Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year's Resolutions for 2010

The season is upon us now, the time for gifts and giving...and as the year draws to a close, I think about my living..."

So I have some resolutions this year.  I see, in my Draft folder from last year, that I belated came up with a few, but never published them.  This year, what I can do to be a better person, a better citizen of the community I live in, of the World, jumps out at me like the jack-in-the box in "Elf".

1)  To pay more attention to family, spend more time at home.  After all, these are the only kids I will ever have.  My husband is my one and only.  Everyone who knows me will agree with this one, I'm sure.
2)  Spend more time alone, listening to myself, and the wee small voice that guides me.
3)  Love more.  Don't know if this is possible.  I love an awful lot, but I can sure try.
4)  Be more creative.  I know what you're thinking...but so often, I think of creative things I'd like to make--sewing, crafts, beadwork, photography...and as we all know, EVERYTHING takes a back seat to theatre.  Not that that's a bad thing, but...I guess this fits in to trying to make more 'me' time.
5)  Try to maintain a company-ready house.  Ha.
6)  Connect more with my far-away family.  That means, you, Diane, Andy, cousins, and Uncle.
7)  To try to fight the darkness more, not give in so much.  I am the least of those with reason to be blue about anything, and on good days, I know that.  I will think less, "Well, this is how I am," and think more of 1001 reasons to have a GOOD day.
8)  READ more.  I get depressed hearing about other people reading.  I used to have a book in my hand constantly.  Nowadays, it's always a script.  Again, not that that's such a bad thing, but...there's more out there than theatre.
9) Pay more attention to the Gallery.  'Nuff said.

Nine.  Good grief.  I need to print these out and post them everywhere to remind me.  I WILL see them through.  Check back with me on December 31, 2010.  We'll see how I did...


Friday, December 25, 2009

"What day is it?'s Christmas Day, of course!"

For a family that has spent a lot of time saying 'no' over the past year, there was certainly a lot of 'yes' on Christmas morning...  

My son and my husband are TOTALLY enthralled with Beatles Rock Band, which we, mentioned to Santa, way back in October.  Charlie, whose mother (me) spends a good deal of her 'yell time' decrying the effect of electronic entertainment on the lives of the family and the development of her children, never expected such a bonus under the tree this morning, but...well, what can I say...that was some pretty effective marketing out there--the commercials and all.  John can't take his eyes off the screen--the graphics, the animation.  Pretty amazing stuff.

Ben is happy with his Bakugan, a new Yugioh tin of cards, his HeroClix, and a new Interwrite drawing tablet (from Hudson!).

John was surprised with a camera, a hard drive (to back up his novel), a new toaster, a whistling teapot (a sound that's been missing from our house for 20 years....), and a Memory Foam mattress pad like the one Janet has.  (Yay!)

The house is filled with the smell of good burning wood courtesy of our poorly designed chimney.  Charlie is distressed about replacing the toaster because the toaster we have now is the same toaster they used in "Ghostbusters II" to 'toast the slime' (or something).  I promised him that we would decommission the toaster from toasting, but would relegate it to theatre prop status so we'd still have it.

Ben thanked me several times.  He seemed excited about exploring the possibilities for art projects in a new magazine Santa brought him that is totally written and illustrated by children.

Charlie is looking forward to upgrading his computer with the $100 Lucky Life Best Buy gift card.  [Lucky in that I dropped it in the parking lot and a Best Buy employee called to tell me it had been found even before I knew it was gone.  Wow.]

And me?  I'm cleaning up after us all.  I bagged up all the wrapping paper to take outside and John said I looked like the Ghost of Christmas Over.   Chuckle.  I'd like to do some entertaining over the next couple weeks and Christmas is the only time of year when my house is actually clean...

It's not all commercialism here, really.  We went to church last night--Park Chapel--where we sang and sang and sang.  I know all the words to all the verses.  I'm one of those people who "honors Christmas in my heart and tries to keep it all the year".   I hugged my good friend Dennis, who was there with all the kids (while Rachelle went after the new puppy).  The service opened with the wonderful Linus speech form "A Charlie Brown Christmas".  Wonderful.  Enjoyed the singing of Don Crane, the Fine Arts minister there who has become a friend.  Enjoyed being in the church period.  The music there speaks to me.  

After, we delivered some of my cookies to friends--Urbans, Judy and Sharon, Coles...  Came home and wrapped gifts (the show put me back a month in Christmas prep) and filled the time until it was late enough to try and get the kids to bed.  We opened our ornaments.

Our ornaments are a wonderful time capsule of our lives.  We shop seriously for 'the' ornament that encapsulates our year--this year, Charlie got a Ghostbusters ornament, Ben got yet another Godzilla ornament (yes, I know--how festive--and we have five of them now...), and I got John a TV ornament that plays the Twilight Zone theme.  He got me a teddy bear that says 'Believe', but I have my ornament from "Fiddler" that Don gave me...  ;-)

We read the stories--first "The Night Before Christmas", which I have memorized, so it's just a matter of showing the pictures; and then the Christmas story.  My year was greatly enhanced by directing "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" this year where the Christmas story figures heavily.  I'm forever changed, I think, from that experience.

After the boys went to bed, I wrapped gifts far into the night...played on FaceBook and watched "A Christmas Story" twice, I think (there's a 12-hour marathon of it on...TBS?).  Thoroughly enjoyed reading everyone's updates:  wrapping gifts, opening them, eating, movie quotes, celebrating Christmas, each in his own house, but sharing with the rest of us out there. 


Ben just asked me if when I opened my iPhone, was it gonna glow like the Ark of the Covenant in the Indiana Jones movie.  Ha.

Yeah, an iPhone was what I got.  Charlie's idea for him, but we decided that he had enough distractions.  I probably do , too, but what a cool toy. 

Later today we're going to use John's movie certificates to go see "Avatar".  I've heard mixed reviews, but it looks pretty good to me, and like a good Christmas movie.

A good Christmas, good family time, a good year.
Happy Holidays.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Bad Writing Hangover

Wow.  I felt asleep almost immediately (after posting the previous piece of writing) and woke up an hour later having had a nightmare about the aftereffects of posting such a piece.  It was a dream along the lines of 'nothing bad can happen until you hit the 'send' key (Ha.  Thanks, Dennis!)  and it was too late.  Jayme was in it.  Hudson was in it.  Others I think. 

I'm just an equal opportunity writer.  With the ups, comes the downs.  But, for more on the ups, you should see:  That's where the happiness is.  Jus' so you know where to look. 

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sleeping on the Couch

You'd think at Christmas I could write something uplifting...  I mean, I'm so filled with happiness so much of the time...with so much joy that it seems like one heart can't hold it all.  So when do I decide to write?  When I'm sad, and alone.  And lonely.  When I'm nobody's favorite anything.

I'm sleeping on the couch out here where I can see our Christmas tree.  It's a beautiful tree.  It's the most beautiful tree.  Covered in white lights and ribbon.  I can see our ornaments.  Mine, from the year I was born, from my childhood Christmases, my growing up years, my adult married years, and my most recent Christmases.  And all the gift ornaments we've gotten over the years...the ornaments we've bought for the kids, one for each year of their lives, which they will take with them when they go to start their families.  It's a great tradition.

I'm sleeping out here on the couch because I'm up too late and I don't want to bother John by coming to bed.  I stayed up way too late working on Christmas.  On cookies, because that's all I can do for my friends, the ones who make my life worth living.  The ones that make my world a better place with their smiles.  On special projects that give me happiness to work on.

I'm sleeping out here on the couch because my side of the bed isn't ready for me.  It's covered with clothes that need to be folded and put away, and with wrapping paper and ribbon and scissors and tape and tags.  I didn't finish anything today, and if I go in and clear it off now, I will bother John.  And I don't want to do that.

But I took my pillow.  And Bradley the bear.  And took Charlie's extra comforter.  And I will sleep out here on the couch.  Where I can see my beautiful tree.  And look out at the lights of other houses and homes.  And I can sniff without disturbing anyone.  And listen to the sounds of the house.  And once I've thought way too much about everything, I can tell myself that tomorrow is another day and there will be joy, again, in the morning.  Sleeping on the couch has a bad connotation, but this is right.  And okay.

Monday, December 14, 2009

My Blogger Friend Liz

I have friends in my life that I know much better in cyberspace than I do in real life.  My Blogger Friend Liz is one of those.  I believe I stumbled onto her blog, Eternal Lizdom, through Indiana Auditions.  She's a theatre person and a mom, (but make no assumptions about her titles--that's what it says on her blog), so we have that in common.  She works; I don't...much anyway.  Her kids are young; mine are older.  She writes about her children, her life, her causes in life.  I feel a connection with her even though our physical social circles don't link.   I read her blog.  She writes a lot.  She reads mine.  I don't write that much.  But it's a comfort to me to know she's out there.  She's on FaceBook, too, so we're doubly connected.

So we recently got to meet.  Knowing that she's a theatre person, I invited her to bring Teagan, her daughter, to one of the matinees for "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever". 

