Friday, July 28, 2006


If I wasn’t having a baby I’d probably be talking about Hamlet non-stop. As it is, it’s hard to think about anything besides the Sesame Seed. Here’s my attempt to write a non-baby-related post.

The in-laws flew into Boston yesterday, my mom arrives this morning, and her friend and my dad fly in tomorrow. It’s a gaggle of people, and a major part of their agenda is to see Hamlet.

I love my mother’s enthusiasm for my career—I’m fairly certain she feels earth-shattering regret every time she misses one of my performances, whether it’s some silly staged-reading or me sneezing on camera. But that’s what moms are for, right? My dad’s very supportive too, but he doesn’t have the ovaries tugging on him like my mother. Thom’s parents also great about my career and made it out two years ago to see my first Boston play.

I know it’s not the only reason they’re here, but it does add a bit of pressure to know that the catalyst for their visit was my play. What if they hate it? What if they walk away thinking, “I flew 5,000 miles for that?” I know that’s a bit extreme, but I do have some anxiety around this performance. First of all, this production can really only barely be called Hamlet. We use some of the text, but that’s about the limit of our faithfulness to the play.

I really had no idea what I was walking into when I agreed to do this show. My friend Shawn, the director of Hal Harry Henry, asked me to be a part of a small workshop production of Hamlet some months ago. He said he had tweaked the text a bit—which I expected based on my last experience with him. I was willing to try something different with Shakespeare, especially if it meant playing Ophelia (a role I’m always disappointed to see portrayed as a weepy, wimpy, cuckoo waif). Shawn wouldn’t be directing this time, instead enlisting the help of a founding member of Shakespeare and Company, John Hadden. Sounded great.

Well, a week before rehearsals we didn’t have a script (which usually wouldn’t be a problem with Shakespeare—you can just count on learning certain lines—but not so for this production). Then a few days before we were to start working Shawn said his script had been thrown out and John was talking about something called Hamlet: A Dream Play. Here’s where I got nervous. What does that mean? Don’t dreams inherently mean low stakes? What audience is going to sit through someone else’s dream?

But I showed up to rehearsal with an open mind. I trusted Shawn and his faith in John, I knew—and loved—the rest of the cast, and I was willing to try something outside my comfort zone. The rehearsal process was rocky for me. It was exciting to see that we were doing things no one else does with Shakespeare (inserting our own text into the play, giving Hamlet’s lines to everyone besides Hamlet, completely disregarding plot or story), but a nagging part of me kept thinking, There’s a reason no one else does this with Shakespeare. Eventually, I just let that nagging part of me go and made up my mind to do the best damn Hamlet Dream Play I could do.

The result of our whirlwind rehearsal period is something I’m very proud of. It’s more experimental and challenging than anything I’ve ever done, and if you come to it with an open mind, I think you can see a really beautiful, unexpected piece of art. If you’re a more conventional theatre-goer, it might just drive you nuts.

Which brings me back to my guests. I know that my family loves me and they’re always going to be supportive of what I do. But I don’t know how they’ll feel about this play. Often I walk off stage and I don’t know how I feel about it. It’s still very challenging for me and so strange that I don’t know if what I’ve just done was any good or not.

I guess when it comes to my parents I’ll always be a little girl—waving at them from the stage, bursting with hope that they’ll be proud of me.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

playing possum

I almost ran over an opossum tonight on my way home from rehearsal. I saw the glare of his eyeballs as I rounded the curve of the freeway on ramp, and I slowed for him to get off the road. He stood frozen, right in line with my car, so I swerved gently out of his way. From the passenger seat Crystal watched him as we passed and said, "That little bastard just fell down and played dead."

Sunday, July 16, 2006


If you notice the time code on this post you'll see that it's 7am on a Sunday. Why oh why am I awake at this ridiculous hour, you ask? Apparently, the baby thinks 7am is the perfect time to wake--regardless of what time I went to bed, or whether it's a weekend (where sleeping in is demanded by law, I believe), or if I have anything to do but stare at my computer while the rest of the world snoozes on. This is day number four of finding myself jumping-out-of-bed-wide-awake at, what is for me, an absurd hour. And here I was thinking pregnancy would be an excellent excuse to sleep in an enormous amount.

I also thought that whole "eating for two" thing would kick in right away, but I have a more moderate appetite than ever. We went to Dom's in the North End last night, which serves some insanely delicious food, and at the end of it all--surrounded by plates of chocolate mousse and cannoli--I turned down dessert! Do you understand what I'm saying? I was raised by a woman who believes dessert is not only a necessity but our God Given Right. I was brought up in a home where peach cobbler, ice cream, cookies, or cake were regularly on the post-dinner menu; and if they were not readily available, the ingredients to make them were just a cupboard away. And here I had the opportunity to eat a decadent, delicious, guilt-free sweet, and I just didn't feel like it.

