<![CDATA[Musings from the edge of whelmed - Edge of Whelmed]]>Thu, 15 Jun 2017 07:02:39 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Auditions]]>Thu, 15 Jun 2017 12:53:54 GMThttp://edgeofwhelmed.com/edge-of-whelmed/auditionsPicture
Auditions are fascinating.  I have a resume of roles I've played, and a pretty decent black and white head-shot to go with it.  Nine times out of ten these are at home in some box (I have no idea which one, but I'll find them when I clean) and I have to scribble something on a piece of paper and wrack my brain for what year I did which play.  In spite of the fact that I do this quite often, you'd be amazed at how elusive those dates can be.

In any event, last night I inhaled some hummus and pita so I wouldn't starve, lovingly prepared by Himself, and I set off for another audition.  There are not all that many good roles for women "of a certain age" as the French so charmingly put it, so when one arises there is a gathering of the same talented women, eager to learn if they still have enough brain power to memorize a two hour script, and longing for that curtain call at the end of the performance.  We love one another, enjoy one another, respect one another as people and as actors, and we are delighted and distressed to find we are all up for the same part.  So we greet one another with a hug and a genuine "Wonderful to see you!" but somewhere in our head a quiet evil voice is whispering, "Oh, s#*t.  She's here.  I haven't got a prayer!" and that was the beginning of the OSC, or the "Oh, S#* Club".  I've told them all about it and they all know exactly what I mean.  We laugh about the "board meetings" we have whenever we gather. I'm the President because, hey, it was my idea.

No one wants to go first.  It's horrible to go first.  By the time you've watched three or four people read the same lines you begin to think, "I wouldn't do it that way.  I'd pause here and wait for the laugh.  I'd sit on this word and then get up and walk on that one."  We don't get to choose who goes first.  The director calls our names, one by one, and up we get, script in hand, trying to read and interact at the same time.  It's tricky.  No one knows what the director's "vision" for the part is.  Even the director doesn't really know it until s/he sees it up there on the stage.  The best actor in the world won't get cast if the director has a different image of the role.

I wasn't first.  I wasn't last.  I was somewhere in the middle.  There were a few laughs from the "audience" which didn't seem like pity, so I guess it was not my worst outing.  The director asked me to crawl across the stage on my hands and knees as if I were in pain.  "Sure.  That's why I wore a dress," I replied as I dropped to all fours and dusted the boards with my summer frock.  I got another laugh on that line.

There's another audition for the same play tonight.  I won't go. I don't want to look desperate.  And then the waiting begins.  When will I hear?  Will I hear?  Some directors only contact the people they want in the show.  That's so rude.  I always appreciate the liars who say, "We ADORED your reading, but we've decided to go in a slightly different direction. But we hope to work with you again!"  It's just the elongated version of , "No" but it is easier on the ego.  Not getting a part means a day or two of doubting myself.  I usually vow to lose twenty pounds, partly because I assume that was the problem, and partly because I am reminded of what it's like to see pictures of a production when I don't bother to lose twenty pounds.  Not good for the ego.  I hate cameras.

So soon I may be in a cranky mood, but it will only last a day or two.  Or, there is always the possibility that I'll get the part, and then I'll have something to keep me busy two nights a week for the next couple of months.  It's like summer camp for grownups.  Well, we're not really grownups.  We're actors. 

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<![CDATA[Rapid Transit Gloria Mundi]]>Wed, 14 Jun 2017 13:52:50 GMThttp://edgeofwhelmed.com/edge-of-whelmed/rapid-transit-gloria-mundiPicture
If I retire (and God knows I'm getting old enough) this will be the reason.  Getting up at 5:15 in the morning is not a problem for me.  The mornings have always been my favorite time of day.  Having a reason to get dressed and out of the house is a good and healthy thing.  My job (now that I have kissed my "career" goodbye) is cute.  There is little pressure, and when I close the door at the end of the day I don't give it another thought until I turn on the lights in the morning.  But the commute is going to kill me.
The ride in is usually tolerable.  Three days a week Himself and I ride together.  We are far enough down the line so we generally get a seat (critical!) and he likes to do the daily crossword puzzle together which could one day mean the end of a marriage which has lasted 26 years so far, but whatever.  Then we read our books.  Two days a week I commute on my own as Himself leaves our home at around 6:00 AM and RUNS to work.  It's ten miles and he's become a bit of a legend in the office because of it.  In the winter he is lit up like a Christmas tree, because it's dark out there, but from now until sometime in October he leaves in the light, heads to his sports club and takes a shower and dons the outfit he has left in the locker the day before.  

