Tears, Laughter, and Poop Soup: My Listen To Your Mother Flashback

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Courtesy, Then Again Photography

Yesterday, May 3rd, at 2:00 PM, the sound of Listen To Your Mother DC’s opening music, “Uptown Funk” reached my ears from my last place in line, as I waited with my cast mates back stage. I heard a burst of wild cheering and clapping from the audience, and I was overcome with emotion. I can’t cry now.  Not NOW!  Even though I was last in line, I would be the first to read in the show. “The first shall be last, and the last shall be first,” says Matthew 20:16, which is SO fitting. Let’s rewind.

When I heard that I’d gotten a place in the show, I was both elated and nauseated. This. Was. Happening. I had signed up and auditioned for this show, knowing it would be a colossal challenge for someone who had avoided public speaking all her life. I wanted to get my blog name out to a new audience, and get people to READ what I write – isn’t that why I started all this in the first place? But this was ME reading what I wrote before hundreds of strangers; a totally different experience from clicking “Publish” in the safety of my living room.

I was told a few weeks ago that I would be first in the show, because the directors thought that the first line of my story, “The Night the Devil Chased My Mom,” would start the show off with a bang. I knew in that moment that I would either set a precedent or become a cautionary tale. I almost nervous-pooped myself, right there in my chair, which really would’ve been uncomfortable. For me and everyone.

I was the first to read in our practice that night, which caused me cold shivers and hot embarrassment at the same time. I pulled off my sweater and then shimmied my arms back into the sleeves for the best of both worlds, and read my piece in front of the group. They smiled, commiserated, and laughed while I was reading. I was so relieved to be done.

I had no idea what was in store for me when the rest of my cast mates read their stories. Because of my social anxiety, it’s not natural for me to intimately get to know a WHOLE GROUP of people in such a short span of time. This was a total unique, alien, and fucking awesome experience. I cried, laughed, tried to hold back the Ugly Cry, failed, commenced to ugly crying, laughed, and commenced to Ugly Laughing. (Is that a thing? Well, it is for ME).

LTYM - rehearsal3

It was beautiful, and I knew, that night, I needed to start embracing this blessing.

The week before the show, I practiced my piece in front of my husband. He unfortunately wouldn’t be able to attend because he’d booked a trip for that very same weekend. I hadn’t wanted him to change his plans, but now I was dreading being left alone all weekend leading up to the Sunday show. I WAS FREAKING OUT. Every time I practiced my story, I broke out into demonic laughter. The kind of laughter that makes people back away and call the paramedics. The kind of laughter that makes people think they’re missing the joke, because THEY ARE. Because there really isn’t a joke. There is only the totally inappropriate and outrageously hysterical laughter, which only brings on more waves of inappropriate and hysterical laughter. (Has this ever happened to you? It’s kind of amazing and horrifying at the same time).

Anywho. I eventually calmed my crazy ass down, but I was really hung up on how I was going to say the last line of my story, which was “Bring it, BITCH.” I said those words in the shower. I said them to myself in the mirror. I muttered them while I speed-walked down the streets of my neighborhood. I whispered them to the frozen broccoli in the coolers at my local grocery store. I probably yelled them in my sleep. What was the best way to say it? BRING it, bitch? Bring IT, bitch? Bring it, BITCH? BAH-RING IT, BEEATCH? I never did make up my mind.

The morning of the show, I woke up at 6:00 AM with the kids, after tossing and turning all night. I made their breakfast and re-warmed yesterday’s coffee. About 45 seconds after taking my first sip of coffee: POOP SOUP. BUTT SOUP. SWAMP ASS. The Nervous Poops were back, and they were back with a vengeance. They wouldn’t stop. I put the coffee down and ate some cereal. I had to run to the bathroom 5 minutes later. I drank some water. I had to run to the bathroom 2 minutes later. I went to take a shower. I had to stop the shower and run to the bathroom dripping wet 3 minutes later. I went out to the garage to leave for the show (after the babysitter got there), and I had to run back into the house and to the bathroom 1 minute later. They weren’t going to stop! How was I going to drive an hour to DC, and then sit in the green room with my castmates, do a short rehearsal, and then READ at a LIVE SHOW without shitting my pants? HOW?

