Author: Christanna Rowader
I’m going to tell you a story.
“Aaggle fraggle bloog,” Lilliya said.
No, not that one. I’ll tell you that some other time. Tonight, I’m going to tell you the story of how you were born.
“Dadoh ooh,” Lilliya cooed.
My baby girl was turning 1 soon and I had promised I would write down what happened that night so I would never forget. The internet had told me that my hormones, the culprit “Oxytocin,” would trick me into forgetting the pain of childbirth. Before I had gone into labor, I made a promise with myself that no matter what happened, I’d never forget. That I would document and catalog every moment into the files of my brain because, let’s face it, this was going to be a once in a lifetime experience. And I didn’t want my hormones to sweep it away on a blissful cloud of happiness, like it never happened, like it was saying it wasn’t so bad, or you totally want another one, don’t you? And then before you know it, I could be back in the water with Jaws 2!
Jaws, you ask? It’s a Carcharodon Carcharias. A great white shark. You’ll understand in the future. But for now, let me tell you why it’s a part of this story.
It was July 31st, 2019. A dark and stormy night—
Okay, so it wasn’t stormy, but it was dark. And definitely nighttime. Earlier that day, I had my routine check-up with my midwife. Everything was looking normal. I was 2 centimeters dilated, 100% effaced and you were at -1 station, your head prepped and ready to go. Let’s be real though. You had your head down the whole time. Literally, like, every time I’d get an ultrasound, the tech could never get a good scan of your head. That’s how buried and ready to go you were.
I digress. Anyhow, I’d been having my usual Braxton Hicks, which I’d been having for months. Your due date was August 2nd, but I really wanted you out now. Specifically, on August 1st. I thought, that’ll be easy for me to remember since I’m May 1st. So, I asked my midwife to strip my membranes. My mom (a Labor and Delivery nurse) told me that could help jumpstart labor. The internet confirmed that as well. Mom, I mean your grandma, warned me that it could actually kickstart my labor soon. So, we did a lot of walking around. Got a pedicure. Had lunch at a restaurant. All the while, I could feel your grandma’s eyes on me, watching me like a hawk.
Nothing happened though. So, we went home, and I told your grandma to go to the hot tub whilst I harvested your father’s prostaglandins.
“Aaggle fraggle blurg?”
I’ll tell you when you’re older. Anyhow, last time I got his prostaglandins, it put me into false labor. I thought, for sure this will get it going. Alas, nothing. So, I joined your grandma in the hot tub, feeling bummed that my plan wasn’t going to…plan. I was desperate to see you, to meet you. And as much as I knew I shouldn’t mess around with the timing of life—I’ve never really been one to be patient—I couldn’t help but think the science of it all wasn’t working.
Night fall came, 10:30 to be exact, and I was curled up with your daddy. He was reading me a pregnancy book when all of a sudden, I felt a sharp cramp in my lower gut. As quickly as it came, it was gone. Your daddy asked what it was. I said, just a cramp, and he continued to read. And then out of nowhere, I felt a squirt, like an uncontrollable spray between my legs. I jumped out of bed to clasp my legs together. “Holy crap!” I exclaimed. “What?!” your daddy said. And I said, “I’m all wet. Maybe I just peed myself. That was weird.” Your daddy cocked his eyebrows in suspicion. “Are you sure?” he asked. There wasn’t any more liquid coming out, so I thought, yeah just weird pee. Your daddy got up to go to the bathroom himself and that’s when my body decided to release MORE liquid. It was coming in random spurts. I was so confused. I said, “Get out of the way,” and sat on the toilet myself. Another cramp hit and I had a Number 2. The cramp went away after I finished. So, I thought, I just had to go Number 2.
Your daddy wasn’t convinced at all this time. He stood there staring and then carefully said, “I think your water broke. We should probably go to the hospital.”
“Nah,” I said. “I’m fine. I just had to go to the—” And then a cramp-wave came, like someone had inserted a bowling ball in my body and was using some serious bowling ball magnet to gravity-pull it out. It wasn’t painful really, but surprisingly intense. And it was followed by more water. So, I agreed with your daddy that my water broke.
“I’m gonna take a shower,” I told him. I had the sudden urge to get clean.
“Uh…I’m gonna tell your mom that we need to go,” he said, eyeing me carefully as I stepped into the shower.
