the stage, Randy Pearlman as Scruple. And I adored the shining performance of Jeff Wittekiend as Crispin who donned an additional costume to  fool the lawyer. But I shant tell too much more to be at risk of giving the story away. Do stop in and check out this farce that’s chocked full of flamboyance and tomfoolery. The show runs until December 13th.

Playing in the same theater is a holiday-themed show with a twist, “Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol” by Tom Mula and directed by Garret Storms. But you can see both. I snuck in to preview the set and take in their newer more intimate space. This set looks interesting and I’m told that Emily Scott Banks, playing multiple characters, makes energetic use of every inch of the stage. This show runs until December 20th.

For more information visit: http://stagewest.org/ or call their Reservations Line 817-784-9378 (STG-WEST) Location: 821/823 W. Vickery Blvd., Fort Worth, Texas 76104

 

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Lucy Given as Isabelle. Jeff Wittekiend as Crispin. Jesse Elgene as Eraste. Photo by Buddy Myers

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Madame Argante played Judy Keith. Photo by Buddy Myers

Park fountainI spent time this afternoon at the Dallas Main Street Garden City Park. At one end is a lovely fountain, the B and G letters, a café, games for children, joggers, people walking their dogs, and taking pictures of each other. At the other end under the trees with the flowers are the homeless people sitting on benches, leaning against the glistening green walls and sleeping, or sprawled out and reading bits of newspapers.

When I first parked there I waited on the sidewalk to enter my friend’s high-rise apartment. I was bringing lunch to her since she was recovering from surgery. I called and asked her if the park was safe to wait in, because I saw many homeless people near my car. She said the police patrol all over the park and it’s fine.

So …after our lunch I bought a glass of cabernet and sat to people-watch and soak up sun. The policeman loaned me a pen. I watched parents play with children and run through the fountain, but I kept thinking of the people on the other end.

After  a while, I gave in, removed my nylons in the restroom (with no toilet paper), took off my shoes and waded in the fountain. I clicked photos of the shapes and shadows, posted on facebook and then dried my feet. As I looked down at my silver purse and polka dot-designer dress it felt wrong. I was on this end of the park enjoying the moment so much and on the other end were those struggling. Why is society this way…where some have enough and others are hungry? I watched a couple stop and chat with a sun-bronzed man and then shake his hand. Bronzed man went back to reading his paper.

What can I do? Shake a hand? I thought of the fight I witnessed a month earlier at another park–a frail woman struck by a robust man. That time I called 911. Frail lady said he hit her for a bottle of water that he claimed she stole from him.

I form a plan: As I walk to my car, I’ll take the path under the trees through the homeless people. I will find a soul who is very thin and that will be the person to whom I’ll hand this bag of leftovers.

I walked and felt calm, purposeful, safe but was I? Yes, police were there on bikes and on foot. I saw a gaunt man on a bench. I walked up to him. “How are you?”

“I’m doing okay, ma’am.” He straightened his back.

“Are you hungry, would you like some food?”

“Yes, ma’am I would.”

“Here’s some chicken pasta, bread, butter, and there’s a fork there.”

“Thank you, thank you very much!” He took the bag, smiled and nodded.

“Take care now.”

I felt good but yet I didn’t want to be thinking grandly of myself. The purple flowers swayed and birds chirped as I walked back to my car, past a couple with a child in a stroller. I looked away from them so they wouldn’t speak to me. I didn’t want people to think I did it to show off to the world that I was this benevolent person and collect praises. I just wanted to do it because I wanted to help one person not be hungry. Because I have a new job, and I have a pretty dress, and nice shoes, and he has nothing and an empty stomach and I don’t care if he does drugs or if he steals or whatever he is, today he is a hungry man and I have food.

I walked to my car and turned to look back. Gaunt man was digging in and eating. I felt his stomach stop growling. I felt that he thought that one person gave even before he begged. I sat in my car and didn’t move for a bit –just let the wind blow the hot air out of my car through open windows. When I got home I lay on my bed staring at the ceiling. I thought, what if some other stronger person beat the thin man and took his food from him!

Next time perhaps I will sit with the person while they eat and make sure they are safe

for a moment.

I am steaming mad. As I sat at a jazz club tonight trying to tolerate rock music that was just too loud for my classical ears, the man sitting next to me leaned over and said, “There are usually not this many blacks here.”

I gave him a long cold stare and said nothing, and then he said, “I mean, it’s not that I’m racist or anything. I’m just saying.”

Awkward pause. I hardly could even figure out what to say. I thought a moment about the many things I could say like “So, who cares? I don’t care if there are a lot of blacks here. Do you?” Instead I said, “Well, I don’t come here that often so I wouldn’t know.” That was true. In the last six months, I’ve probably gone there two or three times. But that was a lame reply! It said nothing at all. I could have said, “Why do you feel the need to point that out to me?” Or “So, does that bother you?” Or “I have many friends who are black, brown, olive tone, and I don’t know, purple hair or whatever. I don’t care.”

The moment those words popped out of his mouth I felt … shocked–like someone had just kicked me in the stomach  and knocked the wind out of me with their blatant racism.

I need to develop a stronger will and more guts to say what I really think. What a total wimp I was. I am ashamed for my lack of standing up for what is right. As long as there are wimpy people like me who do nothing in the face of racism it will continue to grow and make its ugly face known in this potentially beautiful multi-colored world.

