Thursday, January 29, 2009

Up Too Late

I'm up too late and I can see the whole world from here. There's a spider making a web between the ceiling and top of my curtains. My evenings for the past two weeks have ended with FaceBook chatting with the GC kids. They must never sleep. I should go to bed, but I'm busy looking at the world, looking at my life. I've finished casting the next KidsPlay show. Has it really been ten years. "The Odd Couple" is just...not that far from being history, too. Will we ever look back on it fondly? Plays are monumental expenditures of energy, faith, will power, creative energy and people power. It's amazing--sorry DC--that I've done even one, much less....26 of the things in my life. Everything is a miracle. All the people I know are individual miracles. Am I a miracle, too? Have I changed the world? Have I moved mountains? I'm so thankful to be who am I with the gifts I've been given. I couldn't be happier in this life I'm living. Is it the life I've chosen? Or did it 'just happen'? Will I have regrets when I get to the end? Does everything really happen for a reason? Is there such a thing as luck or is there really a master plan? I can't believe how lucky (?) I've been in some things. I've lead a wonderful, fortunate, blessingful, wonderfully lucky life. Some people have lives full of sorrow and hardship. I feel I've had more than my share of happiness and joy. Knock wood, knock wood. It's the middle of the night. We are all alone in the middle of the night. Alone, but with a full heart.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ten Lessons I Learned During This Production

1) I am ultimately responsible for ALL decisions.
2) People really do forgive.
3) Talent-schmalent.
4) Home is where the heart is.
5) Most people are content to settle for 'just okay'.
6) You can't please everyone, let alone make them happy.
7) Believe in your OWN vision.
8) Actions speak WAY louder than words.
9) People do what they want to do.
10) In the end, the only one you can really depend on is yourself.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My Beloved Studio

I'm up in my beloved Studio right now. It's so cold that my fingers hurt, but typing is helping to warm them up. I don't want to turn on the salamander because I only have one tank of propane and I need it for auditions tonight. (If you don't know what a salamander is--and I didn't before the Arts Council bought it for us--it is a propane fueled open flame blower, used to heat warehouses and construction areas--and our rehearsal space. When it's going, it heats this room pretty well.)

My Studio is on the third, heretofore unused, floor of the Creative Arts and Event Center at the corner of state road 9 and US 40 (State and Main) in Greenfield. It is a huge beautiful room-1500 square feet, with windows on three sides and wood floors. I LOVE it...probably more than I love my own house. It's like the loft where the Flashdance chick lived, but without the firepole. It's spacious, well-lit, and wonderful.

We lucked into the room because no one was using it. The man who owns our building first renovated the first floor into a soda shop and an art Gallery, and a common space for groups to use. Then he began working on the second floor, dividing it up into artist studios. For almost a year and a half, this room has been ours--for cheap! It was the space at the top of the building, the last space to be noticed and to receive renovation attention. Perfect for us in every way...except for the fact that there is no air-conditioning in the summer--and no heat in the winter.

Last winter, we froze up here. You could see your breath. Everyone invested in flannel lined jeans and wore hats and gloves during rehearsal. Even the kerosene heaters couldn't make a dent in the cold. Then we got the salamander. It helped a LOT. This winter, it's not quite that bad because some heat from the now-inhabited second floor seeps up. You can't see your breath anymore, even when it was 20 below a couple weeks ago. The salamander keeps us warm, but it's loud--and scary--an open flame in the room. Last summer, we bought some air conditioners, because the third floor of a brick building gets VERY hot. The sun shines in the windows and no amount of curtains seemed to keep the temperatures from rising to 80...85 degrees. It was really hot. Hot, I don't mind. It's the cold that's the worst.

Today, I'm up here cleaning. The third floor is finally getting noticed. They're working on the front room of the third floor now, but they're carting all the construction waste through our room to throw it out the window into the dumpster below. It is a dusty, unholy mess. There is a thick coating of white plaster dust on EVERYTHING, making me wonder how kids with allergies and asthma, colds and bronchitis, are going to manage. As if the cold, the three flights of stairs, the inadequate restroom facilities weren't enough to contend with. Now we have construction dust. There's dust on the candy, on the cups, on the chairs and the upholstery. What will the parents think? And we don't always have electricity. Yesterday, it came on for awhile in the bathroom and I quickly scrubbed the toilets and swept the floor. Today, it appears that after all my work--one of the construction guys threw UP in one of the toilets. Good grief. And it has to be cleaned again. And the floor. I mopped some areas of the floor, but all it did really was move the dust around... It's really bad.

