I Like Musicals…What?? Do Not!

Oh, egads, I hate when I’m wrong.
In my enduring quest for culture and time with my mama, I succumbed to the pressures of Higher Theatre and ventured into a matinee of “Rent” in its final performance in the big City.
Have I mentioned I hate musicals? Except…see…last month I saw Carole King’s “Beautiful” and found it magical. Loved every minute. Like, butt-danced in my chair. That’s love, people, when you butt dance in your chair.
And in the flood of love for all things cultural after one single play in the last too many years, I bought pit seating for two to see the City’s 20th anniversary run of “Rent”. Because…Pit Seating. We wanted to see pores open and sweat run out.
And we did.
And it was great. So much talent, so much fun, so much activity it was like sitting too close to the bears during a three-ring circus…I knew I was missing stuff but I couldn’t take my eyes off what was right in front of me.
So maybe I didn’t get all the nuance or every plot point. The real point is that I had a great time. And I had Mama Time. And I watched young people sweat and work their tails off while I ate M&M’s and bottled water. And felt just as exhausted as they did — emotionally, figuratively — and didn’t need a shower afterward.
In fact, I needed ice cream, because I was hungry and it was that much more Mama Time to discuss and review.
To sum up: well, whaddya know…I like musicals. Darn it. My wallet really can’t afford my liking musicals. Or my newfound addiction to Pit Seating.


Hooping, Prairie Style

We prairie librarians are on the cutting edge of fitness, I don’t know if you know that.
We hoop now. Hula hoop. It’s a new thing, never seen before.
Our first class was led by an instructor, an honest to goodness professional hoopist — it’s a word now; just made it up — who walked into the building swaddled in a dozen hoops of varied sizes and colors and asked, “Ready?”
Do you know how hard it is to get grown women to agree to attend a hula hooping class, even when we cloak the fun under the term Ladies’ Night?
Nearly impossible. The fear of embarrassment, trepidation about ability, threat of injury — it could happen, you don’t know — all add up to “uh uh, no thank you, but have fun with that” type responses.
So our small group of risk-takers — we numbered seven in all — trudged to the back acre on a remarkably lovely evening — a gorgeous 70 degrees, the sun at its golden, magically-flattering angle and hue. We followed our cute cute cute instructor who led with the boom box (yeah, I’m old), to ignominious displays of lost agility and old age.
We were comforted to know we would go down in the presence of friends.
But here’s the weird thing: we didn’t stink. We weren’t great, but we were only red-faced by exertion and sweat. Hooping for longer than five minutes is actually taxing, who knew? We had great music by bands I’ve never heard before and couldn’t tell you now, as their names were bizarre and sounded less like rockers than out-of-date food stuffs – Rancid Milk, Pickled Cheese Product, something like that — and we actually had hoops rolling around our middles like they were made to be there.
THEN. The instructor said, “Let’s learn some moves.”
Uh. I thought I was moving. This round piece of plastic is upright; I’m calling it a win.
But before long, we were actually turning within the hoop, and walking around still hooping, and rolling the hoops around our wrists like brightly colored lassos any cowboy would be ashamed of.
Good stuff.
Here’s a fun detail: did you know that on the prairie the weather can change in an instant? One moment we’re blissfully hooping in the twilight, the very next moment we are running from leaves hurtled from trees like organically grown throwing stars — one lady actually caught one in her throat, I kid you not — screaming like we’re being bitten while the temperature dropped twenty degrees.
It was close, but we all survived.
We ran back into the library giggling and sweaty and decided, no more hooping for us!
Because we had snacks. Snacks trump everything.

Stuck in the Middle with Me

Self-help gone wrong

Oh. Oh. Oh.
It’s NaNo time again, time to write 50,000 words in a quick 30 days, and of course, I’m in it to win it. Gonna do this thing! Let’s go! (Insert “Animal House” scene, John Belushi running away to battle while his friends sit and watch his weird exit.)
This year I sat a moment and examined my previous attempts, all of which met the critical 50K bar of excellence, but none of which completed a story. That’s where the post-NaNo editing was supposed to happen, and when at last I pulled up the files to begin, I got stuck in the morass of my own verbiage and fell asleep a lot. My stories still lie festering and staring blankly until I get the cojones to rework and complete.
It’s a mess.
And what did I do for those half-successful but not to my own par all previous seven times? I Pantsed it. (That’s a real verb in the NaNo world.) I wrote and wrote, with no thought for rhyme nor reason, spewing lyrical genius from atop my cerebellum onto the keyboard with abandon and glee.
Ain’t so gleeful now, am I?
On October 29th, so so late in the game, I decided I’d make an Outline, the middle school equivalency to torture; loathed them then, loathe them now. But Pantsing wasn’t working, I reasoned. Maybe Plotting was the way of my future, especially if I wanted to finish a story.
Being the book geek that I am, I consulted not one but seven tomes on the subject of writing, planning, navigating, and getting-onto-paper the visual translation of the audio in my head.
Most all of these helpful books say: Start in the middle.
Are you kidding me? The middle doesn’t come around for two full weeks! I haven’t even come up with an opener besides “Once upon a time…” and these helpful self-helpers have effectively left me quagmired in a stew of over-wrought thinking, over-whelmed and eating ice cream for both supper last night and breakfast this morning! (Though, you know, that’s not really my complaint here.)
Today is Day 2 of NaNo, and though I floated a lot of words onto the Doc yesterday, today I’m tapped. I got nothin’. Yet my grey matter is storming the castle, screaming, “Just Pants the thing, this one last time. Do research the other eleven months and next year we’ll try this outline thing. We’re running out of time, Dudette [my brain calls me “dudette,” a weird affectation that I’ll ponder later as some sort of brain condition, but for now, Dudette doesn’t seem to rile me]. Get this thing in the books and be done!”
And yet the other half of my brain, the tenacious, not-quite-there side, says no, we gotta figure this out this year.
“Think through the details,” rational-but-annoying Me says. “Create the back story and the “why” and generate the point of the whole telling. Get an outline. Get to work. We have 29 days.”
But since I always have finished before Thanksgiving — because who needs to think of a nearly-done novel around the turkey table; no, all focus should be on mashed potatoes — that’s less days.
Adding to my panic.
And more reason for my brain to keep throwing images of pants onto the screen of my frontal lobe.
I’m telling you, people, I don’t have enough ice cream left for this level of tension and no time to get to the nearest freezer section, because of course I’m in the middle of the prairie.
This is going to be a long month.