The shower felt good, even as waves of cramps hit me every 3ish minutes. I was familiar with this feeling. They felt like powerful period cramps. Just like my friends who had babies before me told me they would feel like. I’ve had worse pain, recalling the time when my right ovary had a baseball-sized cyst attached to it. Side note: you’re a left ovary baby ’cause Mommy doesn’t have her right one anymore.
Your daddy is so patient. He stood there as I showered up, then blow-dried my hair, collected a few more items to pack up for the hospital, and then, BAM! The cramps I’d been feeling escalated to level 2. They were so strong I couldn’t help but fall over onto all fours. And the urge to push was stronger than ever. I looked up at your dad. He looked at me, eyes wider than before.
“Okay, time to go,” I managed to say after the contraction eased up.
I don’t remember what your dad said, but he and your grandma packed up into the car. I followed close behind—I had to take another moment on my hands and knees in the garage. Couldn’t help but think of the scene in An American Werewolf in London when he was turning into a werewolf. This must be what it’s like, I thought, waiting for the fangs and claws and thick wiry hair to grow out of my body. I’m pretty sure I was howling too.
As soon as it eased up, I rushed into the car. And then another one hit! But I couldn’t get on all fours! I was stuck in a seated position! This was bad. Very bad.
“Sitting is not good!” I cried out. “Worst position ever!” I started clawing at my seatbelt and door handle. My feet pushed against the top of the glove compartment.
“Don’t kick that!” your dad exclaimed.
“I’m trying not to,” I cried.
“Just hum, baby,” your grandma said in an aggravatingly calm voice.
I tried humming.
Nope. “Not working,” I said through clenched teeth. I think we were on the freeway at this point. Your dad was on the phone calling the hospital to let them know we were coming in.
“We’re overbooked. It would be better if you went to Panorama City. They don’t have any patients right now—”
“Are you f@#*& kidding me?!” I exclaimed.
“Okay, thank you,” your dad said as he hung up. “It’s not that far. It’ll be okay.”
“But I don’t know the layout. I don’t know where to go,” I said during the break between contractions. “Argh!” Another wave.
“Baby, hum,” your grandma said again.
“No! Put music on! I need! Action!” I grunted.
The Fallout 4 video game soundtrack played as we raced down the freeway at about 100mph. I didn’t know that at the time, of course. It was no wonder we got to the hospital so quickly from Simi Valley to Panorama City.
As soon as we got there, I burst out of the car and collapsed to my hands and knees. This was seriously the best position. Two men walked by, eyeing me strangely. I didn’t care. I loved being a werewolf now. Your grandma stood by me as your dad left to park the car.
Finally! The contraction eased up again. Your grandma and I rushed into the hospital and found the nearest elevator. The same two men were there too.
“Floor 3,” one of them said reassuringly.
“Thank you,” I said through clenched teeth. Another wave hit as I entered the elevator. Your grandma was humming for me now.
Floor 3. The elevator opened. I burst out and looked up. Labor and Delivery pointing left. I saw doors. I burst through. An alarm went off and a handful of nurses jumped up from their stations. I bent over their desk. I said something, I don’t remember what. Maybe something like, it’s coming.
“This is her first baby,” your grandma said.
“Oh…” And the nurses calmly went back to their stations.
I remember getting checked in with your daddy. Grandma had to wait down the hall. I remember rolling around the small room, desperately trying to find a forgiving position. This is it, I thought. I’m officially turning into a werewolf. Here come the fangs! I wondered whose throat I was going to rip out first.
Finally, a midwife showed up to check my cervix. I had a very bad feeling about this moment. My contractions were coming every 2 minutes and I could barely stay still, much less stay put for a cervix check.
Blinding white hot pain hit me. I screamed. A bloodcurdling scream that your grandma could hear all the way down the hall. I felt more liquid explode out of my body. My torso was hit by something raggedly sharp, like serrated teeth sawing back and forth, slowly, so that I could feel every pull. I looked down and I saw Jaws. His wide mouth engulfed my lower half, his triangular teeth sinking into my guts.
I was no longer a werewolf. I was Quint from Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. The scene played out in real life for me. Minus the blood spurting out of my mouth. But there might as well have been! The scene was on replay every 2 minutes. The famous great white biting down into my torso and slowly shaking me from side to side. Even the breaks between contractions were torturous because I knew Jaws was only going to come back! And I’d relive being eaten alive again and again and AGAIN!
“Two centimeters,” I remember hearing the midwife say when she checked my cervix.