It's cold, it's dusty, but I LOVE this room. This temporary space we're in....where we go from here, I don't know.

Friday, January 23, 2009

I Adore Those Kids

I love, Love, LOVE the kids I work with in the theatre.

*This started out as a post called "Happy Together/Unhappy Together" about my travails with my adult theatre group, but I decided that writing about the theatrical journeys with my various and assorted youth theatre groups and their 'love of the game' would be a much more positive expenditure of my time.

I love my KidsPlayers. Oh, are they wonderful. They're dedicated and they work SO HARD. I hold them to a very high standard, behavior-wise, work ethic-wise, and performance-wise. I've been working with KidsPlay for nigh on eleven years--a lifetime in kid years.
Some of them come late to KidsPlay and I only get to work with them for a couple years before they move on to the high school. Some come early and I've gotten the joy of watching them grow up in the group.
In any case, once a KidsPlayer, always a KidsPlayer. I have undying loyalty to those kids for all they give and all they give up to be a part of KidsPlay.

Jacobs asked me once how I got the kids to hold fast to their off-book date. I told him, "I just do. We have a date for being off book for each act and I hold them to it."
"What if they don't?" he said.
I said, "Well, I expect a rough rehearsal on our first night off book, some, but not a lot of cueing... however, if I have somebody who's really slowing us down, I just say, 'Get your book. Go on, get it. You're slowing us down.' And THAT, to the kids, is devastating to them. I don't have to say anything more. They REALLY want to please me." And it's true...and almost hard they work for the small crumbs of praise I hand out. I'm way too stingy with my praise, but when it comes, they know it means something.
I have a wealth of wonderful stories with these kids: Katie, and Jesse, and Sam, and Blair, and Maddie, Payton, and Charlie...some REALLY wonderful kids have come through KidsPlay and left funny, poignant, heartwarming memories in my heart that I'll have forever.
I take joy in their happinesses and successes and I work very hard to make sure they reach their potential in the shows we do and that they recognize their own growth and talent. Oh, my KidsPlayers--this week are auditions for "A Tough Act to Follow" and I can hardly wait!

I love my Act-Teens. We 'test drove' this group over Christmas this year and I had the time of my life!! What a GREAT bunch of kids they are. I guess it's contradictory to say they make me feel young, because I certainly don't feel old (at 50), but when we all get going on our 'collective problem', I know I will ALWAYS be 16 in my heart. Their enthusiasm, their cleverness, their devotion to their craft--it overwhelms me. Rehearsals with them are exhausting, but I always come away exhilarated by their energy. There is more ahead for me and the Act-Teens and, chuckle--again--I can hardly wait.

The third group of kids isn't really mine at all--it belongs to Jacobs. The Greenfield-Central Drama kids are awesome. They welcomed me, as his assistant, early this fall and it's been a love affair ever since. They are the warmest, huggiest bunch of people I know. They are erudite, clever, and INTERESTING!!! And they've found their own place in my heart.

And those are my theatre kids. I love, love, love them. The time I spend with them--in theatre and NON-theatre time--is ALWAYS time well-spent, my work with them is my life's true calling.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

An Open Letter to Ben's Science Teacher

Dear Mrs. Millender--

This is Ben Schaefer's mom. I fully realize that Science Fair projects are due this week. And I understand that Ben has submitted--and been approved for--his project involving the eating habits of Venus Fly Traps. I would like to apologize in advance for the inadequacy of Ben's Science Fair project.

Mrs. Millender, you need to understand that our household has a definite Language Arts bent to it. We're writers and poets, painters, and photographers. We'd gladly take on a Language Arts project, say, Young Authors, and, as we love traveling, we wouldn't bat an eye at a Social Studies project. But clearly, Science is 'not our thing'.

Our initial plan was to observe two Venus Fly Traps (hereafter referred to as VFTs) and study the impact of dietary variations. We purchased two plants at Lowe's Home Improvement Store and then 'boogied' over to Uncle Bill's Pet Center to purchase food for them. Unfortunately, Uncle Bill's only had one type of insect, pin crickets, available for Fly Traps. I suggested to Ben that in the absence of another type of insect, that perhaps we could feed this carnivorous plant hamburger. This was perceived as a good idea--at the time.

