Life Behind the Scenes

  In my acting debut at age nine, I played Clara in The Nutcracker. Clara’s beloved nutcracker Franz was injured at the end of act one, so I spent the rest of the play pretending to be asleep at the edge of the stage, while the rest of the story unfolded like a dream behind me. I never stirred, never opened an eye to peek at the story going on behind me, and even resisted the urge to peer out at the audience to see if Uncle George had made it to the show that night. Truth be told, what had gone on behind the scenes before the curtain went up was enough to occupy my brain for the rest of the play, anyway. It was the first time I’d worn eye make-up. Rather, the first time someone else had applied it to my eyes. Madam Thespian, the director and producer of the play, had recruited me off of the jungle gym and into the theater a mere two months earlier, because she needed a Clara. And there I sat, her bright-eyed protégée, wearing Clara’s traditional German costume and waiting at the make-up table backstage, one hour before curtain. And
Read More

Simply Part of the Landscape

  The summer I was ten, I spent many a toasty morning traipsing barefoot, up and over the hill behind our house, then down to the lush green park that sprawled out for acres below, on the other side. It was an oasis of distraction and fun. I swung back and forth on the rings till my armpits ached. I flew up high in the swings, bailed out, then landed on the soft sand, below. I dug tunnels in the sand and let the cool, moist grit inside the tunnels soothe my sunburned arms. Over and over, I swung and I bailed and I dug, till my limbs shook with exhaustion and my throat was hot and dry. Then I would head over to the director’s office at the corner of the gym, unearth the dime Mommy had given me hours earlier, and slide a frosty cold bottle of Orange Crush out of the cooler and up to my lips. Yum. The tangy sweet liquid trickled down my throat in a river of cold that revived my soul, right down to my toes. At the north side of the gym, games were laid out in the shade, on a long
Read More

Not Exactly the Great American Success Story

  I have said “No” a thousand times before. I remember, because I distinctly heard myself say “No” every time the subject came up. “No. I will never blog.” And today, I find myself writing my very first blog. Welcome to my upside-down, inside-out, Christmas-in-July world. When I was nine I fell in love with the theater. I pursued an acting career for thirteen years, ‘till I became a professional actress and was gaining more acclaim each month. But when I held my firstborn child in my arms, all thoughts of the limelight faded from view as family suddenly took center stage. And I had a change of heart. That was the first in a lifelong series of changes. My parents were both teachers and as a kid, I grew tired of hearing their war stories. “I will never teach,” I vowed. One starter marriage and two kids later, suddenly my parents were very smart. I enrolled in education classes, then I taught high school for fifteen years. I loved it – surprise, surprise. (Well really, it was just another form of theater.) But that’s not the end of my story. I left teaching early so I could write fulltime.
Read More