“OH GREAT!” I screamed. I knew what that meant. It meant they wouldn’t give me an epidural. It meant I wasn’t anywhere near giving birth. It meant I was stuck, to be tortured over and over for who knows how long as a giant great white shark was EATING ME ALIVE!
“Help me,” I cried to your daddy. “I’m not gonna make it. I can’t do it.”
“Do you want something for the pain?” the midwife asked.
“YES!” Your daddy and I said.
“This will help take the edge off,” she said. They injected me with Fentanyl. I had no idea what it was. Later I found out it was a step below Morphine. But let me tell you, it DID NOT take the pain away. Jaws was still there chomping down on my guts. The only difference was I could pay attention to it more. Instead of shooting white pain blinding me every time, I could watch and be aware. It was like an out-of-body experience. I was fully cognizant of the agony, only this time I could take notes!
During this very intimate time with Jaws, I somehow was able to move my body onto a different bed to be taken into the delivery room. They were prepping me for my epidural. I had forgotten that even though I was only 2 centimeters dilated, my water had broken. That changed the rules and I was allowed to get the “big needle in the back.” You might think that sounds scary. Let me tell you, at that point the pain was an 11. You could literally do anything to me, and it wouldn’t matter. My brain was so fogged up with agony, you could’ve been cutting off pieces of my body, and I wouldn’t notice.
What about the Fentanyl, you ask? It only helped me tell my body to stay still as they inserted the giant needle into my spine. I didn’t feel a thing. The anesthesiologist said, you don’t need this…look at you…you’re doing great…
I think I laughed and made a joke. Not sure. There were two mes at this point. One standing back and pointing, laughing at the other me who couldn’t be tough enough to give birth. The other me didn’t care. This sucked. Jaws sucks. Me could judge me all she wanted. I wasn’t going to die by shark.
“You’ll start to feel a cool sensation in your back…” I heard the anesthesiologist say.
I felt it.
And suddenly a golden light came into the room. Jaws immediately released his grasp on me, dove back into the ocean and disappeared. I was a little disappointed I couldn’t shoot the damn thing and make him explode.
My body ached and I felt another swell come. I grimaced, thinking he would fly out of the ocean and get me one more time. But he didn’t come. Nothing happened. Just the tightening, pushing sensation. Jaws was gone. Now all I had to do was wait for you.
I didn’t sleep that night. Neither did your grandma. Both she and your daddy stayed in the room with me, Daddy taking a well-deserved nap. I could feel the contractions, but they were no longer painful. The epidural was pure magic. It was the exploding tank to great whites. It was the silver bullet to werewolves.
I turned and watched the darkness of night slowly turn a golden orange. The sun was rising. And I knew I’d see you soon.
The midwife decided I was ready to go a little after six in the morning. Your grandma and your daddy helped prop up my legs as I pushed. I even got to see your hairy little head pushing through when they brought a mirror out for me to watch. Aaaaaand then I decided I didn’t want to watch that anymore.
Within twenty minutes, you were pulled out of my body and placed gently onto my chest. You looked a wreck! Grey-white skin and a smooshed nose!
“Fraggle eh bloog…”
Well you were. But you had the cutest little cry. And your eyes were a deep blue. As deep as the ocean. They were staring at me as you gripped my skin with your tiny hands. You were alive. I was alive. We both survived. And Jaws, well…I never need to relive that ever again.
I do feel the need to remind you that every woman is different. At least, that’s what the internet says. None of my friends experienced this kind of pain. Jaws just happened to be mine. I did ask my midwife why this was the case. She theorized that it was possible my cervix was just opening up so fast and that your head pressing down on it didn’t help. But it was just a theory.
“Eh nananana rwarr,” Lilliya said.
I thought you’d find it interesting. I will say this. Jaws was worth it. You are the best thing that has ever happened to me.
I love you too.
The Magic Man and his Rabbit
Please click on link above to listen to music that goes with the story for your own enjoyment.
It was warm…
The girl had never been outside before. The sun had never touched her. And, for the first time, she could feel it, and the sun was warm. Her skin glowed white under its fiery red glow and her hair, long and golden, cascaded around her shoulders. His fingers were there, gently feeling through the girl’s hair. The Magic Man…
His hands were strong and filled with power and purpose. Always purpose. They moved through her hair, brushing past her shoulders and up her neck, to rest his fingers on her jaw.
He was warm.
