Monday, May 31, 2010

Four!


"Everybody's workin' for the weekend!
Everybody wants a new romance!
Everybody's goin' off the deep end!
Everybody needs a second chance!"
Loverboy

DAYS 231-234:  FOUR-DAY WEEKEND!  Relaxing and wonderful ... and we're heading back to only ONE MORE week (of only FOUR days) of regular school days.  Next week, our LAST week of classes, is all half-days!  Eleven more days of work until summer ...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Final Countdown


"10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 ...
The race is on!"
Richard Stilgoe

DAY 230:  For the past month or so, I've had a running countdown of school days remaining on my classroom whiteboard.  Today it hit TEN!  The FINAL COUNTDOWN HAS BEGUN!!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Back in the Saddle


"Whoopi-ty-aye-oh ...
Rockin' to and fro
Back in the saddle again.
Whoopi-ty-aye-yay ...
I go my way
Back in the saddle again."
Gene Autry and Ray Whitley 

DAYS 228-229:  I'm definitely back in the saddle ... and I have to admit it's a little intimidating this time.  This musical, Parade, is a HUGE show with BIG themes, BIG music, and a BIG cast (all THIRTY of them!).  It's certainly the largest show and cast I've ever directed, and most of what I'll be doing in blocking this production is traffic control.  Staging and directing this monster of a production is going to take a lot of time and every ounce of skill I have!  But, I've always been VERY comfortable in the diretor's chair and I have no doubt I can handle this show, too ...  I'm SO grateful to be able to bring this beautiful and IMPORTANT show to life!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Pretty Music


"Don't ya think that's pretty music?
Those fellas sure can play.
This beat was really made for dancin'.
Yes, ma'am, that's pretty music.
I could dance the night away.
You can hear that song's so sweet and true,
But truth to tell, not half as sweet as you."
Jason Robert Brown

DAY 227:  After a weekend that ended in the "blues," it was THRILLING to listen to a full sing-through tonight of the musical Parade, which I'm directing.  It sure lifted my spirits and got me incredibly excited to get to work on MY part of the show ... the staging!  Over the next two weeks, I'll be blocking and choreographing the entire show before my AMAZING Music Director, Sam, gets back and we start putting it all together for our opening in mid-July!  It's gonna be BIG BIG BIG!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Belonging, Part Two


"You, you got me;
Me, I got you ... you ..."
Frank Loesser

DAY 226:  So ... here's Part Two.
 
I spent most of the day revisiting some territory I've been trying to remove from my personal map of places to visit.  It's kind of surprising that today followed such a wonderful day of feeling that sense of "belonging."  Or maybe it's not so surprising ... after a full, happy day of being surrounded by friends in my work and theatre families, I retreated a bit into a world of loneliness and low self-esteem.  I don't know why it happens, but it does.  It used to happen more frequently, and I've gotten so much better at kicking myself out of it.  Today, I had a bit of difficulty finding that strength and confidence.  I so want to abandon the occasional "pity parties," and had promised myself in the New Year that I would treat myself better ... today was a back-slide.  But, I refuse to punish myself for it (beyond the emotional eating I've been doing today).  My penance will be putting it down in words, because there's nothing better (at least for me) than writing it down.
 
I've never had a successful relationship, and the older I get ... I'll be 50 in about 6 months ... the more I'm afraid that I will never find "that person."  There's no doubt that I have a LARGE group of loving and faithful friends who would do just about anything for me and want what's best for me.  But, it's just NOT. THE. SAME.  I pride myself on being a decent, caring, generous, thoughtful person ... I'm intelligent, creative, and witty.  Why am I still alone?  I don't get it ... and while there are LOTS and LOTS of days when it doesn't bother me and I thrive on my "me time," there are days like today when it comes screaming home.  Sorry ... I told you I was in "pity party" mode.  I promise it won't last long ...
 
So, what am I grateful for today?  I'm grateful that I can have days like yesterday to look back on and realize I have friends that WANT to be around me, and whose hugs convince me EVERY time that I am someone of value and worth.  This I know FOR CERTAIN and it's because of this I know I'm never truly alone in this world ... far from it ...
 
Plus ... my nearly-every-night rehearsals for Parade start this week ... I won't have any TIME to dwell on it.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Belonging, Part One


"Your lifelong membership is free.
Keep a-givin' each brother all you can.
Oh, aren't you proud to be
In that fraternity,
The great big Brotherhood of Man?"
Frank Loesser

DAY 225: This is a two-part post, because it's the tale of two very different days.  I'm writing it on day two (and pre-dating it), because the first day was only put into perspective after the second day ... and it's another one of those blog posts that's going to be (1) hard to keep positive (well, at least in Part Two) and (2) impossible to adequately put into words.

