|Listen To Your Mother Chicago's "Oscar Selfie"|
...one of two photos in this post not taken by Balee Images
I'd heard about it. There was no way I wouldn't have heard about it. Motherhood? Storytelling? Live shows? You can bet people linked me to it over and over again. But I didn't really understand what was so amazing about it until I heard Ann Imig speak at the Voices of the Year. She's the genius behind Listen To Your Mother, and holy cow, that lady has passion. And humor. And grace. And to say that somebody has grace when they're advising you to find your inner luchador, well, that's something.
I knew she was the brain behind Listen To Your Mother, and I wanted so badly to tell her how amazing it was that she'd not only conceived but built something that had gone so completely viral. It's one thing to write a blog post that a million see across the world. It's another thing to create a movement of storytelling and sisterhood.
|The LTYM Chicago producers with Ann Imig after the show|
It was mortifying.
But then came the open mic. And I stood up in front of the women who I'd come to love through their writing, and I read to them. And they applauded, and thanked me, and hugged me, and now we're best friends forever.
|Me reading at the Listen To Your Mother BlogHer open mic|
Yes- this is the other photo Balee Images didn't take
And I swore to myself that next time I would audition for Listen To Your Mother. Maybe because I'd humiliated myself in front of Ann. Maybe because standing on stage is cathartic and moving and beautiful. Maybe because just jumping into an open mic isn't the same as getting to know and love a cast.
Whatever the reason, I started trolling the Listen To Your Mother website. I trolled it. I stalked it, and the minute the call for auditions was out, I was on it.
I auditioned the hell out of my piece.
And I got into the show.
I thought, Next time I bump into Ann Imig, I won't humiliate myself!
I went through weekly panic attacks about what to wear, what to eat, whether or not to cut my hair (I didn't), my shoes, my undergarments, and a giant forehead stress pimple that appeared a month before the show and never went away.
|Second rehearsal- yeah, that's a giant stress pimple on my forehead|
If I screwed up, I told myself, I would ruin the show for the rest of the cast. And the last thing on earth I wanted was to do anything to hurt those women.
|I love these ladies|
It's showing up to rehearsal at 36 weeks pregnant, or with a two week old infant fresh out of the NICU, or performing on stage, alone, at a month postpartum... like Andrea.
It's sharing life news about the growth and maturity of your children with your cast mates before the show and knowing it will bring them to tears, like Meggan.
|Meggan telling us her amazing news before the show|
One of those visitors was Rebekah from Milwaukee, who I worked with as a VISTA a decade ago on the south side of Chicago, hauling recycling through the worst parts of Chicago's housing projects just as the city began dismantling them. Back in 2003 she'd meet me beneath underpasses and ride the truck with me through Cabrini Green at six thirty in the morning. She's a mom now, too, and a Listen To Your Mother alumnus. And now those are more bonds that we share.
|Getting ready for the show|
|Becoming friends at the first rehearsal|
Giving Crystal a gift card to a sex toy store after the first rehearsal, because yeah, I'm just that kind of socially inappropriate.
Watching Hyacinth start to break down during the second rehearsal, and knowing that I was going to cry before it happened because it happened every single time I even thought about her Snow Bear.
|Our second rehearsal already felt like a reunion|
Watching Keeley nurse her infant during the first rehearsal and, as she entirely understands, both being grateful it wasn't me and kind of wishing it was.
Driving to the show with Julie and sharing our anxiety, laughing and comforting each other.
Melissa's glowing pride for my inclusion in this year's BlogHer Voices of the Year.
But maybe, just maybe, the moment that will forever stick in my mind will be the few seconds after the show when all the alumnus of Listen To Your Mother in the audience came onto the stage and we all posed for a photo together.
|It's an honor to share the stage with these people|
"I remember you! I met you at BlogHer last summer, didn't I? At the Listen To Your Mother open mic?"
My stomach fluttered and my cheeks burned as I remembered staring after her with my mouth agape.
And once again, I found myself totally at a loss for what to say.
So thanks, Ann, for giving me a voice and a stage.
|Thank you all|
Thank you to my friends and family who supported me through the whole of this wild and crazy experience, who I know are waiting with bated breath for that youtube channel to light up with hundreds of stories from hundreds of women as 32 shows are made available for any and all to see.
Thank you to Aunt Genocide, and Nancy, for driving all the way to Chicago from Ann Arbor, just to sit in the audience and support me as I talk about the same things you hear me talk about constantly anyway.
|I love you so much.|