Saturday, December 31, 2011

My New Year's Resolutions

I've been thinking through some New Year's Resolutions in my head.  I don't need to quit smoking or drinking.  I probably should lose weight and exercise, but in 30 years of resolving to climb such mountains, I have yet to succeed.  My New Year's Resolutions will have to do with connecting with people instead.

1)  My Parents.
My mom turns 75 this year.  My dad is, I think, 77.  I resolve to spend more time with them over the coming year.  Drive up and see them, at least once a season:  spring, summer, fall, winter.  It can be during the week or over the weekend.  It's only two hours away and it's shameful how infrequently I see them when there's only that much space between us.  I WILL do this.  In fact, I'm thinking of maybe packing up Mom and driving her down to Cary (North Carolina) to visit with Debbie over Spring Break.

2)  My Friends.
I'm slowly coming to the realization that I don't have friends, I really just have 'people I work on projects with'. I hadn't really felt that way about the people around me, but it's become increasingly apparent that that's how everyone seems to feel about ME.  I don't get invited to stuff--to dinners, movies, shows, parties even--although I'm thought of when someone needs a costume, I'm just not...remembered...when it comes to doing stuff socially, I guess. I had thought that I was sort of the lynch pin of all of us--the connecting person who introduced this person/family to that person/family--that when we got together to do something, we ALL got together to do something, but apparently that was a figment of my own self-importance.  I resolve to try to connect to people on a social level, rather than just on a working-together level.

3)  My House.
My house is...busy.  Cluttered.  Too many projects going on in it all at once.  I'm surrounded by people who keep perfect homes and mine is....not.  I never have people over because my house is never clean.  I resolve to keep a cleaner house, a more 'inviting' house, so that when I want to have people over,  people don't automatically say, "Um, let's have it at MY house..." and so that it's not a major task to clean up.  Maybe this will help me with Resolution #2, also.  That WHEN I get invited somewhere, I can actually return the invitation in a timely manner.

2012.  Not feeling very happy and positive about this year yet and that's really not like me.  Lots of stress around here, and tension.  I worry that things are going to come to a head soon, that the other foot with drop and that things will come crashing down.  My hope, however, is that from the inevitable ashes will come the phoenix.  Here's hoping that the new year brings something soon...something good.

Friday, December 16, 2011

House of Stress

It is Friday afternoon, phasing into evening.
I have just brought my oldest child home for Christmas.  He is stressed.  To the point of tears and then some.  College is more than he thought it was going to be. As I hear some of the details....the missteps, the errors in judgment, the uncertainty about 'how things work', the lack of initiative, of work ethic, of understanding of what needs to be done, of how to divide and conquer, I mask my face and try to stay distanced, above it.  After all, I did my best as a parent, as a model of 'I can', and 'do it now', and 'do MORE than what's expected'.  Where these lessons went, I don't know, but adding parental disappointment, anger, thoughts of 'I told you so' into the mix will not solve this issue.  He certainly doesn't lack in intelligence, but he lacks....something....and I don't know how to give it to him, teach it to him, grow it in him.  I try to hide the anxiety *I* feel.  It sounds like an academic disaster story, and I dread seeing the grades.  There is literally nothing I can do now except stay calm, try to offer the right advice, the right amount of advice.  Help him dissect the problem and take steps to solve it.  I simply cannot take ownership of this because there is little I can do.  It is on him now.  But he is clearly stressed.  And miserable.  What next?  What next?  And how to help?

My 14-year-old gets off the bus.  I'm in the car, reading the paper and have just read an e-mail on my phone from his resource teaching documenting heightened anxiety these last couple days.  He gets in the car with me and says he wants to talk to me privately.  He is stressed, tired of school, does he have to go these last four days?  He hates swimming.  It's so cold and the gym teacher makes him write a paper about swimming every time he doesn't bring his swimming stuff and every time he gets in the pool.  There's a special needs girl in most of his classes whose behavior grates on his nerves and his sensibilities.  He hates how she treats the teachers, her inappropriate and disturbing behavior, her outbursts.  The principal and the gym teacher came in to talk to him and told him he was a smart boy and that made him cry--not in a positive way, but in a guilt-ridden way, as if a 'smart boy' should want to swim, want to fall in step with the masses around him, should should be tolerant of aberrant behavior even when it interrupts the educational process.  He speaks slowly, often losing his train of thought without prompting.  Feigned?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  I have a weekend to watch him.  And will consider paying an observatory visit to school on Monday, which may include pulling him out before swimming. 

And now here is my husband home from school.  He, too, has four days left of the chaos they call urban education.  He is an artist, a poet, a writer, and he just received poor marks as a disciplinarian on his annual evaluation.  Since I quit my job as the same, he is the sole supporter of our family and thus, he can't quit.  He lives his employed life in his own private hell of ghetto children who scorn his values and disrespect him beyond what any human soul should have to endure.  He tries to maintain a teaching atmosphere in a sea of jeering, mocking faces that could care less about education or what my gentle husband might have to share with them.  At night, he talks in his sleep, twitches and starts.  School and stress dreams.  By day, he is tense, short with us all, and it's not good, not good.  We have debts and he has years left ahead of him before he can depart.  Will he make it?  Will he make it with his health intact?

