Author, Actor, Playwright, Excellent Parallel Parker

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Friday, December 21, 2012

In Which I'm Still Here

It's December 21, 2012, and I'm still here. (Cue Elaine Stritch in full Sondheim regalia.)

One year ago today, I was shaken awake by two masked gunmen who put a pillow over my face, and held a gun to my head. After a four hour ordeal involving duct tape and lots of yelling (at me), the felons left with my wedding rings, some Christmas gifts, my laptop, cell phone, credit cards, and a few other easily pawned items. They are still at large.

When I asked my husband to replace my wedding rings, he didn't answer me. That's when I knew I was in real trouble. Ten days later, on January 1, he announced his intentions to leave our marriage. He refused marriage counseling, and my downward spiral began.

Yesterday, I spoke with my therapist, and she said something incredibly kind. She said, "Irene, seeing you and hearing you today is so far from what I heard and saw a year ago. I'll consider it a special Christmas gift."

Then I started blubbering like a blubbering blubberer, and she thought maybe she spoke too soon.

But you know what?

I feel good.

I found out this month that:

a) I do not have pre-cervical cancer (as feared) and get to keep my lady parts,

b)  I am cast in a lovely role in Noel Coward's Hay Fever at Virginia Repertory Theatre,

c)  my play, Miss Palmer's School of Penmanship and Civil Behavior will have a reading in Kansas City,

d)  I am being considered (along with 4 others) to write an exciting new play that I can't talk about yet,

e) and that I am "a very beautiful woman," this being said not by my mother, but by someone who has gently touched my face and my heart.

This blog marks the end of a writing block that has shaken my self-confidence, and hollowed my soul. What's there to blog about when the black dog has you around the middle and is giving you the good ol rag doll shake? But that's over now. Thanks to Prozac (hey, big fan here) and sleeping pills, I have wakened refreshed, and can see the sky.

On my birthday, December 7, a friend took me inside the Jefferson Hotel just to soak up the Christmas atmosphere. I watched parents taking pictures of their red velvet children in front of nutcrackers, ribbon, and poinsettias. The tree in the lobby drew every eye to that glorious ceiling, and I thought, "Where has Christmas been?" I felt, literally, as if I was waking up after a year-long nightmare. Thank you, friend, for taking me there.

And thank you Kristin Swansen, for your literary salon. And thank you Bill Patton for tennis and company (you stubborn old goat). Thank you Melissa Rayford for caring so deeply. Thank you Terry Duncan, for Thanksgiving and holding me. And thank you mom and dad, for coming to see me and helping me in the yard. This spring, the fruits of efforts will pay off, and my world will have color. Thank you Dorothy Holland and my kids in Acting 201. You forced my brain onto a familiar track, challenged, and gave me joy.

Thank you everyone I will see today for coffee, cookies, creative thinking, wine, and love.

I'm changing my name back to Irene Mary Ziegler, but that's the only thing I'm carrying forward from my old life.  I'm stepping onto a new stage, and I'm going to make it my bitch.


  1. You go girl! I'm sorry you've had such a terrible experience but it sounds like you are doing all the right things to have a great new year! Love you!

    Debbie Roper Phillips

  2. I only disagree with one syllable of one word: "downward." To my eye, your motion in the last year has been in the opposite direction. Twice in recent months, I have seen a vibrant, beautifully alive woman across a crowded room, only to realize after the fact, "Oh, my god -- that was Irene!" The gift you gave your therapist has also been given to me in the last ten minutes, while reading your words here. Onward and upward, Irene Mary Ziegler. It's a direction you know well.

  3. A beautiful woman indeed. Merry Christmas, sweet friend. All good things are ahead.

  4. I looked up your website after enjoying your excellent guess starring role in the "Ressurector" episode of "American Gothic," which I have been rewatching on DVD. I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your performance. I am saddened to learn that you have had such a terrible year, but hope all the best for you in the future. You are an immensely talented and very beautiful lady.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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