The girl tilted her head slightly, letting the sun heat her face and feel the Magic Man’s fingers touch her. And before she could stop, she reached for his face. She had never touched him back before. She was never allowed. But, this time, she didn’t care. She pulled him to her mouth and kissed the Magic Man. He resisted at first, but then released his strength onto her lips. The girl’s mouth was cool, but his was hot. She pulled him deeper, feeling the heat spread through her and opened her mouth ever so slightly to inhale his power. He breathed slowly into the girl and her mouth burned like a fire leaping into her.
And then he froze.
The girl could feel his lips tighten and pull away from her. His hands went for her hands. She grasped tighter to his face, not wanting to be let go, but he stood straighter and unlocked his lips from hers. The Magic Man hovered for what seemed like an eternity, but then stepped away. He grasped her hands, gently taking them from his face, and held them to his mouth. His green eyes glistened sadly, lightly kissed her fingers, then backed away.
The sun was turning a deep red as it made its descent into the night and the Magic Man seemed to go with it. Her grey eyes watched his hands slip from hers and saw his dark silhouette disappear as the light engulfed him. She reached out with her tiny white hands, but couldn’t move. The warmth was gone from her skin, but she could still feel it inside her, burning her chest. But he was gone. The girl stared into the red sun where he’d just stood and then slowly shut her eyes from the fire.
Darkness followed, plunging her back into the cold. And then a different light came. She slowly opened her eyes and saw a white light peering down at her. There was no warmth from this light. She knew this one very well. It was the cold, lifeless light bringing her back to the black stage. Dancers circled her in their synced, acrobatic fashion, holding turquoise silks and invisible fans. At the same time, two larger silks, red and white, floated around her. Her gold hair wisped around her shoulders and face, her grey eyes tightening in search for the Magic Man. He was there. She could feel it.
As the girl stepped out of the circle of fans and dancing silks, she found him. The Magic Man stood opposite the white light, far above and out of reach, in his own warm golden glow, watching her. She could feel him. She could feel everything, all of the hot burning fire growing inside her chest, spreading through her veins, into her fingers and toes, her ears and the tips of her hair. She knew then why she couldn’t touch him, knew why she could never feel the sun.
The Magic Man watched her eyes grow from longing to knowing. They grew dark and piercing, like sharpened-grey stones. The girl turned away from him and circled around to the back of the black stage, never taking her gaze from the dancing silks.
She slowly crouched down, placing her hand on the cool ground, feeling the pressure of the woodwork, the intricacies of each fiber that created the panels of the stage. Two male dancers came to either side of her, took her delicate ivory arms in their hands, and lifted her into the circle of fans with the dancing silks. As they let go of her, she didn’t drop to the floor like she was supposed to. Instead, the girl lifted up, her long gold hair floating above her shoulders for only a few seconds, and then slammed down to one knee. Everything stopped. The floor shook beneath the dancers’ feet. The fans sparked and shut down. And the silks dropped dead.
Then, the girl lifted her right fist and smashed the floor, cracking the panels of black wood, and the silks lifted back to life into the air, the red one in controlled by her left arm and the white one controlled by her right. She shot them forward into the dark abyss that was the audience. They gasped, but she heard none of it. All she heard was the fire and heat of the power she knew she had taken from the Magic Man. The freedom she had found within.
The red and white silks flew back and swirled around her arms and waist, brushing her lightly with soft licks. Her gold hair was now as red as the sun, whipping against her back and face. She flicked one arm out, and the white silk rushed by and ripped through the air like an arrow. She flicked the other arm out and the red silk circled her until she lifted from the ground. The white silk returned to her and joined the red silk. The air was thick with heat and electricity. And then, without warning, everything slowed down. Her petal-like ivory feet returned to the floor, but the silks stilled, becoming a motionless flowerlike shape in midair. Throughout the stage and the audience, there were flecks of gold light twinkling and hovering all around. One could touch them and move them with their fingers, if they tried.
She looked up at the Magic Man, then, meeting his unwavering green eyes. They seemed bright with love. It was what she wanted more than the sun, or the power, or her freedom. The girl lifted her right arm sending out the white silk to him. It floated towards him and gently brushed his cheek, then slowly pulled away. The Magic Man reached out with his hand as the silk went by and he let his fingers graze against the soft fibers. She could feel that. The heat of his hand against the silk went through her arm and deep into her heart. The fire she felt in her chest grew hotter. She smiled, basking in the heat of her body and her prickling skin. Her breathing became heavier, shallower. The air seemed thicker than it once was. It was no longer cool and thin, but strong and hot. She inhaled slowly and felt the heat inside her start to burn. The Magic Man was gone from above and she realized she could not breathe and the fire burned into a searing pain.