And so she came--and brought Teagan.  I immediately scared Teagan to death by being 'overly familiar' with her, but gosh, I feel like I know her.  I feel like I know Liz.  It was great to meet her, although I didn't have much time to spend since I was the director of the show and in charge of the massive movement of students in and out of the auditorium.  But I had seats for them in the front, and I showed them around backstage.  It was a joy to share my world with them.  I think she's hoping that Teagan clicks into theatre (so LIZ can get back into it, too--believe me, it's much easier to be a theatre person when your KIDS are involved, too!!!) and I hope I moved her a little closer to that.  ;-)

So Liz,  my blogger/FaceBook friend, we continue to have that cyberspace connection.  I enjoy our friendship and I love knowing you're out there.  Give your kids a hug for me; keep what's important close; and keep writing.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Six Stati for an An Oncoming Storm

Christine C. Schaefer....

1)  ...can feel it coming on like a slow-moving storm.
2) ...wants to sleep.
3) wearing her 'minimum wage' attire.
4) ...wonders where her iPod is.
5) ...can't seem to get anything done.
6) ...thinks she should check the flashlight for batteries.

Parenting Sucks or I Suck at Parenting...Take Your Pick

Raising a Difficult Child, Chapter 648

All we do is fight--about school, clothes, chores, money.  My child seems to hate me because I want him to get on the bus on time, wear clean clothes and bathe, do his homework and care whether or not the answers are right or wrong.  He's absolutely hateful to me because I want him to be a responsible well-adjusted citizen of the world.  

I kept him up until 12:45 finishing and correcting Math, while he pretended not to remember a single math rule:  how to divide fractions and decimals, how to average, how to find the circumference of a circle.  Finally we finished and I sent him to bed, only to have to drag him--almost literally--out of bed to get on the bus five hours later.  I know you think I'm exaggerating here, but I'm not.  I use threats, counting down, and a squirt bottle to get him (and his older brother) out of bed in the morning. 

And then the battle starts again--the fight to get him to wear something other than what he wore yesterday, to eat something--ANYTHING,  take his medicine, brush his teeth, comb his hair and get out to the bus on time.  "No, you're NOT taking your DS to school and not those cards either!  Do you have your homework??  Do you need lunch money???"  We start out every morning fighting over basic preparedness for the day.  It's discouraging.  It's more than discouraging.  It's a horrible way to start every day.


So he made it into the Geography Bee.  Somebody else told me this--not him.  I eventually read it in the school newsletter....  I thought to myself, I'll go see him.  I'll see him in the Geography Bee.  I made plans to take time off work and be there.  I'll support him and show him that in spite of all the fighting, arguing and anger, I do love him--very, very much.

Well, I missed it.  The school newsletter said it was today.  It was yesterday.  I missed it. 

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Do you watch Glee?

It's one of my guilty pleasures these days.  It's a little soap opera of a show built around a school show choir.  The characters are pretty stock, although not always predictable--the athletes, the cheerleaders, the drama kids, the gay kid, the black girl, etc., etc., but over the past few months, I've gotten to know and love them (and/or enjoy watching them because WHO in their right might could 'love' Sue or Terri?).  It works pretty hard to be both politically correct and edgy--the multi-cultural cast, and then some of the things they say to each other.  My RAR (Responsible Adult Reaction) to its depiction of high school, the irresponsible teachers, the glib attitude towards sex/drugs would be a parents' nightmare,'s been really fun to watch.  I LOL all the time.  And I think it's gotten better over the run of the first season.  The acting has gotten better, the drama has increased.  A lot of my DramaTeens watch it so it's a fun connection between us, and I love  sitting down to watch it on FaceBook with all the musical theatre people out there.  I think what I enjoy the most about it, however, is the absolute joy the cast seems to get out of performing the numerous show choir numbers interspersed throughout the hour-long program.  Their song choices have been eclectic and wonderful, ranging from 70s and 80s rock songs to Broadway, to ballads, to even a little C&W.  I downloaded the CD from iTunes and have thoroughly enjoyed singing along with the songs I know, and learning the ones I didn't.  I know the show is a hit in my corner of the world, and I hope it's a hit everywhere....

So...last night was the season finale.  The show choir went to Sectionals, up against the Deaf School and a reform school for girls.  On the surface, this doesn't seem like real stiff competition, but that bitch Sue leaked their set list, so the other schools did all the songs OUR show choir had planned to sing.  True to form, however, New Directions (the name of their choir) pulled a trick out of their pocket and agreed to allow their 'star' (Rachel) to sing, pretty much solo, while they did some rudimentary choreography.  They handed her the sheet music in the green room; she looked at it and said, "I've been preparing for this since I was four years old."  They took the stage, more or less without rehearsing and she belted out "Don't Rain on My Parade". 

I spent the entire number alternately jumping up and down and wiping tears from my eyes.  Although I'm not known as a singer (no comments from the peanut gallery please), I--like Rachel in the show--spent many, many growing up hours re-enacting scenes, dancing and belting out Barbra songs--including this one--in the refuge of my basement bedroom. I have a composite CD in my car called "Chris's Joy Music" that contains this song about marching forth, and refusing to take no for an answer, about getting what you want and hanging on to happiness.  Everyone should have a 'Joy Music' CD to pop in when the going gets especially tough.  And of course, I thought of her--my auntie, Betsy, who died several years ago after a three-year battle with ALS.  She was the consummate Barbra fan, who so revered Streisand that she named her first child after one of her songs ("Jennie-Rebecca").  My aunt, who was such a role model in my life, a guiding force, an encourager, and the model of how to walk through this world--would have loved "Glee".  Sappy soap opera that it is, I can totally see her sitting down every Wednesday night, logging on to FaceBook with the rest of the Gleeks, watching it and loving it.  She'd have hated Sue and loved Mr. Shuester, cried over 'the gay kid' and 'the wheel chair kid' and sung right along with--if not ALL the songs--then at least the showtunes.  My auntie, who sent me my one and only telegram on the opening night of my high school musical, who used to call me on Saturday mornings during a showtune program on her local public radio station, who introduced me to books (Narnia and Lord of the Rings), and music (folk, Broadway, and classical), and shared love and wisdom with me until she no longer could.  Aunt, I miss you and think of you often.  The world is a little colder for want of the warmth you gave.  And, because I know you're watching, I hope there's Hulu in heaven.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Could We Start Again Please

I've been living to see you.
Dying to see you, but it shouldn't be like this.
This was unexpected,
What do I do now?
Could we start again please?
I've been very hopeful, so far.
Now for the first time, I think we're going wrong.
Hurry up and tell me,
This is just a dream.
Oh could we start again please?

                         ---Andrew Lloyd Webber

Monday, November 16, 2009


Sometimes, it's just so hard.  So....hard.  How do we do it?  How do we keep moving through life?  Especially when everything is so hard.  It just seems like everyone wants so much from me...more than I can give.  I have nothing left to give.  I've already given it all away.  I'm empty.  I'm exhausted.  I'm drained.  And there's no well to drink from.  No help.  No hope.  I know what my last inch is, and they won't take it from me.  They won't have to.  I'll give it away...I already know that.  And then I really will have nothing left to give.  And when I've nothing left to give, who will stand by me?  Who will want to?  Where did it all go wrong?  Why did I think I could do any of this?  Hello, old, old friend....  Oh, god, where's my flashlight?


Monday, November 9, 2009

A Prayer

I hardly ever talk to You and I almost never ask for anything.  Mostly, I just thank You for all the joys I'm lucky enough to experience, but...tonight I'm asking for something.  It's this.  Give that boy back his confidence.  Help him to bounce.  Help him to refind and rekindle the joy of those early days when he KNEW he could do it.  I'm not sure he thinks he can anymore.  I know he can.  You know he can.  He needs to know it, too.  Help him to believe in himself again.  Please.  Give him back his swagger and his bravado.  Help him to know that he CAN.  I really don't ask for something very often.  I'm asking for this.  Please.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Just can'

Some days, it's just too hard.
Some days, I just can't do it.
Some days, it's really easy to understand why there are those who just can't get out of bed, who give up.  

Today...maybe tomorrow one of those days.  There were more than the usual blows, more than the usual kicks to the stomach.  More than I can bounce back from.

Make no mistake, every day on this earth for everyone has its moments...moments of discouragement, situations and circumstances in any one life that are difficult.  We all face them every day.  But some days, there are more of these moments than usual.

Today was one of those days....

My usual load includes the guilt I carry because I'm not working, a husband whose hates his job, the stress that not enough money causes, an unmotivated older child and a very difficult younger child, a house that's dirty and cluttered, a strong (but so far manageable) desire to be just about anywhere but home.  My perpetual fear of letting people down.

Today, however, we add to the usual, something that's been lost.  We add a child who's going to be kicked out drama.  Car trouble.  The need to buy a new air conditioning unit.  Hurt feelings.  And stuff I still didn't get done.  A migraine.  A sick stomach.

 It's almost more than I can bounce back from.

Oh.  I know I will.  Eventually.  But for now, it's just too hard.  Too hard to get up.  Too hard to smile.  Easier just to give up.  Stay in bed.  Sleep.  Sleep until something gives...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Creepy Half-Light Dream

12:24 a.m.
Late at night at the Memorial Building only not the Memorial Building.  I'm there and I'm messing around in the half-light created by the street lights shining in.  I get spooked and decide to go to the other building, which is maybe the Art House but more like another Memorial Building.  It's dark...more weird light cast by pale street lights.  I get spooked walking and decide to run.  I see that there's weird guy in a trench coat with a wrapped face like the Invisible Man off to my right.  As I'm running, I start to fly.  [Wow.  Haven't had a flying dream in, like, forever.]  And I fly in through one of those big windows...try to turn the lights on, but there's no power.  I start yelling for someone.  No answer.  And then I 'land' (I was flying, remember?).  I come down slowly (like from the flying equipment at the HS), but my feet are coming down on that creepy wrapped guy, who somehow climbed into the window just after I flew in.  In the dream, I'm struggling and fighting him and kicking at him and yelling and wondering why someone doesn't answer.

