lifebeyondexaggeration

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

The Pregnant Nun January 5, 2017

Filed under: Starting Off Strange — meganorussell @ 3:30 pm
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I’m weird. If you’ve been to this blog before, I’m sure you’ve realized that. But there’s nothing like spending time with family to remind you just how terribly weird you are.

I got to spend Christmas with my mom and sister this year, which is a rare treat for a performer. My husband was there; my sister’s husband and his parents were there. We were all chatting, and at one point my mom said something like, “Well, I knew you were going to be weird when I made the nun your mother.”

Outside of my family, you would think that was the ravings of a mad woman, but no no, it’s true.

I grew up in an inn, and some of the many things that happened between those brown brick walls were murder mysteries. You’d arrange the group, my mother would mail everyone a character, you’d come to the house, and we’d slowly kill you all off. It was usually a good, family-friendly time.

When I was about four (so my sister was around six), a group was coming in, and the woman who should have turned out to be the killer according to my mother’s grand plan for the evening didn’t show. (more…)

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The Traumatizing Tongue September 17, 2016

Filed under: Hi-Ho the Glamorous Life,Starting Off Strange — meganorussell @ 12:30 pm
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The very first internship I ever did with a professional company was when I was about sixteen years old. The company was tiny, and I don’t think they really had an intern program. I don’t even think they were really sure why I kept showing up three days a week. But my mom kept telling me to get into the car and the theatre kept letting me in so whatever.

The company did a lot of really cool Shakespeare and avant-garde work, but I was there for the children’s show Frog and Toad. And not even the super fun musical version. It was just people saying they were animals, and there was dark lighting. I really don’t know what was happening.

I was cast as a ferret in a fedora, and I had two lines that were meant to be sinister, but they really weren’t. Honestly, I would love to get my hands on that script to see if it would make more sense through my much more experienced eyes.

The only thing I really, clearly remember is the tongue. (more…)

 

The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Crying August 8, 2016

Being a child in theatre is almost worse than being an adult in theatre. I mean, true, for me this job pays for food for me to eat and health insurance that I use liberally, but I still think it’s harder for kids. Rejection on a grand scale is still super new. Stakes opening night feel like a life or death lottery. And aging out is a constant struggle. 

You learn all the words to Mary Lenox’s song in Secret Garden and shoot up two inches so you’re too tall to audition. You really want to be Annie, but it’s not even the singing that knocks you out of the running — you’re too tall.

You can’t be Liesl in Sound of Music because you’re too young, but you can’t be any of the others because you’re too old. 90% of childhood in theatre is your own quickly growing body being too something for you to be cast. And don’t even get me started on the poor boys who get cast in a show and have to drop out cause their voices start to change. It’s a brutal, brutal world. 

When I was little, I was desperate to be in the Sound of Music. I wanted to be a Von Trapp child. Any Von Trapp child — I would have happily played a boy. My mother dutifully took me to the audition where the other little girls were dressed up like Toddlers and Tiaras, and I was dressed in the one dress I hadn’t torn to shreds playing in the yard. They lined us all up, and we had to go on stage one at a time to sing in matching(ish) groups of potential children. The group of pale, gangly brunettes was near the end, so I made my mom take me to the bathroom so I could panic in peace. 

But the bathroom was filled. Girls primping, girls crying, one girl wailing like a freakin’ banshee while her mother pinned her and put lipstick on her. It was terrifying! Why were we there!

I asked my mom to leave, but I had signed in so she made me stick it out. I gathered with my gangly group, we all sang, a few cried, and then we got rejected. It was terrible. 

And it didn’t get any easier. Not for years. Too young for teen chorus, too old for the little kids. It sucked. When the local girl booked Annie on Broadway, it sucked. When I got cast as a tap dancer in the Nutcracker, it sucked. 