Suddenly, she let out a cry of despair that shook the stillness of the air. The twinkling specks of light sparkled into nonexistence and the silks collapsed in an ugly heap, as the girl fell to her hands and knees.
It was gone. The power had left her and so had the fire. It burned itself out and left only a cold emptiness inside her. Tears flooded her pale grey eyes. She glanced up, seeing the audience for the first time. They were staring at her, murmuring and pointing, as if she were a deranged and dangerous animal. The other dancers, who once controlled the illusions of the dancing silks, stood offstage, staring at her as well, wary and fearful.
The girl’s golden hair looked dull now and the cold emptiness in her chest weighed her down until she could no longer support herself. She curled up onto the cracked stage, hoping to contain the last amount of heat she once felt. And then she saw black booted feet step towards her. It was the Magic Man.
He knelt down to her, brushing her hair lightly with his fingertips. His green eyes sparkled bright, yet were filled with a deep sadness. She knew what was to come.
“Don’t,” the girl pleaded, using the last of the warm air she had left.
The Magic Man hesitated, his green eyes unsure, but only for a split second, before they clouded over. He took a glittering tear from her pale cheek with his finger, then reached for the red silk laying on the floor. He slowly pulled it over her body, but before he covered her, the Magic Man leaned towards the girl and gently breathed warmth onto her face. The only warmth she’ll ever feel again. The girl kept her grey eyes locked on his green ones until the red silk enveloped her.
As soon as the Magic Man covered her completely, no sooner did he rip it away. The red silk fluttered offstage and the audience gasped. There were a few seconds of silence, but then a huge uproar of applause flooded the air.
The Magic Man reached forward, brushing the soft gold hair…
…of tiny rabbit. As he touched the cheek of the small animal, the head lolled to the side.
The rabbit was dead.
The Magic Man froze, the air inside him turning to ice. His rabbit…was gone.
He gingerly cradled the tiny dead animal into his palms, stood tall in the center of the stage, and displayed the rabbit. The audience would never know that the animal was dead, and they wouldn’t care. They stood, filling the air thick with heated applause, as the dancers quietly faded into the darkness of the wings of the stage. But the thrill of the audience continued…
…For the Magic Man and his…
RAGTIME THE MUSICAL
MY 5TH YEAR
I just realized I haven’t written anything in a LONG time. I have decided it’s a lot harder to blog when you have a boyfriend whom you spend A LOT of time with. He is not home right now, and LOOK, I’m writing something. It also happens to be a special day for me. My five year anniversary.
It’s been five years since I’ve lived in California, in the same house, with the same roommate. This may very well be the longest relationship I’ve ever had. If I last one more year in this house and in this state, I will have officially surpassed the amount of years I’ve lived in one place with my parents.
I can’t tell you how crazy-fast these five years have gone! Seriously, I feel like I STILL don’t know my way around. STILL feel like I just got here. But I definitely know the rules and regulations of the “actor’s life” now. Definitely know how actors’ unions work. Definitely know how agents work and managers, casting directors and producers and production companies, make up artists, prop masters, directors, 2nd assistant directors (although that one still boggles me), wardrobe, set designers, lighting designers, stunt coordinators, stunt performers, gaffers, riggers, dancers, choreographers, zombies, headshots, resumes, websites, photographers, and holy-crap-if-I’ve-missed-something-it’s-cause-I’m-stopping-here. I feel better about my career as an actress, although I haven’t been able to even touch indie films or the like. I do keep getting musicals. Which is ironic considering it’s something I’m trying to steer away from. But this year, I finally got in a Musical Theatre West show, which helped me get my Equity Membership Candidate card (EMC). Then I was cast as Rapunzel in Into The Woods with 3-D Theatricals. I had also done another show in Simi Valley playing Christine Colgate and covered for a soprano in a Bruce Kimmel show called Pure Imagination. Not bad, but still a starving actor. Actually it was all pretty awesome. But my bank account disappeared to dust. Being a non-union actor is VERY expensive. But we all gotta pay our dues somehow.
It’s been 5 years and people say if nothing happens in 5 years, then change careers. I don’t know if I can say that NOTHING has happened, but career-wise it’s been slow. Which is to be expected, I know that. Growing up in a house full of artists, directors, and producers, I know how it ALL works. But that doesn’t change the feeling of uncertainty. If this is where I belong. And how long it will take before I know where I belong. Should there even be time limits? I’m almost thirty years old and where have I gone? Five years have all been crunched into one and all I see are the wrinkles on my face.