When I wake up from the turmoil of the dream, I'm lying perfectly still, holding onto John's wrist, but in my head, still yelling. 

Monday, October 19, 2009

On Being Fifty

Yeah, I know.  I turned 50 quite awhile back--in July.  But sometimes, like today, it just comes smacking me in the face.

Took the kids to Ball State.  Fun, fun.  They're SO excited.  Can hardly wait to get there.  On the cusp of their lives--their REAL lives.  And the place hums, just hums with opportunities.  Opportunities to learn, to create, to build a life around.  Opportunities that I can easily get excited about at 50.  But...they're not for me.  No, not at all.  The world is not for 50.  The world is for 18, and 25...30 even.  Not 50.

I'm not old.  Not on the inside, but isn't that what we all say?  Oh, please, we're just humoring ourselves and the rest of the world is, too.  I look in the mirror.  I see my face.  My hair.  I feel the stiffness in my hips, my knees.  I, who like to run and climb up and jump down.  It's  nasty trick that time plays on us.  It's so not fair.  Not fair.  There's a LOT left in me.  A LOT.  I still have much to give, things to finish, projects to start, creations yet unthought of, even.  Music, laughter, the beauty of nature, the joy of loving and being loved--there's a lot of that left in me.  Still.  But I'm on the downside now...more of my life has passed than there is ahead.  How can that be?

I don't regret a single decision I've made in my life.  Well...surprisingly few.  I haven't left a long trail of woulda, shoulda, coulda.  Lots of people who pass through this world do.  Not me.  It's a short list--counted on one hand.  I've had a wonderful life, full of wonderful people and wonderful experiences.  I've known just about all the joys the world has to offer; I've had blessings beyond expectation.  How could I be so fortunate?

But the world is not for people my age.  If we're lucky, we're treated politely.  If we're not, we're ridiculed, brushed aside, humored, cajoled, appeased.  Here's a BINGO card, Grandma, we're gonna go ride roller coasters now and we'll catch you later.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ten Statuses for a Sunday Afternoon

Christine C. Schaefer...

1) …LOVES the smell of freshly mown grass…
2) …is cleaning out the receipts from her purse and realizes that she has spent a considerable amount of money on BEADS!
3) …loves the sound of the boys playing in the other room without the help of electricity.
4) …wonders just HOW many people actually still use a phonebook. They just dumped a bag load of them at our front door. I don’t think I’ve used a phone book in years….except to sit on. ;-)
5) …found four pairs of reading glasses, the first script for Steel Magnolias, eight half-read Newsweeks, Chris Vetters’ Fiddler DVD, two rolls of scotch tape, more bead receipts, half a dozen Spicettes, both Hits of the 60s CDs, and 38¢ in the middle basket in the front seat of her car. Huh.
6) …loves the smell of a cook-out!
7) …hopes that “9” is still playing NEXT weekend when her little guy is off for Fall Break…
8) ….is looking forward to spending the day with the young people tomorrow.
9) …thinks her husband bakes the world’s best cookies.
10) ….wonders if anyone ever reinstated Haley’s comet….

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dream: 10/14/09

Well, it's probably not surprising that I had a bit of a nightmare last night. Almost fell asleep over the computer, my head on the kitchen table even. Got to bed really late. Our house is cold, the heat not on I scooted over and actually fell asleep under the arm--usually I end up moving back to my side before I drift off.

Dreamed that I was back at school, in a school principaled by the Magnet Queen (from John Marshall). I was in a classroom of student desks, empty except for her and few other teachers. I was sitting in one of the rows, one of the student desks, and was turned around talking to her. I couldn't breathe, kept passing out. When I'd 'come to', I'd ask her for help, saying, "I know you don't like me, but can you help me...I can't breathe right. I need help." She'd ignore me. I'd pass out again. This went on for awhile, until I woke up gasping for breath, of course.

Haven't had a school dream for awhile now. Weird.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Things That Make Life Worth Living--10/4/09 (3 a.m. edition)

1) Really really-good friends.
2) Small town parades.
3) Texting with Shazam.
4) Great ideas in the middle of the night.
5) Don't-look-at-me laughter in inappropriate places.
6) Discovering a new theme song.
7) Heartlinks.
8) Delighting in the talents of my Beloved People.
9) Sweater weather.
10) Poets and poetry.

Friday, October 2, 2009

All the Things They Are to Me

1) The person who laughs at me and ultimately makes me laugh at myself--hard.
2) The person who warms the bed and--if I come in late--never, ever complains about being wakened up when I move closer.
3) The person who makes me believe in myself more than anyone else I know.
4) The person who picks up my scattered pieces and hands them back to me in the right order.
5) The person who still holds hands with me once in awhile.
6) The person who understands that tears sometimes just need to be.
7) The person who knows ALL my faults and still loves me.
8) The person who has been there since the beginning of this journey and still is.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

First Frost

First of October.
5:30 in the morning.
Cold. Dark.
Over Frosted Cheerios, orange juice, and super-hero vitamins,
I terrorize my 6-year-old son
with a threatening breakfast table reading
of "Little Orphant Annie".
His eyes grow round and his brow furrows
with the visual imagery
of 'two great big black things a-standin' by her side....'
A questionable celebration of every Hoosier schoolchild's birthright
to hear, know, and love
these poems in the autumn of the year.

Hurrying out the door,
my husband's paintings stacked in the hall,
ready to be delivered to the Riley Festival art competition.

The van needs washing
for our appearance in Saturday morning's parade.
Defroster ad wipers cooperate
to create and clear slush from my glazed windshield.
My boy's ghostly breath hangs in the air.

Speeding to school along backroad Indiana.
not on sheltered front-porch pumpkins,
but in scattered patches across yards and fields,
a crazy-quilt of fragile, frozen lace.

I cross the overpass on the shoulderless country road
and look boldly into the brilliant orange orb of the rising sun,
tinted leaves burnished by early morning light.
Cars rushing under and on
their lights yellow eyes in the shadowed dawn.

We speak of cornfields and soybeans we pass.
Is harvest near?
Is there yet sheet of green in those husky, rusty tossels?
I reach awkwardly back for his small hand
and he meets me halfway.

What a fine thing it is
to be alive
on this first frosted morning of October,
and to live in Greenfield on the cusp of Riley Days.
To hold a warm hand in the chill of the air
and see the beauty of change.
What joy I feel with each brisk inhale.
How fortunate to be old enough
to understand and appreciate.

My rhymeless homage is unworthy of that great Hoosier poet
with his homespun homilies and sentimental musings.
I know not if I have captured his essence with these nostalgic words
but I certainly share his delight and wonder
of a fine, first frosty morning in October.

C. Schaefer

Friday, September 25, 2009

"All Skate and Skate Slow...."

So I'm listening to this collection of golden-oldie country and western CDs that HJohn, my personal music librarian, brought home. Some of the just SCREAM "Steel Magnolias"--like Kitty Wells' "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" and Patsy's "Walkin' After Midnight". GREAT, great stuff. Then "The Battle of New Orleans" comes on and suddenly, there I am, in the 7th grade at Roller Rink South on Bluffton Road in Fort Wayne, skating around and around at one of the countless skating parties we used to go to when we were 'teens and pre-teens'. They were THEE social event of my junior high years. A carefully-selected outfit, my 'shag' hairstyle combed just right, and don't forget the blue eye shadow (yeech!). Skating around and around, hoping to catch the eye (or the hand) of that certain someone...and then this song would come on and everyone would skate, and march along with it, and 'shoot the duck', as it was called:

"In 1814 we took a little trip
Along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip.
We took a little bacon and we took a little beans
And we caught the bloody British in the town of New Orleans."

Well, here! Enjoy it for yourself: Battle of New Orleans

And when it was over, the stomping, the marching, the fun...the skater-guy-announcer would put on some easy listening (Ray Charles "Ramblin' Rose") to get us to calm down and remind us, in his 'tell us what she won, Johnny' voice that this was an "All-skate, and skate slow...."


Monday, September 21, 2009

New Blog

Hello, followers and regular readers of "Better in Writing" (all 14 of you). Just wanted to let you know that I have a new blog where I'm writing about mostly about theatre stuff:

Check it out if that's your area of interest.... :-)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Poem in My Head

I've got a poem in my head
itching to get out.
The lines rattle around in my brain--
They 'peat and repeat'
--as I weigh the worth of each sentence in words.
Different phrases, and rhythms, and lines--
I recite it to myself silently, out loud
and read it over and over again.
When is it finished?
Will I know when it's done?
What works and what doesn't?
And is it really a poem?
And suddenly, it is perfect--
Just what I wanted to say.
Another poem, a perfect verse.
And it's mine.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Too Much

As nervous and excited
As if you were mine.
To which--I shrug--oh, well.
Thus I learn where I stand.
Thus I learn my place
in the Kingdom.

What would it have cost
to touch me with your moment?

