My MORTIFIED Birthday

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She wasn't there. Yet somehow my friend Traci, who died on January 13th, still managed to throw me a birthday party. Of course it couldn't be any ordinary party, there was nothing ordinary about Traci and this experience was anything but ordinary. So she did what any Bitchy Bestie would do... went above and beyond to give me a MORTIFIED birthday. A gift she wanted to give me, seven years ago.

 

On February 3, 2011, Traci invited me to audition for MORTIFIED: Angst Written, a stage show in Hollywood where audiences witness adults sharing their most embarrassing childhood artifacts (journals, letters, poems, lyrics, plays, home movies, art), in order to reveal stories about their lives. I was intrigued, and flattered, but also convinced that my stories weren't funny enough. She was the funny one. So, I didn't audition.

 

Apparently Traci didn't like my decision, because even though Facebook never included her posts or comments in my Memories, I started receiving every single one between us, days after her death.  

 

Then on February 3rd, a nudge arrived. 

 

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Without overthinking or talking myself out of it, I went to the website and made my submission. The form asked me to provide a brief description of the material I wanted to share, and why it embarrassed me as an adult. I typed about an 8th grade English assignment involving New Kids on the Block, and how I was obsessed with one member in particular.  

 

Fast forward to early July when I received a call from a producer with MORTIFIED, wanting to schedule an audition with me. Over the next five weeks, I had Skype calls with the show's founder, producers and interns, was transcribing/typing pages upon pages of diary/journal entries, while all along still wondering if I was good enough to be on the show which would be held on my 43rd birthday. 

 

Then the day arrived. At a place called Wanderlust, I took the stage and read excerpts from my 8th and 10th grade diaries to a full house of strangers, and loved ones who trekked through traffic from San Diego to gift me with their presence. Before the show, they took me to dinner and understood why I could barely eat. My emotions jumped from fear to excitement to freaking-the-hell-out.

 

Especially once I arrived at the venue. I knew what I was doing there, but had no idea how I got there. I kept wrestling with the question: Do I deserve to be here? The other performers seemed comfortable in their shoes. I was sweating in mine. They were seasoned, either having previously performed for MORTIFIED or on a nearby stage. People knew who they were, beyond their loved ones. Thankfully they knew it was my first time and gave me tips about the "Dos and Don'ts of Getting Mortified". I was grateful. 

 

Yet minutes before the show started, my anxiety started to build again. I decided to try deep breathing and chose a darkened lamp outside the window to be my focal point. As I breathed, I also talked to Traci. I wanted to thank her for making the opportunity happen. I realized I wouldn't be there had it not been for her. It was her way... gifting friends with favors and advice and swift kicks in the ass. I inhaled deeply while closing my eyes and envisioned Traci's face, then I heard a laugh that caused me to pop my eyelids open. It sounded like her. I looked around, then back at the light in time to see it switch on. I started to tear up. She was there. I could feel her. Then I felt her voice mimicking Cher from one of our favorite movies, "Snap out of it!" The voice went on to remind me that I am enough, always have been. The illusion of anything else has only ever existed in my mind.

 

So... I listened to my friend, gave my body a shake, and thanked her for showing up. Then I closed my eyes and thanked everyone who encouraged and supported my journey to make the night happen, from everyone at MORTIFIED to every loved one who showed up, seen and unseen. I'll Be Lovin' You (all), Forever. Thank you for attending... My MORTIFIED Birthday! 

By the way, as an added birthday gift, the original drummer from one of my favorite bands, The Cure, is the one playing "Hangin' Tough". Thank you for that too, Traci, I always loved your wicked sense of humor.