Woodstock Part II – Dorito in a Dish

At the Woodstock Writers’ Festival this past weekend, I participated in a workshop on “page to stage,” led by two of the founding members of T.M.I. (Too Much Information) out of New York. This is a group of three women who have started a monologue troupe where they, as well as others who join them, perform shows based on original work they write and turn into performance pieces. They also conduct workshops throughout the year.

Nacho Cheesier flavor Doritos

Nacho Cheesier flavor Doritos (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve asked them to come to Boston, where I know of nothing like T.M.I., so I’m putting it out there – Does anyone know of any venues where these women could put on a show or hold a workshop? I’m hoping they will have some weekend workshops in New York so I can learn more and get better at this. I want to do what they do. I want this to be my retirement career.

Below I will post the first part of a brief monologue I wrote during the workshop. You need to imagine me not just reading the piece out loud, but “performing” it. Beyond just a good reading, monologue demands that I become a character in my own work. Ideally, one generates new work or takes part of a story from an essay and adapts it for performance. Usually, the truer and more personal the story, the more you will connect with your audience.

So here it is, “Dorito in a Dish.” Remember, it’s a first draft, so be kind.

I don’t tell my family that I’m gay, or in the language of my 1980s coming out, I don’t say, “I’m a lesbian.” My mom is 82 and lives with me. Over the years she’s seen woman after woman exit my bedroom, bumped into them on the way to the bathroom – there’s just a small foyer between rooms – and her usual response is, “Good morning X, would you like some breakfast?”

My mother has lived with me for years, and over the last decade, I’ve become her caretaker. She grew up an only child and in her old age she reverts to only child.

I love Dorito crumbs.

“Eat over a plate!” I tell her as her bedroom becomes laced with Doritos crumbs. “This is why we have mice.”

She looks at me with her mouth half open.

Did she hear me? I never know if she hears me.

“DID YOU HEAR ME?”

Yes, I heard.”

“Well, could you say something because otherwise I can’t tell if you heard or not.”

She says nothing. She also never uses a plate. The crumbs gather around and under her bed. I can’t vacuum under the bed because she’s piled a lifetime of cheap framed artwork she bought at Marshall’s. Timmy, my boy cat, keeps catching mice who find her crumbs.

Sometimes, I want to threaten her, like this: If you can’t put a fucking Dorito in a dish while you sit up here watching TV, maybe I should put you in a home.

But I keep it to myself. At least she’s not drinking anymore, and I’m not picking her up off the floor.

And all these girls she’s seen leave my bedroom, and all she’s ever done is graciously offer them breakfast.

I’ve never said to her, “I’m a lesbian,” but how could she not know? At this point in my life – I turn 50 next Friday – I’d have to say, “I’m kind of a failed lesbian because I’m 50 and still on my own. I’m still on my own in part because I take care of you, my kind, gracious, former drunken mother.”

A whirlwind of women and in the end, I’m married to her.

She’s home right now while I’m in New York. She’s eating Ruffles Chips in her bed. Timmy is looking for mice.

Mom, I’m a lesbian.”

I can only say this to you when I’m 200 miles away in New York, halfway up a mountain, in some stranger’s house in the Catskills.

The women I work-shopped with were fabulous and the workshop leaders were amazing. You can find performances by the workshop leaders on YouTube. Here are two links to get you started:

About Cindy Zelman

Creative and Freelance Writer
This entry was posted in art, lesbianism, Performing, Reading, Reading Out Loud, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Retreats and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Woodstock Part II – Dorito in a Dish

  1. Erika says:

    I’m going to watch the links for sure, but I can totally see you continuing to refine what you’ve started here into a performance piece. You can do this Cindy, I can totally hear it and see it. You’re work is perfect for this kind of adaptation. Can’t wait to hear more. And if you get them to come teach in Boston maybe I’ll splurge for a trip out there. Or maybe we can get them to come to Seattle!

    Sounds like it was worth the drive up there. So proud of you.

    e

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    • Cindy Zelman says:

      Hi Erika,

      We should talk about this – where you and I could both take this kind of workshop. As far as I know, T.M.I. is the only group doing this in the Northeast, but there are opportunities with other groups on the West Coast. I’d be interested in exploring those and seeing if you and I could hook up at a workshop.

      Thank you for reading my blog again and for being so supportive. I think this is a good goal for me to have. Even if I don’t reach it entirely, it will move me forward in some way. I feel that in my essays, I already have a lifetime of “monologues” I could develop. Hell, the subject of my mom and me could help me to generate endless monologues.

      We need to talk this week. I’ll drop you a line about when we might be able to do that.

      xoxo
      Cindy

      Like

  2. It sounds like it was a worthy workshop, Cindy, and I agree with Erika — your work is perfect for this type of performance and I’m sure you’ll be great at it! How was the experience of being there?

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    • Cindy Zelman says:

      Hi Faye,

      Thanks for reading this and for promoting my blog on your blog. That was so nice of you. Thanks, too for believing in my and my work in this format. It does feel like a natural place for me to go wit it. The experience of the workshop was great. It wasn’t one of those “tear you to pieces” workshops. It was about generating work, reading it, talking about what we might add/subtract and other craft issues to turn it into monologue. A great group of talented women with very sincere and strong stories to tell. I’m hoping to do it again for a weekend.

      Cindy

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  3. Melissa J. Varnavas says:

    Great piece. The closest thing I can think of to T.M.I is the “Moth Radio Show” http://themoth.org/about but it is a sort of fad-type thing these days I think. We could do a little digging and find something local and I’d totally support you starting something in Boston.
    About the piece…There is a gorgeous repetition in it that is somehow both soothing and disturbing. “My mom is 82 and lives with me…” …. “My mom has lived with me for years…” And I adore the repetition of “only” in the second paragraph.

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    • Cindy Zelman says:

      Hi Melissa,

      Thanks for reading this and for responding. I’d love to work with you on getting something going in the Boston area. You have a lot of expertise in poetry readings and other events. I can see you being part of a performing troupe also. I’ll email you and we can figure out a time to brainstorm.

      Thanks for saying such nice things about the piece I posted. It’s a rough draft – sometimes those are more spontaneous and not overworked – although I’m sure it could use some help to get it to a true performance piece. It was also just a short excerpt. I’m always thrilled when you say you like my work. Your opinion means so much to me. 🙂

      Talk to you soon.

      Like

  4. Wow, that sounds fun! But also challenging. Loved the piece, especially “A whirlwind of women and in the end, I’m married to her.”

    Like

    • Cindy Zelman says:

      Bridget,

      I so appreciate that you read my blog. I know how much there is to do in a day. I’m glad you liked the piece and that line, especially. I read this piece at the workshop and I think that line made a lot of people look up. Thanks again.

      Cindy

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  5. natasiarose says:

    I love the piece. I actually think it’s very sweet of your mom not to bring up the whole lesbian thing and offer your lady friends breakfast. Sometimes you know someone so well you don’t need verbal communication.

    Ps. Parade of women in and out of your bedroom? doesn’t sound like a failed lesbian to me! 😉

    Like

    • Cindy Zelman says:

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Natasia, baby. I agree it was sweet of my mom to ask my lady friends what what they wanted for breakfast rather than what the hell they were doing in my bedroom.

      I really like your take on what is a failed lesbian and what is not. 😉

      xoxo

      Like

  6. deer38 says:

    I like this, alot. Unfortunately I can only imagine how you would read it and what it would sound like, but in my head it was great.

    Like

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