A lesson much needed.
A lesson in reality.
And so I'll sit by a phone
That hasn't rung
And ruminate
On Truth.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Things That Make Life Worth Living--9/17/09 Edition

1) Glee
2) Cran-Grape juice
3) Little girls who like to throw baseballs and dads who love them
4) Lex Adkison
5) Things that you care about so much they're worth crying over
6) the bizarre, eclectic, and wonderful assortment of men in my life
7) the anticipation of working with Shazam
8) Facebook
9) unlimited texting
10) being the age I am and STILL believing that each day is better than the one before

Friday, September 11, 2009

Where were you...?

This is an old piece of writing...I believe I wrote it the following year, in anticipation of talking about 9/11 in my classroom, so it's written a little more simply from my usual wordy style. I'm glad I wrote it. I wouldn't have remembered that I was watching when the second plane crashed...or the lines at the gas station. Even now, I can't read it without reacting worrying about my family, and seeing those kids with the flags and poster. What a horrific day that was. It's my memory, and just one of 280 million personal memories from that generation's Pearl Harbor, the day that lives in infamy for us.

As long as I live, I will never forget where I was and what I was doing on 9/11. It was early in the school year, early in the day, and I was in a team meeting with the people of 6B—Nakarado, Timmons, Hartshorn, Smith, Hamilton, and Williams. I was taking notes on the meeting, and we were just about to end. Suddenly, someone-- I forget who it was now—came into the room and told us that a plane had just run into the World Trade Center. We ended the meeting, and got up and went into Mr. Timmons room and turned on the TV. The picture that we saw is now burned into my brain—the tall tower in New York City leaking thick, black smoke. I went back to my room and turned on the TV in my room, too, and so I was watching when the second plane crashed into the two towers. The TV picture changed, and I was watching a long-view shot of Washington DC, where I had just been on vacation that summer, and the announcers were reporting that there was some kind of fire at the Pentagon. I don’t remember hearing about the fourth plane, the one that crashed in Pennsylvania, although I heard about it a lot afterwards.

I don’t believe I got really frightened until I heard that the president was en route to his underground bunker—a place where he could be protected from any and all harm. THAT frightened me, and I shook a little. I remember that all I wanted to do was to go home and gather my family around me so I would know that we were all safe and at home where we belonged.

I e-mailed back and forth with my husband all day and we agreed that we would each pick up one of the children and go to the church. Yes, we agreed, the church. We would feel safe there and take our fears and sorrows to God. As I drove to pick up Ben, I turned down Mitthoeffer, and passed groups of children waving flags and holding up signs that said, “God Bless America”, and I cried for what our country was having to go through. We were unable to get to our church. We had to go through an intersection with three gas stations.People were fearing a gas shortage, and the traffic was backed up for half a mile with cars trying to fill up. In the end, we went home, and watched TV through the night, and saw over and over again, the planes flying in and the towers collapsing. I saw the Pentagon on fire, and the huge crater in the ground, that became a symbol of those brave, brave people on flight #93.

As I write this, I have tears in my eyes remembering some of the images from the TV and the stories of courage and tragedy, of miracles and hope. I also know that it’s very possible that when I read it to you, I may again cry over some of my memories. I think that there may be some of you who wonder why I have tears in my eyes. I wonder, too, why I get so emotional sometimes, so I thought about it awhile, and here’s what I think. The first reason is, I love this country. I am very patriotic. I look back on its glorious history and I’m amazed at the people who have given their lives so that I and my family might live where I want to, and in the way I want to. I honor them with my tears. And second, I cannot stand to see the sorrows of others, particularly when it comes to the deaths of loved ones. When I think of 9/11, I think of the terrible blow that this country suffered and how we have fought back with our pride and our national symbol—the American flag. It’s everywhere, letting the world know that we are indeed the greatest country in the world. And then I think of the human suffering for which 9/11 was only the first day. I think of the 63 children who were never picked up after school by parents who worked at the World Trade Center. I think of Lisa Beamer, whose husband was one of the heroes of flight 93. I think of the hundreds of funerals for police and firemen, who were on their way up, when the Twin Towers came down. Days later, I read the notes I took in the team meeting on that morning of 9/11. The very last sentence read: “The meeting ended, and we all went to watch TV.”

Monday, September 7, 2009

Lost Highways

Because I sometimes can't help posting sadness, that's all the more reason to blog about the moments of pure joy in my life...

As I type, I'm pulled over to the side of the road on I-69, heading south. I had a real nice weekend with my mom (see A Melodramatist Muses...) and now I'm on my way home...driving through the center of the state, the center of middle-America... I passed a hawk stretching his wings as he perched on the fence, a reddish-gold assortment of horses in a green-green field, wide open expanses of corn, soybeans just beginning to yellow, trees showing faint tints of gold and scarlet. The sky is real gray....beautiful. The clouds shift around, trying to arrange themselves for rain. I'm doing something I love to do and don't get to do much anymore: drive--alone--in the car, radio cranked, loving Indiana even on a gray September morning. I think, does it get better than this? And then, it does. Hoosier-born Mellencamp comes on--with the greatest instrumental rock intro ever--and starts whining about lovers who drive him crazy. And suddenly, I'm 23 again and driving over to Urbana to see Donny. I remember you, Donny, and that boathouse summer. I remember your skinny runner's legs and how you'd run the seven miles in to camp and the seven miles back into the sunrise. I'm many roads away from you now, but I remember....oh, yes.

So I'm driving down the highway (4 miles over the speed limit instead of the 35 miles over I used to do) and jamming to the music of much younger days, a head full of a good life's worth of memories, and a heart full of the joy of living. "Well, I'm not wiped out by this poolroom life I'm living, gonna quit this job or go to school or head back home...and I'm not asking to be loved or be forgiven...." Johnny Cougar is complaining, but I'm not. Turn it up louder, roll down the windows, 23 is gone but not forgotten--nope. Does it get better than this? Does it get better than this? Does it get better? Does it?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Hope I'm Not Gone Too Long

Well, I'm off again...traveling at night...without that flashlight. I either can't find it or I threw it away, or I can't find one that works. Each trip is a little scarier than the last... And why don't I do something about this hilly curvy road that I'm on--this Fortville Pike of my life? (<---good analogy, huh?) The good times are so good. I get filled up with that Joy that I have, that song in my soul, that I do my best to spread to everyone I meet. I think it's unique to me. It's my reason for living and I don't want to give that up. But these other times...augh. Is it just my imagination or does it get harder and harder to get back each time? I just hope everyone I care about and everything I value can hold on until then. That everything is still there, intact. So far, it has been. I hope I'm not gone too long.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ten Places I'd Like to See in Europe

Having never, ever considered 'travel' over the ocean, I've never given much thought to places I'd like to visit. I mean, the closest I've ever been to international travel is Epcot. Suddenly, I'm entertaining that possibility and thinking about what might be interesting:

1) Stonehenge
2) Ruins in Greece
3) Ruins in Rome
4) The Globe Theater
5) Abbey Road
6) The Louvre
7) The Berlin Wall (is it still there?) :-)
8) Paris at night
9) The Riviera
10)The Sistine Chapel

Hmm. This really sounds like too much. Maybe I should narrow it down to five.

I also want to see the 'oldness' of Europe. I'm fascinated by the East Coast cities and how much older they are that anything in the midwest...the curving streets that used to be cowpaths, the old houses and buildings... How much more interesting the several-hundred-years-older cities and villages of Europe will be. Ah, well. Thinking about it is fun.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Handful of Feathers

A chill as the temperature drops
I pull my sweater closer
And peer at the writing on the wall
The scratchmarks on the door
Like a rocket you're so 'outta here'
Like Jupiter's moon you want to be gone
Like an eagle erupting into flight
I wave a send-off, smiling at your elation
Can you see me from the stratosphere
Or already am I ant-sized on the surface of the earth?
Kneeling, I trace footprints in the dust
Gather a handful of feathers
And tilt my face toward the sun's warmth
Eyes closed to your brilliance
Hands move together for that familiar gesture
But when I look, you've already turned.

A Melodramatist Muses: "Thoughts on My Mommy's Demise"

...which hasn't happened yet.

But this morning, when I tried to call her again, her phone was busy. It is never busy. And it is never busy for two straight days.

I called my dad, who lives near to her, but he was unwilling to step in to the situation. So I called my brother at the Lake, my brother in Bluffton, and my sister in Denver to see if any of them had talked to her. No answers on two out of the three, but my brother in Bluffton said he would call the police to go and check on her and he would call me back in twenty minutes.

So for twenty minutes, I imagined my mother having chest pains and trying to use the phone, but just like in "Steel Magnolias" (the movie), she just didn't get the phone dialed and it dropped out of her hand before she could finish the call. And I envisioned her laying there, perhaps still alive, waiting for help, all alone, thinking about her own death, and wondering if someone would check on her and check on her in time.

I speculated if I would have any regrets. Yes, that I didn't visit her more--I've got a visit on the calendar over Labor Day weekend--but now, it would be too little, too late. Still, I was an attentive daughter--called her a LOT. Tried to include her in most of our family plans (sometimes she didn't want to go).

I wish that I thought she had a happier life. Ever since the divorce, she's lived on the poverty line, while--from my point of view--my dad and his wife get to take vacations, travel, eat out, go to shows. My mom doesn't get to enjoy those things much or at all. She's always worrying about money.

I remembered that she once said she wanted her ashes spread at our house in the country, and I vowed I WOULD do it--in the middle of the night, if I had to. I would honor her last wish. I would put a handful at the house in the country, and then a handful off the dock up at the Lake, and then take a handful to the Grand Canyon just for good measure.