We got home and Ben, in the spirit of science, labeled the two plants "A" and "B". He very cleverly named them Audrey (after the plant in "Little Shop of Horrors" and Biolante (after a 50s TV monster). We discussed what variable meant and he was able to identify the 'constants' and 'variables' of this project. And that was basically the last positive occurrence.

Things started out roughly right away. Ben opened the plastic canister of pin crickets and, for all practical purposes, all the ones that were still living hopped out of the carton during the process of trying to retrieve only one to feed to Audrey (the VFT designated to eat pin crickets). When it came to feeding hamburger to Biolante (the VFT designatd to eat meat), I realized that all we had was frozen patties. Hmm. I shrugged my shoulders and fried Biolante a hamburger, all the while thinking it sort of surreal that I'm cooking for a Venus Fly Trap when I barely cook for my family...

Once food had been secured and/or prepared for both VFTs, then came the feeding. Ben ran and got some tweezers (I learned later that they came from MY bathroom drawer), and fed a dead pin cricket to Audrey. The cute little plant closed is spindly 'mouth" over the cricket, and presumably, digestion began. He then picked off a VERY small piece of the hamburger and placed it in Biolante's "mouth". Same response. All is well; record the data and observations--check back tomorrow.

The next day, Audrey had finished her cricket and, like a baby bird, her mouth was open and she was ready for more. Biolante, however, seemed to be having some trouble with the hamburger. Nonetheless, feed Audrey, measure the plants, record observations.

This went on for several days where Audrey was a ready and willing participant, but Biolante, little green plant jaws clenched, simply refused to 'play ball' so to speak. He also seemed to be having trouble with the hamburger. By Day Six, it was obvious that he was clearly 'failing to thrive' as they say. In fact, he turned black, and was drooping alarmingly. What was the problem? He didn't like his burger medium well? His cholesterol level shot through the roof? Was he choking on his own plant vomit? In any case, by Day Nine he was clearly dead, and the experiment was, for the most part, over.

And by now, even Audrey is starting to look peaked. Too much water? Too little? Overfeeding? Underfeeding? Keep them in the terrarium environment? Take them out? Where did we go wrong? Much gnashing of teeth and rending of clothes...! Perhaps it was cooking the hamburger. Perhaps it was selecting hamburger itself. Perhaps it was opting to accept into this decidedly hostile environment for plants two of the most delicate members of the plant species on earth. Our total abject failure to even keep these creatures alive has been a huge and discouraging disappointment to us, and unfortunately, at first glance, his science fair board reflects this.

So, when you gaze upon Ben's science fair board tomorrow, I want you to know that there is so much more there than meets the unknowing and untrained eye. And it wasn't for lack of interest or effort that it came out the way it did. I hope you will take this into consideration when you assign his grade.

Sincerely, and with humor,

Christine Schaefer

Janet's Bathroom

Having long since decided that the Christmas season was much too hectic a time to try and get together as friends, we moved our Teacher-Friend Holiday Celebration to MLK Weekend. We, the friends who began teaching together in 1987-1990, gather at Julie and Janet's house for games, chatter, good food, and good fun. We spend the night, and in the morning, I am privileged to use Janet's bathroom for my clean-up-to-greet-the-day. I take this annual opportunity to sample 'what's new in the world of personal care products' that Janet has on hand.

Janet's bathroom is lovely--yellow, sunflowered, with matching towels, no less. She has Make-up Puffs, not cotton balls and her Q-Tips are in a little, cloth-lined basket instead of a baggie. On the back of the toilet are yellow and blue striped washrags, rolled hot-dog bun style and carefully positioned in a small pail.

Her bathroom counter boasts 3 different types of perfume, "Look Ma, New Hands" lotion with paraffin, an aerosol can of Multiplicity Swax (spray wax--for hair removal?), and something called Aquage Freezing Foam whose purpose is a mystery. There were lotion bottles of Aromatherapy in eucalyptus spearmint, Mary Kay Timewise, and Nutrioniste skin renew. Much different from my all-purpose baby lotion. There are tubes labeled D20 Hydration, Petgold Tartar Control toothpaste (presumably for the dog), and something called "No Puffery".
A small jar of Regenerist microsculpting cream and Crazygood whipped shee bodybutter which I'm not sure I want to know about are in yet another cloth-lined basket on the counter next to the sink.

