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.