I walk carefully through this minefield, my own stresses on hold for now, praying for strength, patience, the right words to keep everyone going.  Strong for us all.  Hold on, everyone.  Just hold on.  There are vacation days ahead.  Retirement looms.  A chance to start over is coming.  Keep the faith, keep walking, and......walk towards the light.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

If I Think of You, Does That Mean I Miss You?

Yes, still.  And these are the times.

1)  When I'm over-tired.
2)  When I have to go to Wal-Mart after rehearsal.
3)  When I listen to "Wicked" or "Fiddler".
4)  When I read something particularly hilarious in 'The Onion'.
5)  During newbie auditions for KidsPlay.
6)  When I'm in the Gallery.
7)   Driving east on 300N.
8)  When I stop for a giga...although I don't buy Fudge Rounds anymore....

Yep.  All these times.  Momentary reverberations of a vague regret.  And then, like a dizzy spell, it passes.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Beloved Wife and Mother

Watching "Curb Your Enthusiasm" at the breakfast table.  The episode takes place at a funeral for Larry's wife's aunt, where they discover that no one has written an obituary.  Naturally, it falls to Larry and they decide on 'beloved wife and mother'. 
I turn to John and say, "Now THERE'S a phrase I DON'T want in my obituary.  'Beloved wife and mother'!!"
Ben asks, "Why?"
I say, "Beloved wife and mother?  Is that what you think of when you think of me?  Beloved wife and mother??"
Ben pauses for a moment, and then quietly says, "Awesome wife and mother..."  And then, after another moment...  "Or epic."

And there you go.

The continuing adventures of a mom and son rediscovering each other in the absence  of the oldest...

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Hotspring of Sorrow

I'm having a visit from 'grief' today.  One of my KidsPlayers, a high school girl now...her best friend's dad died in a motorcycle accident last night.  The friend, a young man, just graduated from high school in May.  The dad, apparently braked hard for something...a deer...?  No one knows what.  Hit a tree and died.  Just very sad....another chapter in the from-the-beginning of time-long-story of "Why?  Isn't life hard enough?  WHY?" 

I'm a firm believer in the 'everything happens for a reason' principle, but doesn't lead ANYWHERE.  Like now. will be years before it leads somewhere.  In the meantime...grief for those left behind.  Drowning in it, choking in it.  Dying from it or wishing they could.

I don't even know the kid, really.  But I know my KidsPlayer girl and she loves this kid like a brother--and now he'll be irrevocably changed by this horrible tragedy.  His life from this point on, will be tainted by this too-soon passing.  All roads traveled, all milestones will be be marked by this one horrible turn of events, this hand of cards he's been dealt.  So sad. 

So tragic.

And from just under the surface, bubbling up, seemingly out of nowhere, come all the sadnesses.  I'm sure you know the ones of which I speak.  The ones that lie dormant most of the time, in scrapbooks and memory boxes.  The snowglobe dusty on the shelf, the stuffed bear in the trunk, the teacup in the cupboard.  People gone too soon, events that forever changed us all.

Anyway.  It's a sad day here in Greenfield....

And I'm thinking of you and yours...ours....everyone's.  And praying with clenched hands for the strength to understand.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My Child After All

My two boys.
Both so talented, such individuals.  Brought up in the way that only my husband and I could raise them--with our mix of travel, and culture, and literature.  Raised in the backseat of the van, in the theatre, the library and in museums all across the country.  Very proud of them.  Two completely unique individuals.  Handsome.  Kind.  Funny.

But so often, I look at them and I don't recognize them at all.  They seem to have none of me in them.  I see plenty of their father, but none of me.   And I wonder, "Whose children are these???  Because they're sure not mine!"

I'm theatre through and through.  Outgoing.  Talking to strangers always--at Wal-Mart, Burger King, Disney World, in the audience.  I'm a risk-taker, a...what does Joe Siefker call it?  An Experience Collector.  Rarely do I let a moment for fun, for adventure, a chance to do something new go by.  I try to recognize those once-in-a-lifetime moments and make sure that they happen for me, for those around me.  Skydiving.  The Star Wars Convention.  Re-enactments at Gettysburg.  A whale watch.

My two boys?  They take after my husband.  They would rather stay home, rather watch TV, read a book, play a game--than go out and do something new, have an adventure, LIVE.  Sometimes it makes me mad.  Sometimes I'm saddened by it.  Sometimes I force them to go.:-)  They can thank me for it later. 

Something I noticed about them early on--they never want to sit on the aisle when we go to a show.  They're afraid that the cast will come storming down into the audience, demanding that members of the audience get up and dance, sing, come up on stage and be a part of the show.  Sitting on the aisle increases that chance, so they always sit to the inside.  They don't ride roller coasters.  They don't want to try water-skiing or sky-diving or white water rafting.  They don't want to climb trees or take a mule ride to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  They don't want to get out of the car and stand on the rocky shore screaming into the wind and the waves.  They just want to watch from the safety of the car.  Take a photo.  Read about it.  I don't understand it.  How can these two be MY children???

