Monday, June 13, 2011

Love a good scam

I was driving down the road when I heard the advertisement on the radio. Common sense should have said then that you do not get casting calls over the wire, but it was talk radio after all and this wasn't LA or the City, this was in Buffalo. Either way, I told Laura when she appeared skeptical, it will be an experience for Isabella. The number said that the first two hundred callers would have an audition and Isabella loved to act and wanted to be a fashion designer. This would be a glimpse into that world. These will be kids who go to pageants and competitions and acting classes, Laura pointed out.
   We didn't care. I asked Isabella if that was something she would like to check out and we went on a field trip. We decided it would be an experience, no matter what happened and a chance to get out of the house and be girls together for a change. Isabella thought it would be great if she got a call back but we both just wanted to see what it would be like to go.
   I don't walk into anything unprepared. There was a time when I was a fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl. And I have a little demon of spontaneity that crawls his way to the surface from time to time. And common sense has never really been my strong suit. You can ask my brother. But lately, as we all know, I have been a little hypervigilant and I wanted to know what to expect.
   I want my kids to think I am doing my best. I figured that the worst thing that could happen would be for Isabella to go in there and realize she was totally unprepared and looked ridiculous. The first thing she would say to me in the event that this happened would be, "why didn't you tell me I was supposed to have (fill in the blank here) or wear (insert clothing, makeup, hairstyle) or bring i.d or " and et al.  I decided to learn what I soon as I had time to learn it. Her audition was three days away but I had time to earn gas AND prepare. I am invincible, after all.
   I figured that by Wednesday I would be recovered from this lingering Pneumonia. I can't seem to shake it. I knew that Thursday was going to be crazy and I had a list of ten million things to do besides prepare Isabella. I am trying to keep track of these things with my amazing mental wizardry but the truth is, now that my phone is acting up and listing every day as the day I have something scheduled, I am using Laura as a Blackberry. I think that she is stressing just trying to keep track of the schedule.
After meeting with a new client Wednesday, I was sure that I would have the money to drive the budding actress to the city.
   But I couldn't sleep Wednesday. And I really tried. I literally tried counting sheep. I laid in my bed, on my pillow for hours and hours and hours wanting to sleep, knowing that I needed sleep and worrying that I would never function Thursday without it.
   But when I am thrown to the mat, I generally find whatever it takes to bounce back up. I tackled my day like it was a beast to be gentled. I was at work at nine am. Riley had a physical in order to finally check on his growth at eleven thirty, so I had to split my work day up. After throwing an unexpected XRay into the mix, I decided to improvise and bring Riley to work. We rushed to the house and packed up the lawn mower and then realized that Laura had the weed wacker in Wellsville. She was working until six thirty. We would have to wait for it . He started Seth's job, scheduled for later in the day, and began mowing the lawn. I worked as fast as I could, brushing off furniture and dusting antiques. It was a hot day and sweat was pouring down my face, soaking my shirt. When Riley finished, he helped me with vaccuuming so that we could make it home in time to take Isabella to All-Star practice.

   Seth had to finish the lawn and I had to help him rake. We had Sage with us and she helped. Cut, rake, prune, box up and cart two blocks to compost. In the meantime, Laura realized that she too had softball practice and we would not be able to get the weed wacker. We finished all but the raking and because we had asked Isabella to go home with a friend after practice, we finally, at eight pm, left to get her. First we had to drop the truck off with the mechanic. He gave us a late model Jeep cherokee to use while he looked the truck over. We thought we were twenty miles from an expired warranty and needed work before that happened. And a rotor. With a rental, Isabella and my paycheck in hand, we arrived home so that I could finally research our big day.
   I wanted to at least know what to expect at the audition. So I started there. I googled as much as I could and then I decided to watch youtube videos. Youtube has saved the day so many times. Seth learned how to tie a tie on youtube when I couldn't teach him how and asked him to find the video. We have figured out class projects on youtube. And now I would be the most well prepared mother in  Buffalo.At the very least, I would not look like a moron in front of my nine year old.
