At least two inches of crud coated my vocal chords when I woke up Wednesday morning.  It was not a good start to the day.  After two audition-less months, appointments had been flooding in– well, sort of.   I started out the week with a dance call for 37 weeks of employment at the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia.  The showy choreography was right up my alley, complete with eight bars of lifting my leg over my head and hopping around in a circle.  (I’m great at that.)  I was one of only three girls invited to come back.   But on the day of the callback I was battling cruddy chords.

The day before on Tuesday my chords had been almost as shitty.  I’d had an audition for Oliver at the Gallery Players, the small Brooklyn theatre where I’d done Merrily We Roll Along six years prior.  I was eager to audition for Nancy, a role I had made my own in the 7th grade at Ashtabula Catholic Elementary.  It was my first of many whore roles.  Naturally, I remembered every word of the dialogue, and I was dying to bring this tour de force to New York, with 20 years’ worth of improvement.

Fortunately my cold on Tuesday was just settling into my chest, turning my pingy musical theatre voice into a throaty, tortured gravel.  Perfect for Nancy, whose material sits low.   I had also chosen, for the first time in my career, to wear a wig to an audition.  I knew the costume budget for Gallery was small, and my cute pixie cut is not Dickensian.  I didn’t want to be written off on account of my hair.

However I also wore a gray dress that has never proved to be particularly lucky, and new, not-yet-tested-for-luck black boots.  I was a little worried:  I thought I looked perfect for the role in wig and said dress, but audition clothing carries its own particular brand of luck.  I  tell myself not to be superstitious and that I shouldn’t worry about the fact that I’ve never gotten a callback wearing a certain dress or shoe.  But these doubts, coupled with a hairdo that didn’t match my headshot, coupled with my low, unpredictable voice, made for an unsettling audition experience.  Walking into the room, I felt I was selling a whole new bag of goods, and while I sang my best, the creative team remained poker faced, and I left feeling desperate and awkward.  Callbacks aren’t until mid-March, so time will tell if this perception  was accurate.

The next morning the congestion had risen to coat my vocal chords.  The day before I’d managed to fake a distinctive ten-packs-a-day type of tone, but by Wednesday morning I sounded like a croaking toad.  Thank God I’m married to someone who understands the meaning of the term ‘vocal rest.’  I was silent throughout the morning, downing hot water cut with lemon and getting intimately acquainted with the Vicks steam inhaler.  By 11:00 I could maneuver through scales, although the notes wouldn’t quite pop into place.  I didn’t know what would happen in the room.

Fortunately no wig or dubious dress was required.  I put on a short number that showed off my legs, applied my leg makeup (I am not joking), and hit the A train.  The Barter Theatre wanted to hear a country song, but they did not want us to belt it.  (Name one country song that doesn’t require belting.)  I did a country ballad that I could, under ordinary circumstances, mix instead of belt.  Unfortunately, these were not normal circumstances.  At the climax of the song, my E flat wandered into unclaimed territory between my nose and my head like an gold rush Okie searching for a glory hole.  Damn song!  Damn voice!  Dammit!

I felt 37 weeks of employment slip from my grasp as the director, convinced I couldn’t possibly be that bad, asked for another song.  I read him nearly every title in my binder, which, incidentally, split open the moment I set it on the piano as if it knew I was doomed.  None of my songs were appropriate, not You Can Always Count On Me, not White Boys, not Tell Me on a Sunday, not When You Got It, Flaunt It.  Nothing.  We finally settled on Unusual Way, which is so overdone.    However, since I had been singing it for a decade, my voice did what it had been trained to do.  Thank God for technique.  However, the song was, as always, mediocre.  I have got to get it out of my book.  (Suggestions for a contemporary music theatre mix song are appreciated, preferably in the form of a 16 to 32 bar cut.  Thanks.)

Auditions are full of ups and downs.  When you wake up with crap on your chords, you can assume you’re on the downswing.

I knew today wasn’t going to be my day when there was no soap in the shower.

My husband had warned me.  “We’re out of soap,” he said.

“I know,” I replied.  The soap at that point had the approximate density of an oak leaf.  Still, at 7:30 in the morning when I hauled my carcass into the shower, I learned (once wet) that my husband had meant that we were absolutely out of soap.  The leaf had disintegrated or vanished into damp air.

“This is not going to be your day.  You should go back to bed,” I told myself as I leaned out of the shower to fumble through our stash of hotel-room samples.  Locating a travel-sized shower gel with ginger bead exfoliant, I maneuvered back under the shower spray.  “You’re up,” my drill sergeant self said to my gentler, more intuitive self.  “You’re in the shower.  You’re going on this audition.”