But I did it. I stuck it out and became a big kid performer. I feel like I should give some speech about how the trauma was worth it, and for me it is. I mean, this is how I make my dollars. I play pretend for a living. But as far as fun hobbies for a kid, I don’t know… do mathletics or save puppies. Yeah, that’s all I’ve got.

 

The Way of the Water May 28, 2016

I’ve never had the best relationship with water sports. I mean, I love water, and swimming, and boating. But the water seems to hate me. Either that or it’s trying to tell me I’m actually Poseidon’s daughter and is trying to take me home.

There have been a few head injuries on boats and one true near death experience, but while people start heading to the lake for memorial day, the waterskiing incident seems most appropriate.

For three summers in my early teen years I went to camp Waziyatah. If the name sounds familiar, it’s probably because of the Disney summer camp reality show Bug Juice. I wasn’t there the filming year; I started going to next summer, but a lot of the kids were still coming to camp and damn did that show mess with their heads! I’ll tell you all about it sometime, but for now, back to our story.

I had never been waterskiing before. My family is much more into canoes than boats with motors, but all the cool kids had signed up for waterskiing, and, my being thirteen, I wanted to try it. I went down to the boat, lifejacket strapped on, expecting a super intense lesson before we really hit the water. Nope. (more…)

 

Fancy-freelancing May 2, 2016

Filed under: Starting Off Strange — meganorussell @ 8:30 pm
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I have decided to become a freelance writer. I know what you’re all thinking: Megan has actually lost her mind this time, but hear me out.

Okay, so I don’t really know how to book freelance writing work. I’ve never freelanced before, and from the little I do know, competition is awful and pay isn’t the best. But those are all minor details. I can research and do some trial and error on submissions. I’ve written blogs, books, and songs, so the writing is just going to be about adhering to someone else’s standards. And as for the dollars made… Well, everyone has to start somewhere.

I love writing. I love writing blogs for all of you. I love writing stories. It would seem strange to, though the possibility of success may be slim, ignore a way to make money doing what I love to do. I know it might not be as satisfying as writing books, and I won’t have the freedom to write whatever the hell I want like I do with you all. But I’m going to try it! Cause why not? I mean, what do I have to lose but what little self-esteem I have left by facing infinite rejection?

So wish me luck, ‘cause I’m gonna need it!

 

Childhood Change April 16, 2016

Filed under: Starting Off Strange — meganorussell @ 10:00 am
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Growing up, I had godparents. I mean, we weren’t really close to them, and I didn’t really know them. They were who my parents chose before I was even born. I don’t know if my parents ever sat me down to tell us or if my sister and I just sort of absorbed the information the way kids do, but we always knew that if something happened to our parents, we would be sent to live with our godparents.

Duh duh duh!

It was terrifying. Not because they were mean or because we were afraid they would starve us. No. We were scared because they didn’t believe in Santa. That and their youngest child was psychotic. Like truly. I think there was something wrong with her. She stayed at our house for a sleepover once, and only once. Why? Because halfway through the night, she started calling the doorknobs mommy and daddy and was having full conversations for them. We had to go get her mom, who was also staying at the house, to make her stop. It was a bad night for everyone.

But back to the Santa business. (more…)

 

A Rehashing of the Teddy Trial March 21, 2016

Filed under: Starting Off Strange — meganorussell @ 8:30 pm
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A long time ago my sister gave my beloved stuffed puppy a swirly. I thought the matter was over and done with. In fact, I even wrote a blog about it. But it seems the matter is far from over.

The way I remember it my sister gave my stuffed puppy a swirly. After a lot of crying, I decided to take revenge. And not just any revenge. A horrible revenge that can only be executed by the likes of a little sister.

My sister had a teddy bear that she loved very much. Since my big sister had hurt my puppy, I would take revenge on Teddy. While my mother was Lysoling the toilet germs out of puppy, I found my sister’s teddy, fastened a very impressive noose for a child, and hung Teddy over my sister’s bed with a note that read something along the lines of —

You smell. I cannot take living with your awful stink anymore. Goodbye cruel world. (more…)