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Christmas in July has become a time to remember.

After being such a bah-humbug at Christmas last year, I am seriously doing some hard-core making up for it through this Christmas in July season. Watching some Christmas movies, listening to Christmas music, and having special “little moments” in life that could relate to that moment when you open up your stockings and find something really special and you talk about it forever because that smile on your face stays on, well, forever. 

I was introduced to Christmas in July during my houseboat days where my parents and I would stay on our friend’s houseboat on Lake Cumberland. I remember Santa on a jetski, the midnight parties, the boat parades, decoration contests, the Christmas music and just everything so special about that time. Who knew years later I’d be in Florida where (real) Christmas is just like that. And, it took eons for the rest of the world to catch up to the celebration in July. 

Anyway, not only do I full out celebrate today (July 25th), it is also a “marker” of one week before my birthday (August 1st). But none of this is why I’m writing. It’s been two years since I’ve lost a really important person that was in my industry. Today I celebrate Joe Anthony.

I still remember having a horrible feeling through my body on July 24th, 2014. My heart was hurting and I was on the edge of tears. Nothing happened in my life that would cause that, but yet, I was walking down Beach Blvd and Shore Blvd in Gulfport writing a poem on my phone:

They say lightning never strikes twice
but that’s awful nice…
When you’re standing on the bridge
and see lightning through the sunset.
That makes your heart bleed color
when it’s black and white
Days of old and days when I was told

Lightning never strikes twice
but that’s awful nice —

When my heart gets torn in two.

After I wrote that, I left for home and just went to sleep. The next morning the first phone call I answered was from one of our vendors “Land & Sea”. It went something like this:

“Hi, I was calling to let you know about the replacement for Joe Anthony.” (L&S)

“Replacement? What do you mean… replacement???” (Me)

“I’m so sorry to tell you this but Joe passed away yesterday.”

My heart sank so badly; I burst into tears and couldn’t stop. It was a really emotional day, especially since having felt that sadness around the same time that he passed away.

I met Joe through the previous company I was working in the marine industry. He supported my work, and carried around the book that had my front/back cover design on it–showing it to everyone. I was very appreciative of that, because it gave me hope that I was doing something right.

After taking a summer or so off of the industry, I was ecstatic to get a job at Thunder and it was an added bonus that I’d get to see my favorite rep again. Everyone knew he was one of my favorite people, and since they knew it, one of the parts guys let me call him one day. That was the last time I talked to him before his death in July. I never saw him again after the previous job.

I went to his funeral with my previous boss. Hundreds of people showed up. It was so emotional—you knew he was loved, and by many, but there were so many things they talked about him that I didn’t even know. There’s so many things I still wish to share with him, I know he’d be proud, and cheering me on. Maybe I could even get his blessing one day for my future work as BoatShowGirl. A little trickle of Heaven dust will do. If only.

This is what the final poem came out to look like after I added some appropriate last lines:

They say lightning never strikes twice
but that’s awful nice…
When you’re standing on the bridge
and see lightning through the sunset.  

Born a clean slate of black and white
with personality bleeding of color.
One foot on Land and one in the Sea,
that’s where my heart will be. 

Days of old and days when I was told
lightning never strikes twice
but that’s awful nice —
When my heart gets torn in two.  

© 2014 Karen Maeby 

Welcome back to the theatre.

If waiting twelve years to come back to theatre meant I’d get to meet everyone who I met, it was well worth the wait. I fully believe that timing is everything, and everything happens for a reason. 

I attempted to come back to the theatre about 3 years ago, but I ended up being way too busy. However, this year I decided it was time. I was on the search for something that was missing from my life. I went to the auditions, stuck around even when I wasn’t required to be there, worked when I needed to and stuck it out every single rehearsal and every single performance. This was certainly the missing piece to my life’s puzzle.