And then there's the commute home.  I have been known to travel 6 stations in the wrong direction in order to get a seat for the ride home. Getting a seat makes a world of difference.  Eye contact must be avoided at all costs.  If I can dive into a mystery or some other  amusing book I become oblivious to the world around me.  But when I look around it strikes me how like a bad Sci-Fi movie the world has become.  Everyone is plugged in.  Babies in strollers are playing with Mommy's iPad.  Music is leaking out of earphones, which makes me wonder what it sounds like from the inside, and my personal favorite is the loud one-sided inane telephone call which could REALLY have waited.    Most of the time, however, I do manage a seat.  The gray hair works for me.  And my look of death, which, if I do say so myself, I have pretty much perfected.  If someone offers me a a seat I never say no.  That behavior is to be encouraged.  Himself sometimes gets cranky because if there is one seat I always get it. Well, I'm older.  And I'm short.  And I'm fast as greased lightning and weave my way like a football player through the crowd until I score!

But the thrill of the chase is losing its edge.  The broken air conditioning, the times when I'm stuck nose to nose (or nose to armpit in my case), the language, the complete lack of civility is just getting to me.  Not that I'm about to drive into town every day, which would present its own problems in the areas of civility and expense.  Maybe I'm just turning into that cranky old lady who gets into fights in the T parking lots with people who insist on going against the arrows in the rows (God, I hate that!).  Maybe it's time for me to sit on my front porch and yell at the people who insist on blowing through that damn "STOP" sign.  Nah.  Not yet.  But I can smell it from here.

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<![CDATA[In celebration of a happily ever after]]>Thu, 11 May 2017 15:03:32 GMThttp://edgeofwhelmed.com/edge-of-whelmed/in-celebration-of-a-happily-ever-after
Twenty-six years ago today, surrounded by the scent of lilacs on the altar, I married my best friend.  We didn't know what we were getting into.  Oh, we made the standard promises and had the usual party.....well, we actually had Chinese food, and our going away outfits were Mickey and Minnie Mouse tee shirts over new jeans, but you get the picture.  

Fast forward a quarter of a century plus change.  We added two young men to the world who are so brilliant and wonderful that they raise the national IQ average.  We survived the passing of friends and family members.  He became a runner and I got further into community theater than I had been.  I gave up a career and stayed home for fifteen years to be the chauffeuse to soccer, baseball, basketball, karate, and music lessons.  Oh, and I passed on the acting gene, so there were lots of rehearsals for school plays.

Since we have been married, I have learned to read music, I learned to play piano, and I'm currently taking guitar lessons.  I meant to take guitar lessons in 1968 but I forgot.  I just finished a basic course in ASL, sign language for the deaf.  He studies new computer languages and history and we try not to cry over the political situation together.  We give each other space because we know we can.  He encourages me to write and I encourage him to run.  He's done eight Boston Marathons and two Bay State Marathons.  I've done two 5K races and I think I'm done.

As Sister Miriam would say, we are like "chalk and cheese."  It hard to picture two people who are less alike.  He's tall and thin and I'm short and ...well, not so much.  He's athletic. I sit and meditate.  He loves the music of Phillip Glass and I would rather eat glass than listen to that.  He's all rock and roll from the 60's and I'm more folk music.  And that's good.  The  basic values of honesty and faithfulness, kindness and generosity are there.  I had no idea when we married what an incredible father he would be.  

