Who the Eff is Monday?
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here. This is Monday:
That is me, at Platform 9 3/4 in London, reading the British edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, specifically the chapter where Harry first gets to Platform 9 3/4. And already, you should know a few things about me.
I often wish I could just continually use pictures and not have to bother trying to bend words to my will, but if I was satisfied with that, I wouldn’t be a writer. So I will, instead, use my thousand words (and then some, probably) and give you all a proper introduction.
So. The easy answer:
Monday is Cassie. She is 22 years old and recently obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in Youth Theatre from Bowling Green State University. And she hates introducing herself.
Don’t get me wrong; I love to make new friends, but I always feel slightly awkward meeting people, especially if I don’t have a script. If I have a script, the introduction is easy:
“Hi, my name is Cassie and I’ll be your Orientation Leader!”
“Hi, I’m Matt’s sister.”
“Hello, I work for Horizon Youth Theatre.”
“Hey! I’m a 2007 Nerdfighter!”
But without that script, when left on my own to decide what’s most important about me, what a person most needs to know to know who I am? Then the introduction becomes more difficult. I have plenty of titles to choose from – preacher’s kid, honors student, director, actor, writer – but choosing one always seems to preclude choosing the others, and none give an entirely accurate portrait of myself.
So, faced with this dilemma, I began searching for a word that would work better, and I finally hit upon it. See, before I was a writer or a director or an actor, before being a sister meant anything to me, and before I understood that being a preacher’s kid was a distinction all its own, I was one thing. I was a storyteller.
When I was little, my favorite place to go shopping was Goodwill with my grandmother, and so every time I went to visit, we’d hop in the car, and she’d go buy me clothes. When I was in preschool, my favorite addition to my wardrobe was a green and purple striped shirt with a megaphone on the front that read “Star Club.” I loved that shirt the moment I saw it (don’t judge four-year-old me, okay? I try not to), and I was so excited to wear it to school, but it had an unforeseen consequence. All of my classmates suddenly started asking me what the Star Club was. Well, I didn’t know. I was four, and it wasn’t technically my shirt. Plus, I wasn’t old enough to understand things like marketing gimmicks and the fact that the advertised Star Club probably didn’t actually exist. All I knew was that I was in a problematic situation: My classmates were asking me a question, and I didn’t have an answer.
So I made one up.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I was not a pathological liar as a child by any means. Far from it. I operated under a strict code of morals. I never lied when the question was important: “Did you really clean your room?” or “Did you practice your piano lesson three times a day, six days this week?” (Okay, so I may have fudged that last one a little. But I could do the math. Really, I was being asked to play through my lesson eighteen times a week, so did it really matter how I split up those eighteen repetitions? I have a feeling my answer was likely markedly different from that of my parents. . .)
But the point is, I never lied when the lie could hurt someone or get me out of trouble or earn me something I didn’t deserve. But if the answer didn’t matter and the truth was boring, why not embellish it? Why not make something up? This was pre-Google, so as long as I worded it right, my classmates would never find out I was just making up this grand Star Club I told them I used to belong to (Golden Phrase for a storytelling preacher’s kid? “Before I moved here.” Worked beautifully in my advantage on more than one occasion).
But even after I had advanced beyond creating backstories for my wardrobe, I remained an avid storyteller. During recess in kindergarten and first grade, when everyone else seemed to be fighting for the swing or the slide or playing Chase the Boys or keepaway, my friends and I were enacting epic adventures that involved wizards and dragons and keeping the playground safe from the dark magical forces that threatened it. It was an ongoing saga, every day at recess, right up until I moved away. At my new school, a similar storytelling saga began. We were older and times were changing, so we were superheroes battling evil monsters and our own conflicted humanity (this game may or may not have been heavily influenced by The Secret World of Alex Mack).
Unfortunately for me (in some ways), when I moved away again, it was right in the middle of that awkward period where being different was frowned upon and having an imagination was grounds for ostracizing, AKA. Middle School. All the girls my age wanted to pretend to be was horses, and that just wasn’t cutting it for me. I started spending a lot of time on the swings.
But my imagination had to go somewhere. So I started writing. My first few stories were horrificly cliched, monstrously autobiographical pieces of fiction, but I wrote them, and gradually, I got better. I discovered fanfiction and fairy tales, and my love for words and stories continued to grow. I began to study them, to collect them, and to really start to think about how they were put together and how they might be better told.
I had been acting since I was six, but it was around this time that I started taking theatre classes with my dad where the goal was to write our own play. I loved that. It had been fun to bring someone else’s story and character to life, of course, but when it was my own character, and my own story, I was hooked into theatre more certainly than I ever had been before. It was also at this time that I started working behind the scenes, stage managing for my dad and seeing what he did as a director and starting to realize that what he did was what I wanted to do.
You could say it was inevitable, really. After all, my dad has a PhD in theatre and he taught and directed me from the ages of 12 to 18. My mom is a minister, so I listened to her tell Bible stories and root out the messages in them and tie them back to her childhood once a week for eighteen years. My mom is also a genealogist on the side, and my dad runs a Readers Theatre troupe called Spoken Images, so I have grown up fully immersed in stories and storytelling. So, yeah. You could say it was inevitable, and you’d probably be right.
These days, I put my college degree to good use, working for Horizon Youth Theatre. I’ve directed two full length plays for them, an adaptation of Cinderella and an adaptation of The Phantom Tollbooth. I’m directing their summer musical, too: Alice in Wonderland. I taught two classes in adapting fairy tales to the stage at their summer camps last year, and I am currently teaching four classes: two dedicated to writing their own play and two dedicated to adapting works of children’s literature into plays, The Tale of Despereaux and The Name of This Book is Secret, to be specific. I write letter games (collaborative storytelling) with a couple friends and my brother, and then a whole lot of original stuff on my own, most of it centered around fairy tales and retelling them.
To wrap up this overly long introduction, I am a lot of things. Daughter, granddaughter, sister, cousin. College graduate, preacher’s kid, Harry Potter fan, Nerdfighter. Writer, actor, director, teacher. But I’ve finally found the word that touches on all of them and really seems to sum up my essence, as it were.
I am Monday. My name is Cassie. I am 22 years old. I am a storyteller. And I am very pleased to make your acquaintance.
My question for the rest of you: What photograph of you best encompasses who you are? If you can post it, great! If not, just describe it for us.
Alexandra, I look forward to meeting you tomorrow!