lifebeyondexaggeration

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

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…)

 

Of Love and Soup March 5, 2016

Filed under: Starting Off Strange — meganorussell @ 10:00 am
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The husband and I got together when we were super young. So young, in fact, it’s a little amazing that we still like each other so darn much.

We met freshman orientation week, and other than one moment of temporary insanity on his part, we have been together ever since.

And it’s mostly because of a can of soup.

I’ve never claimed to be able to cook. In most cases, I’m considered a hazard. Since I spend so much of my time studiously trying to avoid anything kitchen-ish, I don’t usually travel with kitchen things, and this habit started all the way back in college. I had a full meal plan and only a mini-fridge in my room. So other than cereal and one unfortunate run in with a jiffy pop, I let the cafeteria ladies do the cooking.

Until my boyfriend got sick. He got one of those throat-rattling, fever-inducing colds that seem to thrive in college dorms and cast houses.

There was nothing the campus health clinic could really do for him, so he just had to wait it out, suffering in his room.

I knew that he was feeling awful, so I decided to bring him a can of soup from my emergency supplies. I even had a bowl and a spoon! And they were clean! (more…)

 

A Tree to Love for Me November 30, 2015

Filed under: Starting Off Strange — meganorussell @ 8:30 pm
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Since I grew up in an inn, Christmas for us usually began way before Thanksgiving. Decorations for the inn went up Thanksgiving weekend, and Christmas programs started shortly thereafter. It even got to the point that the local Christmas tree farmer knew that the season had begun when my mother showed up wanting a Christmas tree.

But of course they didn’t have any Christmas trees cut and ready yet. So they would load my mother into their truck and drive her back into the farm until she saw a tree she liked. Then they would stop, and if she was with a nice person they would cut the tree for her, if not, she would take a handsaw to the tree herself.

A tree for the hallway, tons of evergreen bows for the mantels and big windows. Ribbons and valances galore. It was quite a feat to get the inn ready for Christmas. By the time we got to set up our personal Christmas tree three days before actual Christmas, it felt like we had been living in a Christmas vortex for our whole lives. (more…)