Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My Wizard of Oz

The sign of a good movie? It changes your life. It changes the very fabric of who you are. The Wizard of Oz did that for me. It still does. It's a classic feminine myth that instills in me hope, innocence and belief in pure, raw magic. It guides and shapes me. It still provides me with answers to questions I can't even begin to verbalize. It goes straight to my subconscious and gets to work, mending me, making me whole and good again.
Judy Garland's portrayal of Dorothy has danced in my mind my entire life. Unknowingly, for the most part, I aspire to be like her: open, sweet, growing, changing, strong, loving and dare I say, deeply sexual. She is everything I consider beautiful.

Glinda the Good Witch also resides in my soul; a beacon of dazzling white goodness. She is all that sparkles and nurtures. I dream of her kissing my forehead, during hard times. And the Wicked Witch...ah, what a good, bad witch! She remains one of the most perfect bad witches of all time, no? She lives in me too. (Probably too much of the time!)

As a child, I lived for its airing, which it did once a year, some time around Easter. Hiding in a blanket fort with just the television and me, I'd transport myself somewhere over the rainbow. Somewhere far from my home, which was rather barren and bleak much of the time. Somewhere magic ruled and prevailed.

The Wizard of Oz
smoothes out the mess for me. It shoots right to my center, right to a sweet spot in my soul. It provides hope to my hopelessness. Magic to my well-worn cynicism. Angels to my devils. It reminds me of who I am, somewhere deep, somewhere over a rainbow - that alternate, perfect universe where I am whole, strong, beautiful and deeply feminine. And magic abounds everywhere, just everywhere! There is no doubt in the land of Oz.

The Wizard of Oz heals the little girl in me, over and over again. Does that sound too corny? Oh good. I hope it does.

Surrender, Dorothy, I wrote on my mirror in lipstick.

I'm trying, I'm trying...every day!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I'll Never be in Godspell Again

I’ll never be in Godspell again. I’m sitting here, on a rainy afternoon at the Jersey shore, listening to Day by Day from the 1970’s musical Godspell and crying when I really should be working. I’m on my 5th listen.

I was in Godspell in college. It was my second or third play ever. I was ecstatic to be in it. It was a musical! I got to sing and dance! How much better does it get than that? And not only that, I was chosen to sing Day by Day! The best song in the show. The best one! (Though I secretly wanted to sing By My Side too.)

I sang Day by Day proudly, using sign language (for the two deaf people that showed up for the one month run of the show.) I still remember how to sign that damn song. Whenever I meet someone deaf or even hearing impaired, apropos of nothing, I start signing Day by Day, Oh dear Lord, three things I pray” and they think I’m a religious fanatic or just a nut.

The only thing that marred my joyous little performance was a run-in I had with Jesus. Glenn. Glenn Funkhauser. Yep. That was his name. I haven’t thought about that name in years. I can’t remember what I had for breakfast this morning but I remember Glenn Funkhauser’s name…interesting. Anyway, he played Jesus and he was a haughty, self-involved diva of a Jesus. He gave a Jesus a bad name.

At the end of each show, we re-enacted the Last Supper, where we said goodbye to our fair leader. It was a very teary climax and we just loved it. As college kids studying theater, we were just teeming with emotion, so earnest. Our emotional cup runneth over.

So Jesus would walk up to each one of us, tap us on the back, we’d rise and have our own personal heartfelt goodbye with the Lord Jesus Christ, Glenn Funkhauser.

On one particularly emotional night, I leapt up and hugged him with all of my might, crying my little eyes out. He whispered in my ear, “Don’t anticipate. You got up before I tapped you on the shoulder.”

I could have died. Jesus just critiqued me during my most vulnerable moment ever! I wanted to deck the Lord right then and there. How dare he direct me in the middle of a show?! Who did he think he was? God?

After the show, I went up to Glenn “Jesus” Funkhauser and told him to kiss my ass hard. I was livid! I felt spiritually violated.

But other than that, Godspell was a sweet memory during a sweet time. And I’ll never be in it again. I’ll never sing Day by Day again in front of a restless audience. (If you say I could be in the show again if I wanted, you’re missing the point. It was that time, that energy, that opportunity, those people - even that diva of a Jesus. It was that beautiful little glory.)