I made it to the National Geographic Grosvenor Auditorium at 11:00 AM. We weren’t supposed to be there till 11:30, but you know how I am about being late. If I’d been late, it would’ve set the nervous poop explosion scale to DEFCON 1. As the directors and my other cast mates arrived, I started to rest easy. They were all nervous too, and that was so comforting.

Backstage

 

Our awesome directors, Stephanie and Kate, gave each one of us these beautiful necklaces, a sweet card, and a “clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose” pep talk.

Necklace

 

My friend Ashley from The Malleable Mom brought a flask and whipped it out at about 1:50 PM. It was a type of whiskey called The Devil’s Apple (how appropriate) and we all just took one nip but it was like a toasty, warm dessert after a Thanksgiving meal. It was just what the doctor ordered, and it didn’t make me poop.

Much Needed Nip

Glug, glug, glug!

 

The opening music, “Uptown Funk” reached my ears from my last place in line, as I waited with my cast mates back stage. I heard a burst of wild cheering and clapping from the audience, and I was overcome with emotion. I can’t cry now. Not NOW!  Even though I was last in line, I would be the first to read in the show. I ran out of the line to grab some water, and I noticed my cast mate, the sweet Joan, followed me to make sure I wasn’t jumping ship.

“I’m okay, Joan,” I gasped. “I just needed some water.” TO GULP DOWN MY TEARS. My heart was thrumming like a baby bird’s, and I felt so much like a baby in that moment, like a child. Vulnerable, cold, confused, and unsure of myself. I awkwardly followed Joan, who will be 76 next Sunday and was bopping to “Uptown Funk” like it was her job. Love that woman, but she made me feel like I was the 76-year-old! Thanks, Joan!

I saw the familiar faces in the crowd. My dad, his girlfriend of 21 years, Robbie (who was celebrating her birthday by coming to this show),  my mother-in-law Marsha, two of my sisters, my sister Bridgitte’s husband Josh, my friends Lila, Laura, Christy, Angela, Amy, Luke, Stephanie, and Steph’s husband Mike from Papa Does Preach. (Ok, I  didn’t actually SEE all of their faces, but I knew they were there. Made me want to poop even more, if that’s possible. I love these people, but I knew that they would feel actual physical pain if they saw me screw up).

After my intro, I sort of blacked out. I remember my legs shaking, and I remember holding my hands in front of me, taking the stance of that little child I mentioned earlier. I remember it getting better as it went along, and I remember people laughing, like I hoped they would. I remember wanting to lick my dry lips so that they wouldn’t stick to my teeth but I remember not doing it because I didn’t want to look like Wile E. Coyote. I remember the trepidation I felt when that last line approached, and I remember that “Bring it, bitch,” no matter HOW I said it (and I don’t remember how I said it), made people hoot, holler, and clap.

Courtesy, Then Again Photography

Courtesy, Then Again Photography

I remember crying, choking back sobs, as I heard my other cast mates tell their sad but empowering truths. I remember laughing hysterically at the hilarious stories some of them told. And I remember the moment I walked off stage and broke down, allowing myself to feel that tidal wave of emotion that threatened to overtake me when I was about to go on stage. I remember the audience’s deafening approval, and in it,  the culmination of all my writing dreams.

This is how I remember it. It’s what I’ve told my kids, and what I’ll tell my grandkids. If it happened differently than I remember, well then, in the words of Stevie Nicks: “Baby, I don’t wanna know.”

UPDATE: The YouTube video is out! If you want to see my performance, here it is! I look so nervous, but I’m proud I got through it.

Here are the names of my amazing cast mates. Some of them have blogs; please visit them to read into their exceptional lives.

Our Amazing Directors:

Kate Hood: The Big Piece of Cake

Stephanie Dulli: Stephanie Says

Our Cast:

Ashley Fuchs: The Malleable Mom

Jennifer Oradat: Mom Babble

Joan Cicero Hamilton: Happy Early Birthday, Joan!

Caron Martinez: Wise Latina 101

Shunnell Lewis: A fierce, funny twin mama!

Brent Almond: Designer Daddy

Patricia Mirchandani: Raising Humans

Sonya Spillman: Spilling Over

Susan Fuller: Fuller By Design

Lindsey Maines: Rock and Roll Mama

 

 

 

 

Tears, Laughter, and Poop Soup: My Listen To Your Mother Flashback

31 Comments on “Tears, Laughter, and Poop Soup: My Listen To Your Mother Flashback”

  1. Kathi Rohe

    You did a great job, Ashley ! Relax now that it’s over & continue keeping us entertained. I want to say ” I knew you when ” when you’re rich & famous !!