So pardon my mush, and yes, I really do realize how incredibly blessed I am (we both are).  I'm not sure how I fell into such a happy place, but I'll take it, and try to spread the joy around a little.

Happy Anniversary to my other half.  I don't know what I did to deserve you (in fact, I probably don't deserve you) but I am grateful that I got you anyway.   
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<![CDATA[Another hole in the tapestry.  ]]>Fri, 03 Mar 2017 23:04:08 GMThttp://edgeofwhelmed.com/edge-of-whelmed/another-hole-in-the-tapestryPicture
Sister Miriam

I met her in church when my kids were just babies.  She would bustle through before or after Mass, always stopping to talk to the line of people who needed a prayer or a hug.  I could never remember her name.  Then when the boys were a little older (3 and 4 or so) we decided to try a one mile version of The Walk for Hunger to get them thinking about how lucky they were and to realize that not everyone was.  But they were sturdy wee men and made it to mile five before Mommy pulled the plug and flagged the "Toe Truck" to take us all back to the Common to catch the T.  And there she was, apologetic for quitting so soon, but she had such a bad back, and twenty years ago she was only a sweet young thing of 68.  We drove her home from the subway and Sister Miriam Patrice McKeon entered our lives.

When the boys went to school and I became a stay-at-home Mom, I often went to Daily Mass and, of course, she was pretty much always there.  So we started chatting.  Then we started having breakfast most days at a little diner in town, and I started to learn all sorts of things about her. She loved to sing, and to dance.  I was her partner for more than one polka at a party.  She had been cured of breast cancer the night before her surgery.  Really.  They couldn't find anything to operate on the next day.  And she began to cure others with her prayers and her joy and her love.

She could speak in tongues, and every so often she would grab me by the hand after Mass and say, "I got a Word for you from the Lord."  Then she would tell me what He wanted me to know.

She taught Bible studies at a home for unwed mothers and once a week I would babysit for the children who had already been born so their mothers wouldn't be distracted. Her faith was amazing to watch, and it was contagious.

She had a brilliant mind.  She led retreats and marches and sat on Boards of Directors for groups that helped the poor.  She was a highly coveted speaker and she cast spells with her kindness and her bright, burning love of God.

Then she had a fall and broke her hip and her arm, and she had to go to the Mother House in Wellesley to recover.  But she was getting older and frailer and her falls came more often, so she stayed there.  It was only  half an hour drive from my house, but I didn't make as many trips as I should have.  I started working full time in downtown and pretty much collapsed when I came home.  Last week one of the Sisters told me she wasn't doing well and I went to visit her.  She reached out her hand and took mine, calling me "Honey" and telling me how good I was to come.  She told me I was a "holy woman of God."  I was very moved by that until her funeral today when I found out she had said that to almost every one of the Sisters present.  But maybe she was right.  Maybe we all are "holy women of God."  It takes one to know one.

She was tired and couldn't hang on any longer.  Today I saw her for the last time, I listened to people tell of how much she had changed their lives.  And how much she was loved. I felt what I had always known in my heart.  I knew a saint, and we were all so privileged to have the opportunity to "walk her Home."  I will miss you, Mimsy, but I expect to see you again.  Meanwhile I will pray for you and to you, because if anyone can get it done, Sweetie, it will always be you. 
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<![CDATA[Women United]]>Sun, 22 Jan 2017 13:09:57 GMThttp://edgeofwhelmed.com/edge-of-whelmed/january-22nd-2017I hate crowds.  I don't do the Fourth of July on the Esplanade in Boston.  I don't go to the Saint Patrick's Day Parade in South Boston.  I don't do First Night.  And yet, I could not stay away from the Women's March which gathered on Boston Common yesterday.  They had planned for a crowd of 20,000.  The estimated attendance was somewhere between 100,000 and 150,000.  We couldn't move.  We stood for hours listening to the speakers and then trying to get out of the crowd and onto the streets to march.  I never actually did "march", but I heard every speech.  I saw nothing because if I were any shorter my hair would smell like feet (I stole that line, but it's a good one).

