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Willa’s first play

Willa and I have been having so many adventures that it’s been very hard to find the time to catch up and write. We’ve also been attempting to get a nap schedule started, which has been fairly successful. We spent a week letting her fall asleep wherever, whenever, to see if a pattern would naturally emerge. It did, so now we are trying to keep the schedule going.

This means that our adventures are morphing. In Willa’s first three months, she basically just went anywhere with me and usually fell asleep no matter what we were doing. Now, however, she’s taking everything in, learning more, and clearly enjoying the adventures so much that she doesn’t want to fall asleep. So now, we have to have our adventures during her waking times.

In the last few weeks, Willa has flown for the first time (more on that later), nursed all over tarnation, helped me out with my community duties, gone to our outdoor movie night, been to a fancy barbeque in the Hollywood Hills, and patiently gone on countless errands. These adventures are of course on top of her regular adventures: long walks in Atwater Village, lunches and breakfasts at Village Bakery, trips to the Atwater Village Farmers’ Market, and visiting with friends.

In my life before having Willa, I was an actress and an acting teacher. Since having Willa I’ve done a couple of stage shows and one guest spot on a TV show (ten days after she was born). Willa has been onstage several times, in a sense: I performed pregnant with her about three or four times, and always imagined/worried that she would feel, in utero, the rush I was getting with each laugh or round of applause or curtain call and catch The Bug, as they say.

I’ve subsisted on that rush since I was nine years old. It sustains me and warms me and keeps me charged. Still, the life of a performer or an artist is, well, tough. We already know Willa has our musical genes, as we see her eyes light up and an enormous smile spread across her face when we sing to her, and the joy she takes in any kind of rhythm. We knew she had my dancer genes since she was in the womb and was all “Step, kick, kick, leap, kick, touch…Again!”

But because she’s so mellow and sweet and dreamy in every way, I was pretty certain she hadn’t gotten the acting bug. Dodged one bullet. I thought.

Last night, we went to see the Independent Shakespeare Company’s excellent performance of Much Ado About Nothing, outdoors at the Old Zoo in Griffith Park. My council had sponsored their run, and in return they had a special Atwater Village night. Willa was a trooper as I strapped her on and then struggled and stumbled my way up the hill with all our outreach materials (table, tablecloth, boxes of fliers and bumper stickers and weird DWP info); thank God I ran into ISC’s managing director, David Melville, who carried the table most of the way for me. I then ran into another friend, Jordan, who took over so David could get to preparing for his performance as Benedick.

Just before the show started, after we’d set up, Willa and I got up onstage to greet the crowd, tell them how wonderful Atwater Village is, and get them to visit our outreach table. Standing in front of 750 people seemed to excite Willa a little. She was on my chest, in her carrier, but wide-eyed.

Here we are, getting ready to get onstage to speak:

Once the show started, I thought she’d go right to sleep, but she was awake and alive and staring at the stage, her blue eyes sparkling. When she got hungry I got her right to nursing so we wouldn’t interrupt the show for the other theater-goers. But every time the crowd would laugh or applaud (which, because ISC is so fabulous, was All The Time), Willa would unlatch and lock eyes with me. She didn’t look scared or even startled. She looked hungry, but not for food. Excited. Wanting.


One Comment Post a comment
  1. Johanna Swalley #

    Leonora- Hey, this is Johanna Swalley from Grand Forks. Awesome to see you are doing so well! Just curious- what Sunny episode were you in? I love that show and it would be such a rush to see you in it!!

    Take care,

    February 22, 2011

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