I think I’m happy still despite all the things I battle. I have a patient and caring boyfriend/bestfriend named Number 1 who is always making sure I’m still here. He now lives with me and my roommate, which is crazy for me because I always said I’d never move in with a “boyfriend” unless I was married to him. Somehow it just seemed normal. He has a daughter who says she wants to be an actress like me. I told her, “No you don’t….unless you’re crazy.” She always says, “You’re pretty silly,” and I always say, “You mean crazy,” and she laughs, “Yeah, silly AND crazy.” She is my little angel. And so is her father.
Well, I’m not giving up yet on my career as an actor. I’m trying out a long term relationship for the first time with a ten year old daughter in the mix and doing my hardest not to run from complete-panic. Number 1 says, “You always like to have your foot just one step out the door.” I shrug and say, “Well, it’s a race. Are you gonna beat me to the finish or am I gonna leave you in my dust?”
He is a patient man.
And I am a crazy girl.
With dreams of being left in space, alone on the Moon, or building a home on Mars. Knowing there is more out there than on this one little world we live in. Knowing there has to be.
This is why I’m an actor. So I can pretend…and keep on pretending.
I get to pretend again very soon. For an incredible story and play an incredible character. My biggest one yet. And I CAN’T WAIT! A good way start my fifth year.
NEW “Star Wars VII” TEASER!!!
Here’s to the “Star Wars VII cast!”
Hey guys! So back in November, a good friend of mine encouraged me to write my own audition for the new Star Wars film, directed by J. J. Abrams, considering I am a very VERY unknown actress who wouldn’t have the slightest chance to get called in for a read. I got a small crew together on February 2nd, 2014 and BAM here it is! It was a lot of fun putting together. Hope you enjoy.
Understudying on the Fly
Okay, so I’ll admit, I’ve been a bad blogger for the past year or so. I’ve definitely been distracted. I blame my boyfriend. I also blame Star Wars…just cuz. And having a cute dog…
Essentially, I can’t be a good blogger when I’m distracted by good things around me.
Although, there’s much to talk about. So here I sit, drinking my freshly ground and brewed vanilla-coconut coffee, burning a vanilla-peppermint candle, and my vanilla-colored dog snuggled on my running pants behind me, forcing myself to focus and write.
So, first off, 2013 ended pretty busy after most of a year going by with nothing. I played Christine Colgate in the ARTS production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels which was followed by Bruce Kimmel’s Pure Imagination musical review and then got cast in Musical Theatre West’s production of The Music Man.
But this is the story of how I ended up doing Pure Imagination.
So I got a Facebook message from Karen, someone who I worked with my first year in California and hadn’t seen since, and she asked me if I could cover one of the sopranos in Bruce Kimmel’s show Pure Imagination for Pacific Resident Theatre. Karen thought of me through another girl named Jen, who I hadn’t seen in four years either. A truly small world, the acting biz is. The show was a musical review of Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse songs, so I knew I could handle the style.
I had two full weeks of memorizing 70 pages of music and movement and one rough rehearsal. No problem, right? I’m a fast memorizer. And Newley & Bricusse songs, let me TELL you, are extremely wordy. I mean, lyrics that don’t repeat themselves…as in you can’t just fall back and relax into the “chorus” of the song…because there ISN’T one. Very Stephen Sondheim-esque. Not to mention one of the most stressful songs was “Typically English” where I had to switch from English to German to Russian to American and back to English again, fast and furious-like with words that a tongue could easily trip and fall on. The kind of song where IF you did mess up, there would be no time to stop and fix and cover or fake. You would just have to mumble your way until you grabbed back on. A very fun song. Two weeks of learning and one rough rehearsal made for a very nerve-wracking song.
But was I gonna let anyone know how nervous I was? HELL no. I said yes to this understudying experience and I wasn’t going to even blink a nervous glint!
But oh was I…oh man was I.
Ever since I had a nightmare audition come true, where I started singing a song I had had memorized since 4th grade, but somehow horribly forgot all the words to, I’ve been shakily uncertain of my brain memory capacity.
So, I guess you could say this show was my ticket to personal redemption. If I can remember ALL of this, I can fly again so to speak.
I had my rehearsal, the Tuesday before my Thursday opening performance. I had slip ups and mild mistakes, but that was okay. I wanted to go blank on this day. If there was ever a mess up, it needed to be during rehearsal.