I wondered if the death of a parent would be just cause for deleting my hours at the State Fair for the rest of the week. I wondered if that was a selfish thought. And then, I worried if it would interrupt plans to go to Chicago the last week in August. And I KNEW THAT was a selfish thought.

I wondered, why now? Why this time of year--this was when we lost Grandma Carnall, and Stone, and the shadow of 9/11 still casts a pall on early fall. There must just be bad vibes in the air.

And then, the phone rang. It was her. A policeman had knocked at her door to check on her. And an ambulance. I'm sure she was startled, and probably embarrassed. And I was, too, for pushing the panic button.

But everything was fine. She'd been on the phone with my sister, or on the computer, for which she has to unplug the phone to go online. The visit is still scheduled for Labor Day and I'm going to finish out the week at the #$%@ Fair. When I'm up there, it will be just she and I. The boys will stay at home. I'll get her computer hooked up to my brother's wireless system so that being on the computer doesn't tie up her phone line. And I'll get her neighbor's phone numbers. And we'll go shopping. We'll eat out. We'll see a movie or two. I'll buy her some things that she needs as well as some things that she wants. We'll catch up on our busy summers. It will be fun. A mother-daughter weekend that I will savor with my mom.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Called Out

So I went back and read my "Diary" entry from this morning. Wow. Wasted my life??? Liz called me out on it, and I don't blame her. Supermom that she is, she was probably horrified to read that.

So let me clarify now by saying that I would not trade my Mom-hood for all the freedom, life choices, or opportunities in the world. The joy, the experiences, the lessons that those two boys have brought me have been the essence of my life for the past 18 years. They are absolutely my two favorite people on the planet, a blend of their father (my husband) and me, raised the way I wanted to raise them, shaped by two interested and interesting parents. Two totally unique beings. What will they become? How will the experiences of their lives help them in their life choices?

This evening, I took my oldest child to GenCon where we had a FABULOUS time people watching and just walking around. Tomorrow, my youngest child will be the "Artist in the Window" at CrazyLake Art House. Two extremely talented, fun, and interesting kids. My life wouldn't be the rich, wonderful existence that it is without these two people I call my children.

Perhaps what I feel I've wasted was my career choice opportunity and this really comes to the forefront of my mind in listening to the teens talk about their futures. I guess I still feel pretty bitter about the 19 years I spent trying reach/teach inner city children in the classroom. From here, I can't see that I had anything but minimal impact. I can't help but feel that my time could have been much better spent. And therein lies my sense of wasted time...

A Traditional Diary Entry--8/13/09

Yesterday, a complete stranger came up to me at the State Fair and told me...whispered to me actually..."Excuse me...I just wanted to tell you what a wonderful actress you are..." Of course, I went all kinds of red and looked at the floor and mumbled some thanks. But...what a moment.


Going with my oldest son to GenCon this evening. Remembering last year when I made a mental note to myself to take the time to relax and enjoy it next year. Doesn't seem like I'm going to get to keep that promise. Sure looking forward to it, however. Warding off the thought of inviting friends to go along so that he and I can spend some quality time together... Hope that we have some fun together...


Charlie's starting at a new school--Greenfield-Central--for his final year of high school. Wish I'd moved him long ago. I have such hopes and dreams for him this year... The kids at Greenfield--at least the ones I know--are so academically-oriented. I hope that environment wears off on him. Crossed fingers.


Stopped in at the Gallery for some stuff before going to the State Fair. Wish I could just stay here all day in this artistic sanctuary instead of going in to sell rock candy and Advil to fairgoers... I might actually enjoy the fair if I didn't feel like there were so many other tasks and responsibilities calling my name...


I love FaceBook. I love being in touch with people and knowing what they're doing, thinking about, feeling day to day or however often they post. Makes me feel closer to them and involved in their lives. Note to self: hook Mom up with FaceBook when you're there over Labor Day.


Went with Cathleen and the CrazyLake interns to tour Chris Sickels' Red Nose Studio yesterday. What a fascinating guy, studio, tour it was. He talked about the preparation he went through to become the artist he is and all the elements of his life and education that went into what he is now. He talked about turning points in his career. He talked about what he likes about what he does, and his agent, and his projects. Wow. An inspiration.

And a sadness...I fear I've waited too long to start after my dreams... Yes, I'm having a good (albeit poor) life right now, happier than I've ever been. But I'm 50. On the downside now, I guess. Hard sometimes to spend as much time as I do around young people...and observe how WIDE OPEN the world is to chock full of possibilities it is. Omg, they just 'teem' with potential, buzz with it. As a married, 50-year-old mom, my possibilities are really limited, and it saddens me. Makes me think I've wasted my life.

Ha...this life?? I haven't wasted ONE second of it.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Looking into Michael's Eyes

Michael and I were in this play together.
We've known each other awhile now. He's not in my tightest circle of friends, but...we've worked together on some shows and have gotten to know each other and respect each other fairly well. He's truly one of the nicest, most honorable guys I've ever met.

The first night we blocked the opening number, the director put us together, in a frozen tableau. We were to stand there until the music started, and then we could slowly start moving and silently interacting with each other. I knew from that first night standing there, looking up at him--doing our part to create that awe-inspiring opening scene for our audience--that we were part of something special. And I think, he knew it, too. It was 'a moment'.

And so it went. We rehearsed it several times a week. And every time, I would look up into his face. I'd see a hint of a smile. Sometimes--even though we were supposed to be silent--he'd whisper, "Hey, baby. How are you tonight?" I would nod, or whisper back, "I'm" And he would smile...or wink.

I knew that he knew that I knew that he knew....that we were just two pieces in an amazing puzzle; we were part of something wonderful out there. We, two of the oldest people in the cast...our own loved ones at home...we came to be part of this show and part of the 'something special' that it was. We knew, from that first night on, that we were creating theatre magic. And I knew from that first night, that I would always remember standing out there on stage, in the dark, waiting for the music, for the magic to happen, and looking up into Michael's eyes, making a memory, to keep in my heart and in my head, and seeing that he was, too.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

An Actor's Prayer

Oh, god, I'm about to go on stage. On stage, in front of You and everyone. The ultimate loneliness; the ultimate in self-exposure; the ultimate in risk-taking. Please Lord, hold my hand while I'm out there, so alone. Keep me breathing and my heart beating, don't let my nervousness show.

Let my shoes be tied and double knotted, my wig/hat/scarf on firmly and straight, my costume securely fastened, my pants zipped, and my mic box securely in the waistband of my clothes. Please don't let me sneeze, sniff, cough, and for god's sake, don't let me get the hiccups. Don't let me faint or trip or fall out of the chair, off the ladder, or through the door, or god forbid, off the damn stage. And please make sure I remember to go to the bathroom BEFORE my entrance. Help me to manage my props skillfully--the bag, the food, the letter, the whatever I'm carrying/have to handle/pick up/move.

I'm an empty vessel. Open me up and flow through me like water, and allow all that I know is inside to come through and out into the audience. I've prepared for this for weeks, months even; help me to be what I can be and do what I know I can do. Open my mind to the lines I need to say; allow me to think on my feet; allow me that other-worldly experience of channeling the character I've created and need to be. Help me to remember EVERYTHING--my lines, my blocking, the choreography, the words to the songs, the accent, the inflection and nuances I've rehearsed for so long.

And lord, while I'm begging, do this for me--as if asking you to help me hide my nervousness wasn't enough--let me have fun out there. Let it be a romp in the park; a mountaintop experience; allow me to know the moments of joy that I find only in this theater temple. Help me to tune into the audience to create that love affair that is only between them and me.

Lord, this is my prayer--grant me all these things, but, most of all, help me to share what you gave me.


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Why Tevye is my hero...

So I've been watching this Tevye character for several weeks now. He's a poor man, he complains a lot; he yells a lot. He loves his family, his god, his heritage, and his community. He accepts his lot in life. But....there's more there than meets the eye.

I have a pretty short list of heroes: Lincoln, Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, Walt Disney, and Randy Pausch. These are people whose values/contributions to the world I revere. I'd like to add the multi-faceted character of Tevye to that list.

First of all, he must have done something right with his daughters. Although he doesn't always agree with their life choices, somewhere along the line--in a very femme-repressed society--he taught them to think for themselves, to stand up for themselves, and to go after happiness. Tzeitel, Hodel, and Chava all have courage and take risks to find love and happiness in their lives. Honestly, what more could you want for your children?

Tevye, in his hundred years ago east European village has some of the same issues we have today. He sings about money and wanting to be a rich man, true. But the verse that jumps out at me is this: "If I were rich, I'd have the time that I lack to sit in the synagogue and pray. And maybe have a seat by the Eastern wall...that would be the sweetest thing of all." Ultimately, what he really wants is a little quiet time, a time to sit and reflect, and hear the inner voice that guides him through life. Yes...I'm right there with you, Tevye.

He loves his family, his five daughters, and ultimately, his wife, with whom he has shared 25 years of hardship in life. His life is very difficult, but he doesn't shirk his responsibilities. He loves his community and the traditions therein.

He is a forgiving man. What Chava did went against the very core of his being, everything he stood for and believed in. And although he can't forget, he does forgive her, and wishes her well with, "God go with you."

