A Series of Unusual Events (Blogisode Four)

If you are new to Sharon Wheatley’s blog, I write stories in “blogisodes”.  To start, go to blogisode one of this story here: http://wp.me/p1zRyr-eg

Happy Wednesday!  Let’s kick off with an announcement.  I am forgoing my usual weekdays-only writing schedule and will be writing straight through the weekend.  Why?  Keep reading and you’ll see.  Here at My Own Space I make unilateral decisions based on my artistic integrity.  Or, the more truthful answer is, this is the only place where I get to call my own shots, uncontrolled by a 3-year-old, a 13-year-old or a busy husband.

So, I am because I can.

Oh!  I just made that up!  Cut-Print-Patent it–I am going to make t-shirts with my new slogan~

I AM because I CAN

I AM because I CAN.

I’ll sell them on this blog and make a million!

Back it up, Wheatley.  Inside joke alert.  Have I explained that my Dad always says he’s going to make a million?  Example: “Honey, I’m going to start a chain of tanning salons and make a million!”  Or, “Honey, your Daddy is going to patent this potato maker machine and make a million!”  This was the rhetoric of my childhood, and Rob likes it so much that he says it all the time Example: “I’m going to sell lemonade on the street corner and make a million!”.  It’s a great phrase.  It makes people take notice whether you make a million or not.

My daughter is writing about me? You can't beat that with a stick.

Dad also says, “You can’t beat that with a stick” if he’s really happy about something.  Example: “Look at that view.  You can’t beat that with a stick!”  Or, “This meal is unbelievable!  Scallops AND Alaskan King Crab? You can’t beat that with a stick!”  My Mom and Dad recently visited us while we were in Vermont and now I can’t get Rob and Charlotte to stop saying “You can’t beat that with a stick”  when they are happy.  “You feel that fall breeze?  You can’t beat that with a stick!” Try it, you’ll see, it’s addicting.

Brag Alert: This blogisode is brought to you by the Amazon Kindle version of my book, Til the Fat Girl Sings, which is #1 today!  Okay, okay, in reality, you have to filter it through several sub-categories, but HEY, even with the filtering, it says #1 next to my book!  Wait, what?  You’ve never read my book?  You don’t have a Kindle but you do have a Nook?  It was recently released on Nook as well as Kindle, and of course it is always available in paperback.  Here’s a link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Til-Fat-Girl-Sings-ebook/dp/B005DIASMO/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1315346119&sr=8-2  Here’s a link to Barnes and Noble’s Nook version: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Til-The-Fat-Girl-Sings/Sharon-Wheatley/e/9781440518003  I’m gonna make a million.  You can’t beat that with a stick. End Brag.

And now, wasting no time, let’s get Back to the Future and today’s blogisode about events in 2001.

We left off with Mom and Dad moving into a three bedroom corporate apartment and planning to channel their inner Meryl Streep/Robert Redford for an Out of Africa safari– departure date, September 9, 2001.  Meanwhile, up in New

Hello Sharon? We'd like you to fly to Atlanta to be scared in the dark and sing high notes.

York, my phone was ringing and it was Peter Von Mayrhauser, supervisor extraordinaire,  asking me to cover an actress’s vacation in the touring company of The Phantom of the Opera.  It was good money and an easy gig—I was the regular *vacation swing* for the tour and the Broadway Company of Phantom.  *A vacation swing is an actor who has usually done the show previously (in my case I’d toured with Phantom for a year in 1996-1997) and the actor is brought back to the show, taught the role of the vacationing actor, and performs for that actor while they are gone.  A lot like a substitute teacher.  Often you get very little notice if it is for a medical leave (Sasha blew out her knee!  Can you be in Tuscon in 12 hours and perform the show tonight?”), but for vacations you get a

Not me as a Wild Woman, but people I might swing in to cover. Check out those wigs-one size fits all.

little more notice.  Peter asked me to fly to Atlanta for two weeks to play a “Wild Woman”.  I’d be put up in a hotel and given good pay.  It was a little stressful, but worth it, I’d done it before, no problem.

But for some reason, this time, I inexplicably freaked out.

After some hysterics and soul searching, I realized I couldn’t deal with leaving 3 1/2 year old Charlotte for two weeks.  It seemed too long.  It seemed too far.  This was a surprise to me (and Rob) because I’d gone to Fort Lauderdale for two weeks earlier in the year to do Phantom and I’d been sad, but fine.  This time, I was afraid to get on the plane, I was afraid to sleep alone, I was just inexplicably afraid to be apart.  I told Peter I had to think about it.  I immediately worried I’d be replaced and lose the great vacation swing job jeopardizing my health insurance and funds for a renovation we’d started on our house.

A couple of days later I was in the car with my friend Liz McCartney and Charlotte, driving home from a day at Six Flags Amusement Park in New Jersey, talking about my anxiety-filled  Phantom in Atlanta dilemma when I very quickly lost and regained consciousness–as I

Not a place to have a small panic attack while driving with your three year old in the car.

was driving.  With Charlotte in the car.  On the New Jersey Turnpike with semis and cars speeding by like we were racing the Indy 500.  The episode was so quick that Liz didn’t even notice, but it flooded me with fear and I pulled over and let Liz drive home.  Here’s what I know to be true: I am a great driver, I drive all the time, I love to drive, I drive in the snow and sleet and on a stick shift or a pick up truck.  I could be a taxi driver I like to drive so much.  I could write millions of blogisodes about how my Dad started me driving at 14 all because he believes women need to be taught not to be afraid behind the wheel of a car; so this shook me to the core.  Something was wrong and I didn’t know what or why.

I had a long conversation with Rob over lunch—a lunch at the Boat House in Central Park, an expensive lunch and an infrequent “date”—which I ruined by crying and gasping for breath at the white table cloth table.

A beautiful place for a break down.

I begged him to help me, and we agreed that I was anxious not only because of the trip to Atlanta, but also because of the fire at my parent’s house.  After talking it though carefully, we decided that taking Charlotte seemed unfair to her because of my extensive rehearsal schedule, but on the other hand, me not going could hurt my relationship with Phantom, so maybe I could do it  with one compromise.  Rob would take a long weekend from his job at Les Miserables on Broadway and fly with Charlotte to see me in Atlanta.

I calmed down.  I could handle that.  I ordered a cobb salad and an iced tea and tried to enjoy the view.  I could do this, despite my heart thumping in my chest.  I called Phantom and agreed to take the job.  My flights were booked–departure date September 3rd, return September 16.

Rob and I started to look into flights for him and Charlotte, and I called two people to help me get through my Atlanta anxiety.  A therapist to help me get to the root of the problem, and my dear friend and Atlanta resident, Hylan Scott to help me get through the time in Atlanta until Rob and Charlotte showed up.  As they say on a ship, all hands on deck.  The real tests were yet to come.

To read the next blogisode in this story, go here: http://wp.me/p1zRyr-fJ

If you enjoy this blog and want more, please go to the top of the page and SUBSCRIBE by e-mail or “like” my Facebook page to keep the blogisodes coming!  You can also go to the bottom and “share” this blog on Facebook, twitter or by e-mail.  Thank you!

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About Sharon Wheatley

I'm a mother, an actress and a writer. I'm glad you're here.
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