I should also mention that I’m a really bad perfectionist. The kind that will rip myself apart before anyone has the blinking chance to. Like the it’s okay you don’t need to tell me that sucked…I already know it…trying to fix now… While the other person says I didn’t realize it did…oh wait, maybe that one part… And I go YEAH I KNOW…I TOLD YOU!
So Thursday comes around and I have a callback for The Music Man which I can’t get to because I have to be at the theater for Pure Imagination and I’m bummed because it was my FIRST callback for a production company that I’d been trying to get into for 4 years. How I finagled my callback situation is another bloggery to be told…
I’m at the theater quickly going through every song and movement in my head an hour before “curtain.” This was a make it or break situation. If you mess up you die moment. There’s no turning back. You can’t cry to mommy. Can’t run and hide behind the curtains. This is a true Understudy feeling and my first Understudy experience. I’ve had people understudy ME before, and now I get how they’ve felt.
Thank God everyone I was working with was super nice and supporting. Even the soprano I was covering for had left me an encouraging little note on the dressing table which made me feel a little better. Nobody knew, mind you, just HOW sick to my stomach I was. I was either going to throw up or shat my pants…either way, I was bad-gassy. Being that I’ve never been nervous before a performance, ‘twas a new feeling indeed.
Then it was time.
Stage Manager announces “places,” lights go out, we move to our positions on stage, lights go up and the singing begins.
My brain had never been more aware of every movement and key change and lyric and tempo and emotional expression I think ever in my life. There were times where it felt like my legs were as stiff as a robot. I really hoped that I was the only one that noticed that. I kept telling myself, remember or die, remember or die. I would look out into the audience, but I didn’t see anything except the script in my head. It was “Typically English” time, and I prayed to God that I could somehow remember everything, at the same time the memory of my nightmare audition pushing itself into my head trying to sabotage my courage. Amazingly I did remember, without one stumble or stutter. I swear that’s a miracle in of itself. And then the next song and the next came and went without a fumble. Before I knew it, the show was over, I was bowing, smiling, and thanking God that I lived through it all.
Number 1, my boyfriend, took me out for drinks that night. I felt so elated I could barely have one. I think I continued to shake all night…considering the amount of energy I just utilized to survive the show.
It was one of those experiences that was awesome…but you wouldn’t want to do again. Cuz I don’t know if I COULD do it again. I’m still amazed that I lived through it. I’m writing this shaking inside just thinking about it.
I think it’s a testament to the human brain. Man, the things it can do when you put your mind to it…
Anyhow, you actors who understudy all the time…my hat’s off to you!
To see what Bruce Kimmel thought of all this, follow this link here http://christannarowader.com/news/
Wait, what year is this?!?!
So I haven’t written a real blog in a long, loooong time. Perhaps it’s been because I’ve been busy. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t been lonely. Or maybe my phone has taken more awesome precedence over my computer because it does pretty much anything. Or maybe I’ve just been distracted. Either way, it’s not a very good excuse for a blogger, which obviously makes me a bad blogger.
For the past couple of weeks I’ve been thinking, “Gee, maybe I should sit down and take some time to write something,” but could never actually get myself to the computer. I blame my phone for that. Bad, Galaxy S4, bad!
Oh! What’s that?! It’s almost New Year’s Eve? I didn’t even know Christmas came already… Obviously I haven’t been paying much attention this year. You know why?
You know what’s really bad for someone who has OCD and loves Star Wars a little too much? Announcing that Star Wars Episode VII, VIII, and IX are going to be made. This is not good for someone like me who has been fantasizing about VII, VIII, IX since I was 13. NOT GOOD!!!!
Why, you ask?
