Back in high school, my sister was the family performer. Megan
spent hours practicing her lines, belting out her octaves, and
driving our entire family insane while she prepared for each new
role. Even now, 25 years later, I can still recite every lyric from
"Bye Bye Birdie" because of my over-rehearsed sis.
Megan was designed for the stage.
For me, the thought of having to perform in front of an audience
is pure torture. When I worked in business, I would beg, borrow,
and steal to avoid such predicaments. And when all else failed?
Well let's just say there is a reason God invented flasks.
Sadly, the days of writers hiding behind their word processors
and publicists are long gone. Writers are expected to put
themselves out there in public forums for public scrutiny doing
public things. Publicly.
One such forum is the "Listen to
Your Mother" Show. As far as events go, this one is rather
inspired. The concept originated when humorist Ann Imig sought to
celebrate Mother's Day by giving a voice to motherhood itself.
Writers submit pieces, audition, and hopefully secure invites to
share their stories onstage. With coverage by the New York Times,
Huffington Post, and Washington Post, the show has become a
national phenomenon. There are 24 cities participating in this
year's "Listen to Your Mother." Thousands of published authors,
writers, and regular moms submit pieces for consideration.
I was fortunate enough to meet Chicago producers Melisa Wells
and Tracey Becker at a recent blogger event. There were shushed
whispers of "THOSE are the Chicago producers of Listen to Your
Mother" every time they entered a room. Being oblivious to anything
not directly related to cake, I had no idea what everyone was
talking about. Yet Melisa and Tracey were not at all offended by my
ignorance, and they actually encouraged me to submit something.
Writing has always come pretty easy, so I was surprised when I
sat down to write a submission and blanked. The thought of having
to read my own words in front of actual people was paralyzing. I
poured myself a drink. Then another. And maybe one more for good
measure. Before I had the chance to sober up and re-think my
strategy, I had already hit the send button.
When I re-read the piece the next morning, I was shocked and
mortified. I had written an essay where a certain word describing a
certain part of the male anatomy is used 152 times. You guys
remember I have sons, right? The word starts with a "P."
I figured my work would never see the light of day. There was
zero chance I'd get an invitation to audition. The producers most
certainly had standards, integrity, and a likely aversion to essays
where the P-word appears 152 times.
I had purposely sabotaged myself to avoid getting on stage.
Yet the stage is exactly where I will be auditioning in a few
weeks. I opened the email a few days ago and read the news in
disbelief. It took me 24 hours to even respond because I was
convinced I was reading it wrong.
What have I done?? How in the name of all that is respectable
and dignified am I to get up and read the ramblings of a 2 a.m.
liquored-up Marianne with a sudden affinity for the P-word?
I definitely needed that flask to audition. I scoured the house
to find it and immediately regretted the decision. Joe received the
flask as a gift while standing up in his cousin's wedding. The
cousin had each flask monogrammed with the appropriate groomsman's
initials. My husband's name is Joseph E. Walsh.
Joe's flask has "JEW" printed across it in big, bold
Things were going from bad to worse.
Despite everything, I am ridiculously grateful to be part of
this fantastic event even if it is merely for purposes of tanking
during the audition process. After all, mothers are the ones who
shape our leaders, our thinkers, and our future. To participate in
a forum, however brief, that celebrates and values these voices is
an honor I shan't ever forget.
So be sure to check out the site and consider attending this
Marianne is mother of three sons and the wife of a southside Irish fireman. She has learned that sometimes you're just too dumb to know what makes you happy. She blogs regularly at We Band of Mothers (webandofmothers.com) and curses with even greater frequency. Her material is written for the imperfect, the imprudent, and the impatient mothers who know that all this stuff is really very funny if you just give it a minute.
See more of Marianne's stories here.
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