But I think what I admire about him most of all comes to light just after he celebrates his daughter's engagement to Lazar Wolf. There is a huge celebration in the tavern, and then the Constable shows up to burden Tevye with the announcement that there will be a 'demonstration' in his village... This is hard news, and he takes it as such, but...the Constable moves on. The music swells and Tevye, in spite of the difficulties of his life, in spite of what he has just been told, and the load he carries, is still able--always able--to find the strength and the joy within and slowly, slowly, he returns to his dance. This I admire about him and I hope that in spite of whatever hand I'm dealt in life, I, too, will always be able to hear the music and return to the dance.

So these things I admire about this 'plain, simple' musical theatre character. He's a model for us us all. God go with you, Tevye. And with us, too.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Receiving Line Discussion

Better late than never...

There is...was a discussion on Indiana Auditions about receiving lines. Hudson alerted me to this and by the time I got there to check it out, it had kind of run it's course, so I thought that, for whatever it's worth, I'd post my opinion/comments here.

I like receiving lines. We do them in kid-theatre for three reasons: 1) The parents/friends/fans want to see the kid-actors they came to see. We send the kids out around the back and straight to the lobby to greet their parents/relatives/friends. The kids are happy; the parents are happy. 2) Lots of children come to see our shows and to them, theatre is an unfathomable, unattainable magic. A receiving line after the show brings that magic face to face with the kids in audience. The kids get a chance to see the actors, shake hands with them, and talk with them. It's an amazing moment in different ways (see 'Payton Cole is a Class Act') for both participants. 3) Finally, we are always looking for new kids and new talent. Bringing the actor down from the stage and face to face with children in the audience shows them that actors are flesh and blood, just like they are--and that perhaps their dreams of being on stage aren't as far-fetched as they think. I will always remember my first play--the Norwell Little Theatre's production of "Camelot". After the show, all the actors were in the lobby greeting people and talking and laughing. I was too awed by them--their tallness, and their costumes, and their poise and presence to go and meet them, but I will never forget it.

With adults, too, it's much the same. I want to see who came to me (I can say 'I" now because I am an actress). And you never know, there might be kids out there for whom meeting an actor or actress is 'a defining moment', like it was with me.

So...there's my case for receiving lines. They're great.

Thursday, July 30, 2009 Hype This Time...

Nervousness. What a strange, illusive, intangible concept this is.

Sunday--I got thrown off during the tech rehearsal because I didn't have my right bag to carry. How stupid. Brian said, "Don't worry, it's not about the acting tonight." Uh-huh, right. It's ALWAYS about the acting, Brian, and you know it.
Monday--nervous to the point of nausea. I did fine, however.
Tuesday--not quite so nervous...and I DID make a mistake, but I learned that I can recover. That's what I teach the kids--and they do it like breathing (I'm a good teacher....), but I really didn't know if I, myself, could do that.
Wednesday--back to being nervous again. I just couldn't get my breath. I felt dizzy, overheated (which I probably am in all those clothes), just weird. Being nervous is one thing, but not being able to support your speeches with breath is another. I drank a lot of water, ate all the cookies in my bag... I felt better after awhile. And the show went fine.

I don't know why I get so nervous.
I know my lines better than I know my address and phone number. In fact, I think everyone knows my lines. Hudson, that saint, has listened to me say them over and over and over again. HE knows them. Omg, I can never thank him enough for all the support and emotional handholding he's done for me. And DC, too.
I also think I'm...not too the show. I hope I am. So why should I be so nervous? Why can't I just relax and enjoy it? Everyone else seems to.
I asked Hudson if my nervousness shows. He said no. Wow. I almost can't believe that, especially when it's pulsing through me like the blood in my veins. He tells me what an enigma I am, to be so theatre-oriented, so good in the show, but so ill-at-ease there.... It is strange, isn't it?

I won't let anyone talk to me, or pat me on the back, or wish me well during the show. I just need to stay completely focused. That's not fun for Hudson. He loves the backstage camaradarie and he doesn't get any from me at all.

When I think about it in my head, it seems easy enough, a cakewalk, something I've done 10,000 times....for someone as extroverted and theatrical as me, it should be easy. I picture myself out there, smiling, confident, calmly, methodically, going through my part. Reacting to Beth, to CVett, to the audience's laughter, adding little bits, a kid playing in the home on the stage and in front of all the people. I can only hope and pray that's what I project and not the gritty nervousness I feel.

Break a leg, Christine. You CAN do this...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

On Hype and Nerves

"Meeting the challenge of making an audience laugh is one of the most rewarding things I have ever had the privilege to experience. I cannot WAIT for you to feel that when you step out in front of the audience after all this time directing, Chris. I'm not talking about the chuckles we got with our skits - I'm talking about the roar. The place will erupt with laughter, and it will be for YOU!"

This is what my friend Dennis wishes for me, as we head into this critical week, which will culminate in opening night of "Fiddler on the Roof". I won't let him say it to me in person because...what if I don't live up to my hype, everyone's expectations of me, my expectations of myself? I don't want to believe that I can jump off a building and fly. Human beings can't do that, and I can't either. Don't tell me because I don't want to hear it...not now. Maybe later.

You just...can't...think about it too much. Just do it. Just go out there and do it.

Oh, I get so nervous...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Summer Love Affair with the Joy of Living

She asked, "How can you be so optimistic so much of the time? I'm...a little envious..."
"I don't know," I said, "but I recognize that I am, and that it's different from most people. I guess I'm just filled with the Joy of Living. I know I'm lucky to feel so happy. I think of it as my greatest gift from God."

This summer has been one long love affair with joy--the joys of theatre, of art, of ideas, and friends--old and new--who share my various passions. I think it's really been one of the all-time best summers ever.

A List of This Summer's Joys
The joy of creating.
The joy laughter, laughter and laughter.
The joy of old, comfortable friendships.
The joy of discoveries of new friendships.
The joy of companionship and comradarie.
The joy of quiet time.
The joy of being good-tired after a long day.
The joy of making contact, of taking a hand, of giving and getting hugs.
The joy of musical theatre, the love of which enhances my quality of life like nothing else.
The joy of the satisfaction of lines well-learned.
The joy of intelligent debate, discussion, and conversation.
The joy of entertaining.
The joy of fudge rounds, really good milk shakes, excellent pizza, and fat-fat fries.
The joy of books and movies, and of sharing them.
The joy of smiles that start with the eyes and work down.
The joy of making others happy. ("What better satisfaction is there?")
It all adds up to the Joy of Living.

Finding so much joy in the world, from these seemingly small things. It's a gift. Thank you, God, for making me the way I am.

A Love Letter to My Director

Now, I'm not saying I'm all that as a director, but...I take what I do very seriously...

"Directing is a search for truth: truth in movement, truth in voice, in reaction, in facial expression, body position, physical location, and juxtaposition to others near you, etc., etc. When I’m watching, I’m watching for what rings true and what appears false. So when we say, “Does this work?”, we’re really saying, “Is this true?” The difference between what is true and what is false can be as slight as two steps this way, looking down instead of up, tone of voice or inflection. And sometimes it’s true one time; and it’s not true the next, because everything is always moving..."*

As a director, I'm mostly self-taught. I've used trial and error, instinct, and my sense of 'how it should feel' to guide my direction. I've known for awhile now that there was room to grow and I was looking for the time and the right experience to make that happen. Amazingly, it landed right in my lap.

I can't begin to share what this experience has been for me. Walking in the shoes of the actor, being on the other side of the clipboard...has been AMAZING. I know now what it feels like (per our previous director) to be yelled at, to be...disregarded, to feel frustrated and blocked. I also know now what it's like to hang on the every word of the director, and to wait--sometimes in vain--for that dog bone of praise.

And then, that director left and we fell into the hands of a legend. How could we get so lucky?

I’m not sure I can put into words the exhilarating rehearsal we had last night. We got some direction—some REAL direction—and it was all I had hoped it would be and more.

He took the blocking of our previous (non)director and completely revamped it. Put his thumbprint on it. Made it his. He fined-tuned us, talked about character and motivation and what we, in the role, should be thinking and feeling. It was...awesome. I soaked it up like a sponge, like a thirsty man in the desert. His style, I think, validated mine, and he TOTALLY met MY needs as an actor to run it, and run it again; the need of an actor to feel valued; and the need of an actor to front of him and in front of others.

I so much wanted this experience to go beyond just having fun with my theatre buddies. Because God only knows when I'll have an opportunity like this again. Thanks to our director, my One Director, it is all I'd hoped and more.

*from "The Show Turns the Corner"

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

On Being IN the Show Instead of Directing It

You know, I almost didn’t do this. I wasn’t sure I wanted to ‘mix blood’ with the Ricks-Weil people. I didn’t think I could commit—I was going on vacation right in the middle of the rehearsal period, I was directing a teen show, conducting a drama camp, working full time. I was afraid of a musical.

I got a LOT of pressure from Beth and from Dave. They courted me, shall we say, pretty heavily. “A part made for you”, they said….. “You’d be perfect”, they said. “Mmmm….” I said.

The night of auditions was a busy night for me. I had auditions of my own for my teen show until 8 p.m. Couldn’t get down to the theater until the last minute...and a last minute decision it definitely was.

When I walked into the theater, someone--don't know who--said, “There she is!” and people applauded. Applauded. At the audition. Wow. But you can't allow stuff like that to sneak into your head. Praise is a drug that makes you think you can jump off a building and fly when you really can't.

And so I read and I got the part. And I’m thankful every day for this experience…that Dave and Beth pushed me and that I made the decision to take on this challenge. In spite of all the drama-drama, I am having the time of my life.