Because now I can’t think about anything else except being IN Star Wars VII, VIII, and IX. NOTHING ELSE BUT THAAAAAAAT!!! Oooooh it hurts…
So what did I do this entire year of 2013? Spent a lot of money on headshots and photo shoots with “Star Wars” in mind …
…Spent a lot of money on casting director workshops focusing on attending only the ones that had any connection to April Webster, whom I assumed was going to be the main casting director for the next three Star Wars installments. Sent a ton of headshots and cover letters to Webster. Handwrote two letters to J.J. Abrams asking to be allowed to audition, and if anyone knows me well, my handwriting sucks…also, handwriting sucks. Went running every single day (which is a good thing). Prayed to God (not that Star Wars was the only thing a prayed about, so that’s a good thing too). Wrote a short letter to Mark Hamill and George Lucas (which his assistant wrote a nice letter back to me so that was cool), and sent more headshots to Lawrence Kasden and Disney’s CEO just at the end of it all I could say to myself “I tried EVERYTHING…short of stalking.” Knowing I’m a nobody who’s only done theater and one TV episode and one short film, my chances of an audition are 100,000,000,000,000 to 1, which I would gladly yell “Never tell me the odds!” But…yeah…I had been very positive about it until fall came around and suddenly went into a depression over it. Which you would think would inspire me to write. Nope. I just slept my days away and worked at night. The closer production came for Star Wars VII, the more depressed I became. Reality really sucks sometimes. My problem is I’ve been living in the Star Wars universe since I was 13 years old and that is NOT an exaggeration. Read my short story, Stargirl, if you don’t believe me. Maybe this is one of those “learning” things. A “slap in the face from reality” type of deals. Like trying to get a guy to like you so much that you change yourself and he never ends up wanting you in the end. But I’m too stubborn to give up.
I have one last “trick” tucked under my sleeve which I won’t be able to release until later January, but I’m very excited about it!
So…as you can see 2013 has become all about Star Wars.
There was one point I was getting so upset about the rumors floating around the internet that my boyfriend banned me from IMDb. Wait, HOLD ON! I have a BOYFRIEND???
See, I didn’t even know that happened either. Actually we’ve been dating for about a year and half now, but I haven’t admitted that he’s my boyfriend until recently. He’s a good sport about it.
Come to think of it, a lot of new things happened this year. I bought my first dog, became SAG-AFTRA eligible, did my first TV show called Blood Relatives, my cat started losing weight finally, so those are the good things. The sad? It’s the first year I didn’t do a Cabrillo Music Theatre production since I moved out here four years ago. I auditioned A LOT for characters that were PERFECT for me, but didn’t get cast. I constantly got compared to Jennifer Lawrence which never made ANY sense to me except for the fact that our personalities are pretty much the same (although it’s an awesome compliment, so I guess this isn’t a bad thing). I can’t seem to poop like a normal person, so something is really messed up with my intestines. I got my first two cavities ever! I didn’t get to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas with my parents for the first time also EVER, but, finally, DID get cast in Musical Theatre West’s production of The Music Man which was the first time within the four years that I’ve been auditioning for them that it’s ever happened, so that was cool. Also, I’m pretty sure my cat is slowly dying because he’s not eating normally and keeps throwing up, so that’s NOT cool.
I keep thinking 2013 has been the most unlucky year I’ve had. I’m more broke than ever, my obsession over Star Wars has actually become unhealthy for me, and every decision I’ve made has felt like the wrong one. I dread 2014 because I’m afraid of what might happen to my brain when they finally announce casting for Star Wars VII. I could just picture myself shutting down completely as if Star Wars was my one and only hope. On the other hand, maybe it’ll be good for me, like a guy I’ve been obsessing about finally getting married and so I can finally write him off.
My only bright light this year was Bobby and Toby. My little dog is actually the best little thing for my stress. And Bobby? Well, he’s the first guy I’ve ever been with that can handle me and he actually LIKES it, which is beyond my comprehension. He thinks we’ll get married…MY response? Good luck.
At least 2014 will start off nicely with me getting EMC (Equity Membership Candidate) points for the first time while working for Musical Theatre West. It’ll also be my fifth year in California. That’s usually considered a turning point for actors. If nothing happens in five years, move on to something else…so we shall see what 2014 means for me. At this point, I feel like everything I’ve worked for may end up being for naught. But that’s okay. Cause at least I tried my hardest, right? Oh man…why does Star Wars have to be so popular???? If it wasn’t so huge, I could actually have a chance to audition!!! See? My brain sucks right now. Can’t. Stop. Thinking. About. It. Star Wars is like a bad ex-boyfriend. The kind I’ll never get over. “You suck, Star Wars, but I still love you. Also, I hate you. Okay I’m done. NOT!”
Yeah, just like that.
In any case, Happy New Year and may you be the dream you wish to come true.
What’s my resolution for 2014? To let go of Star Wars…NOT!!! What’s yours?
Hey guys! I’m understudying Jane Noseworthy in the musical review Pure Imagination featuring the music of Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse. Come see me if you can! Performances are down in Venice Beach. The dates I’ll be singing are Dec 12th – 15th, 20th, 22nd & Jan 10th, 12th
Follow link for ticket and date info: http://www.pacificresidenttheatre.com/pure-imagination/