So there I was looking at a lot of pink hats and a lot of creative signs and a lot of extraordinarily pleasant people, largely female, but there was a fair representation of men and some children there, too.  There were many rainbow flags.  There were Muslim women in full dress.  There were immigrants, with and without papers.  Everyone showed up.  And the mood was not at all what I expected.

My reluctance to participate initially was largely due to my abhorrence of what large crowds have been known to descend into.  Violence terrifies me whether it's directed at me or not.  I thought the crowd might be looking for Trump's blood.  I thought there would be angry, shouting people shaking fists and turning red in the face.  Well, Trump was certainly unpopular with the crowd, but most of them weren't wishing him any physical harm.  What they made loud and clear was that they would not let him take away rights, or mistreat minorities, or take away healthcare coverage, or turn this country into a sea of hate without a fight.

But it was women.  We do things differently. People were offering total strangers snacks.  We were singing and laughing and talking to total strangers as though we had arrived together by plan.  My favorite sign was "Kind is the new sexy."  Do not mistake me.  We were all dead serious and joyful in a strange way.  We looked around and saw that we have power.  Everyone was astounded by the turnout, by the tone, and by the dedication to keeping America civilized.
There was not one arrest.  The Police Commissioner issued a press release thanking the crowd for their behavior.  

The marches in other cities, including the one my son was attending in Washington,
D.C., were no surprise.  When I later saw the accounts of supportive gatherings all around the world, however, I was moved to tears.   And for the first time in a very long time I felt hope.  And power.  And the world will be very surprised at what the power of women united can do.
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<![CDATA[Permanent Scars]]>Thu, 19 Jan 2017 14:32:39 GMThttp://edgeofwhelmed.com/edge-of-whelmed/permanent-scars50 years ago today my childhood ended at 6:30 in the morning when the doorbell rang.  My brother, Wayne, 22 years old and eight months back from Viet Nam, had died in a car crash going back to his base in Louisiana.  Nothing has been the same since.

You'd think that after 50 years I might have mastered the art of handling this information, that it would be an old scar never thought about.  You'd be wrong.  I called a priest friend in Wales this morning to ask him to remember Wayne in his prayers today.  My voice broke and the old pain surged up like a giant Jersey Shore wave that knocked me over and left me sputtering.  

Wayne would be 72, which I cannot picture at all.  Would he be gray?  Bald?  Would he be married and have kids?  What would life be like to still have a big brother as I approach 65?  It's the missing tooth that you forever seek with your tongue.  You poke and prod and constantly seek out that space, and although it has become part of who you are, it's never totally accepted, never comfortable.

There have been a great many deaths of people I've loved, and still love, since then.  Family and friends (who have been more "Family By Choice" or "FBC" as I call them).  I've gone through the stages of shock and the physical heaviness that grief brings, wearing it like a coat of lead.  I've gone through the guilt of having happy days without them.  I've learned that learning how to have happy days is exactly what we're supposed to do.  Still every now and then a song, a smell, a date on the calendar, will rip off the old scab and set the wound bleeding again.  And that's OK.  That means these people are still with me, still in my heart, still matter, are still loved.  

I guess I don't want to stop hurting.  I can't, won't and don't want to forget any of them and how they have been threads in the tapestry that is my life.  And if there are bare patches where these threads are missing, I guess that gives me an opportunity to glimpse what is on the other side.

Rest in peace, Wayne, but more than that, rest in joy.  Until we meet up again. 


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<![CDATA[The Last Straw]]>Fri, 14 Oct 2016 14:18:38 GMThttp://edgeofwhelmed.com/edge-of-whelmed/dump-trumpIt's been a nasty campaign, goodness knows.  And there 's no secret as to which side I've been rooting for.  What I wasn't prepared for was this latest salvo regarding sexual assault in all its various forms.  The gloves are off and I don't care who thinks what or who unfriends me or what the consequences are any more.  My button has been officially pushed.

