Greatness

Re Re Who’s Who The Terrible Two’s

Part 2 of 2

Look who’s entered the terrible two’s!

We had our first rehearsal, and three subsequent practices, for Twelfth Night (our not-so Shakespearean musical). For the veterans this could very well be their twentieth show, for me, it’s Mama takes the stage, take two. In other words, I’ve reached the terrible twos with this whole acting, singing dancing thing.

This is the practice where we go around the room and give a fun fact about ourselves. And being that I’m always wittier when I can hide behind a piece of paper, I’m not so comfortable with delivery, I had some preparing to do. Okay, a lot.

And dare you ask why am I preparing for an impromptu one-minute fact about myself? You’ll have to read on to understand that this wasn’t going to come eloquently unless I thought it through. Not to mention, the last time I had an experience this awkward, I had to ask a guy to the prom, well, actually, I had my friends ask for me so I wouldn’t have to feel that ridiculous. So let’s just say, if I had asked a guy that I knew to the prom, it would have been just as scary.

In fact, I was up several nights in advance. I didn’t even tell Alex or the kids about this. It was embarrassing enough. No one else in the cast was being so ridiculous. (And aren’t I still playing the fool to be admitting to it now? But this is Shakespeare, after all) In fact, their fun fact could be what they had for breakfast that morning, and especially if they were a lead, everyone would laugh anyway. Ensemble has it harder, because let’s face it, there are so many of us and we aren’t exactly a walking comedy skit. (Ok, I do like to entertain with a story or two).

Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t judged by our fun facts and everyone forgets them anyway. It’s three practices later and I can’t remember much of what was said that day. Luckily I have my daughter who makes me write this stuff down.

We heard how we are going to modernize the play. Bring in members of our community. For instance, the Illyrian bar will be named after the local watering hole and we will don paraphernalia from the local sports teams.

We went around the circle so everyone could have their spotlight. As I remembered perfectly from last year, there were the two camps: those who could truly skim the fat off the surface and say the latest witty thing that came to mind and those of us, like me, who had to rehearse, or should have rehearsed, what we were going to say up until our turn. (And then the aftermath, when we’re plagued with the replay hoping we sounded okay).

It’s just how it goes. But I was ready. I listened. Some gave recaps of all the fun facts they’d given over the years (they must have prepared, too) and those who hadn’t rehearsed, but secretly wished they had, and took the bandaid off quickly with a “my fun fact is (blank).” Get the spotlight off of me NOW! (This group also secretly wanted a chair to be missing so they could get out of playing Musical Chairs when they were kids).

And it was my turn. But before you can read on, this is really part two of a two part series and it would be wise if you read what I revealed in about myself in last week’s post about my blush with greatness in order to get me here. http://re-whos-who-aka-the-incognito-snowman. Whether you read it or you’re brave enough to read on, please understand, these words were not easy for me to say.

What I said, seemed to morph into what I wanted to say and now I can’t tell the difference between the two of them anyway. But I’ve belabored the telling of this long enough. So whether I said it out loud or in my head, this is how I’m going to recap this now:

“I’m Stephanie Ortiz (when you forget to say your in ensemble, that’s okay, everyone assumes since Deb didn’t ask me to clarify that, that’s who I am anyway). This is middle-aged Mama takes the stage take two. Take one was last year and I practically crawled on that stage, but I did it with the support of my daughters, who forced me to go through with it, and my stage husband (I looked over at Bill). I can’t act, I can’t sing, I can’t dance, but I did it anyway/. I’ve always watched greatness. I watched my Dad coach the Philadelphia 76ers to a world championship, and now this was my championship and I did it with you. So I’m a glutton for punishment and now I’m back again. And fun fact: I have some sports paraphernalia for you, Deb!”

Later my youngest said, Mommy, you had so many fun facts, why’d you have to give one more?” So there you have it, the only response that really mattered.

So why’d I do it? It had been haunting me all those years, always making me scared of the spotlight that would see right through me and show me up for who I really was, gasp, I was Mr. Cellophane. But that’s the wrong play, come back to Twelfth Night and there’s Malvoleo struggling with the very same concept: “Some are born great, some have greatness thrust upon them. “

I’m proud of all my Dad’s greatness, don’t get me wrong, but I couldn’t process it. I was only 13 and I was just trying to figure out who I was.

Maybe you could call it my journey of overcoming greatness: how I sat and watched greatness, thinking it was a one-man show only to finally realize you can’t open the door to your own greatness sitting in the audience. So there’s a moral to this story: the first rule of greatness is you can’t do it alone.

So that reminds me, I’ve just now entered the terrible two’s with this theater thing. Give this Mama just a little bit of a stage, have her turn 50 and just see what happens.

This week’s muse: how have you stared greatness in the face and/or how might you act out your terrible twos?

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Greatness

Re: Who's Who aka The Incognito Snowman

Part 1 of 2

The Incognito Snowman

I have a confession to make, I’m a self-proclaimed nobody. Hence the picture of the incognito snowman. Okay, he might not be the best example, but he’s really cute.

And I have another confession to make. I come up with lots of ideas/stories, and especially when they are great and are meant for somebody else, I feel shamed if I don’t share them.

So that leaves a comedy skit in the making or a good blog post: a nobody with an idea reaching out to a somebody who is famous. However to protect the privacy of my famous person I’m not going to divulge the name and will just refer to who’s who as Incognito Snowman (I got to make sense of my picture somehow).

To dive into my big embarrassing confession a bit more, I’ve always found security in obscurity. (Don’t you just love a rhyme for no reason)? As long as I stayed incognito, I felt safe. My rhyming sister, Emily Dickinson, wrote a poem about us, “I’m nobody who are you? Are you nobody too?” Oh, how I loved that she got me.

