Smile, and the whole world smiles with you (unless you’re my husband)

I had an encounter with a guy at the library yesterday that would have made Jon, my husband, knock the guy out, figuratively. I was walking passed the information desk, from the fiction stacks on one side of the building, to the writing section of stacks on the other. Between them are the stairs leading down to the main lobby. I was already aware that this guy had taken some kind of interest in me while he walked in the same direction. He was a tall African/American man, wearing layers of black clothes (in this heat!) decorated with various long silver necklaces which swayed as he walked. In his right hand he had this long walking stick thing, almost as tall as him, which matched his outfit by being wrapped in silvery amulets. As he was slightly in front on me he kept glancing my way and I was pretty mesmerized by the stick. I was having a conversation with him in my head where I was very confident and defiant and told him how intimating his stick was.

As he split off to start going down the stairs I started to realise my imagination was playing tricks on me yet, as I passed, he swirled round on his foot, beamed a big toothy smile at me and said “even if you’re having a bad day, smile, and it will seem like a good day.” I paused as he turned back round and felt the need to defend my apparent ‘resting sad face’ (like resting bitch face but less provocative). I said, “I’m not feeling anything in particular, just ruminating,” and walked back towards the stacks thinking about how annoyed Jon would have been (many things wind him up, people telling him to smile most of all).

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What resting bitch face?

Then of course, after being impressed with my use of the word, I ruminated harder on how I don’t like to think that I’m a sad looking person. Realistically no one walks around with a big goofy smile on their face all the time – I don’t care if it only uses seven muscles in the face, it takes precious effort – but don’t want to turn into Mrs. Twit, from Roald Dahl’s The Twits, and have my thoughts affect my features negatively…do I think that many sad thoughts? I’m just pensive I guess – I have pensive face!

It’s not the first time it’s happened to me. When I was young and naive, and still thought maybe I’d be able to be on the stage rather than behind it, I auditioned for some drama schools in the UK, including Cardiff in South Wales. I was rather proud of myself; I travelled alone by train, booked my own B&B, and got in the night before (of course my mum had called ahead and told the owner to keep an eye on me…thanks mum). I went into town to find some food having sourced a likely looking Italian restaurant from the variety of guestbooks in the lobby, fancying something rather more tasty than MacDonald’s. Once I got there I found that the prices were well out of my £10 budget and felt slightly less clever. Then I noticed I was right next to The New Theatre where a favourite actor of mine, Russ Abbott (who I had met years earlier after a show of Goosebumps at a local theatre), was performing in Oscar Wilde’s Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime. With only 10 minutes to spare before curtain I paid for the cheapest ticket I could afford, I think it was about £8, bought a minty dairy milk chocolate Cadbury bar (I miss those) to stave off my hunger and enjoyed an evening’s entertainment. On the way home I spent my last £1.50 on a burger from MacDonald’s.

Next day I walked the short distance in the cool sunny March morning to the drama school while I ruminated, pensively, the lines for my monologue. A white van came down the road towards me and the passenger leaned out of the open window and yelled “Cheer up love, it might never happen!” I found out a few weeks later it wasn’t going to. People just don’t think, do they?

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Things happen for a reason though…

Today I had my first full day at the rehearsal for the show I’m interning for over the next few days. I furtively watched the ASM and stage crew during the run-through, analyzing their plans and communication (or lack there of), wondering about decisions and seeing where I might fit in if I end up helping with scene changes. No one looked happy in the slighted. It wasn’t about their mouths though, it was about their eyes. I hope, at least, that when I’m in that environment my eyes sparkle. Certain requirements of the props master seemed to be a real burden on her when to me they seemed reasonable and expected. Perhaps, if I am successful at forging a career in theatre or events, I would also get bogged down with the pressure. I hope though that I wouldn’t, having witnessed bogged-down-ness in retail and being, I hope, the kind of person who really appreciates what she’s got. Especially when the CEO of the show’s production company, and also director, is English who gives you his card at the end of the day. Bonus.

Meanwhile, I’ve still been trying to make something of my poem ‘Theatrical’, having yet to pull another poem title from the jar. I kept feeling like I was forcing an idea though and it ended up going from the idea of using theatrical elements to describe a relationship, to using theatre as a metaphor for a relationship. At least, that’s the writing I attempted yesterday. Today it was still stilted and all I kept thinking was that I wanted to do something inspiring, a bit like Baz Luhrmann’s Sunscreen song (still one of my favourites) so I broke it down a little differently, worked hard on maintaining the rhythm and produced Relationship advice from…

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