When the woman on the line identified herself as a representative of WILMA Magazine, I half-tuned out, and resumed hot-gluing gears or hemming pants or whatever I was doing, waiting for her to get to the final question. What are the dates for the show? How much are tickets? Can you send us a publicity photo?
About halfway through the conversation, I realized she was not calling about Into the Woods.
Much to my surprise, she was calling to tell me that I had been named a finalist in their annual "Women to Watch" campaign. A finalist?? I didn't even know I had been nominated?? But yes, it turned out that my friend, Gillian, had nominated me, and I had been selected as a finalist in the Arts category.
I was a little shocked, and a lot tickled, that such a nice thing was happening......but honestly, the pleasure of it all was quickly tarnished as she went on to explain that my presence was required at a party in Wilmington in honor of all the finalists on the following Thursday, aka Final Dress Rehearsal, and getting cleaned up and photographable at 5pm before a 6:30pm Final Dress Rehearsal just became another item on the laundry list of Really Stressful Things I would have to deal with that week.
I really don't seek out the limelight. I mean, duh, I do....when I'm performing. When I'm playing a character, or even when I'm just playing "Jen-on-stage"....that's a very different person then Jen-sitting-at-this-keyboard. It's hard for me to accept compliments or congratulations. I'm the person who LOVES that my birthday is on a holiday, because it means I have something I can SAY BACK to people when they wish me Happy Birthday, to deflect the attention back to them. Being the center of attention when I'm just being plain me is not something I relish. So I was not particularly eager to share this news, because it was awkward. It sounded like bragging, and it was even weirder because the more people who knew, the more people who would want to know, later, if I'd won...and how squirmy did I feel at the thought of having to say, "Oh, no, I didn't win," over and over and OVER again? Yeesh. So I made my arrangements to get to the party for long enough to have my picture taken (it's amazing how many people will just accept it when you say, "Yes, it's weird that I am going to be late to my own dress rehearsal, but I really just have to go do a thing," and not ask you what the thing is) and I kept the whole thing pretty much to myself. Well, I mean, I told my MOM and all that. But. You know. Anyway, I should have realized that Gillian would have been told that her nominee was a finalist, and I should have known that in her excitement she would tell many of her cast mates....and, well......I hope I was gracious.
The kick-off party thingy was a thing to dread, too. I had to go alone, and I knew that I wouldn't know anyone. I have this idea that everyone in Wilmington knows everyone else in Wilmington, and they would all be swanning around, arm in arm, air-kissing each other, while I, the hick from the wrong side of the river, drooled in the corner. I did the best I could. I put on my armor (or, you know, a polka-dot dress and a crinoline) and took myself off to the very swanky City Club in Wilmington at the appointed hour. As it turned out, all of the Arts people needed to leave early, so they schedule ALL of us for photos in the first forty-five minutes of the event....and NONE of the other people showed up until time for their photo session. So here we were, the five of us, the only guests at a big catered event for fifty, all feeling really awkward. I had my picture taken (chin UP!), I had a group picture taken (stomach in, shoulders BACK!), I sat (gulp) and chatted (GULP) with several of the other finalists in my category until I felt enough time had passed that I could leave without looking like a total idiot.
And that was really that, until several weeks later, when the WILMA Facebook page introduced me as their daily Finalist. I was in Disney World, at the time, sitting in the lobby of the Wilderness Lodge, post-Whispering Canyon
The finalists were to be announced at a gala at the end of October. Another event I really didn't want to go to. Adrian suggested that going with a group of friends would make it more fun, but that just seemed more excruciating to me....."Hey guys, come watch me not win an award, and then I can feel stupid while you try to make me feel better!" Ugh, these are the things that really go on in my head, guys. I am seriously such a loser. Anyway, I was overruled. Friends rallied, I bought a new dress, we went.
And.....you know what happened.
|You like me! Right now, you really like me!|
Before the winners were announced, I was chatting (blergh) with another finalist, this one from the Healthcare category. She said, "You know, this nomination could not have come at a better time for me. I was really in a slump, personally and professionally, and this really put a spring in my step." Hearing her say that really put a spring in MY step. All of a sudden, the whole nomination experience didn't seem like something I was being made to endure, it really woke me up to how NICE it was. It was NICE of Gillian to nominate me, and it was NICE to be named a finalist. Nice to be recognized for my efforts, and nice to have the blood, sweat and tears, the time spent away from my husband and my children, the endless behind-the-scenes bullshit and off-stage drama.....all of the stuff that's part and parcel of my theater life.....validated. I've been saying all along that it's not a big deal. It's a local magazine. I was in the Arts category, and these women who were nominated for Education, for Non-Profits, for Healthcare...surely their contribution to society is vastly more important than mine, and it felt silly to be included amongst them. It's just a thing. It's no big deal. But.....it is a big deal. To me. I am proud of myself. I am thankful to have had the opportunities to do what I love, and thankful that others appreciate what I do. In the words of my late father-in-law, it's a feather in my cap. And my cap needed a little feathering. Not so that you'd like it better, but so that I would.
Anyway, post-awards gala, I was interviewed for the magazine, and you can read all about it here, if you like.
So I guess all that remains is....now that everyone's watching, what on earth do I do next?