living out loud

bye 2016 (you bastard).

princess-leia
from warrior princess…
general-organa
…to warrior general. these are the kinds of icons i want my daughter to look up to: strong and tough, but with a lot of heart.

Everyone’s talking about it, so why not:

Can I tell you how hard Carrie Fisher’s death hit me? Real hard. Worse than Bowie’s. Worse than lovely Alan Rickman’s. Worse than funny Victoria Wood. Worse than Muhammad Ali’s. Worse than Zsa Zsa Gabor’s. Worse than Gene Wilder’s. Worse than John Glenn’s. Worse than Patty Duke’s. Worse than Gary Shandling’s. Worse than Ron Glass’. Worse than Cohen’s. Worse than Carol Brady’s. Worse than George Michael’s. Worse than Prince’s (if you can believe it…that was a big hashtag WTF 2016??? for me). Because not only did I want to be Dorothy Gale from Kansas-slash-Oz when I played imagination stage-and-theatre actress in my bedroom, Princess Leia was one of the only female icons available for me in any of my little brother’s Star Wars games he played with his dorky little friends.

This is what I did for fun as a child back in the late 1970s/1980s: I imagined myself as other people. I’d dress up in my gingham dress and make my mom braid my hair so I could pretend I had on glittery red shoes, a Scarecrow boyfriend, and a yellow brick road to take me to my heart’s deepest desire. I’d put on my dad’s Broadway show records – Funny Girl, West Side Story, Annie (okay fine, that one was mine), The Wiz…and I’d literally re-enact all of the best songs & dances from each show. I was a Tony award-winning, girl Lin Manuel Miranda before he could even walk. In my bedroom, or my family’s basement. Had I had more confidence and self-resolve in college, you would not be reading a mundane, inane little blog written by a non-famous teacher down south; you’d be reading a mundane, inane little blog written by a non-famous community theatre/drama teacher down south. Or something.

Because I also gathered friends in neighborhoods and put on backyard plays, too. I mean, WHOLE plays. We’d write the script (in our little heads, reminding and arguing with each other over which lines we’d written and not written – complete ad libbing, yet butting egos about who was going to say what and when). We’d make our own costumes and props. We’d hold auditions AND rehearsals. We sold tickets, for 10 and 5 cents a piece, until bitchy neighbor moms complained about being nickel and dimed (eye roll, whatever, bitchy neighborhood moms). We had matinee and early evening performances. No understudies, though. Not enough neighborhood kids.

And our favorite topic to create these plays about? Outer Space stuff. We often liked to combine outer space stories, so our plays would be a lot like this: Once upon a time in a Galaxy far away, there was an evil lord named Darth Vader who was chasing Captain Apollo, Lt. Starbuck, and Cassiopeia straight into the hands of an evil Dr. McCoy gone wrong, until Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker and Han Solo and the gang showed up to rescue them all. We had big imaginations, but really ridiculous egos, so we didn’t vary our play plots much. So we could continue our star and guest star roles and stuff.

Something like that. I was more interested in being Cassiopeia and Princess Leia because they were beautiful, and I really really really really really wanted to be beautiful, y’all. (The older I get, the less I change.) So I didn’t really watch these shows and movies religiously like my brother and his friends did, though I knew all about them from what I did expose myself to so I could daydream about being swept off my feet by Lt. Starbuck or Han Solo. Also, please know I always had more of a crush on Dr. Spock than Capt. Kirk. He was strange-looking, but intense. I have always, always liked intense.

And so Princess Leia’s death has just…I mean, REALLY, Universe???? What the hell. Staaaahhhp it.You have literally about three days left. Enough. You’re had. Done for. LET. IT. GO.

And just taking off the Princess Leia icon costume for a moment and looking at the woman who played her – Carrie Fisher was someone I could tell was down-to-earth and genuine. I have always said: if we must have icons and idols, please make sure they have got good energy and are down-to-earth and genuine. I mean, look at her dog Gary. Anyone who can attach to an animal and have their animal attach to them to that degree is probably somebody you can have a real conversation with, no matter who they are or what they do for a living. I loved her in interviews, where she simply wouldn’t put up with crap from them; she made jokes, and she was self-deprecating, and she overshared, and she didn’t care. She lived a life, a big life, and she didn’t care. And so I don’t know how she really felt about always being connected to Princess Leia, but from what I witnessed from her, she seemed to mostly embody what Princess Leia stood for: take no shit, have a sarcastic sense of humor about all of this, and keep fighting/don’t give in. So I will miss knowing she’s in the world. And I’m mad about Han Solo in The Force Awakens now, in ways I wasn’t a year ago. And now when we see the final scene of Rogue One, our hearts will break over and over.

I know this just is what it is, how Life does us. But it does seem the Universe is calling an awful lot of very talented, iconic people home suddenly. Getting a little nervous about that. (Are you?)

Here’s what I want from the Universe, The Force, or Whatever in 2017: Balance, dammit. You took all these amazing people from us in 2016…I got a whooooolllle list of UN-amazing people you can take from us in 2017.

But maybe Hell is full up?

leia-stormtrooper
carrie fisher/princess leia: living my fantasy.
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