Every day. Thankful, EVERY DAY.

Friday, July 17, 2009

An Evening of Other People's Theatre

I have so many thoughts about this and I know that many of you wanted to hear my opinion, so I thought I'd kill several dozen birds (or hold several dozen conversations) with one blog post. So here are my thoughts.


In the beginning, honestly, I couldn't understand why everyone wanted to do this. I saw what they did last year, and it was no great shakes. I couldn't understand why anyone would want to attach his or her name to this show. But apparently, they did.
I heard a lot of reasons: experience, fun, young, likable directors, it was the only show in town, etc. They courted my prodigy with a ‘role just for you’, and when he asked my opinion, the advice I gave was to consider it CALENDAR IN HAND, rather than with his male actor's ego. He did, I think. He was able to fit it in. But that advice, in hindsight of course, turned out to be two-fold; there was another time-issue question that needed to be asked that maybe wasn't.

I had my doubts about the script. I tend not to enjoy (and certainly don't attempt) shows where some of the characters are animals. I worried about the scant rehearsal calendar. Could it actually be done within the confines of the production schedule that was laid out?

During production, I heard stories of rehearsal: wasted time, missing actors, lines not learned, goofing around. It was worrisome to me. Stressful. Not even my show and it was stressful. This week, I saw them still working late at night when I was finished with "Fiddler" rehearsal. I saw planks of lumber and set pieces outside the theater yesterday morning, and I worried. Will they be ready? Stopping by, I saw the aisles of the theater littered with props and costumes being sewn yet today, opening day. Would they be ready??? Stressful and not even my show.

I had faith when Hudson told me that they'd pulled in enough talent so that no matter what happened, the results would be pretty good. And there was a lot of talent: Hudson himself, Lauren, Carie, Hannah, Michael, for all his foibles, created a GREAT character in the Centipede. Watching him on stage actually made me wish (again) I'd gotten a chance to work with him this past summer.

But what I saw on stage last night was...something between amateur talent night at the county fair and a junior high improv class. After the first five minutes, I literally put my hand over my eyes.

I couldn't hear. I was sitting in the second row and I couldn't hear some of what was said--whether it was the British accent, or talking too fast, or not talking loud enough, or the frequently muttered cover-the-gap lines. They had mics, so I don't know what the problem was there.

The script, the story--I'll go out on a limb here and put of the blame for this on the script. "James and the Giant Peach"—who picked this, and WHY is it considered such a beloved children's story? It's like some child's stream of consciousness dream (or nightmare). Human-sized bugs? Crawling around inside a sticky-icky peach? Shark attack? Falling? And at the end, a ticker-tape parade through NYC. (For what? Spattering the city with thousands of gallons of fermenting peach juice? Ew.) The dialogue—and granted, it was hard to determine what were actually lines from the script as opposed to the abundant filler dialogue the kids threw in when their memories failed them—but we learn about the characters through their dialogue; and the things these oversized insects say to each other were just weird. They were whiny and complaining. A more pessimistic bunch of vermin I never saw. I didn’t like ANY of the characters…the vain centipede and his boot fetish, the gypsy spider, the ladybug who seemed to be of NO value to the story line. And what was with the sailors on the ocean liner? WHAT was the purpose of that mostly ad-libbed scene?

The scope of the production in the time allotted for it-here…I lay 30% of the blame. The play was very short, but the preparation required for it was massive. The special effect that it called for were…more than I would have ever attempted (so I respect the leadership on their courage and ambition), but…they only allowed right around three weeks to put this together. It just wasn’t enough time.


***Now you’re going to get a little insight into how I see myself in the theatre world. I generally walk through this world devaluing what I bring to it, flinching at praise, even stopping my ears at times because praise…is…like a drug…that makes you think you’re more than you are. Sure you can jump off that building…I know you can do it…you’re great!!! Wrong. You’ve got to keep both feet on the ground and keep your head and your wits about you. And then there’s the part of me that believes the hype and KNOWS just who I am and what I DO bring to my corner of the world.***

And so I look at this production from both sides of the glass. I marvel in horrified awe at what these two young people could possibly have been thinking to try and mount this production? In THREE weeks. With the production value requirement and the set required? WHAT were they thinking? From my outside [read: OUTSIDE] view, it seems like a LOT of time was wasted, actors didn’t show up for rehearsals, blah, blah, blah.
But from the OTHER side of the glass, the Smeagol side, I have to look at these two young people from the shadows and whisper to myself, “There for the grace of god go I…” I mean, both of us start with a happy vision: “Here is what we will create! And it will be wonderful! It will be fun! It will be art!” What happens between the origination of the idea and the final product? What IS the difference? What makes one group able to make it happen and another….not? People show up for my rehearsals. People learn their lines when I tell them to. I have a strict rehearsal schedule, set in stone before we start, and it doesn’t change. And…maybe I have a more realistic vision of what is possible to accomplish… I don’t know. There are many variables here.

I think that the final 10% of the blame belongs on the kids themselves. Their natural work ethic and dedication didn’t shine through here. They should have known their lines* and they should not have missed even one rehearsal in that short calendar. That, to me, is unforgivable. That, my children, is the one area where YOU had control. You may not have had control over production issues, bad script, costume delays, set problems, but YOU have control over your attendance and your line memorization.

In watching this week, part of me wanted to go up to the young director and say, “Let me help you….please….I can see you are drowning in this and it has ceased to be fun for you…” But three things held me back. First, I hardly know her. The second was that I am already over my head in my own projects and if I stepped up to help her, I would get lost in her project and lose focus on mine. The third was the groveling, self-effacing side of me feared that she would think that I think I’m ‘all that’, as in, “Here I am, the great Chris Schaefer and I will be the savior of your production.” No, no, no. I don’t think that at all.

The down side of me says stuff isn’t all that great**. I’m just too close to it to really judge whether it’s good or bad. Of course, however, no one does anything unless they think they do it better than anyone else, right? Of course, right. I think that KidsPlay/CrazyLake are the hidden treasures of Greenfield. I know my faults, my areas of weakness….and maybe they aren’t the jewels I think they are Maybe they’re just another kiddie/community theatre. Everyone thinks that what they do is the best, the best, best. And so do I. But how can it ALL be the best? Some of it is not, but which? And who decides?

And then… I get my comeuppance when I’m met by the opinion of people I respect who say, “Wasn’t that great? The kids did a good job, didn’t they?” What??? Are you kidding? You’re not, are you? So….apparently, it doesn’t matter if you work for 12 weeks or 3 weeks on a production, the audience will not know the difference and the response from the will be the same. That’s….disheartening, to say the least….


I couldn’t relax and enjoy it. I’m too close to theatre, too close to the kids in the show to just sit back and let it flow over me. Is there such a thing as vicarious stress? This was a classic example. I couldn’t sit down, couldn’t relax, I paced around like a caged tiger during intermission, actually going back and forth to the Gallery twice….

What was good:

1) The costumes were excellent. Excellent. Hats off to Haberman and Heather for that. I said earlier that I would never attempt a play with animal characters—bravo for your courage.

2) The make-up, particularly the spider and the grasshopper. Loved the pink highlights in Lauren’s hair.

3) The bells and whistles—again, these details are TOTALLY not on my radar screen of experience. In fact, we got all the way to the end of “Howl” before I even thought about the lab experiment scene—and Urban ended up helping us with that. Anyway, the growing peach, the lights and scrim (?) work, faulty as it was, went beyond my scope of experience. The flying bird, the snow (?), the infamous confetti cannons.

4) Given the poor script, the production issues and the limited rehearsal time, the acting, for the most part, was good. Their training sticks. Character communication (that is, how the character communicates itself to the audience) is so important, and you totally pulled that off. I saw the Aunts, James, the Spider, the venerable old Grasshopper, the Centipede, the Lady Bug and, yes, I saw the Earthworm. The ghosts of past characters standing in the wings, yes, but the acting and the current characters were there and strong and steady. Very good, my children. I am proud of you.

5) There was also one other REALLY cool moment when all the insects were standing on top of the peach, and they were backlit so that they were in silhouette. Really cool effect.

The worst moment of the evening, however, was the kids’ faces after the show. And this part made me angry. They knew. They KNOW me and they know what a theatre snob I am. They know what I think. One of the kids said, “Please don’t say, ‘I told you so’.” and my heart went out to him. They looked at me, sad, defeated, apologetic. And that’s when I felt angry. They should NOT have to feel that way about their work, their HARD work. They’re kids…and they signed on to this…and they trust the powers that be to lead them through it. They want to have fun and be PROUD of what they’ve done. That is ONE thing I promise all the KidsPlayers at the very first parents meeting: “We will work hard, and in March or early April, we’ll be tired of rehearsing and sick of each other…but I promise you, when we’re finished, and you’re on that stage taking your bow, you will have been part of something to be proud of. I promise you that.” That promise got broken for these kids last night. And who is going to be held responsible for that….?

**And how would I feel if someone came in and took MY show apart like this? Well, you don’t learn anything from being told how wonderful you are all the time. It’s happened to me, twice. Once, early in my career—someone, I didn’t know who it was—I still don’t—absolutely shredded my program. Ouch. And it happened again this spring after “The Odd Couple”. There were lessons that needed to be learned… You take what you can use, what you can deal with…and leave the rest for another time.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Camping Memory Hall of Fame

So..after a less than stellar vacation out east, I'm now looking ahead to a much shorter trip--a weekend trip to the Indiana Dunes in August. I'm dragging my children, and some friends of my children to the Harry Potter exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

In anticipation of that, and in anticipation of needing more than one tent, I dragged out my old two-man Diamond Brand tent that I first purchased in 1984.


