Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Keeping the Faith (Billy Joel)

Comment whether you love me or hate me. This is the land of the first amendment. We are all entitled to our opinions

For me, rainstorms are always a sign of good things. Maybe it was because I was born on a rainy month. Maybe it was because I just love fall. I have no idea.

Around fifteen years ago, about this time I had come home from one of my brother's football games. I was thirteen and was spending a ton of time in my room. My parents, fearing I was growing anti-social, forced family time on me. As we sat in front of the television, this Edgar Bergen Special came on. Everyone in my family tried to talk like the ventriloquists in the tribute. Then my turn came. I was thirteen, fat, and living in adolescent hell. I tried it, and to everyone's surprise it clicked. My family sat astounded. To motivate my new found passion, my mother purchased me a figure as a surprise that Christmas. As you all know, the rest is history. Jay Johnson said in his one man show The Two and Onlythat only those who were special were picked to be ventriloquist, and they were a special few. Sometimes I think I'm crazy. Then I think I'm special. So I only take the short bus on Mondays.

It was about ten years ago a little after this time one of the worst rainstorms hit Western, PA. It was time for the high school musical. I was auditioning for the role of the witch. Somehow, I didnt think I would get it. I wasn't a singer per se, I wasn't a favorite, and the odds were just stacked against me. I gave it all I got though.Mrs. Reid, God rest her soul, saw me in the post office after the audition. My mom had been saying every novina there was or whatever those things are. She's into the prayer beads. I am not. I wished my teacher a Merry Christmas and without telling me in so many words she told me I would have a Merry Christmas. I asked if I got the role. I just figured, why not? Well she told me that I would have a good holiday once I checked the website. As we left the post office the rain poured down. Being a teenager in Western Pennsylvania I had all these dreams of moving on up and out and reaching for the stars. Were they coming true? I checked the website and low and behold I got the part! As the rain began to pour down and I saw flood warnings on my screen my mom said, "Call your father right now."

Years later I found myself in New York City. Things werent going so hot. The dreams werent coming true. Moving home and going to a state school was a workable option. Everyone was talented, slutty, or uber goody too shoes. I just wanted to slit my wrists. As I walked down the street it began to rain, and then it began to hail. As the balls of ice hit my head I felt like I was being stoned Old Testament Style. Then there was someone flyering for a comedy show. They told me it was free. I figured I was tired of being pelted and as a bonus I might laugh.I made myself at home and not only found myself laughing, but knowing in my heart I was as funny if not more talented than anyone who stepped on the stage. I found a new purpose. I knew what I wanted. I had puppets, dreams, and a lot of guts. I finished the school year strong and as you know decided to stay in the city.

The following year, I found myself alone. I had been booked for a high profile variety show at the People's Improv Theatre. Heartbroken over a boy, as I always was when I was twenty and stupid, I wanted to stay home. Plus the sky was this angry demon that looked like it was going to open up. However, I told myself I would get revenge on this Love Bomber by being funnier than he could ever be. I walked to the show and didnt bring an umbrella because it looked like it was calming down. Oh no, it rained. It rained hard and I was soaked. I got to the PIT and in the green room where people dried me off. They had a little bit of a laugh and told me that the worst was over and the show would be a breeze.The show was not only a breeze, but one of the best I did that year. I was free and had fun. Afterwards, I drank the leftover beer backstage. People told me that they were impressed with me. I was of course happy. For the record, the Love Bomber drank himself out of his comedy career. Who's laughing now, Buster Brown?

Of course there was the time two and a half years later that I was feeling depressed during a rainstorm. I had just come out of a hellacious patch in my life and was starting to feel good about myself again. While things were starting to turn, this nagging sense of self-loathing was ruining my night and my wardrobe. Just to kill time, I logged onto myspace. It was raining and I didnt feel like going out and had no where to go. So my default was to sit at home and be depressed. I had been so hard to take that a minute before a friend I had been chatting with online logged off and made some excuse to get away from me. I know because he told me later. Anyway, I log onto my page and my inbox is flooded with messages and my wall is flooded with Congrats. Months before, May Wilson and I had gotten in line for Last Comic Standing. They had seen the two of us simply camped out and got us on camera. Our footage had made the cut! My jaw dropped open! OMG!!!!! I did have a future with this. I just needed to have a little trust and sprinkle some pixie dust, that's all. Suddenly I felt happy, so happy that I ordered some Chinese takeout and watched a chick flick. As a bonus my family and friends saw it. What they viewed as a simple pipe dream was something that might come to fruition after all. It was pretty cool.

Almost three years later, I wasn't feeling so confident. I was low on money, and a friend who meant a lot to me, Roger, had picked the drugs instead of life. The decision would be a fatal one. We were falling out, and he was getting harder and harder to deal with. While I know he is now at peace, the fact he had a fight before he died still makes me feel terrible sometimes. I loved him, but not the decisions he was making with his life. I was broke and lonely, and dating someone who was a bad idea all around. One evening I got an offer to do a show with May in Queens. It was a place that Mae West performed at frequently back in the day call Neirs Tavern. Despite the tornado warnings I went. It looked like I was going to be stranded there all night. Nonetheless, I put on a good show, and got sixty dollars out of the money bucket. Literally the next day, I was scouted by a network called TLC for a show called My Strange Addiction. They had heard about me, my puppets, and our street performing through my friend Ron Barba. The rest is history.

Nearly the following year, Hurricane Irene was supposed to shut down the city and Bloomberg made it so. I spent the whole weekend in my apartment webcasting and working on my little book. It was the book my friend Joe had gotten me to write. The grief was getting me hard, because I was going to tell him about how I was pitching my book to be published. The day I was to drop him the line was the day I heard he died. However, Joe was someone special, and he wouldnt have wanted me to cry with the rain but rather pound out my book. And he would have been telling me to get to work, not to let things I couldn't control rent space in my head in a sort of big brotherly way. Maybe I didnt get wet in this storm or stranded, but I was living on black coffee and canned food like some wayward Vietnam Veteran. Eating my kippers as brain food, I let the ideas come out of me as I revised. Later, I looked like I had been living in the trenches as my hair stood up like the man from the movie Poltergeist. My friends told me I looked like hell. I explained I had been working on a book. I could picture Joe laughing and telling me to brush my teeth.

Where am I now in this rainstorm? My book has been out for two weeks and is beginning to sell. Two places want to review it. I dropped it off somewhere big to be reviewed. Afterwards, my head nearly exploded. I hope the editor liked my package. I got wet in today's storm. Either the editor liked my package, my book will become a best seller, or something neat is about to happen to me. I don't know. Or maybe I should simply start traveling with an umbrella.

I am just writing this blog because it is dark and rainy outside. But after the rain comes the rainbow then what follows is the sun. Point being, we have to have the yucky stuff in order to have the pretty, fun stuff.

Love April

I Came, I Saw, I Sang: Memoirs of a Singing Telegram Delivery Girl




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