One actor came up to me after a show one night and said something about “goose bumps” when I sang my song. I thought he meant I gave him goose bumps but he clarified before I gushed too much. He said, “No, you give yourself goose bumps when you sing that song. I can see them all over your arms. I’m standing right next to you.” I wasn’t as flattered but I knew he was right. It’s not every day you get to sing to God so simply, with all of your heart. Oh, time is so stupidly precious.

Time for a 6th listen. I haven’t sobbed the memory out of me yet. I don’t get paid for this melancholy, man.

To Glenn Funkhauser, wherever you are: I hope you know that I'm a practicing Satanist because of you. I eat kittens now, Glenn, kittens!

Day by Day
Day by Day
Oh Dear Lord, three things I pray
To see thee more clearly
Love thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly
Day by Day

Many of the original cast members, with Robin Lamont singing (4 of the 10 have died):

Cilla Black (she's great but I like Lamont better for this song.)

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Only New Year's Resolution that Stuck

It's kind of late to be writing about New Year's resolutions but my resolution to stop procrastinating never stuck, so here we are, a month later.

Anyway, there's only one New Year's resolution that's made a difference in my life, one I made many years ago. It was simply to touch people more. Physically touch them.

I was raised in a family of Germanic descent, not the most touchy, feely type. My brothers still hug me more awkwardly then anyone I know. It can't even be called a hug technically. Its this weird physical action that actually manages to push you away instead of pulling you toward them. It seems like a physical impossibility but they manage it.

I didn't want to be like that so I decided to touch people more. Everybody secretly loves it. I love it. It's natural but we've quite literally lost our touch. We'd rather text a hug these days.

I've also taken to kissing people on the lips more. Men, women, children, small farm animals...I don't care. I gave the local bartender a big, fat kiss on the lips last week and he was slightly shocked. He just muttered, "lips" and walked away, disoriented. Gave him something to think about for the night, I figured.

At a restaurant not too long ago, I saw these two women, old friends apparently, who seemed like they were having such a fun time. Laughing, telling bawdy jokes. I watched them from afar, admiring their deep kinship. When I walked by them to go to the restroom, I stopped and put a hand on each of their shoulders. I squeezed and smiled. One woman asked, "Do we know you?" I said no you don't. And kept walking...okay, so maybe that was a little much.

There was a girl in college...what was her name...Carolyn Carpenter! She and I liked to slap each other in the face at the same time. We did it for years. Not sure why. We just did. It became our thing, unison face slapping, on the count of three. We'd slap each other so hard, sometimes one of us would lose our footing. Ah, the good old days of slapping Carolyn. "If I could turn back time," Cher sings in my mind.

I also like to tell people I love them more - the ultimate verbal touch. It's strange how we covet "I love you." There's some arbitrary time limit before it can be uttered. It's just not acceptable to say those words until one year of knowing someone or some nonsense like that. But we all know whom we love, don't we? When you're in their presence, it radiates from your heart, rather effortlessly. Love rings as clear as a bell, regardless of time logged.

Years ago, when my mother was very sick, my ex-boyfriend's family invited her to their home in Philadelphia for a visit. They fussed and fawned over her - just what she needed in her beleaguered state. After one day, one day, of knowing my mother, my ex's aunt said to her, during a parting hug, "Randee, I love you." I'll never forget that. She wasn't lying and my mother was deeply touched.

Someone from my online writing group told me she loved me the other day and I believe her. How kind to say that. And how simple. Even online, love can develop. That's sometimes hard to believe and often easy to dismiss. But perhaps online we get a deeper sense of another. In person, we tend to clam up, fidget, become guarded and weird. Online, its our pure mental energy meeting, like some science fiction love story.

Or perhaps love needs physical presence to truly expand. I'm just not sure.

There's a man, a wonderful musician, I've talked with online for years. Sometimes when I sign off, after a long night of chatting, joking, flirting and sharing, I can feel him around me, like a mystical vapor. And I wonder whether it would be drastically different if we met in "person." Some would say yes, it could be very different. But I feel his essence, rather viscerally, nonetheless. I feel his touch.

There was no New Year's resolution for me this year. This resolution seems to have sufficed for years to come, I do believe. It continues to grow. It's the best one ever.