Monday, July 7, 2014

So There’s This Musical And I’m In It

Shocking title, huh? Yeah. I still can’t believe I auditioned for musical theater. Even more astonishing, I was actually cast in Shrek, The Musical. Yep. For realz. I will be portraying Tweedle Dee in the Fairy Tale Ensemble of Journey Theater Arts Group community theater production; a character who doesn’t smile and whose frown is accentuated with make-up.
So, you know, I’m basically playing myself.

From a previous post, you may remember my youngest daughter, Annika, talked her older sister and I into trying out for parts in Shrek. Ironically, Annika didn’t get cast but Emma and I did. The experience has been a life lesson for all three of us. 

Emma is learning to be gracious and considerate to her sister’s feelings while still remaining excited to be in the show.

Though disappointment resurfaces for Annika every time her sister and I are at rehearsal, she does not let it affect her joy for the kids who did make the cast. She wishes to attend every performance and says she will be the loudest cheerleader there. She even wants to know who is on crew so she can cheer for them during blackouts. 

Me? A blog post doesn’t have space for all I am learning. For as long as my kids have been involved with theater, I can’t believe how much I do not know. I feel like the proverbial deer staring into the blinding lights of a Mack Truck. 

Altos start on B!
Wow. I really should have learned to read music.

You’ll be on the apron of the stage.
The what of the what, now?

You should already know this song from the file sent to you!
Oh, yeah. I have that email somewhere...

Wear more deodorant!
Check. Got it.

Everyone is taking notes.
Why are they taking notes?!? 

Thank the Lord for random dance classes throughout life. At least I know how to do a “box step” and a “kick-ball-change”.

Me, Mother Goose, Wicked Witch, and Young Fiona
As thrilled as I am to be in the cast, I am missing my friends not in the show. Where Emma handles her conflicting feelings pretty well, I have “survivor’s guilt” when I think about those cut. I know it’s showbiz - it’s just a tough fact of life to swallow. 

"Do one thing every day that scares you." My favorite quote from long ago FLOTUS Eleanor Roosevelt. I guess I have this covered for the next 2 months.

Come see Emma, me, and a ton of talented thespians in the Journey Theater Arts Group production of Shrek, The Musical this August. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry...well, no. You’ll just laugh. A lot.

With Kristi - Director and Friend

Comment below and let me know when you’ll be there!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Best Birthday Party Ever

She only had one wish. Our youngest’s 12th birthday approached and she repeated her request constantly. I want to invite all my friends to my party.

You can’t invite ALL of them. Our house won’t hold everyone you know.

But it’s all I want! And I don’t want any presents! We can ask people to donate to Northwest Children’s Outreach. P-L-E-A-S-E Mom and Dad??? It’s for CHARITY!

Seriously. How could we argue with that?
Let me re-phrase. 
How could we argue and win with that?

Luckily, we’ve got an “in” with the pastor of our church. And by “in” I mean, we are friends and his kids would be invited to the party. He let us use the church building for the event.

Hmmm. Birthday party or youth group? Same thing.

51 guests showed up at this kid’s celebration. Not bad when over 20 couldn’t make it due to other conflicts. Annika knows a lot of people. But my daughter is NOT the reason this was THE BEST BIRTHDAY PARTY EVER.

The reason this was THE BEST BIRTHDAY PARTY EVER is because Annika received the most valuable gifts possible: Love, Compassion and Friendship.

Kids showed up yesterday because of community. There weren’t air-pumped slides, laser-tag games or swimming pools. Over four dozen kids played board games, danced, sang karaoke, watched a movie and ate a ton of sugar. Yet, no one got out of control. They respected each other and the space we occupied. They brought LOTS of donations for needy teenagers in our community. The group radiated love.

(Okay. These kids would never admit this party was a big love fest, but truthfully, watching them all appreciate each other is so refreshing!)

As the event ended, parents asked how we’d top this party for Annika’s 13th. I told them this was a one time deal. Though after further contemplation, maybe we’ll make it an annual event. After all, how often do you attend a party where everyone - the hosts, the guests, and the community - benefit from the kindness of teens and tweens? 

I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

What look like a bunch of presents...

will actually go to less fortunate teens before school starts in the fall.
Annika's friends rock!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

El Mar

Hello, Old Friend. It’s been a while.

I pop in sporadically. You’ve seen me and I’ve seen you. I just couldn’t bear to come close. Not for a while.

Remember when I was 16 and experienced my first rejection from the boy I believed I loved? Oh, you let me pour tears into you. You didn’t try to fix my problem. You didn’t bash the boy. You just listened. 

I came to visit so many times in the next few years. You still listened. You drowned my sobs so no one else would hear.

You’ve heard firsthand the heartaches I had during my early 20s. Looking back, how did I expose myself to such hurt? Youth is dangerous, huh? There you were welcoming me and saving me a spot near you, no matter the time of day.

The times we had together weren’t all sad. When I was a child we played, when I was in high school we partied. Yet as an adult, I noticed every time I stepped close enough to touch you, painful memories came rushing back.

It’s easier to see you when I’m with other people. I can let them draw close to you while I linger behind. I’m not as comfortable around you as I once was. Sometimes I protect myself from you, spying from an indoor window.

Yesterday, I hadn’t planned to visit you at all. But as the day warmed, I presumed it would be nice to visit. After all, I’m alone. And you already know all of my secrets.

As soon as I made the decision, I yearned for you. I kicked off my shoes and walked toward you, closing my eyes and letting intuition guide the way. I wanted to hear what you had to say. You had to bring up the memories, didn’t you? That’s okay. I probably needed to face them. 