Working with the Gulfport Community Players has easily become one of my favorite things I’ve ever done, especially when a passion so deep has become ignited once again with the most desirable fire. I was a little afraid in the beginning that I wasn’t going to be good enough to help (because of my long absence) but that was far from the truth. I even ended up being the announcer for the cast calls at the end of each act. Saying “Thank you and a final good night” had a deeper meaning than anyone could imagine. I blew out my candle (thank you) / until next time (final good night). 

Everything came back to me from the days in my junior year when I was in Bye-Bye Birdie and helping behind the scenes with The Real Inspector Hound in my senior year. The inside jokes, the whispers behind stage when something doesn’t go right, the little things that tickled our funny bone during the performances, the hard work that goes into making something so wonderful, the crazy cast parties that automatically come with the ending of a show, and last but not least, the family you become during the process.

My heart was porcelain yesterday for the last performance. The sound was like antique tea cups accidentally being dropped after cleaning them. 

All of these years I’ve been sticking with real life because I’ve believe the truth of it being stranger than fiction. But there’s something important that I had forgotten—with “fiction” you can write anything you want. Being in such a creative setting around some amazing positive energy from everyone has inspired me to pick up a pen once again, and I am writing. Hallelujah! The “everyone from my past has called me a writer but I’m still not sure about that” is actually writing.  

A few comments about the plays…

For Catatonic, the cat had two names, and finally, ended up being called Cat. I once adopted an outdoor cat, striped her of her previous names and called her Cat.

Home Again reminded me of when my parents and I went to my grandma’s old town and to see her house years later after she passed away. My mom asked to see the house, but after seeing it the first time when it was changed, I refused to go back in because I didn’t want my memories of the way my grandma had her house to be erased.

Confession time: Immersion Therapy No one knows this, but I don’t really like clowns, either. and NOT for the reason in the play (hahaha)… The only clown I ever liked was Stitches from Halloween in Gulfport. However, Dropo was an amazing clown, FUNNY(!!!) and I give him two thumbs up for a great performance…..and for also not scaring me.

I might be biased, I might not, and I also might be giving a compliment that’ll make someone’s head not be able to fit through the door, but…. I will publicly display my love over and over for Retired Life. Here’s why: it was intelligently written with subtle hints. Point blank.

When I was watching the plays all the way through for the first time, for the ones that weren’t straight forward, I guessed all the way through the plot and at least half the ending. But Retired Life? Oh no. There are very few and far between stories that I don’t guess (also another reason I have stayed away from fiction for many years), and this was definitely one of them.

I was literally screaming in my mind, “Oh. Wow. I can’t. I just can’t. What the hell just happened here?!?! That was so unexpected. I didn’t guess that one. A writer who stumped me AND one who drops hints in things like I do….” 

So, yeah. There you have it. Over as quickly as it began. There’s no business like show business….

I want to say a big huge thank you to everyone for the cards/gifts, for the hugs, for sharing the wing with [us], for the smiles, for pretending to be shocked when you found out I’m almost 30 (ha!), for writing in my dream journal and giving me lots of hope for tomorrow. For everything. And, for making me really, really stable at the cast party—hahahah! 

I love this world, and I cannot believe I left it. I cannot believe that I walked out on something I loved for so much and for so long those twelve years ago. If there was ever a first dream—it would be to be a writer (then music and theatre)—and I’ve given up so much to put myself in another dream bubble for what I thought I needed or wanted, when all along all I had to do to make this move. This weekend I finally burst that bubble, crawled outside it, and I’m peeking in my own window. I’m wondering what took me so long, how much work it’s going to be and what I’ve got to do to stick to my dreams… because I’ve spoken to a lot of you who said you wish you did this earlier.

From someone who has always followed her own path, the road less traveled, I am ready to succeed in this. I am ready for this thing we call show business. I am ready to be a show girl.

Joining the theatre was my last real achievable goal before I turned 30. If I get nothing else, I will still be completely satisfied. 

Love always & forever,
Karen Maeby 

PS if you didn’t read my poem about the Summer One Acts click here.