It was forty years ago or so, but I was assaulted by someone I thought was a friend, someone much older, and in a position of power.  And now that humiliation, that pain, that shaking feeling inside, feels as though it all happened yesterday. That's why it "takes all this time to come forward" for these women.  It's not that we are making it up or that we want to give Hillary's campaign a boost.  It's because we push it down deep, hoping these awful feelings will never surface again.  That somehow we've gotten past it.  But we didn't.  And we don't.  And we won't.

The complete disdain Donald Trump holds for anyone who is not a white male, not "of use to him", makes me ill.  His throwing protesters out into the cold last winter and insisting they not be given their coats, his mimicking a reporter with physical challenges, his treatment of prisoners of war, of Mexicans, of Muslims, all of these things make him completely abhorrent to me.  This latest "revelation" (because it's certainly no surprise to anyone) is just the last nail in his coffin for me.  For all the "progress" I thought we'd made since the 60's, in feminism, in race relations, in open-mindedness, I have been sadly mistaken.  It's like walking in a pretty garden and turning over a rock to discover the maggots and slugs have taken over just out of sight.

I am stunned and saddened at all the people who still think that "immigrants" are to blame for their own lack of success. Facts are irrelevant to this group.  We are all immigrants or descendants of immigrants, except for the Native Americans, and we all know how they were treated and how they continue to be treated.  It's a national disgrace. 

And it just occurred to me that that may be the real reason I cannot stomach Donald Trump.  Because he's not the only one.  He has just made it public how much hatred has been simmering on the back burner in this country for years.  He has exposed the pettiness and greed, the lust and ignorance of a whole chunk of people.  We are luckier in this country than almost anywhere else on earth.  We have more than we need for the most part.  He fans all the fears that we won't have enough, that we won't "get ours" if anyone else is treated with compassion.  And a great many people whom I love and respect have bought into his fear of others, to my complete surprise and confusion.  I'm OK with different opinions.  I have voted Republican in the past and would again, presented with the right candidate. I don't need my friends to reflect my every thought.  I have mirrors at home for that.  But I will not vote for hate.  And I hope you won't either.


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<![CDATA["Mirror, Mirror!"]]>Thu, 11 Aug 2016 14:49:17 GMThttp://edgeofwhelmed.com/edge-of-whelmed/mirror-mirror
I have this theory that God lets your eyesight wane as you get older so you don't get depressed.  Every now and then, however, something will happen that reminds me that the bloom is off the rose.  Today's revelation was courtesy of the fluorescent lighting in the ladies' room at work.  There I was, washing my hands in the sink like the good girl that I am, and I realized that I suddenly had the chest of my first grade teacher.  With my shoulders back, my skin is smooth and pretty much wrinkle free, but if I'm wearing a V-neck, when I rub my hands together this puckered bottom of a riverbed in August appears, and honest to Betsy, it looks as though there is a staple in the middle of it holding it to my breast bone. What IS that?

The photographs don't help much, either.  I'm usually OK with the mirror (although I'll be doing the Katharine Hepburn scarves and turtlenecks as soon as the weather permits), but the photographs are a quick trip down the Humility Highway.  How is it that everyone else photographs normally, but the camera always distorts the half of the frame where I'm standing?  I've heard that the camera adds pounds, but what snarky twist of malice makes it only add them to me? 

One of these days (coming soon) I will be so disgusted at the pictures that I will get around to exercising and maybe succeed in changing the situation.  But when I stop to think about it I know that if my friends gain five or fifty I don't care.  I usually don't even notice.  I only see them.  I am glad to see them.  I accept them as they are, and who they are is so much more important to me than what they weigh.  It's so difficult to cut ourselves the same slack.  