Close again, I trusted you with more secrets, more hurts, more tears. You took them. You remained loud enough so no one else was bothered. I felt better. Just like I used to. 

Thanks for still listening, after all this time. I can’t promise I’ll know what to do the next time I see you. I may come close or if other company is present, I may stay away. 

You are a powerful example. I wish I could be as strong in my own life.

Monday, June 16, 2014

All By Myself

"All by my-se-el-elf. Just wanna be, all by my-se-el-elf."

What? Those aren’t the lyrics? 

Hmmm. How about this holy scripture:

Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
Luke 5:16

Yes. That’s better. That’s what I’m doing. Withdrawing to a lonely place. Well, more like, “withdrawing to a place, alone.”

A couple of weeks ago, I thought my brain was going to explode. Too much going on - I was on overload. I had ideas to process, places to be, lessons to teach, laundry to fold, dinner to cook, groceries to shop. Probably not much different from you who are reading this post.

Before I had kids, I wondered how parents were so disorganized. Get a calendar, people! As a teacher I would send things home, only to have items get lost by mom or dad. How were the kids supposed to learn?

Three weeks ago, my phone chimed a reminder at 1:50: voice lessons at 2:00. How could I forget the girls’ voice lessons? I called Holly, our understanding teacher, and let her know we’d be late. Of course, I apologized and blamed it on other things going on.

On Thursday, the reminder for the 2:00 voice lesson chimed again. This time I saw it at 2:15. I called Holly once more. Yeah, we’re not coming. It doesn’t matter that I have the appointment written down in 4 places and I have no excuses. Keep the money and take a nap.

My house is a mess, papers are stacked up, the tub is full of clean laundry ready to be put away, but every time I get a free minute, I crash. Mind you, this is with my kids doing their own chores. The chaos starts in my mind and bleeds to the rest of my domestic impotence. Thank God for automatic bill pay. We’d really be in trouble.

I am a firm believer in the fourth commandment to keep the Sabbath. Truly, God knows what he’s talking about when he makes a rule to recharge. When I take these periods of rest, I’m good to go. But lately, I haven’t been spending time in quiet and prayer. 

So, I’m running away from home for a few days. It’s taking me more than a few hours to get used to the resting part. I tense with every footstep I hear in the hotel hall, thinking somebody wants something from me. I’m involuntarily rushing through this blog post as response to not having made dinner yet. 

Deep breath.

I have to relax with this gal on my bed, right?
 I’ll be on my way now to grab some chamomile. I may write, I may read some more, or I may just sit and process through the many thousands of feelings trapped in this lump that has been sitting at the top of my throat for 2 months. 

If my eyes are puffy when I return, please know I’m okay. On this Sabbath, I am letting go. Or, as everyone younger than me says, I’m having all the feels.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Matthew 11:28-29 

Spending time at the Sylvia Beach Hotel

What are you doing to avoid being overwhelmed and ensure rest this summer? 

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Boy in My Father

Ask anyone I grew up with, they’ll tell you my father and I didn’t get along. They’d be right - sort of.

I didn’t have a father who was physically abusive or who wanted nothing to do with his children. I do have a dad with whom I share a love of debate. Serious, winner takes all, debates. We challenge each other on everything.

Okay. Some may view our conversations as arguing.

When you have a parent who greets you not with, Good morning, but rather, Where does your soul go when you die? you can’t expect a lot of small talk and niceties.  

This past winter, my daughters and I traveled with my parents to my dad’s boyhood home in Cleveland, OH. It’s not the city of his birth. Dad was born during the Second World War when, as an infant, he was smuggled with my grandmother and aunts as they escaped Nazi-occupied Prussia into West Germany. After he started elementary school, my paternal family applied for sponsorship and moved to the U.S.A. where my grandfather and uncles obtained blue collar jobs and started new lives as Americans.

Hard laborers, builders, and roofers, my father was the exact opposite of the other men in the family. Dad much preferred books to hammers and tar. In the 50s and 60s, heroes like Sheldon and Leonard from The Big Bang Theory were no where to be found. Dad’s intelligence wasn’t as appreciated as it might have been today.

Dad joined the Navy, was stationed in San Diego, used his smarts to learn about huge, room-sized, noisy, machines called “computers”, and met my mother. I was born, soon after he graduated with a Computer Science degree and started his suit wearing, pocket protector, white collar life. A life far, far away from anything his own family had ever known. 

My Opa built this with my uncles. He lived here until he passed away.

Our visits to Cleveland always include a trip down the street where Dad grew up,the house my grandfather lived in until his death, the house across the way where my cousins were raised. This was the first time my kids saw the narrow avenue, each house built by the original owner. Residences stop before the cul-de-sac, where a tot-lot sits at the east, a grassy lot to the west, and Lake Erie waits steps below.

When I was a kid, there was a metal see-saw and a merry-go-round.
It wasn't safe, but we had fun.

I watched my father get out of the car on this chilled, blustery day and stare at the lake. He reminisced to a time when the pier wasn’t shattered in concrete blocks. A time before video games when a boy’s playtime was spent fishing and diving. Summer block parties took place on the empty lot and the neighborhood, consisting mostly of immigrants, was a family.

Trips back home are good for my dad, but they are important for me as well. I’ve only known my dad as the adult nerd (respectfully speaking) he is. A business man. A scholar. To really understand Dad, I need to glimpse into his past, to see the lad who grew up in a hardship I’ll never understand.

When I see the boy in my father, I gain compassion. I might even cease the heavy debates. 

Nah. Who am I kidding?

I love you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day.