They don't work hard at anything.  They give up.  Papers and school projects?  Meh.  Minimum requirements met and that's all.  Enough to get by.  Whereas I want to add a fancy border to a poster, gather props for a class presentation, dress up even, go the extra mile for extra credit, they don't.  Many times, big and creative ideas stay just that.  They don't have the umph to follow through, to make it happen.  They get discouraged.  They give up.  It can't be done.  This, too, is an attitude I don't understand.  I, the original Can-Do person.  The Bob-the-Builder of children's theatre.  I, who look for ways to make it happen, rather than reasons why it won't.

Both of them, so negative.  Glass half-empty kids.  Look on the dark side.  Plan for the worst.  I just don't get it.  Don't understand how they can go through life like that.  Feel sad for them and their outlook.


So today, I told #2 that he was going to be retained in the 7th grade.  I looked at his face.  Watched him.  He impassively watched me back.  I said, "How do you feel about that?"  And he said, "I need it.  I didn't learn enough this year. [pause] And I'll get to have Mrs. Day again. [pause] And when else will I get to learn about Japan?  I'll get to do that again, too."

And in that moment, I saw me.  My child.  In the face of what to a 7th grader must be devastating news, he was looking for the positive, the good, the silver lining.  I pulled him up onto my lap.  I am small, yes, but he is smaller.  And I just hugged him.  Told him I was proud of him.  For taking it so well.  For understanding.  And for seeing the good things through the bad news.

It will be the best thing for him.  He's so small.  Not real mature.  He didn't learn the things he needs to move on.  Better now than later.  And he's right.  He'll get to have Mrs. Day again and she's been really good for him.  He hates change, and so this works well for him.  Another year to grow, another year to learn.

And we will learn together--my own boy and me.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Spring Break's Best Accomplishment

So I didn't go anywhere or do anything special, but I've had a GREAT Spring Break.  I got TONS of stuff accomplished in the theatre world:  1) I finished the KidsPlay playbill (yes, Heidi, I left room for those couple of ads); 2) I made Aubree a cute little purple and white cheerleading outfit, complete with a fried egg appliqued on the front; 3) I made Reuben a dog costume; 4) I'm most of the way through a pond costume (don't ask); 5) I got the entire set painted; 6) and the decorations for the set cut out; 7) I got my camp plays scanned (huge accomplishment). And I'm sure there are other things that aren't jumping to mind right now--poems started and partial articles written.

I got stuff done here at home--I got Ben's room cleaned up.  You have no idea what a task this was.  Picture 6" deep of Legos, collector cards and fast food toys.  I didn't necessarily get it put away, but all boxed up in five (count 'em) large plastic bins.  They're taking up space in the garage now, but at least they're off the floor and contained.

I spent time with the family.  We did some shopping.  We took in a couple museums:  the Glick Indiana History Center, which was pretty cool.  We went to see their "You Are There" features, one of which was Bobby Kennedy giving a short speech in Indianapolis on the day MLK was shot.  It was pretty moving, and I actually got tears in my eyes.  We also went down to Circle Center Mall, ate at Johnny Rocket's, and walked around some.  We also enjoyed the costume exhibit at the Children's Museum.  We watched a lot of movies at home--stupid stuff and good stuff--with our friend Corey, and watched some good basketball.  Nice 'home-time' together.

But I guess my happiest accomplishment is that I read two books.  I call myself a reader, but I don't read that much anymore.  Sadly, I'm too busy.  And if I do read, it's a script.  And that's fine, but I miss it.  I see books I'd like to read if I ever got some down time.  I'm very busy these days...two shows in production, another one going on at the high school, laying the groundwork for my summer teen show and the day camp...but I MADE the time.  I read A Thousand Splendid Suns and Water for Elephants.  Both were really good and I enjoyed them a LOT.  I miss reading.  Note to self:  make time.  MAKE time.

So tomorrow, we start back to our normal busy-ness routine.  Rehearsals four nights next week, photos on Thursday with KidsPlay.  Busy, busy.  But I will be sure to have a book with me in the 'Spare Time' bag.  ;-)

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Small Good Out of the Sorrow

"The space shuttle fell out of the sky...."  That's how the song lyric went.  A bleak time of year, and a bleak day in our nation's history.  Who can ever forget the photo of the family looking up, and up--the photo capturing that moment, still in wonder and not quite in horror--not just yet.  It's like we forgot space was dangerous, that astronauts had died, even before leaving the launchpad.  The feeling around this mission was so lighthearted.  A teacher was going into space.  One of my own.  A new day, a new world, where routine space travel actually seemed in reach.  And then, disaster.  Horror.  Grief.  An auspicious beginning to 1986.

The darkness and depressive feeling of those days pushed my husband John to get moving, do something new, get himself out of the house.  In the wake of the shuttle disaster, he signed up for a painting class at the Indianapolis Art League in Broad Ripple.  It was there that he met a short, mouthy girl who was studying to be a teacher.  And the rest is history.  A small personal history...a small something good came out of that national depression and grief.  Twenty-five years ago.