In 1984, having just graduated from college, I decided that I was going to 'add to myself' and become an 'outdoors(wo)man'. I shared this with my dad and he took me up to a sporting goods store in Fort Wayne...I don't remember the name of the store, but it's tagline was 'home of the silent sports', which I thought was really cool. We bought a tent, a propane stove, a propane lantern, a sleeping bag, cooking equipment--all the things I would need to become a camper--and most of which I still use today. The salesperson then showed me how, step-by-step, to set up my tent, gave me advice on pitching it, and sealing it against rain, staking it against wind, told me how to lay down the ground cloth, and how to keep warm with a sheet tucked into my sleeping bag. All were valuable lessons that I still practice today.

I, and my good dog Clancy, took a couple of practice camping trips to Turkey Run, and to Indiana Dunes. And then we decided we were ready for our big solo trip--we left Bluffton early one July morning and headed towards Niagara Falls...from there, across New York (stopping at the National Women's Hall of Fame) and to my cousins' house in Danvers, MA. I stayed there awhile, and then headed out to Cape Cod, and then, circumnavigating New York City, I drove to Philly, then Washington DC, then through Virginia, West Virginia, and home--all in that little, easy-up, easy-down two-man tent.

It was the tent John and I used the first time we drove out west and when we camped around Lake Superior. It was the tent we used when we took 'the kids' on the Oregon Trail. And the tent that we camped in the backyard with, and down to Florida with when Charlie was a baby.

But then, he grew, we had Ben, and we outgrew it. It's been in a bag in the garage for at least 15 years now. I got it out today, expecting it to be rotted to the bag, the shock cords to be sprung, the mice to have chewed it up and the spiders to have made permanent webs in it. After all, we've replaced our Coleman/Eureka tents every 3-5 years for the last 15 years for one reason or another. But none of that proved true.

What a great tent! I dumped it out and set it right up, smiling all the while, remembering camping adventures, both solo and as a new family. It was in great shape, the poles all snapped in place, the rain fly stretched out over the top, and the clothesline still strung inside the tent where I put it so I could have a dry towel in the morning. Good and faithful old tent. They don't make 'em like that anymore!!

Friday, July 10, 2009

On Being Yente

I cried over my lines in the shower this morning. No concerns. It was a good kind of cry.

I'm really worried about my performance right now. See, I'm on vacation--right smack dab in the middle of the rehearsals, I had a vacation planned. I'm so worried about this...that everyone in the show is getting better and better (yesssss, I have a typical actor's ego....), while I'm just 'staying in one place' in my part, my character development, and so forth. I'm worried that I won't shine the way I want to.

I'm particularly having trouble with my second act speeches. Yente just blathers on and on, rarely waits for people to comment or ask questions...she has long speeches. And the Eastern European way of forming sentences--real 'Yoda-like'. :-) I'm worried that in my nervousness to learn them and recite them, I'll just rattle through them with no 'acted' character at all.

The last monologue is the one I'm working on now, where she tells Golde what she's going to do since she and all the other Jews have to leave Anatevka. She tells Golde that she's going to the Holy Land to be a matchmaker. I heard myself delivering the lines, and suddenly, she was really me, telling someone (Dennis, Stan...) about some big new idea I had. And Yente became Chris and Chris became Yente, in that moment. And that small epiphany made me cry.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Blogging Our Latest Travels

Hello, my few followers.

The Schaefers are getting ready to do what we do best and that's travel. I'm going to be posting our adventures on my iWeb site (where, if you're interested, you can read about past trips....). Here's where to find it: SchaeferFamily

Click on the Cape Cod 2009 link. You can subscribe to it if you wish, but I'll try to remember to post over here when I've made an entry.

Come travel along with us. It'll be fun...

"...on the road again..."

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Payton Cole is a Class Act

Just an anecdote from Saturday's show. My partner (Cathleen) brought her children to the show. I saw them at intermission and Cathleen told me that they'd each decided who their favorite actor was. Her daughter Elise (sp?) is a BRILLIANT first grader and she picked Payton as her favorite. I saw them (Cathleen and Elise) later having a discussion at the flower table. Elise wanted to send a flower back to Payton. Intermission was nearly over and there was a bit of an issue as to whether it would get back there on time. And as it came to light, Elise wanted to deliver it herself... So I took her back into the wonderful maze of Christmas lights, props, wood, benches, paint cans, costumes, and bodies that is backstage. Backstage is something we all take for granted. It's long since ceased to be a magical place for us, but for just a moment, I really saw it through Elise's eyes, winding through the darkness, the shapes of people getting ready to go on stage, echo-y music from out front and the sounds of the audience on the other side of the set... We went back to the very crowded dressing room (it was running so late that the second act music had started) and we found that wonderful ethereal creature known as The Great Actress Payton Cole and Elise gave her the flower. Everybody 'aw-ed' and Payton bent down and hugged her. Geez, I have tears in my eyes thinking about it. Big-big points to Payton for realizing the importance of that moment and that gesture to a little girl.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Roller-Coaster Week

Good grief, but it's been an emotional week. And it continues. Woke up at 4:30 this morning boo-hooing (again) about KidsPlay. So I'll use this sadly low-visibility forum to organize my thoughts for the curtain speech for this evening's final production of "It's a Howl".

"My name is Christine Schaefer, and I'm the director of the CrazyLake Act-Teen Workshop. I'm also the director of the CrazyLake Acting Company. But mostly, I'm the director of KidsPlay, Inc. children's theatre, and it's on their behalf that I'm making this plea.

KidsPlay has been presenting shows in Greenfield for going on twelve years now. We were here before this theatre was built. We were here before the CrazyLake Acting Company. We were here before Ricks-Weil Theatre Company. When you go out in this community to see theatre at the high schools, there are young people on that stage that came up through KidsPlay. When you come here to see adult shows, you are most likely seeing still more former KidsPlayers or adults who are parents of KidsPlayers. What I'm trying to say is that KidsPlay has been good for Greenfield. This little children's theatre has played an important part in the development of Greenfield into the arts community and a theatre colony it is becoming.

KidsPlay has been rehearsing on the third floor of the Creative Arts and Event Center--thanks to the generosity of Bob and Bev Hunt--for the past three years, but our time there is drawing to a close. We are in desperate need of rehearsal space in hopes of continuing to do what we do best, and that's making people laugh. We are in need of a place to rehearse our next production, "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever".

As director of three different theatre companies, I've stepped out on this stage more than two dozen times in the past couple years to introduce shows and ask for help for KidsPlay. In all that time, I've received one check for $20, one for $100 and one very generous donation of $2000. We know times are hard. We know that because we're about to present to you the results of six weeks of hard work and an evening of laughs for just $5. $5--less than the price of a movie ticket.

This little town has done a lot of amazing things--we've reinvented ourselves as an arts community and a theatre colony. We've all pitched in to renovate this building so that we can enjoy live music and theatre. And surely, we can band together to save KidsPlay.

Tonight, as you're watching this show--and laughing, bcause you will--take a look at the faces of these kids. Look at the joy you see there, the confidence, the joy that comes from being given the opportunity to create, and grow, and entertain. Take in the full measure of what they just gave YOU--and you decide if you have it in your wallet, your purse, your checkbook to help us continue to do what we do best--and that's bring laughter to the stages of Greenfield.

Friday, June 26, 2009

And 10 More...


1) so proud of the kids in the show, she could burst.
2) ...doesn't want it to end.
3) ...loves watching her kids grow as actors.
4) ...will accept any and all hugs today.
5) ...loves her life.
6) ...still hates the French.
7) ...still feels like she could REALLY use your help today if you feel like dealing with me.
8) going to be 50 in four days.
9) ...WILL cry today for happiness and pride.
10) ...IS going to get up.

25 for Today


1) thinking of reasons to and not to get up.
2) ...dreamed that Hudson came to help me at the Gallery today.
3) ...dreamed that she accidentally drove into the lake twice.
4) ...dreamed that Carie came on vacation with us.
5) ...has so much to do today, it isn't funny.
6) ...wonders who's going to work the sales table.
7) ...wonders if we'll get an audience.
8) ...worries that her relationships won't survive this weekend.
9) ...dreamed that Ben swam in the ocean and came out with a small star fish, a baby alligator, a miniature manta ray, and two leeches all needing to be scraped off the bottom of his foot.
10) ...worries that she'll be too tired to enjoy the kids at Mozzi's after the show.
11) ....worries that she might cry over stupid things.
12) ...that everyone will forget all about this wonderful thing we did and move on to the next project.
13) ...she won't have time to change into her 'pretty' dress for this evening.
14) already tired of hearing about Michael Jackson.
15) ...wonders if we should change our curtain music from "Thriller" to something else.
16) ...wonders who she'll disappoint today.
17) ...will try to stay calm.
18) ...doesn't feel calm at all.
19) ...wishes DC and Joe were on board.
20) worrying about "Fiddler".
21) worrying about Pennsy.
22) worrying about dying friendless and alone.
23) wondering if she'll have enough time to actually pack for the upcoming vacation.
24) ...can't imagine how awful she must look after yesterday.
25) wondering if she'll survive the day.