Listen To Your Mother, Damnit!


Listen To Your Mother 2013 — San Francisco Cast
Photo by Kari Paulsey

“I don’t think you’re going to get picked,” my eleven-year old said. I was about to audition for a seat on the cast of the national Listen To Your Mother event. I almost scolded him for being rude, but I realized from his tone that he was trying to help me not get my hopes up too high, trying not to get his hopes up too high. After all, the piece that I submitted was about him.  I measured my response carefully, not something I always do, admittedly, but I was well rested after good night’s sleep in preparation for my audition. “Well, I did get this far, and you know I’m a good writer and reader – so watch me get it.” I thought about giving him the when-you-know-how-to-write-well-you-can-get-things-that-you-want-that-you-might-not-be-able-to-get-otherwise speech, but I figured I should wait until I actually got it.

And I did want it, wanted it so bad that I wrote a piece specially tailored for the event, something funny, something touching, a little bit Louie CK, a little bit Erma Bombeck, with a dash of Patti Smith. And I didn’t just write one draft, I wrote six. The first three changed a lot; in the last three I honed the language, keeping in mind it was to be read aloud and that it couldn’t exceed five minutes. In addition to the six drafts, I had three readers, people I trusted to be honest. This process turned my cruddy first draft into a tightly crafted, well-written narrative containing conflict, rising action, a climax, and falling action. It was funny, self-deprecating, sassy, and sweet. Still I had to wait over a week to find out if I had earned a seat on the cast out of fifty-four people who auditioned.

My son waited until after we got in the car to ask how it went. He was in the back seat, Ines, mi marido, was driving, and I was in the passenger seat

“So, how do you think you did?” my son asked.

“I think I did pretty good.” I turned in my seat so I could see him.

“How do you know?” he asked

“We’ll, the producers, Kirsten and Kari said I did a good job.”

“They probably said that to everyone.”

“You’re right,” I looked back over the seat again to make eye contact with him.

“But Kari, the one who didn’t read any of the pieces before hand,” I paused for effect.


“At the end of my piece, she cried.”

“She cried?”

“Yeah, she cried.”

I turned forward in my seat and smiled, figuring that in just a matter of days I’d get to give the when-you-know-how-to-write-well-you-can-get-things-that-you-want-that-you-might-not-be-able-to-get-otherwise speech, and I couldn’t wait.

Buy tickets for the 2013 Listen To Your Mother event while they last!

One thought on “Listen To Your Mother, Damnit!

  1. Ann Imig

    Now THAT is dedication. WAY TO GO.


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