A good-hearted woman

Today’s prompt is What are the pros and cons of procrastination?

I’ve mentioned in previous blogs I’m pretty lazy. I can sleep anywhere, anytime. It takes a no less than a gallon of coffee to get me going every morning. But I’m not a procrastinator. I don’t think there is anything “pro” about it. Whether it’s writing, chores or paying bills, I’m a “do a little bit every day” kind of person.

I wasn’t always this way.

When I was in my early twenties, I procrastinated. Though I was driven to do theatre, the pay was lousy and my bills piled up.

I applied for a loan from a place called “The Associated.” It was located in one of the suburbs. I had a beater car and drove there on fumes convinced I was wasting my time.

I knew they wouldn’t give me a loan because I had seen movies where a good-hearted woman goes into a building of architectural renown. She enters the stately building with her head held high. She is wearing a tasteful dress, hosiery and pumps. Lipstick.

A secretary escorts her into a private office that has a shade on the window. The good-hearted woman sits down and explains her financial situation to a pragmatic meanie who is sitting behind his desk.

“My hands are tied,” he says. “There’s nothing I can do.”

He aggressively stamps DENIED onto the paperwork. She says she understands, thanks him for his time and walks out with her head held high and her heart filled with goodness.

It wasn’t quite like that for me.

When I drove to Eagan, Minnesota, I chain-smoked half a pack of Virginia Slims all the way up to the door of the sleazy strip mall storefront. I flicked the butt of my ciggy into the parking lot (yes, I littered) and walked through the door. I smelled of cigarettes and flop sweat. Some kind of beep was triggered upon opening the door. A modern “doorbell” had replaced any need for a secretary. I quickly scanned the room. There were a few cubicles and desks. A man stood up and said, “You must be Constance.”

He walked over to me and passively shook my hand.

“Constance, I’m Aaron.”

He escorted me to his cubicle with the paperwork already prepared. He congratulated me and said I was approved. He explained to me I’d have a couple months of a “grace period” before I had to start paying the loan back. He showed me where to sign.

It had a ridiculously high interest rate — I think it was more than 20% — but I signed it with a sense of relief.

Of course I quickly fell behind. When I couldn’t pay my monthly installments on time he started calling me every day. If I saw “Associated” on the caller ID I didn’t answer. Too chicken.

“Call me back, Constance,” Aaron would say. “Today.”

It was the most off-putting male attention I have ever received but one day I finally answered.

“Hello?” I answered the phone with the grand innocence of a good-hearted woman.

“I see you’re having trouble, Constance,” he said. “Would you like another loan?”

I was stunned by his generosity!

An idiot, I let the feeling of relief wash over me and I took out another loan.

Within a month, my bills started piling up again. This was procrastination at its finest. It took me several years to climb out of that debt and here’s the beauty of it: I had nothing to show for it! I was doing mediocre theatre, wasn’t taking care of myself and didn’t have a clue about how to plan for “the future.”

Eventually, my beater car died. I couldn’t afford another car so I started riding my bike everywhere and the quality of my life started to improve. I stopped smoking, became super fit and found my focus. It took a few more years, but I pedaled my way out of debt, started doing better theatre and by the time I was 29 realized I wanted to write plays. Lots of good changes.

I’ll tell you something: I didn’t particularly enjoy my twenties and am not sure how anyone actually does. But I loved my thirties. I grew up, I guess you could say. I found love and health and adopted a “do a little bit every day” approach to life.

A lot of people think they “can’t write.” Some will only write when they are inspired. It’s a free country and people can do what they want, but there is one thing I believe about writing: anyone can be a decent writer if they simply write a little bit every day. And you can keep a clean house and pay down debt with the same mentality.

It’s 8:30 and I have to go to work. Ironically, this blog took longer than usual to write. And it needs an edit but I don’t have time. I didn’t procrastinate. I just didn’t like going back to this awful time in my life and it took me a long time to write about it. But it’s over now.

Thanks for reading.

Running late but not procrastinating,


Begin the Blogine?

The historic Route 66 “begin sign” on in Chicago. A fitting image to begin this year’s Bloganuary challenge?

Today’s Bloganuary prompt is, “What do you want to achieve in 2023?” My answer: a better vocabulary.

In 1991, I stage-managed a holiday musical revue called I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas for Carolyn Vincent Productions at the Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis. Like many churches (I would come to learn), it had a small stage that lent itself to Christianity and shitty theatre.

