Lucky Me

I’m a guest blogger today on the Listen To Your Mother website.Harriet headshot copy

Audition Day! Harriet’s Story

by TARJA on FEBRUARY 21, 2017

Submissions are officially closed and LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER San Francisco is rolling ahead to our  auditions!  Thank you to everyone who bared a piece of their soul. Each and every story was recognized and appreciated. As always, it was very difficult culling it down to the next level of auditions.

Harriet Heydemann, one of our talented 2016 cast members, shares her audition day experience with us – and how her lucky charm made all the difference.

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Salsa San Francisco

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Twenty guys, or maybe thirty, in less than one hour. That’s how it goes with 100 people learning to salsa. We form two large circles. The followers (“usually ladies”) are the inner circle facing out, and the leaders (“usually men”) create the outer circle facing in. I can tell the teacher is unsure about these gender specific words. From this point on we are “leaders” and “followers,” which requires a different self-assessment. We pair-off. The music is turned up, and we practice the basic step for about a minute. Then the teacher says, “Change partners.” Followers stay in place. Leaders shift left to the next partner, like a reversed carousel. The next guy holds out his left hand to me, and we dance another minute or so until the next “change partners.” Continue reading

Unsolicited Advice

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My ninety-five year old uncle called me after Ariela died, right after Shiva, the Jewish ritual of seven days of mourning. He told me he was sorry for our loss. “You loved her, you did everything for her. You gave her everything you could. Now, get over it. Move on with your life.”

At first, I was stunned. On the face of it, his words seemed so callous.

“He didn’t really mean it the way it came out,” his son told me. I wondered about my uncle’s curious advice.

My mother-in-law used to say, “When you live as long as I have, you can say anything you damn well please.” She was well into her eighties when she said this. Still, I didn’t want to dismiss my uncle too quickly.

I saw my uncle this weekend. He lives in Chicago now, and I don’t see him often. He uses a walker and has trouble hearing. He still plays Scrabble. He plays with the dictionary by his side and looks up words before he places his tiles.

He called me “Hairy-et.” I called him, “Uncle Rudy Kazootie.” My uncle from Luxembourg, a country too small to see on our globe. My uncle who manufactured draperies and bedspreads, who read the New York Times every day on the subway, who always wore a hat to cover his balding head, who rooted for the Yankees while my dad cheered for the Orioles, who was openly affectionate with his wife. “She’s a hot potato,” he’d say as he pulled her onto his lap, something my father would never do with my mother.

“I’m the last of the Mohicans,” my uncle said after my cousin Robert died last year. Robert was in his eighties. That left my uncle the last person to know my parents before I was born. “What were they like?” I asked him.

“Good people,” he said. “Your father was an exceptional person.” He put two fingers to his lips and kissed them, like he had tasted fine wine. Then, he squinted his eyes and pushed his palm against his forehead, trying to squeeze out more memories.

My aunt died more than ten years ago. My parents are both gone, too. Of his four siblings, only Rudy’s younger sister is left. A black and white photograph of his younger brother hung in a central position in my uncle’s living room. A handsome man in a soldier’s uniform. “He volunteered for a mission over France and never returned,” my aunt said shaking her head. He was twenty-two, younger than Ariela.

I told Gary about my uncle’s advice. “Don’t you remember Ariela’s favorite expression?” he said.

Ariela spoke with a computer. She used her eyes as a mouse. She had hundreds of phrases filed into folders by category and subcategory. When she was done listening to other people’s complaints about anything from traffic to taxes, from colds to Comcast, she’d navigate through her files and say, “Get over it.”

The Psychic

psychic cartoon We went sightseeing at the Baltimore Harbor last weekend. It was a warm Sunday afternoon, and lots of people were out, meandering around the shops and stalls on the plaza. An old woman in a straw hat sat under an umbrella between the fire juggler and the arborist.   Beside her a large poster board read, “Psychic readings $5 and up.”

“Let’s do that,” my sister said. I was surprised that she would suggest something so woo-woo, but I was game. We had some time to kill.

Leslie The Psychic told me I was creative.

“Good start,” I thought.

Then, she asked me what I did. “I’m a writer,” I said. “I’m writing a book.”

“What’s it about?” Leslie asked. If she’s a psychic, isn’t she supposed to know that?

“About me and my daughter.”

“Your daughter doesn’t like this book,” Leslie said.

I nodded. How did she know?

“Where’s your daughter now?” Leslie asked.

Leslie was quickly losing credibility with me.

“She died,” I said. Leslie should have known that.

“Have you thought about the cover?”

“Well, my daughter was an artist. I was thinking about one of her paintings.”

“No.” Leslie shook her head. “Put that on the back. You need to put something on the cover that will make me want to grab that book off the shelf in Barnes and Nobles.”

So, now Leslie’s a psychic and a marketing expert.

“She doesn’t like everything you’re writing. You need to put something on the cover that she will like.”

“Fair enough,” I said.

“Your cover should have clouds, because she’s in heaven. And you should be walking along a beach.” Leslie drew a cartoon of a cloud and a stick figure on the back of her business card and handed it to me.

Not exactly what I had in mind. Leslie couldn’t draw very well, either.

“Your book will be a best seller,” Leslie said.

Well, that’s reassuring.

“Call me,” she said. “And God bless.”