I apologize to my friends of all colors and I promise to do better.palette of colors

On June 17, 1980 an 18-year-old girl finished writing out her wedding invitations. She drove two miles to town and waitressed at the Oasis Café in Green Isle, Minnesota from 4:30 to 9:00 p.m. Mr. Tim reminded her, “You can always say no at the altar” as she refilled his coffee cup for the third time. When she got home she called her fiancé and chatted. Earlier her parents had chased their steers back to their farm when they broke out of the fence again and ran all over. Then her parents took their young grandson, Tony, out for a malt. The bride-to-be ended the day doing sit-ups to flatten her stomach to look good in her wedding dress the next month.

That girl was me thirty-five years ago today. I pulled that 1980 diary off the shelf and read the details of a June day. I read the same day as today to see exactly what my life was like when I was 18 on this “day in history.” I laughed out loud as I remembered being full of young love and dreams.

Am I no longer full of hopes and dreams? Well, they’ve modified, but they’re still there. I know that the marriage that happened the next month lasted two and half years. The wedding dress I fit into so well went back to my older sister who had loaned it to me. Many years later a second marriage yielded a son and a daughter but ended after fifteen years.

These trial and errors are not wrong or right, they are just a life. I’m ruminating. This blog post is an experiment of sorts. To see what I was then and now.

Now. I sang tonight at a club in Dallas, Texas, trying out two new jazzy songs that I will sing again on Father’s Day at another wine bar with a group of amateur opera singers putting on a variety show. I sat at a table by myself waiting and knowing that I didn’t have my sugar daddy songs memorized. I hate performing with sheet music but my girlfriend encouraged me to come out and give the songs a try. I needed my people-boost, a little humanity at the end of the day of job interviews. Just something fun. So, I hopped in my old Buick and drove to the club. I walked up the stairs, through the smokers’ fog on the balcony, and into a dark room. The three-piece jazz group played with red curtains draped behind them and silver vase hungry for tips poised on a stand in front.

At the bar a gray-haired man flirted with me while I ordered my Baileys on the rocks. The bass player went through my music with me on his break. His girlfriend (my friend) left early, so I sat by myself listening to the loud jazz improve, trying to smile and tap my foot to the music when I’m really very nervous about singing soon. The Baileys is quickly gone and I wish my throat wasn’t so raspy from a cough. Perhaps it’ll make my jazz tunes raspier and better somehow. I always worry that they’ll say, “She’s operatically trained–what’s she doing singing jazz?” Like anybody is going to stand up and say that!

The guest trombone player, finishes. Another female singer does two songs. She wears long black gloves and swoops all her bleach blonde hair to one side. I hope I’ll look good in my slinky red top, glossy pink lips, and black lace leggings. Another Italian singer, a guy, croons out a Sinatra-like song. Am I next? Nope, he’s bringing up a guitar player. They finish. Finally it’s me. We lay out my two songs, I sing and do…okay…they clap enthusiastically. I felt the gravel in my high notes from the cough, but did better than I expected. Most of the men in the bar are “sugar-daddy” age so they like the lady who croons about excess, fancy cars and diamond rings. I’m just an opera singer in disguise.

The drummer chats me up on the break. The Italian guy shakes my hand and compliments me as I dash out the door. Eight minutes to drive home and make sense of the day and perhaps apply for a few more jobs online. At my computer I read an audition call for female actors who have interesting diaries and I think that my forty-three years of diary writing ought to make me eligible but the only way to answer the audition call is to pay $17.49 on some website. A crock. I’ll just have to figure it out on my own. So I grab that 1980 green diary off the shelf and ponder the path I took. At that is where I began.

How do I give a title to this day? I went for a callback interview with a great company for a position I felt completely qualified for and yet by 7:15 p.m. the email arrived saying they had chosen another candidate. At the first interview I was told I was at the top of the list of those they had interviewed up to that point.

I feel like it’s time to put the “big girl panties” on and not be affected by this. Yet, I wish I weren’t on antibiotics–a glass or two of wine would be apropos right now.

How does it happen that one works hard every day at a job for a year and half and one morning walks in and is told my position is being eliminated due to the company’s tough financial times? I collected my bag and yoga matt and was walked out. This corporate way is so bizarre.

I thought it’d be a good idea to paint something to express myself. I decided that each building would be a color that made no sense and had nothing to do with reality. Thus, is life for me right now. What I thought was real fell away and now I search for a new reality. The sky remains a realistic blue just because.

I open a bright pink journal with a lowercase “L” on the front. The year, 2010, the day, hump day, Wednesday, November 3rd. I was a single mother raising two teenagers and working three jobs.

11:45 a.m.

Sitting and waiting at the Apple Store to get my cell phone taken care of. I was up until 2:00 a.m. trying to get it to restore. First I got error code #23. The next three times I tried to restore I got error code #1002.

I see a sea of blue T-shirts with a white apple on the front. A dozen conversations go on within earshot. “Bon” checked me in. “We know you’re here.” So do I! I’d like to be somewhere else…eating lunch. The oatmeal with soy milk I ate at 6:15 a.m. has long since worn off. If I look wistfully at a salesperson will that help?

A man with relative in Northern Minnesota sits on the patient customer bench with me. Three big screens across the back wall broadcast tips and advertisement on how to enjoy my iPhone more. I’d enjoy it more if it didn’t stop in the middle of a call to my boyfriend. I’d enjoy it if it didn’t put the same appointment on my calendar thirteen times because it’s not communicating properly with my mobile-me account. I’d enjoy it if it synced with my Outlook calendar and contacts, and I didn’t have to purchase mobile-me to make it do that. I just want my phone to text and ring and keep my calendar.

Oh, yes, perhaps it could also help me decide a career path, format my next memoir, decipher my relationship with my boyfriend and my teenage children, and, oh, yes, figure out how to get my cat to use the little box again. is that too much to ask?

[End of the pink-diary entry. I don’t have that iPhone or that boyfriend anymore. Both stopped working.]

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