To be a kid again

To be a kid again

Again

What wish would you make for a child who has come to mean something significant to you if the two of you were having to take your leave of each other after spending a year together, working closely?

One of my favorite young actresses, Cate Elefante, just finished her time as part of the Les Misérables US Tour. I have followed Cate since I saw her as “Little Lulu” in Waitress (December 2016). She and her family share generously on social media about her experiences. This has been nice, because I love all things Broadway, and it is fascinating to get a bit of a behind-the-scenes glimpse at how things work on a national tour.

Cate shared on Instagram the backstage festivities among the cast as she closed out her time. There is a point where Maggie Elizabeth May* is giving Cate a speech (it’s the fourth frame at this link). I saw this brief speech on July 28 when it was first posted, and I have thought about it so often since then.

“Most of these people have dreamed of being in this show since we were your age, but if we had a chance to do it all over again, and had a wish to be granted, we wouldn’t wish for one more show. We would wish to be a kid again. And that’s what you get to do and all of you guys get to go do. You get to go home to your garden, and your family, and your school, and your house, and you get to play the best role of all. We will have you forever in our hearts, Cate, but oh my dear girl. Go be a kid, and promise us to never grow up.”

I so envy people with acting and vocal chops. That’s partially because I love performing, and performing tends to attract audiences more when done by people who are good at it.

Although I envy people in theatre for their talent and their opportunities to perform so often, the other part of that life I’m drawn to is the togetherness and sense of unity. Of course I am sure there are dysfunctional casts/crews, everywhere from the 3rd grade end-of-year performance to the most popular shows on Broadway and the variations in between, but I think they are the exception.

Although I can’t equate my experiences as an extra and volunteer for FSU Film with theater, I suspect there are many commonalities. The sense of unity, the spirit of “let’s get this done,” the almost palpable love of the craft of making art is something I have rarely felt in other environments.

I did work with quite a few child actors in my time at the film school. I saw some truly remarkable talent. I don’t know that any of those kids stayed with it, but I often weighed in my mind what tradeoffs they were experiencing. Absences from school, being held to a strict work ethic, the pressure of being directed, breaks in routine. At what point did the attempt to reach the next level of acting success start to erode the benefits of a “normal” childhood?

I appreciate the adult actress acknowledging the tradeoff Cate and her family had made. The first time I watched the speech, I wondered what her finale was going to be. Would it be “I know you’re going to make it big someday”? “I wouldn’t be surprised to see you win a Tony when you grow up”? “Acting will never let you down”?

No. She reminded her that childhood is a precious gift. A gift that most adults who take to the stage nightly quite possibly would want to experience again.

When each of us adults is faced with life “on my own,” there are those moments when the lightness of being a kid again beckons.

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.) 

*If I have misidentified Maggie Elizabeth May, I apologize and hope someone will clarify. Thanks, prosopagnosia, for these little blogging speedbumps.

5 Ways to Make the Most Out of Twitter

I forget sometimes that some people don’t use Twitter. It’s so embedded into the way I interact with the world, I am usually a little shocked when someone says, “I don’t have a clue about Twitter and don’t want to learn.”

Twitter is not for everyone, and has changed over the years. It’s a meaner, more commercialized, more divisive place than it used to be.

So many of my acquaintances feel the same as Sandi from Midlife Roadtrip:

Make the most out of Twitter

With 100,000+ tweets behind me, here are my thoughts on Twitter 2018:

Learning the Basics Matters

The most frequent thing people say to me is “I don’t get it” or “I don’t understand Twitter.” It is like learning a foreign language. I swore I would never speak in hashtags but here I am. #NeverSayNever

It’s difficult to find a Twitter 101-type resource that is updated enough to reflect current changes. This one from Wired is decent. Just replace “140 characters” with “280 characters” and note that timelines now are not necessarily chronological (unless you change your settings, as I did, because non-chronological Twitter frustrated me intensely).