There was a definite peppermint bent this year with: Twisted Peppermint body creme, and skin renewing peppermint foot treatment, and Twisted Peppermint (candy canes gone wild) body scrub.

In the shower, where I noticed that Janet had a new diffuser shower head, I was able to sample Matrix Biloage (isn't that one of the Godzilla monsters?) and something that seemed too thick to be creme rinse, although I used it anyway, called Tea Tree Conditioner, subtitled revitalisant, acondicionador, which I'm assuming was 'conditioner' in the prerequisite French and Spanish. In any case, it was a nice change of pace from my usual Suave shampoo and conditioner. There was Skintimate moisturizing shaving gel, Coconut Sweettime exfoliating sugar scrub, Tahitian Bath Milk which exhorted me to 'SOAK IT UP' (with monoi oil), Origins (never a dull moment skin brightening face polisher with fruit enzymes), and Morning burst (!!) facial cleanser.

Janet's bathroom is a place of fascination and mystery and I enjoy my annual 24-hour-trip to Janet's Wonderland Spa.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

ON Stage (?) Stress Dream

So...last night I attended a script-reading for a possible 'next production' for the CrazyLake Acting Company. For this production, which will be performed in September, I am turning the reins of directorship over to my most reliable, experienced, and trusted actor for his first venture into 'in front of the stage' instead of 'on'. In doing this, it is my hope that I will have a chance to perform for the first time in....twelve years(!!!). The play that we read had a medium-sized part, a wacky old lady, just right for me, and for which I will most certainly be auditioning, should we decide to do this play.

So...this morning after the script-reading, I wake up from my first stress dream.

I am on stage...and watching the action, watching people say their lines, when all of a sudden, I realize they're all looking at me. Oh. It must be my line...but as a director, I'm so used to just standing and watching the action that I sort of forgot I was IN the play. I look at them; they're all there: Kelly, Rachelle, Dennis, Chris, Joe, Terri... They're staring very hard at me. A couple of them mouth something to me, but I don't get it. (I never was any good at lip-reading.) I just sort of shrug...I really have no idea...I realize that I don't know my lines at all. AT ALL.

Shudder. This is enough to make me want to take last night's script and IMMEDIATELY put my lines on CD to start learning them whether we decide to do this show or not. Eek.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Letter "P"

Liz at Eternal Lizdom is playing a letter game--she's assigned random letters to those who follow her blog, like me, and my task is to come up with ten things I like that start with...the letter P. P??? Why couldn't it have been T (for theatre or travel or teasing....?). But it's P--so here goes:

1) I like people, all kinds of people, how interesting they are
Where they've come from, where they're going, how the journey's been so far
Their stories seldom bore me and I'm sure you will agree
To connect with other people is the reason we're to be.

2) Thank goodness, plays begins with 'P' or I'd give up this chore
If I did not have theatre, life would surely be a bore
KidsPlay, CrazyLake, or my beloved Act-Teens
Messin' around with Dennis in the old man/old lady scenes

3) Writing parody songs is a way to spend my time
It's hard to keep the rhythm and make sure they always rhyme
We sing them at our parties and try to be the best
We laugh until our stomachs hurt listening to the rest

4) Since we did "Jolly Roger", I'm a pirate in my heart
With boots, and patch and sword in hand, I'd play out my part
Captain Jack, Bonney Anne and my favorites, Bounding Main
If given half a moment's choice, at sea I would remain

5) "How 'bout Peace?" my big son said, as I worked on this list
When my response was silence, he started to get pissed.
"What do mean? You don't like peace?" he said with a smile
So to this list, I add 'World Peace' so I don't seem so vile.

6) I like Payton, my favorite actress and future Broadway Star
And I like Peyton, the quarterback, who throws the ball so far
They both have lots of character and traits that I admire
Role models each in their own way to which we should aspire

7) The PC vs. Mac commercials make me laugh out loud
And tickle the snobby fancy of the Apple computer crowd
PC Guy is so stuffy and young Mac Guy is so cool
Which is why we all should understand that PCs suck/Macs rule

8) My cellphone connects me to all I know
To Julie, Dennis, Chris, Stan, Rachelle, Terri, and Joe
My link to business; my link to info, my link to laughs and fun
But you can bet there's a bill to pay when I get done

9) Pencil and paper, budgets, proposals, Google, and MapQuest
Brainstorming and planning are among the things that I love best
A family vacation, a party, a play theatrical fund raising event
"Just okay" is not my style; to excel is my intent.