  2. Michele @ A Storybook Life

    You did a phenomenal job, with no hint that you’d been close to crapping your pants on stage (nicely done). I loved the way you wove humor into your story, and your “Bring it, bitch” was spot on. Congrats on a great show — and enjoy these days of happily reliving the memories of the moment!

    1. Ashley

      Thank you, Michele! I really appreciate your words – I am enjoying reliving it, but I really can’t recollect what I did when I was up on that stage! It’s good to hear that you enjoyed it!

  3. JOANIE HAMILOTON

    Oh Ashley ! I love your blog – you are a wonderful writer. I can’t wait to read more of your blogs in the future – love ya sweetie :-0

    1. Ashley

      You are a wonderful writer too, Joan! And you did such a fantastic job reading your piece. Thank you so much for reading, friend!

  4. Jess

    Ashley! I love it. I’m so glad it went well and what an amazing event. I’m proud of you for stepping out of your comfort zone and “bringing it, bitch.” I hope it filled you with pride and joy, relief and comfort knowing you’d survived and that this could open many more doors for you. What an inspiration you are to me and I’m so other’s, even with the nervous poops, we still adore you and your writing.

    1. Ashley

      Thank you so much, Jess! I appreciate you taking the time to read, when I know your time is precious! You are so encouraging to me – I really value your friendship. xoxox

  5. Shunnell

    Ashley,

    You were GREAT! Once I heard “BRING IT, BITCH!!!! I was like YASSSSSSSS!!!!! To be honest I was secretly waiting for that moment and you nailed it. Those very words gave me the go ahead to get my shit together and go for the gusto. You ROCK ASHLEY!!!!!

    1. Ashley

      Oh, wow, Shunnell. That is just so astonishing to hear. You never seemed to doubt yourself for a minute and always just plunged forward with a larger than life personality and sense of humor! We all held each other up that day; of that, I have no doubt. I was honored to share that stage with you! xoxo

  6. Helena

    You’re simply amazing. You inspire me. You’re words give me a pause and escape from the mad chaos I try to call a life. And for that, I thank you.

    1. Ashley

      Well that is tremendous to hear, my dear. You’re inspiring and amazing and I think about you all the time! I’m here for you, girl!

  7. Erika

    It’s not really my place, but I wanted to tell you how proud I am of you and how much you’ve done with your talent since I’ve met you. I wish I could have been there, but your recap is awesome:)

    1. Ashley

      Of course it’s YOUR PLACE! You’ve suffered through half my life with me, almost! I appreciate your words, and you telling me you’re proud of me…means the world to me and now I’m getting all misty. Love and miss you – I hope I can see you soon!

  8. Drew Clarke

    It sounds like you need to invest in a colostomy bag. Congratulations on a successful event and props for overcoming your own personal anxieties in the process. Maybe, as you gain more confidence, you can also overcome the virulent case of anxiety-induced trots you appear to have. Sometimes a little brown must be spilled before you can wear the crown. You’re doing great, Ash, and I wish you continued success.

    1. Ashley

      Brown before Crown! 😉 Love it! Thanks so much, friend. I’m still waiting for an email with info on your book release! I’m also working on a Richmond event…will let you know what comes out of it. I appreciate your support. Hugs to you and Jessica!

  9. Joanna

    Ashley, I’m so glad you are now a believer in the incredibleness that is you, that you can never see. I never doubted you’d be great. I hate that I couldn’t go. You’ll just have to do it again 🙂

    1. Ashley

      Aww, you’re so sweet. You made me cry!! Gahhh! So much crying! Love you, girl, but don’t count on me doing it again anytime soon! I’ll read for you in my living room, clutching a glass of Chardonnay. 😉

  10. Mike Cruse

    Ashley, you (and the rest of the cast) were amaze-balls! I’m so proud of all of you. It has been awesome watching you grow as a writer, and now a kick-ass speaker and published author this past year. Skies the limit my friend.

    1. Ashley

      Thanks so much for being there, Mike!! I really appreciate all of the support you and Stephanie have given me, and so glad we got to be bro’s, lol.

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