   I quickly became entrenched in the child acting business. In the first five minutes alone, I learned that I needed to show up with two different headshots, at the very least. I knew I was supposed to bring photographs. But not just any old snapshot will do. The headshots you bring to an audition are the pretty glossy 8x10 sheets you get when you buy an autograph from a celebrity. They can cost hundreds of dollars. I had nothing but my Nikon and an iron will. We would make do with better than snapshots. But she also needed a resume. That required some more thought. Eventually all of the thought, lessons and research took me six hours and it was time to wake Isabella up. I wanted her to watch a few of the videos as well. She needed to know about "slating" (The process of telling your name and age to the camera) and what a "mark" meant and a few basic details about auditions. She also needed to know this was just for fun. A no pressure day. And that she could stay home and go to All Star softball practice and change her mind any time she wanted to. I also wanted to tell her that since every mom on the block wants their child to star in a Disney show, many people try to get money from those families and that if anyone tries to ask us for money instead of paying us, we are being scammed. It is always a possibility. I wanted to focus on the adventure being the goal of the day.
   We both dressed. Professionally. She looked sweet and natural and nine in her summer print dress with her hair natural and the barest hint of white shadow on her eyelids. She wore sandals on her feet and a straw hat on her head, but only for the ride. We took pictures in the yard, with a background of green leaves. I knew we had beautiful pictures. She is an amazing, vibrant, kind hearted child. 
   I decided to try to find somewhere to print her resume. A resume for a nine year old lists their grade, classes and any awards they have earned, clubs they are in, sports they play or previous acting jobs they have held. I thought we did a good job. Right away, I called my friend Casey to ask if we could use her printer. She said that she was not home but that the library was openeing.
   We raced to the library. After a few moments at the door talking to one of Isabella's favorite teachers, we rushed to the computer and found the email with her resume. But when we tried to print, it did not work. The librarian tried and again, it refused to work. We switched computers. I started pacing, wondering if I would let Isabella down. I knew how excited she was about this. Would I be so intent on being prepared and looking good that I made us late for the appointment? Was I concerned about the right things? Was I too worried about Isabella being disappointed in me? Isabella seemed to be taking it in stride. She just looked bored as we worked on making the printer work. I paced into the childrens room. Just as I came out to circle the adult fiction section, the librarian ran over to me with the copies. Success! We ran to the car. We now had to get pictures. And once we had that, we were on the road to our audition.
   Who knew that torrential rains were coming and that my perfect outfit would be as soaked through as if I had jumped into a pond? My CD did not work at Walgreens when I needed her pictures. I had to run to get my camera when the heavens broke open. We could not see gas station across the street. I saw my car, ten feet away, rocking and pitching in the wind. Isabella was in that car. I put my scarf over my head and against the protestations of workers and customers gathered at the door, I ran. It took but a few seconds to reach in, grab the camera, tell Bella she was ok and run back under the patio. But I was dripping when I came into the store. I had the headshots and fifteen minutes later we were on the road again. We were very late and I told Isabella that they had said our appointment was noon but that we should be there at eleven thirty. It now WAS eleven thirty and we had a half hour to drive a forty five minute drive, and then park and find the convention center. I told her that I was sorry and she told me that she thought I was the best mother there was to do this at all and then get soaked and still drive super fast dripping wet just to try to make it. She thought I was great just for making any effort at all. So with a grin, I stepped on the gas. She dealt with the car sickness as best she could and sipped on her vanilla milkshake. I sucked down coffee and prayed I could hold my bladder until after that audition because we did not have a second to spare if she was going to make it and damnit, I was going to see that she did. Because I'm....
Invincible. thats right.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Mother Courage

"I can't make everyone happy all the time. Not even half the time. So please, enough negativity. I don't get it."