My hippie self really needs to learn to stand up to my drill sergeant self.  Because at 8:50 when I approached Chelsea Studios, I knew that something was awry.  There weren’t nearly enough bleary-eyed, overdone auditionees traipsing through the lobby.  The telltale air of desperation was noticeably lacking.  I checked the studio schedule scotch-taped to the wall.  No mention of my audition.  I checked my planner.  I had gotten the location and the day right.  I jumped into a waiting elevator and headed upstairs to investigate.

“That audition was postponed indefinitely,” said the jaded desk attendant.  “Like, yesterday.  Sorry.”

“That’s all right,” I said, helping myself to the gumball machine full of free M&Ms.  (That’s why I love Chelsea Studios.)  I had another audition to attend.

When I got to Actor’s Equity, the line for the Hangar Theatre’s auditions snaked through the waiting area, folding twice, and extended down the hallway, past the bathrooms and studios B and C.

“Only the alternate list is available,” the unnaturally cheery audition monitor informed me.  I couldn’t wait around on the alternate list all day, so I wearily trudged home, arriving before my dear husband had even gotten out of bed.  It was not yet 10:00, and my whole morning had been a flop.

I haven’t gone on an equity cattle call throughout all of December or January.  Nor have I gone on an agent call.  My agents claim they haven’t forgotten about me.  “Things wax and wane,” they explain.  But ever since my favorite agent departed for motherhood, I’ve been remarkably un-busy.  Meanwhile, I’ve tried to settle into the 9 to 5 routine proffered by my internship at the Overlook Press.  While there I ask myself almost every minute, “Do you like this?  Could you do this full time?”  And the answer thus far is yes.  Especially after mornings like these.

But I’m also looking for a sign:  someone or something to tell me what to do.  I actively pray for a sign.  “Lord, should I continue to pursue an acting career or should I do something else?”  So far, I haven’t received a definitive, Moses-from-the-mountain-type sign.  Broadway has not called to book me.  I have not been struck, figuratively or literally, by a bolt of lightening.  (Thank God.)  All I get is soapless showers and the distinct impression that I just should’ve stayed in bed.

The girls from the cast of 101 Dalmatians were nice enough to get me a spa gift certificate as a wedding present.  I took advantage of it in September, wrote this longhand in the tea lounge, and just got around to posting it today.

I am from the Midwest.  I am not used to being waited on.  Yet one rainy September afternoon I found myself at the Setai Spa in Manhattan, courtesy of the 101D girls.

I had been running late.  It was six days before my wedding, and I had about nine million things to do.  I found myself staring down the clock at 4:00, then hastily dialing the spa to inform them I’d be late.  The endlessly calm receptionist re-arranged my appointments and I was out the door in Daisy Dukes and rain boots.

I have spent most of my adult life running late.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to amble into a spa with time on my hands.  I think in fact I prefer to run late, at least to a spa, so that I can be hit smack in the face with a wave of Enya and incense.  “Hush!” the spa coos.  “Put on a robe and slippers.  Relax.”

And relax I did.  When I arrived, the hottie desk attendant led me on a short and useless tour of the spa.  Why are spas always such labryinths?  I could not have found my way anywhere were it not for Sondra, the ladies’ room attendant, who literally took me by the arm and walked me from the locker room to the lounge.  She then plopped me in an overstuffed chair, brought me a glass of (complimentary, unlimited) wine and urged me to sample the macaroons.

Manny, my male masseuse, met me in the tea lounge to escort me to my massage.  I am not one of those squeamish girls who has to have a female masseuse.  Manny was kind, attentive, and gay enough that I immediately felt we could get drinks after he got off work.  Words cannot describe Manny’s magic hands.  By the end I felt energized, not sleepy, and not sore.  Which was good because I was facing Anna next.

Anna met me in the lounge and escorted me to her waxing station.  Where Manny had been deferential and smooth, Anna was chatty and, after a 60-minute head-to-toe massage, a little overbearing.  But you need someone to take control when it comes to waxing your vagina.  After all, you can’t see down there.  Anna and I exhausted a full range of topics, from children to horror movies, while she yanked and pulled and sang the praises of  a straight line of pubic hair.  I agreed passionately with everything she said, whether I agreed or not.  Mostly, I tried not to tense up.

I gleefully awarded myself with a splash afterward in the Aqua Grotto– a fancy name for a Jacuzzi.  I bathed fully naked while Sondra brought me a second glass of wine pool-side.  I felt like a Roman empress.

Which is precisely the point.