Short Stuff

Discovering the drama of living in Knoxville

So... this is me. I come from a long line of drunkards and storytellers; I don't drink.

I'm five-foot nothing in my stocking feet. If you need a visual, I'm the same height—although not nearly the same width—as Danny DeVito. I never really thought of myself as short until just a few years ago when I heard DeVito in an interview say he was the same height as I am. It was truly a shock. I'd always thought of myself as being the same height as anyone I made eye contact with; I never took into account how much my neck was craned backward...

I am also Southern, top to bottom, front to back. I have a penchant for meats fried and peculiar vegetables cooked in arcane pork products. I was raised in the rolling foothills of the Appalachians (the hills that rolled down into northern Alabama, anyway) with a creek at the foot of the hill and a grandmother at the end of a dirt road. Call me country—go ahead! Of course, my family didn't really fit in with most of the rest of the community; we could read. We also participated in bizarre activities such as going to live plays and listening to "that chair-toter" (local for concerto) music.

I am known among my friends as the Short Mean Woman. I take it as a compliment. It comes from more than a quarter century working with small children. Now, don't get me wrong. I love small children and I love working with them. I simply don't take any guff.

Guff. That's an example of what happens to an adult's vocabulary when they work extensively with small children. I have learned to substitute appropriate words for inappropriate words without thinking. When a small, shoe-clad heel comes straight down on my bare toes, "Squat!" can be just as satisfying in the mouth as any other word that comes to mind. I'm also quite fond of "Foot!" and, of course, all the diddlies: diddly-squat, diddly-flop, diddly-poo! Most of the classes I taught left me feeling inspired and invigorated. There were some, however, that left me wanting to chain smoke and curse most foully to get the taste of "squat!" and "foot!" out of my mouth.

I've also spent much of the past 20 years performing variously and sundrily all over Knoxville and surrounding areas. One of the first performances I ever did here was at the Bijou, a murder mystery fundraiser to help save the building. I walked through the doors and down the aisle toward the stage. I saw the chipped cherubs and the drooping grand drape, the stained seats and the crunchy carpet—it was love at first sight. I've loved every minute I've spent on the Bijou stage, including the time I was stuck in a large urn (or huge guano pile—opinions were mixed) with oatmeal all over my face...

I've also performed quite a bit on Market Square, and no, I don't count shuffling along asking for change as a performance! Come on, people, if you want change, serve up some entertainment! My first experience performing on Market Square was out in front of the old Mercury Theater. I was working with a group my husband, Josh, was part of called Sasquatch. The show involved pulling the guts out of a pumpkin and throwing them around the square for some unknown but at least potentially comedic reason. I must say activities on the Market Square have changed quite a bit since then...

But what I've done for most of the past decade is work with Circle Modern Dance. I've made some forays into the Actors Co-op and Interact Children's Theatre for the Deaf and a couple of other groups here and there, but mostly it's been Circle. It was because of Circle's Modern Dance, Primitive Light concert at the Laurel Theatre that Josh and I married at the Laurel nearly 15 years ago. I'd say Circle's been a fairly significant part of my life!

So there it is—at least some of it. I'm short, mean, Southern and have a tendency to curse (appropriately or not). I came to the mountains nearly 20 years ago looking for something new. I found Knoxville. m