10) And last, my hometown Poet in October we celebrate
And the homespun rhymes and poems that he did create
The goblins that'll getcha and pumpkins covered with frost
He documented a time and place that now is lost.

So those are my Ps, one through ten, in poetic form
Taking my mind off the cold, it helped to keep me warm
And thanks to Liz, for the chance to play and make this letter rhyme
Lots of thoughtful, humorous fun--a creative way to spend my time.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Show Turns the Corner

Whenever I'm directing a show...which, lately, is constantly...there's always a moment when the show 'turns the corner'. It's then that you know it's going to be okay, all the hard work, the worrying, the time that you've put in, it's all going to be worth it. It's the 'we've got a show' moment. For the CrazyLake Acting Company's production of "The Odd Couple", last night was that night. The show turned the corner.

We sent the poker guys home early--we've worked and worked with them; strangely, it's Oscar and Felix, who live right here in town, who have been neglected. So last night belonged to them.

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...

We worked on Act III. We stopped and started, backed up, discussed scenes and motivations (always humorously harking back to "Why am I carrying this box of groceries into the study, Lloyd?"). We tried it again in different ways, trying to find 'what works'.

And in the end, it was good. The collaboration between the three of us is good--it's more than good. I don't know what other directors do, but I like to listen to my actors. I think, for the most part, they ultimately have a much deeper understanding of their characters than I do. What I understand is the big picture of the scene, but THEY understand their characters. So we work together on what feels honest to the character and what feels right to the scene, the constantly moving painting we're creating. And when we get it right, we look at each other and nod and smile--and we keep working. Always looking for truth. I smile now just thinking about it. It's good; it's all good.

The CrazyLake Acting Company: the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Stream of Consciousness Post....

I am just NOW fixing breakfast for myself. An omelet with ham and a glass of orange juice.

I have NOTHING on my calendar today and I will try to think of reasons not to leave the house.

I'm having a fire in the fireplace.

I can hear my phone tinkling a message and I'm ignoring it. :-)

Today I will work on projects that I want to work on.

I wonder how long it will really take me to get the Christmas tree down. A lot longer than 24 days, I'm thinking.

I'm going to miss football this afternoon, but maybe I'll watch "The Odd Couple" again. I'm trying, DC. I really am.

I need to help Ben with his science fair project.

I need to close this out and do something productive.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Nature of Friendship

The Indigo Girls have a lyric:

"I am looking for someone,
who can take as much as I give,
Give back as much as I need,
And still have the will to live."

It's the first part of this that's intriguing...and in some strange way, I think that defines friendship for me. Someone who'll let me love them as fiercely and strongly as I want to. I have friends that are more to me than I am to them. It doesn't matter. What they mean to me is what matters.

We have different friends for different needs.

I have what I call my middle-of-the-night friends. A lot of my theatre friends fall into this category. And some of them have been there for me in the middle of darkness.

I have friends that, no matter how long it's been since we've seen each other, we just take up where we left off.

I have old friends who know where I came from, and our mutual history is our link.

I have women friends, and men friends. And it's amazing how different they are.
I have friends that I laugh with, that I can call up at the spur of the moment and tell them about some whack-o in Wal-Mart or about something that happened to me at the library.
I have friends I have cried with, who help me put it all back together when I just don't know which way to go.
I have friends who've shared adventures, and the mountain top moments of my life--my wedding, the birth of my children, and a death or two.

Friends. Icing on the cake of life, aren't they?

Wasting Talents

Do we have a responsibility to share our talents?

I like my thought in the previous post about creative people acting upon the world, rather than just reacting to what happens to us.

Anyway...wasted talents.
My son Charlie. He's a teenager, which is 80% of the problem, so I guess I should cut him a little slack, but...I can't help feeling frustrated and disappointed with him.

I was an incredibly nurturing mom. WhatEVER his interest was, I followed up on it. I took him to the Children's Museum countless times, signed him up for workshops, classes, training, field trips--took him to plays and concerts, encouraged anything and everything he seemed interested in. And nothing...