I don't know about this baby. At the rate we're going, Sesame Seed could be some early-rising, dessert-hating freak. What's next, no cartoons? Not a big fan of playing?

I just don't understand kids these days.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

This will be me in a few months...

Maybe I'm insane for saying anything so early, but my pregnancy test came back positive yesterday!

(And no, I don't look like this yet; Jenn and I took this picture at a maternity store using a fake "bump" the day I decided to start trying for kids. What a goofy grin I have on.)

The whole event was not as I imagined it...

First, I was not expecting this to be the month. I don't have any horrible pregnancy symptoms yet, and I kept telling myself it was going to take a while and not to get my hopes up.

So I took the test (do you know how hard it is to aim your pee at a stick and not get it all over your hand? ew.) and killed two minutes before I read it. Hands washed, teeth brushed, Get Fuzzy calendar read... guess I should look at the test. As soon as I spotted that faint little plus sign I freaked out and tossed it onto the counter like it was a poisonous spider. I immediately picked it up and looked again, and proceeded to toss it away. When I could finally hold the damn test, I asked Thom to read it for me.

"What does this say? Is that a plus? Is this for real? I have to talk to Crystal."

Thom barely got a, "It looks like a plus sign to me," out before I started flinging clothes on. I dressed faster than ever before and ran--RAN--to Crystal and Kevin's place. Luckily they were up and one ring on the bell brought the buzzer singing back to me. Before I was even through the threshold, I shoved my pee stick in the poor girl's face and screeched, "What does this say?!"
We determined that the sign was just too faint to reliably start sharing the news (which was my whole intent: get positive evidence and immediately start telling people).

So, back home, where I asked Thom to come to the drugstore with me to pick up a second test. In the fifteen minutes it took to walk to the store, buy the test, return home, and squeeze out my last drops of pee, I contemplated the idea of motherhood.

I didn't have any brilliant flashes, if that's what you're waiting for. I had just spent an insane amount of energy focused on one stupid little plus sign--my brain wasn't exactly in a philosophical mode.

When the test came out positive--"I see a plus, that's definitely a plus!"--we were ecstatic. And confused. And stunned.

"I don't feel pregnant. Shouldn't I feel pregnant?"

"What did you expect? A big belly?"

"No I just don't feel like a mom."

"Well, you've got nine months to work on it."

In spite of some reservation about telling people too soon, I decided this was just too good to wait. We made a round of calls and I tried to feel more pregnant. I felt like a fraud as I was sharing the news, a little voice in the back of my head saying, "You shouldn't be acting all pregnant. What if the test is wrong? Then what will people think?"

Rationally I know that most women must go through some version of this. Unless you have horrible morning sickness or a blood test from a doctor, it's hard to believe you're actually creating life right this minute. It's too huge. It's the biggest thing I've ever tried to do and way beyond my capacity to comprehend.

Still, I'm getting more and more used to the idea. I looked up my progress and the embryo is the size of a sesame seed right now. It's become Our Little Sesame Seed.

The anxiety has already begun--protective maternal instincts and fear that something will go wrong--but I'm trying to not let that rule me. Right now I just want to channel all the love I can muster into this little growing life, and that seems like just what My Little Sesame Seed needs.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

weekend, interrupted

I was going to give a long description of my Fourth of July weekend, but this has been a hectic week and I want to enjoy my Sunday. So here's an abridged version with pictures:

Here are the Doyles in front of Ma Doyle's childhood home in Oak Park Chicago. We've flown up (along with Crystal, not pictured) for a family reunion. Chicago is fantastic--I wish I had more than a morning to explore it.

This section of Oak Park boasts a number of homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. I take lots of pics, but this is my favorite.

We gorge ourselves at Peterens Ice Cream Shop. I swear it is the best ice cream I've ever had. They have to drag me away.

We drive to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin where the reunion is being held. An old family friend hosts a BBQ at her lake house. We jump into the beautiful water while little kids light fireworks on the shore. We have officially gone back in time.

Thom spends the night struggling with a stomach ache. After 12 hours and no relief I take him to the hospital to have it checked out.

Turns out his appendix doesn't feel like hanging around anymore. They do surgery to let it out and run free.

My husband can't even recover without multi-tasking. Here, he has his temp and blood pressure taken while kicking our ass at cards--1 hour after his appendectomy.

The hospital releases him the next day, and we actually get to attend one family event. Woo hoo! The next morning, Tuesday 4th, I get Thom onto a plane home where he is now recovering quite nicely.