I celebrated too much last night. The wine was still flowing on the late-night train back from New York City, and it’s hard to tell if the clanking in my head is the remembered rhythm of steel wheels on the track or the fading pulse of champagne in my veins.

The Big Apple. Broadway.

Big Apple

Big Apple

Did I mention champagne?

I’m not a lush. I used to be, but I’m older and wiser now; plus, alcoholism killed my Dad when we were both too young. But that’s another story, and besides, I’m late to that authorial party – haven’t we all had enough of writers who survived alcoholic childhoods, overcame their own addictions and demons, and then hit the big time as an author?

Big Time on Broadway

Hitting the big time. That’s always the dream, and it’s what I have been celebrating.

A dear friend of mine had her Broadway acting debut this week in what the Washington Post calls the “brilliant” Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.

My “little friend,” which I’m allowed to call her because I knew her when she was a mere denizen of the womb, is well on her way to the big time.

Liesel Allen Yeager has been an actor from her first breath, bursting into song at the dinner table, dancing down the beach, and doing spot-on imitations of her teachers and a passable Elvis as well.

And now . . .

An understudy never knows if she will make it onto the stage, but Liesel has been playing Nina all week, the perfect role for her — an ingénue utterly enamored of an aging movie star played by Sigourney Weaver. Liesel performs alongside “Sigourney” (as I am now allowed to call her) and David Hyde Pierce (Niles on the Frasier TV show, if the name doesn’t ring a bell).



Backstage after the show as Liesel cleans up and we snap pictures of Liesel cleaning up, she tells us that Sigourney and David have been very kind and supportive, which is no surprise because Liesel is brilliant and beautiful and talented and charming

OK, I’m biased. Sue me. But it’s not just me saying that, the folks waiting at the stage door while she signed autographs for them said she was “sweet and nice and cute.”

Liesel with Admirers  (Photo: Barbara Early)

Liesel with Admirers
(Photo: Barbara Early)

Super Secret Stage Door

Super Secret Stage Door

Busting Butt

This all seems like a dream to her friends and family. But to Liesel, it’s a solid reality soaked in sweat and tears and probably more than a few drops of blood. A reality built on years of slogging through hopeful auditions and despair-provoking rejections, grueling days at The Juilliard School, strenuous physical workouts, nonstop networking, and practice, practice, practice.

Therein lies the lesson about hitting it big. There’s no guarantee that if you do all those things – totally bust your butt, discipline yourself, and never miss an opportunity – you will ever hit the big time. But if you don’t persevere in reality, your chances of reaching your dream are virtually nil.

I shouldn’t be doing the second-person thing here; I’m talking to myself more than to you.

Liesel is an inspiration to me as I approach the final semester of my Masters in Writing at Johns Hopkins. I want to channel her spirit and get up early, hit the keyboard, make the most of connections, send my vulnerable prose out into the world, and look for the lessons in the rejections — rejections that are already piling up.

Freshly Pressed Perspective

Up until last week, I imagined that “hitting the big time” for me would include getting “Freshly Pressed” by the WordPress Gods, who bless only a few blogs with that recognition. I reached that goal on Friday with a post about violence in the movies.

It was very exciting, but frankly not as exciting as I had expected. Especially the part where I had to respond to comments from a bunch of hard-core proponents of violence in the movies. It wasn’t a debate about censorship or some underlying philosophy — they simply enjoy watching violence.

At any rate, the glow of being Freshly Pressed quickly faded in the stage lights that shone down on Liesel last night as she grinningly gripped the hands of her fellow actors for that final bow, her flowing white dress and floral headband giving her the aura of a bride or an angel.

Congratulations, Liesel! You rocked the house!!

A Well-deserved Toast

A Well-deserved Toast

An Addendum – Welcome New Friends!

Although being Freshly Pressed has been eclipsed by the Big Apple and my Little Friend, I did want to say that I am most grateful to WordPress Goddess  Michelle and to all the new folks who have visited, “liked,” and decided to follow my humble offerings here at Writing with Spirit.


You will find this blog to be an eclectic blend of rambles with a splash of humor, a jigger of peace, justice and eco-ranting, and a twist of brilliantly insightful and/or piercingly poignant essay.

This particular ramble is in response to fellow-blogger and fellow-student Oliver Gray’s writing contest. I did not expect to be participating because as I say, my days of serious recreational drinking have passed, and his contest is focused on Writing and Drinking. I have chosen the category of Hangovers.

I’m glad that my New York trip qualifies me to enter Oliver’s contest. I did not set out to get a hangover, but a Broadway debut is heady stuff and worth a small champagne headache. Good champagne, I might add, courtesy of Liesel’s father, Brooks, who is shown here celebrating in a most dangerous manner last New Year’s Eve. Please do not try this at home.

Do Not Try This at Home

Do Not Try This at Home