During a rehearsal, the cast, producer and director were talking about including the Cole Porter song, “Begin the Beguine.” I had never heard of the song.

“Begin the what?” I asked.

“The beguine.”

“How do you spell it?” I asked, for I was taking rehearsal notes.

This badge says, “I’m fancy!”


“What’s it mean?”

“You know. A beguine!” said Jennifer, an impatient actor.

Nobody provided a satisfactory definition; there just wasn’t time for that sort of thing at the Plymouth Congregational Church or apparently in the past 32 years because it dawned on me this morning that in all that time I have never looked it up.

Until this morning. It’s a rumba-like dance.

That’s beguine pronounced “buh-GEEN” with a hard g. I also learned there’s a separate definition with two different pronunciations!

"Beguine -- pronounced BAY-geen or BAY-jeen: a member of one of various ascetic and philanthropic communities of women not under vows founded chiefly in the Netherlands in the 13th century." -Merriam-Webster

Now doesn’t that sound like a rip-roaring good time?

Maybe not, but I’ll tell you what is. Listening to a recording of Sammy Davis, Jr. sing “Begin the Beguine” is pure perfection. I’m listening right now and I highly recommend adding it to your playlist. Here’s a video of the legendary crooner.

With that, I’ll sign off for the day. Happy New Year and thank you for reading my blog.

Under vows as I endeavor to achieve a better vocabulary,


P.S. Blogine is pronounced Blog-EEN, not “bluh-jeye-nuh.”

P.P.S. “Begin the Beguine” never made it into the show.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the…

Artists! Yes! Happy Mother’s Day to all the artists who are interested in performing at the Rockford Fringe Festival! I freaking love you creative mothers! Keep those submissions coming!

Look: I know it’s Mother’s Day, but I simply don’t care. I can’t think of anything else except the Rockford Fringe Festival. Once I *know* I have a lineup and have the festival organized and safe, I will resume being normal. Until then, I am strictly fringe. I have fringe on the brain. Fringe fever. Frinnnnnnge.

Reminder: It’s easy to submit your script or pitch. Just fill out this jotform. And hurry because there are a limited amount of spots available. The artist lineup will be announced on or before June 15.

Thanks for reading. Happy Mother’s Day! -Connie

P.S. Please like / follow the Rockford Fringe Festival on Facebook.

Good old Marshalls

Fern needed some black clothes for her orchestra concert so we stopped at Marshalls today. I only shop there once or twice a year. Whenever I walk in, I usually think the same thing.

Good old Marshalls.

But today I had a new thought.

Has that sign always said ‘Rockford’ on it?

Many years ago (1996-2001), I worked for Marshalls; the one in the City Center in downtown Minneapolis. I do not recall our sign having “Minneapolis” on it but maybe I just missed it because many things happen at once when you work at Marshalls.

Working retail has a bad reputation but it’s a decent place to earn some money and benefits if you’re a writer or really any artist. You see, feel and experience so much. But it could get rough at ‘my’ Marshalls. I got spit on, hit on, shoved and yelled at.

Good old Marshalls.

I witnessed two horrific immigration raids in 2001. And one Sunday, a couple guys held up the closing staff. They tied up the women, pointed guns at them and stole several thousands of dollars in cash.

Good old Marshalls.

I saw an employee (a woman) get arrested for stealing panties and a manager (also a woman) get fired for misappropriation of funds. I can’t remember any men ever getting in trouble there but I remember many men who were nothing but trouble.

Good old Marshalls.

But there was so much fun to be had. Marshalls was staffed with awesome people (mostly women) from Minneapolis, of course, but also Mexico, Sudan, Japan, Russia, Tibet and other countries I’m forgetting right now. We laughed a lot. I worked side-by-side with all ages, starting with 16-year-olds all the way up to Barbara, a septuagenarian who drank shots of Listerine throughout her shift. In many ways, I grew up there. I learned so much about what my dad referred to as “the human condition.”

I certainly don’t regret working there but I will never go back to retail. I paid my dues, thanks. But I don’t mind shopping there once or twice a year because it’s a good place to find a bargain. Fern bought the pants and sweater you see in the photograph plus a pair of strappy, high heels for $50 and some change. And she’s going to look great at her concert.

Good old Marshalls!

Thanks for reading my late night blog. -Connie

Fern in the fitting room.