I have already been asked multiple times if I plan on taking my fiancé’s last name when we marry in May. Since we still have half a year until that big day, I imagine I’ll get the question another hundred times, or so. He has a nice last name, he does, but it’s Scottish, not French. And what with my affinity for France and the music it has birthed, well, it’s hard to part with the current version of the name my great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, grandfather brought over from Normandy in the 1600s. Call me sentimental. Call me nostalgic. It’s in my genes. Seriously. You should have met my grandfather. And it’s what makes me step on stage each night.
That sense of sentimental nostalgia will make me step on stage next month, too, when I present my first solo cabaret in Chicago. Robert de La Berge, I hope you’d approve.
My brother Tim and I have been talking about running lately, partially because my book club just read “Born to Run.” Tim’s a fan of the book. I am now, too. The conversations also are happening because Tim has taken to snapping pictures on his runs in the Pacific Northwest. He is a photographer, so these are not your average look-at-this-cool-leaf photos. I like that each of his running stories has a different angle. That’s the thing about running–so many angles to offer. Of course, it helps to have a top notch visual artist interpreting those angles.
My voice students have been hearing me quote my singing interpretation of “Born to Run” the last few weeks: Practice being confident. Practice telling stories. Practice believing that singing is easy. Practice those for long enough, and you’ll forget you’re practicing.
“Lesson two,” Caballo called. “Think Easy, Light, Smooth, and Fast. You start with easy, because if that’s all you get, that’s not so bad. Then work on light. Make it effortless, like you don’t give a shit how high the hill is or how far you’ve got to go. When you’ve practiced that so long that you forget you’re practicing, you work on making it smoooooooth. You won’t have to worry about the last one–you get those, and you’ll be fast.” (Born to Run, Christopher McDougall, page 111)
Growing up, my dad referred to my mom as The Wicked Witch. It wasn’t because she was mean or green. Nope. It was, quite simply, her Halloween costume one year. Maybe she should have stuck with something bolder, like Super Woman…or perhaps gentler, like Snow White or Rainbow Brite. Really, anything that didn’t have anything to do with a witch. Alas, she did not have that foresight, and the nickname stuck. So did the melting jokes.
A few years ago, everyone in my parents’ office filled out questionnaires. It was a game. They anonymously answered questions about themselves and then everyone else had to guess the identity of the question-answerer: one of the office-place-community-development-fun-interactive-morale-boosters they enjoy. One of the questions asked was, “Which actress would play you in a movie about your life?” My mom had a hard time with that one. I told her it was obvious: she’s a prettier version of Susan Sarandon.
I went to an audition a few weeks ago, and when I was finished with my song and aria, the auditor asked for a monologue. I told her I had a few to choose from, and she excitedly asked for the Wicked Witch’s “Poppies” monologue from The Wizard of Oz. When I finished, she said, “Has anyone ever told you you look like Susan Sarandon?”
My first thought was, “Wow, that’s nice.” My second was, “Does that mean you’ll hire me?” The third was, “Wait ’til I tell the Wicked Witch.”
My version of the Wicked Witch this year in the Variety Children’s Theatre’s production of The Wizard of Oz.