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Down Darby Lane

Out of Body and On My Mind

I've had a trying couple of weeks. Our elder dog morphs from briefly bouncing like a pup to limping and sleeping. I check her breathing frequently. Her health, along with Ukraine and the pandemic that's become endemic – well, I've been feeling an overload of Doom.

As an antidote, I forced myself to remember experiences that brought the opposite extreme into consciousness. And I came up with a memory that is even lighter than air. I want to share that with you today – in fact, leveraging your attention for my own selfish purpose. I hope you don't mind.

My joy throughout high school was drama and music – two subjects I could not possibly fail. I carried those loves with me as I became a young woman and began to think seriously about a life in the theatre. It's my grand finale from the stage, at age 29, that came immediately to mind as I was seeking escape from the weight of my world today.

I was at a repertory theatre in Santa Barbara and had just landed the prime role of Sally Bowles in "Cabaret" - Liza Minnelli's role in the movie version. I was dancing on top of the world. I had a private dressing room, stagehands who flew to the curtains to help me change costumes (I wore a short, silver lame' jacket with black fishnet hose and high heels), a professional photographer for publicity shoots, and even an understudy. We played to full-house audiences for successive weekends.

To support my stage life, I worked at a family restaurant named Mr. Frimples – where the owner took a shine to my acting talent and endured my lack of people skills as a waitress. He even understood when I threw butter through the pass-through window at the cook who'd dared to call me "sweetie." He kindly made me a hostess rather than firing me. I lived in a tiny apartment with no furniture and only a mattress on the floor – because who needs a couch when you have the stage?

Rehearsals were several nights a week. My understudy followed me like a stalker, hoping I'd literally trip up and give her the break she felt she deserved. We opened to rave reviews, and I relished the comparison of my performance to that of the accomplished Liza Minnelli in the film version of "Cabaret."

But despite the accolades, I was essentially an insecure young woman with low self-esteem from Minnesota – a farming state with scant cultural cachet. Rather than embracing the high praise about my "clear as a bell" singing voice that I got from one reviewer, the words of another critic stuck like superglue. "Ms. Patterson," he wrote, "unfortunately simply mimicked the gestures of Minnelli throughout the performance." Though I knew I'd never seen the movie version (I couldn't afford a movie ticket back then), his words cycled through my brain like a mantra. I felt panned and fried by the critic.

Until one glorious night near the end of the run. It happened as I was singing the show's title song, "Cabaret." The curtains were drawn behind me, and I strode across the stage apron wearing a slinky, pink satin gown, provocatively slit to the waist. Rhinestone bracelets glittered on my arms as I moved with the spotlight, reaching out to the audience, inviting them into the bittersweet world of love and war. And in those moments, I was completely Sally Bowles - conflicted, passionate, afraid. Singing about wild nights and parties as the world approached its darkest hours and Nazis marched the streets. But Sally and I forged ahead, wiping tears from our painted cheeks and defying fate.

We ended center stage, encircled by the single halo of light. We sang:

"Start by admitting From cradle to tomb,

It isn't that long a stay. Life is a Cabaret, old chum,

Only a Cabaret, old chum …. And I love a Cabaret."

We stood with arms upstretched to the heavens. For precious moments the audience was breathlessly still. And I felt us – Sally and me - rise from the ground and hover above the stage – looking out at hundreds of people frozen in time.

A thunder of applause broke the spell, and my heels once again touched the floor. I slowly lowered my arms to see a standing ovation. In the wings, enthusiastic cast members were waiting to welcome me back from the magical place I'd been.

It was an experience I will never forget and cannot explain. My body … in the air. No longer me with feet on the floor. It's known as an out-of-body experience that can happen for a variety of reasons, according to researchers. I still cannot explain how it happened to me – no drugs, alcohol, or fantastical beliefs on board. But with the gravity of our world today, I'm deeply grateful I can revisit that moment when I was Lighter than air and lifted above it all.


I hope you have your own extreme memories that can uplift your spirit in trying times. Thanks so much for sticking with me, reading, and sending me your comments. I read and respond to each message - I value your time and attention. Contact me -

Also - if you've read my cozy mystery novel, The Song of Jackass Creek, I'd greatly appreciate a review - positive feedback means absolutely everything to indie authors like me!

And finally - Happy April Fools Day - Be BAD - in a good way, and let me know your best prank!


Friends and Readers,

A note about most of us, for better and worse, in the Arts. I think we long to share our thoughts and creations - and without you, we are lonely. Imagine, you wrote a beautiful piece of music and no one but you (and perhaps your cat) ever got to hear it. Or painted a picture that no one else but you ever saw, or wrote a story that no one but you read. Sharing is everything for people in the arts and your support is fundamental to the continued creativity of all artists. So, Thank you! 

Hey! Check out this awesome article by popular columnist Ed Goldman - it's about moi! Also subscribe to his clever, witty and smart blog!  

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My Mountain Mystery

My book has gotten fab reviews on Amazon! I am so excited readers like the characters, the setting, the plot - minus lots of graphic violence. 

If you are fond of 'cozy' mysteries please read The Song of Jackass Creek. Check out Reviews HERE.

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Short Story Collection 

Twisted is - twisted! And Gypsy's Wedding - well, you just have to be there!  Click on the books to see more ... 

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Sample Amazon Reviews

This is an excellent writer!

Darby Patterson is truly a talented writer. She describes this little town sweetly without boring the reader with unimportant detail, and her descriptions are vivid. She also develops her characters fully through conversation and action so the reader becomes acquainted with the main players and can form pictures of them early in the book. Her characters' thoughts, interactions, and past activities combine to portray the culture of Redbud throughout the story, and the story itself is creative and holds surprises along the way. I too hope Ms Patterson continues to share her talents with us!

Sondra Jensen

Awaiting the next installment

An invitation to linger in this vanishing part of California which has so much history is writ on every page of this book. I've visited places like Redbud with a creek burbling in the background as gentle breezes sough through the pines and cedars. I've found them quaint and rich with fascinating local lore and history. Jesse, as publisher of the local weekly is very nicely sketched, the authors background as a journalist comes through clean and clear in developing him. This small California mining and logging town scrabbling to hang on, I liked very much as a setting. I wouldn't mind sitting down with Jesse and having a beer and help him solve his next mystery. The test of a good book is whether you'd be willing to read it again, later. This book passes that test and I can't wait for the next installment.

Jack Howard


Please let this be the first of a series!

Wonderful book; adult without being ‘R’ rated, complex story and well developed characters. The people of ‘Redbud’ ring true and, as a native Californian, the lumber, real estate and politics are spot on. I hope this is the beginning of a series because the author has created characters you want to know better.

D. Holmes

My other passion
Sculpting for bronze - See more HERE
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