Piano for a year. He has the world's longest fingers. Getting him to practice was a total nightmare.
Band. Interest there. Bought a saxophone. Interest gone.
Theatre. He GREW UP in KidsPlay. He's been on the stage since he was in Kindergarten. Did he have any interest in following up his KidsPlay career in high school? None.
Writing. I've seen some of his writing, and it's clever...but...he never finished anything.
Computer skills. For me, it's a creativity tool. For him, the computer is an entertainment machine. There's a HUGE difference. I can't get him interested in website creation, blogging, digital photography editing, film editing.
Tennis. Four years of private tennis lessons so he could make the high school tennis team.

It's just been one failed enterprise after another. It seems to me that anything that takes any effort at all was just 'too hard'. Tennis, he could have been good. He just didn't care enough to try. Piano. What a waste. I just think of all the enjoyment I got out of making music during my teenage years--piano, guitar, the recorder. But of course, it takes hours and hours to be halfway decent. He just has no ambition.

So now, he's sort of into photography. He claims to want to be a photographer...but is he out there taking pictures? Editing? Posting photos on a website? No. I just don't get it.... It makes me really sad....

Talents--a luxury?

It’s taken me awhile to get my thoughts together on this. And this may or may not be an answer.

I think I disagree with the statement: “In their heart-of-hearts, the majority of people know what their talents are.”

I’m not saying that I have a special perspective on this because I’ve been an inner-city teacher, but I’d like to put forth some thoughts about talents. Having seen, up close, the school lives (and some home lives) of the underprivileged children I taught, it almost seems to me that attention to and the nurturing of talents is something only the well-off/educated can attend to. A single welfare mother with five children and one on the way doesn’t even have the word ‘talent’ in her vocabulary, for herself, or her children. She doesn’t have the time, energy (physical or emotional) to observe whether or not her children have talents, and she certainly doesn’t have the time (and money—yes, money) to nurture those talents.

Case in point, the aforementioned Jacob.
Case in point, Dakota—that even in the horror show of my last year as a teacher, I saw as an incredibly gifted child—a singer, a potential actress, artistic, but an incredibly troubled and angry child, a horror in my classroom. The music teacher at School #69, Laura Bartelomeo, put together a wonderful Motown musical medley for the 5/6 choir. Dakota had a solo. She told me several times during the morning that her uncle was coming to see her…then…around 11 o’clock, she began asking me if she could call and see if he was coming. I let her call twice, and then after that, I said no. I let her call one more time, with 15 minutes until show time… No one came. No one saw her sing Diana Ross’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”…I still get tears in my eyes jut thinking about it.

Of course, we read all the time about artists/performers who came from very deprived backgrounds, but how does that happen? It happens when a teacher, a mentor, a philanthropist of some sort notices him or her and gives him or her the attention needed to create.

So maybe talents are like dreams…we have them as children, schools and teachers encourage us to identify what makes us special…but when the pressures of the adult world, the day-to-day struggle to survive, we slowly devolve into an existence where the world acts up on us (and we react and struggle to just survive) instead of us acting on the world like the creative among us do….

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Someone I Love

I have to write about someone I love. Someone who understands me. Who listens and helps me think it all through. Someone who has told me that I never have to lie. Someone who always has time for me--whenever and wherever. Who is content to let me grow at my own speed and never pushes me to a decision before I'm ready to decide. Who supports me right or wrong and has complete faith in me. Someone who defends me. Who cares about ME for who I am. Someone who has listened to my happinesses and survived my sadnesses. That I trust and respect. Someone that I listen to in return, and whose counsel and advice I can truly trust. Someone who sees more in me than I see in myself.

I can only hope that I am as much to you as you are to me.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Talents--a pondering response

This is...well, not so much a some pondering about a post in another blog I read (Eternal Lizdom):

And it's all got me thinking about talent. About passion. About recognizing what we bring to the table. It's a simple enough question. What are your talents? But it's a question that so many have difficulty answering. Because to answer it honestly may indicate pridefulness. But I, of course, disagree. I believe we were given our gifts and talents with a purpose. To use them. To share them. I'm not saying we should be running around bragging. But I think there is no shame in recognizing what you are good at. What you take pride in. But what if you don't know what your talents are? This kind of baffles me. I've known at least some of my talents for most of my life so I can't imagine not knowing. What if you are going day to day, not knowing what you really excel at? What gifts you bring to those around you? Is it that you truly don't know? Or is it that you refuse to see something so positive about yourself? What is holding you back from recognizing something you do well? My talents? In no particular order... Singing, listening, advising, writing. What are your talents? You have full permission to brag on yourself.