Today was a really terrific day thanks to an overwhelming and deeply gratifying sense of "belonging." 

The day began with a baby shower for my friend and co-worker, Melanie.  It was an afternoon of incredible companionship, friendship, and LOTS of laughter.  I'm extremely fortunate to be surrounded at work by some of the most wonderful, caring, loving, and supportive people around.  I feel comfortably "at home" with them, I completely belong, I feel I'm at my best with these people, and I can be myself - totally.  It's a particularly joyful feeling.

That was followed, in the evening, by a trip to the theatre.  The play, Talking Heads, was performed by four incredible actresses (and friends of mine) who brought the stories of four lonely British women to vivid life.  In the small Studio Theatre audience, however, were dozens of additional theatre friends, many of whom I had not seen in a while.  When my friend, Gayle, mentioned in the curtain speech the play I was directing for the theatre that would be opening in a couple of months and that I was in the audience, the applause in response felt like one big group hug.  I'm extremely fortunate to be surrounded in the theatre by some of the most wonderful, caring, loving, and supportive people around. I feel comfortably "at home" with them, I completely belong, I feel I'm at my best with these people, and I can be myself - totally. It's a particularly joyful feeling. 

Did you catch the echo?  How many people can claim three very separate "families" that can provide such a sense of belonging?  My actual family, my work family, and my theatre family ... I'm grateful for all of them.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Dwindling


"Oh, the days dwindle down to a precious few ..."
Maxwell Anderson

DAY 224  Only three more weeks of school ... two of those weeks are four-day weeks (courtesy of Memorial Day weekend), and the final week is all half-days.  Today is my final day of teaching new material ... from here until the end it's just review and final exams!  The end is in sight ... and I'm grateful! 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

QFM


"All the people will celebrate the glory of you
And whatever you wish and want I gladly will do ..."
Alan Jay Lerner

DAY 223: On this twentieth of May, I'm grateful there's a musical theatre lyric or reference suitable for just about ANY occasion ... heck, there are even special musical theatre HOLIDAYS!    HAPPY LIZA DOOLITTLE DAY EVERYONE!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Beating Traffic


"Those who CAN ..."

DAY 222:  Faculty Meeting ... once a month ... full agenda ... usually resulting in being stuck in rush-hour traffic to get home.  I'm GRATEFUL that today's meeting (the last regular monthly meeting of the YEAR) was blissfully SHORT and I was home by 4:30!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Life's Not Fair


"I love you
A bushel and a peck,
A bushel and a peck,
And a hug around the neck."
Frank Loesser

DAY 221:  A tough evening.  A fellow Chorale member and dear friend, Kathy, lost her only child, a 26-year-old son, in a motorcycle accident last week.  Tonight was the visitation.  I've always had a hard time with death ... its suddenness, its senselessness.  I suspect it has a lot to do with how quickly and unexpectedly my dad was taken from me at a MUCH too early age (both his and mine ...).  Visitations, wakes, and funerals make me particularly uneasy, and it's mostly about how helpless I feel with those who are grieving, especially those who are grieving such tragic and unfair loss.  It feels so inadequate that all I seem to be able to offer is a hug and some insufficient words of love, fellowship, support, and comfort.  I know it's not enough, but it's what I have to give.  I'm grateful to be there for my friend as much as I am able.  I'm also grateful for the comment of another good friend, Jenny, who wrote to me "If anything terrible happened to me, I know a hug from you would make a HUGE difference. That kind of love is what keeps me from feeling lost in this world."

Monday, May 17, 2010

T-Minus ...


"Out for summer,
Out till fall,
We might not go back at all

School's out forever.
School's out for summer.
School's out with fever.
School's out completely!"
Alice Cooper
 
DAY 220:  This one's easy ... LAST FULL WEEK OF CLASSES!!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Director's Nightmare


"I'm late! I'm late!
For a very important date!
No time to say hello, good-bye,
I'm late! I'm late! I'm late!"
Sammy Fain

DAY 219:   The rehearsal schedule for the musical, Parade, that I'm directing over the next couple of months has been a COMPLETE nightmare.  Trying to accommodate the conflicts of THIRTY cast members is an impossible task, and I suspect if I had recognized that it was impossible earlier, I might've saved myself some aggravation.  Anyway ... I'm grateful that it's finally DONE!!!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Getting to Know You


"Getting to know you,
Getting to know all about you.
Getting to like you,
Getting to hope you like me.