This is me, earlier, texting my partner. She wants to know when I am going to put my focus back into our own house because right now it's on someone else's house. Namely, a professor of Nanotechnology at the local University. I have a job housekeeping. It is physically demanding, involves  removing copious layers of cathair from bedskirts, dusting vertical miles of hard wood and otherwise toiling with sweat pouring down my face for hours. I hate cleaning but I find that I love serving. It is grueling but the extra money has been fantastic and I am starting to meet people. Laura is picking up extra hours doing the same small jobs and I was able to get my fourteen year old a job as  lawn boy. This is all a great spin off from a contact Laura made on a contracting job and I've been really trying to work the reference to move us upward. Sometimes the things I plan perhaps don't communicate back to the rest of the family in a way that makes sense. It all seems to play out in a good way eventually but all this work leaves them fending for themselves and until they see the fruits of it pay off they won't appreciate my absence. At least I feel needed.
   Today after working for two hours, taking a break to take the 12 yr old to the doctor and returning to finish the job, I helped Seth by raking the Profs yard after he mowed. It still is not done. I had to stop raking to take the truck to the mechanic, grab Isabella from a friend who kept her when I couldn't get her after All Star Softball practice and hurry home to help Ian with a research paper for English.
   When WILL our lawn get mowed? I am overwhelmed. I have taken on more than I can handle. How do women work full time jobs and raise children? How do they work at ALL?  Do they live on frozen casseroles? I suddenly have so much more respect for working mothers. I have chosen to stay home and CAN stay home because of my disability. I have some options, at least, where so many mothers do not. How do they manage softball practices, work and dinner? I feel guilty that we have been eating hotdogs at the baseball park. The family misses my Rachel Rae cooking. But it is only because I have time to cook that I can give them those things. Lately...I just don't have that luxury. I am swamped.
    I have just accepted a second job for another University referral. I feel like I am working my way toward something even if that something is just a grouping of good references. We are tossing around the idea of moving and that idea sounds better all the time. Except that suddenly I am developing contacts in the community and thinking of cute names for business cards. Names like "TA's-Your Everyday Teachers Assistants (Full service care for the Busy Professor)" (wait...does that sound like full service massage?) I want to be busy. I want to be healthy. I want to work at these things. But am I over doing it?
   I am overwhelmed to the point where I think about sleep constantly. I feel sleep viscerally. Exhaustion has become part of my nature. It exists as part of me in a way thats simple, like breathing. It just is. I take it for granted.
   And that is why I can sit awake at two in the morning when I have to be up at five. Knowing how desperately I need sleep, I have given up trying. I have to much to fit in this weekend that all I really do is sit up thinking about all of it.
   Tomorrow I will go to the zoo with Laura, to chaperone Sage. Her teacher said that so many parents signed up to chaperone that we will have Sage all to ourselves. A group of three. I asked her if that was really because of too many parents, or because of who we were. I mean, did I really think the school would be so open as to give two lesbian parents a huge group of kids to parade around the zoo? The teacher swears that all the groups are groups of one child except for two or three groups of two kids each. Most of the parents are going and taking their own kids around the zoo. We shall see! I look forward to a cheap trip to the zoo with just our daughter and a chauffer, if thats the case! After our jaunt through the zoo in ninety degree heat, I will work my second housekeeping gig for the first time. And then hurry to finish the lawn and Seth because we have company coming for a cook out tomorrow night.
   Isabella has softball practice again tomorrow so somewhere I will fit that In.Saturday she has an audition in the city at 11:30. In 2 hours Ian has to be up to finish a research paper that is going to require some pretty intense and serious effort. Apparently he will fail the semester if we don't get it done and the reason that it requires such work is because I messed up and didn't cite any of the research that we did. I did not know she wanted it cited in the paper itself. Every page. I was at a baseball game the night we were supposed to finish it and when I got home just before bedtime, Ian had hidden the laptop on me. He is barely speaking to me.
   And we find ourselves back to that one line...
   "I can't please everybody. Not even half the time."
    Punish me if you must by hiding things on me. Cry if crying helps. Pressure me as much as you can but baby, I'm steal. I'm a fuckin' willow tree. I bend in the wind.
   Watch me do it all. Like Elizabeth Taylor said, "I'm Mother Courage."