Interesting food for thought. I used to assign a journal topic like this to my students. They didn't know what their talents were. So I changed it to "What are you an expert at?" This, they were able to answer. They were experts at video games, singing, football...

Maybe this is best addressed by me as what I THINK I'm talented at:

1) Directing Plays
On any given night, I can leave rehearsal with a smile, thinking that I really am a good director, a good leader. Or I can leave rehearsal thinking that I've screwed up again, I don't really know what I'm doing, I'm just a hack. So...directing is my sometimes talent, I guess. I KNOW I'm a good director with the kids, but I'm not so sure that my directing successes with the adults are anything more than just a fluke.
2) Writing
Mmmm. No one has made me question my writing skills. I know I'm a pretty good writer. I don't know that I could ever make my living at it--though people have suggested it. I like writing. If I had it to do over again, I would go back to school for journalism. I KNOW I can write.
3) Organizing and Planning
This I can do, too--from organizing an entire children's theatre group to planning events to scheduling a weekend trip. THIS I can do.

But, are there people who don't know what their talents are? I think so. The students I've had in class. They don't know what their talents are, and if no one nurtures them, they may never know what their talents are. I remember Jacob Woodard--a very talented artist. He came back to visit me when he was in high school and I asked him about his art. He wasn't even taking an art class. A talent undeveloped, un-nurtured.

I can't talk about talents without talking about the people around me: my husband and my two boys. But, this post grows long. That will be for another day. :-)

Okay. Resolutions

In the days leading up to New Year's Eve, I didn't think I had any resolutions. I didn't think I really wanted to mess with that, but I think I do have some:

1) Pay more attention to my family.
but I want to improve on it. I'm more tuned in tune with the kids than I have been in years. I could regret that I haven't gotten to this place before, but there's no point in it. I can only move forward. The Theatre Express that guides...nay, runs our lives is sometimes ruthless and cruel. I hope they can forgive me...I hope I can make it up.

2) Be creative in other ways.
Touching on the topic of talents. I think I've been given more than my share. Yes,there's theatre. But I also love writing...and making things. This blog has been a good start. The gifts I made for the holidays were another. What is this human preoccupation with wanting to leave traces of ourselves behind? Although I continually see the fingerprint of theatre on my KidsPlay kids, it's intangible. I'd like to leave something behind besides just my gravestone.

3) Get the damn credit cards paid down.
We're basically on one salary now. I'm in charge of the spending and bills. GET the credit cards paid down, so we can use them in an when our gold appliances that came with the house decide to breath their last breath, or for new carpeting, or a car for Charlie. Sigh.

4) Lose ten pounds.
Okay, whatever. Us teeny people worry about our weight, too. 105 pounds seems like a lot to me.

5) Read more.
And not just scripts. It took me two years to read The Living Great Lakes. That's just ridiculous.

And that's probably more than I can possibly manage. With me unemployed, 2009 is going to be a different kind of a year, I'm sure. Let's make it the best so far. So far.

The 24 Days of Putting-Stuff-Away

All of my holiday entertaining is officially over. The Fam Damily was here for thee hours on the 21st; my Hand-Picked Family was here on January 3rd. We enjoyed a clean and decorated house (over the the 24-Days-of-Putting-Stuff-Up).

And now it's time to start the 24-Days-of-Putting-Stuff-Away. This is my plan to make taking down the Christmas decorations as painless as possible. I will put away one decoration every day and soon--by maybe mid-February--all the Christmas decorations will be down and put away.

That is, of course, unless I decide to embark on the 350 Days-of-Taking-Down-the-Tree. Same strategy: take down one ornament at a time until they're all safely wrapped in tissue paper and stored in the ornament box. :-) Why not? We have an artificial tree this year, so there's no hurry. We may end up enjoying our tree year 'round at this rate.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

my greatest fear...

The paparazzi are in John Travolta's face... He looked terrible. Please god, let me never lose a child. A sorrow that would color every breath you take the rest of your days on this earth, a nightmare from which you'd never wake up.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Not a Very Good Start to the Year

Oh, I'm falling behind with my blogging. I want to write about resolutions, and go back and revisit Liz's interesting topics of "Talents" and "What Makes a Friend". I need to write about the progress of the show, and good friends, the Venus Flytraps (Audrey and Biolonte) that just moved in with us...but I've discovered FaceBook...and lost, all is lost...