Today I will thank my chubby little legs for carrying me back and forth to the subway in this brain- numbing heat.  My bones, even with their ever-fashionable osteoporosis, still manage to support me and move me to where I need to be.  I need glasses, but I can still see the smiles on the faces of the people that I love.  And my hands, which have not been "ring free" since my last kid was born, can reach out to pat a shoulder, or to type, or work in the garden (but hardly ever to dust).   So today is "Wonderful Me" day.  It should be "Wonderful You" day, too.  And tomorrow we'll go back to counting points on Weight Watchers.
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<![CDATA[Storms Are Brewing]]>Wed, 10 Aug 2016 18:03:39 GMThttp://edgeofwhelmed.com/edge-of-whelmed/storms-are-brewing
It has been a very, very long time since I've sat down to write.  There has been so much going on.  Graduations and deaths and the accumulation of twenty pounds or so as the world becomes only palatable with the taste of chocolate or Chinese food have come between me and my  willingness to face the daily news.  One has to sit quietly and just let it all sink in sometimes.

There is so much hatred around every corner these days.  Is there another Civil War brewing in the USA?  Please don't laugh.  It could happen.  I've never seen so many people so angry about so much.  Everyone has a loud and unshakable opinion on the upcoming elections.  The language is bitter and not very becoming.  I don't like it.  We are all citizens of the Big Blue Marble.  There is no room for isolationism any more.  We must all learn to take care of one another.  To care about one another.  Different doesn't mean wrong, or threatening either.   Unfortunately, no one can hear anyone else's voice above the shouting, and memories seem depressingly short.  What happened to "Never again!"?

The internet has made experts and bullies out of the insecure and ill-informed.  Fact checking seems to be a quaint notion.  The bravery born of anonymity is a dangerous illusion.  Mob mentality is ruling on both sides.  

I can't find it in me to be funny right now.  I am tired and worried and more than a little sad.  Tomorrow I will try harder to rise above the confusion and the anger and the noise.  But right now I am going to sit here quietly and watch the clouds gather. And pray.


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<![CDATA[Am I Blue?]]>Fri, 04 Mar 2016 21:18:54 GMThttp://edgeofwhelmed.com/edge-of-whelmed/am-i-blue
It's hard.  Winter isn't quite finished with us yet (e.g. the flakes outside the window looking as though someone is shaking out a pillow on a window day), and yet the crocuses are up on my front lawn, confused and feeling betrayed.  Who could blame them?  And I'm getting sick of knits and fleece and corduroy and longing for crisp cottons and pastel prints and sandals, but that won't be happening anytime soon.

Today I am dressed in blue.  Blue jeans, light blue turtleneck, royal blue sweater, and a silk scarf of Van Gogh's "Starry, Starry Night" given to me by Son Number One at Christmas.  Today is Colon Cancer Awareness Day and those of us in the know are wearing blue.

Billy Hartford was a rascal.  He had a sharp mind and a sharper tongue if you got on his list.  But we loved him and it was mutual.  Himself really enjoyed Billy's friendship, which always rather amazed me, because they could not have been less alike unless they'd come from two different planets.  My tall, soft-spoken and quiet (but not shy) husband rarely uses a cuss word.  Billy dropped F bombs like the sky is dropping snowflakes.  But his heart was pure gold and God, did he make us laugh!  He was a generous and caring friend, as loyal as a pit bull and twice as scary if anyone gave his pals a hard time.  Then he found out he had Stage 4 Colon Cancer.  There was no warning.  He thought it was a stomach bug.  His daughter was a month old.  

There was nothing fair about it.  He fought like the devil.  He had surgeries and chemo and radiation and you name it.  He had a ton of friends who prayed their knees off.  He had an amazing wife who was and is the Rock of Gibraltar and who stuck by his side every minute, trying to balance the first year of motherhood with watching her best friend and hero fade in front of her eyes.  It was a battle nobody could have won.  We lost him on September 5 of last year, three and a half month's before his daughter's second birthday.  He was 49.

That's too young to get a colonoscopy for most people.  Who would have even given it a thought?  Well, today we're asking you to give it a thought.  If it's one of those things you've always put off because the idea is disgusting and embarrassing, too bad about you.  Do it anyway.  Do it for yourself.  Or your spouse.  Or your kids.  Or your friends who would never be quite the same without you.  Because sometimes it comes without a warning.  It comes out of the blue.  
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