But that’s absurd, right? This calls for drastic measures. I broke down the giant and made him take baby steps. Here’s the dumbified results, just to make this easier for me, and for you, so you can play along, too.

Step 1: Walk the dog and come up with an idea for let’s just say a great television show. You know the lightbulb moment that I’m not ashamed to admit isn’t for me. A distinct person came to mind, the very person who could pull it off: none other than Incognito Snowman!

Step 2: Share your idea. But how? Keep this bit of advice handy: find the avenue that the least amount of people would use to contact that person. And if you’re still scratching your head, the answer is email. What a duh moment! Of course, I knew that because I was armed by those words.

Step 3: Decide how to contact Incognito Snowman. Look up said person and realize there are five points of contact via email. It appears a lot of other people have intentions to reach my famous person, ahem. Since there’s no direct email, I choose the writer.

Step 4: Write the email. Another duh moment, but we’re taking baby steps with this, just in case in the heat of the excitement you forget who you are (because trust me you will). This is not a pitch. It’s not professional. It’s just a friend (who you don’t know). I didn’t start off with “hey”, I did reserve some formalities. But do what I say not what I did: make a copy of what you sent.

Step 5: Forget about it. And, of course, I did. (That’s why you made a copy so you could refer back to it when you couldn’t remember you even wrote the email). I wasn’t expecting anything in return. In fact, if I actually thought I’d get a response I wouldn’t have reached out to Incognito Snowman in the first place. (That’s how obscure I hoped to remain).

Step 6: Receive a response email and open it. Yes, at this point, you’re allowed to skim, reread, savor, memorize whatever you want, and yes, you can even start to quote it in your casual conversations with your immediate family members only, who are all in on it. But don’t jump ahead to the complete FREAK OUT just yet. First, proceed with caution and take my daughter’s advice, “Don’t tell anyone or you’ll jinx it.” For the record, she now claims she never said that. Good thing that’s what I heard her say because that’s what I did. Now read the email, trust me, what you’ve done up until this point was not reading. Just process the facts.

Hello Stephanie, 

I am the public relations assistant to Incognito Snowman. We received your email and would like to send you a mailed response. If you would be so kind as to provide me with a personal address or PO Box, we would be happy to do so. 

We are most grateful for your patience and look forward to hearing from you soon!

Kind Regards,

Assistant

Step 7: Respond. I know. You didn’t really need these steps up until this moment. Now you are so shocked you can’t make even the simplest decision. I didn’t want to sound too excited (over what anyway?) or too desperate (what can I get out of this?) or too ungracious (maybe I should just thank the assistant and wish her Happy New Year?). I texted Alex and asked “Should I thank her or wish her Happy New Year?” And, luckily he replied back, “yes to both.”

Step 8: Click Away Negative Thoughts. Most recently I’ve been clicking away my negative thoughts. Remember? https://stephanieortiz.com/2019/12/10/click-away-negative-thoughts/ But some negative thoughts are persistent; I click them away, and they are still there! So get defensive, they creep in like leaches now that you hit “send”. This could be a scam. CLICK. It’s probably just a survey asking how they did. CLICK. Maybe a telemarketer hacked Incognito Snowman’s computer and stole my email. Good thing I covered that and gave Alex’s work address instead of my home address. I showed them. Until my oldest pointed out, “If you’re so worried about this being a scam, don’t you think they would be too?” Why does she have to be so smart when I’m being such a recovering nobody? How many duh moments can there be? The steps, I repeat, remember the steps.

Step 9: Congratulations, you’ve reached the FREAK OUT step! Dream it up! Let it grow. Make it as big as you dare it to be. It’s only in your mind anyway, right? And when you have to share what’s bouncing around like a pinball machine before you burst, share it carefully. Don’t advertise this. You were just feeling like a nobody when we started step 1 (and you don’t need anyone accidentally reminding you of that) so revel in this greatness. When was the last time you dared dream so big?

You get the picture?

Step 10: Wait, and I mean wait for the post man to come, every day, the old-fashioned way. Yes, there’s time here. Lots of time. In fact so much time that I’m reminded of Fiona and the waiting…the waiting…the waiting…

Waiting doesn’t feel like a step, but don’t be fooled. It knocks the sense into you. This is when I collected myself and ultimately opened to the truth. Alex helped too as he had the wherewithal to locate a message board. Fans posted that they received letters, gasp, in the mail. There were two camps: those who sent a photo and got it returned with a signature and those that wrote fan mail and received a response written in block letters thanking them for their support.

That was the buzz kill. That good for nothing reality check. I’m just a, gulp, fan. And while I was facing the truth I had to consider a few more things. Remember all those giddy, grandiose dreams that were too big to even tell anyone in the freak out stage? They weren’t real. And for all those years of playing a nobody alongside Emily Dickinson, I had to finally admit that truth, too; she’s dead, long gone. Imagine that, my partner in anonymoty was a famous dead person.

But somehow these realizations didn’t send me crawling back to my blanket of obscurity as they once would have, and they have made the waiting a bit more doable. There’s still questions, but now they’re just more practical, grounded and shareable: am I eligible for an autographed photo? Has my idea been lumped into the “thank you for your support” pile? Let’s throw in that possibility of a survey–it would be a fun twist.

Now that I’ve validated myself, I don’t need to hope anymore that my letter from Incognito Snowman will fulfill me. I just had to come out of hiding and find myself again. Take one step at a time.

I’m still waiting. If I hear anything, you’ll be the first to know. But, hey, I did hear it’s supposed to snow on Saturday. to Want to build a snowman? Though the name Incognito Snowman is taken, I have a good feeling about this; whatever name we give him, ours will be just as great (wink)!

A Muse 4U: Did you ever have an encounter with a Who’s Who that made you forget who you were? And perhaps, that was just the nudge you needed…

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