Sometimes it is best to read, not tweet

If you read nothing else written in this post, take note of this piece of advice: you don’t always have to respond on Twitter. In fact, you can mute terms that make you anxious. You can block people who creep you out. You can construct lists of people that share interest in common with you, or people who simply make you happy. Twitter will be much more pleasant this way.

One thing Twitter does for me is provide insight on some people who I find interesting, but for various reasons have chosen not to follow. It may be professional (it helps to know that a reporter you plan to pitch is a vegetarian before you pitch your awesome article about novel recipes for meat eaters, for example). It may be personal (you just want to know more about Jane Doe but it’s not a close enough relationship to follow her — kind of the 2018 equivalent of the people-watching we used to do IRL (in real life) at the mall).

Follow People with Whom You Disagree

Although this is not how some people choose to use Twitter, I appreciate the way it gives me perspective into what people think that believe differently than I do. It’s a relatively safe way to get a sense of what the other side is saying and thinking, in 280-character bites. Somehow it feels less “attack-y” than Facebook. Just remember #2 above – you don’t have to always engage on Twitter.

Don’t Hesitate to Tweet with Well-known People

Celebrities (many of them, anyway) love Twitter. Katy Perry is #1 on Twitter with a following approaching 1.9 million (more than Barack Obama). At a ranking of 865,089, I’m definitely far down the Twitter pecking order. BUT, thanks to Twitter, I can support celebrities I care about and interact with the ones who choose to respond (or have a staff person do it — I guess you never really know).

A few fave celebrities on Twitter:

Rubem Robierb – I love his art and his consistently positive, thought-provoking take on things. Follow him at @rubemrobierbart.

Cate Elephante – Okay, she’s 6 years old, and her parent(s) have acknowledged managing her account. But it wouldn’t be logical for a 6-year-old to be managing their own Twitter and social media, right? I saw her as Lulu in Waitress in December 2016, and have followed her since then. I foresee big things out of her, onstage or off, whatever she chooses (because …. she’s 6!). Follow her at @cateelefante.

On the flip side, keep your expectations in check. I’ve gotten better about this over the  years, but sometimes you feel you’ve developed a rapport with someone you’ve met over social media, but the two of you share different outlooks. I wrote about this here, when I said, “Balancing the sentiment of “we could be friends!” with “we are strangers to one another who have not established a trust or intimacy level” is a delicate thing.”

Participate in Twitter Chats and Parties

I have participated in Twitter chats for years. In a Twitter chat, participants have an allotted amount of time to interact with each other, brought together by a shared interest and common hashtag. (I was a #RunChat featured blogger for years and kept participating in the Sunday evening weekly chats for a long time.) Twitter chats are a great way to grow your network, meet people with whom you share an interest, and have some social media fun. Some Twitter parties feature prizes for selected participants.

Pro-tip: If it’s a goal of yours, you may work up to having the opportunity to be a paid Twitter party panelist. I have done this a few times and enjoyed it (as well as the cash).

Bonus: Get off of Twitter

Seem diametrically opposed to the title of this post? It is. But it needs to be said.

Twitter is one slice of life. It’s one fragment of social media life, and it’s one 280-character-at-a-time way of looking at the world.

I’ve said it once and will say it again — never have I pursued an IRL meeting with someone I met over Twitter and found myself thinking “gosh they aren’t at all what I thought they would be like” when I did meet them. Maybe I’m lucky. But I do believe people show you who they are on Twitter, for the most part. There are about 10 friendships I can attribute directly to Twitter. Maybe some people l would say 10 close friendships out of around 13,000 follower/following arrangements and 132,000 tweets isn’t a great return on investment.

But I found when I sat down with those ten people face-to-face, that the Tweeting that brought me into their orbits was worth it, as was putting down the phone and lifting a glass with them.

My 100,000th Tweet

This post was inspired by the Sway Group March writing prompt “name 5 ways to get the most out of Twitter.” (I cheated and added a 6th!).