Getting to know you,
Putting it my way,
But nicely,
You are precisely
My cup of tea."
Oscar Hammerstein II

DAY 218:  Well ... yesterday's blog post was about one of my oldest friends, Martin.  Today's blog is about my newest friend!  We spent nearly the entire day together today - taking in an Arts Market, a lovely walk on the river, a flick at his apartment, and finally, dinner.  It was a terrific day with lots of GREAT heart-to-heart conversation ... we're a bit different, but have a lot in common, too!  I am grateful for my new friend, and hope that I'll be posting more about him sometime soon ...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Bosom Buddy


"Just turn your bosom buddy
For aid and affection,
For help and direction,
For loyalty, love and forsooth!

Remember that who else but a bosom buddy
Will sit down and level,
And give you the devil,
Will sit down and tell you the truth!"
Jerry Herman

DAYS 215-217:  About twenty years ago, I met my best friend, Martin, through another mutual friend.  We hit it off right away and have been "bosom buddies" ever since.  We couldn't be more alike - same dry, witty, cynical, sarcastic and biting sense of humor, same taste in movies and music, same (I hate to admit it ... or maybe I don't) intellectual elitism, same opinions on political and social matters, you name it ...  At least once a week, I'd be "hanging" with my good friend - strolling through a bookstore, groaning (and quietly criticizing) through a bad movie, getting some food, and sharing stories of the lovelorn.  Yes, we are both perpetually single as well ...

A number of years ago Martin moved away to Atlanta and now I unfortunately don't get to see him too often.  I've been up there once to see him, but he's down here more often, usually on holidays, to visit his parents and we get to "hang" again, just like we used to.  I look forward to his trips home so that we can grab a movie or dinner, just like old times.  He was home this week for Mother's Day, and for the past three nights we've been taking in movies (why I haven't had the time to blog) ... two of them awful, but even bad movies are fun and tolerable with Martin.  So, here's a load of gratitude for my best friend!!

PS ... I don't have a picture of Martin - like me, he doesn't care for pictures!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Teacher's Best Friend


"Two and two are four.
Four and four are eight.
Eight and eight are sixteen.
Sixteen and sixteen are thirty-two."
Frank Loesser

DAY 214:  Twenty-two days of school left ... final tests of the year ... the individual who invented the Scantron Machine should be made a SAINT!!  Grateful.  Grateful.  Grateful.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Lady, Her Music


"Don't know why there's no sun up in the sky -
Stormy weather ...
Since my man and I ain't together,
Keeps raining all the time.

Life is bare, gloom and misery everywhere -
Stormy weather ... 
Just can't get my poor old self together.
I'm weary all the time, so weary all the time.

When he went away, the blues walked in and met me.
If he stays away, old rocking chair will get me.
All I do is pray, the Lord above will let me
Walk in the sun once more.

Can't go on, everything I had is gone -
Stormy weather ... 
Since my man and I ain't together,
Keeps raining all the time ..."
Harold Arlen

DAY 213:  In the early 80's, I had the once-in-a-lifetime experience of being in the presence of the legendary Lena Horne as she performed her concert The Lady and Her Music.  She was in her youthful 60's at the time, and she was nothing short of brilliant.  There aren't enough adjectives to adequately describe the evening of story and song - stunning, captivating, inspirational ...  I've NEVER witnessed a performance like it and it's one of the few times in the theatre or concert hall that I've ever LEAPT to my feet at the final curtain.

Imagine my heartbreak, then, when I awoke this morning to the news that the breathtaking Ms. Horne had passed away last night at the age of 92.  The word "legend" is tossed around WAY too easily these days, but having the unique and unforgettable opportunity to see her perform live was proof enough for me.  This incredibly beautiful woman blazed trails as a performer and could deliver and style a song like no other.  There was not a dry eye in the house (including mine), when she delivered her signature "Stormy Weather."

Thank you, Ms. Horne and rest in peace ...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mom


"What do you give to the lady who has given
All her life and love to you?
What do you give to the reason you are livin'?
I could window shop the world
Before I'm through.

Mama, a rainbow.
Mama, a sunrise.
Mama, the moon to wear.
That's not good enough,
No, not good enough,
Not for Mama.

Mama, a palace,
Diamonds like door knobs,
Mountains of gold to spare.
That's not rich enough,
No, not rich enough,
Not for Mama.

Mama, a lifetime, crowded with laughter,
That's not long enough,
Not half long enough.

What can I give you
That I can give you?
What will your present be?
Mama, young and beautiful.
Always young and beautiful.
That's the Mama I'll always see...
That's for Mama with love from me ..."
Hal Hackady

DAY 212:  On this Mother's Day, the lyrics say it all ... thanks, Mom, for a lifetime of unconditional love, support, and friendship.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Old Country


"I hear a bird, a Londonderry bird,
It well may be he's bringing me a cheering word.
I hear a breeze, a River Shannon breeze,
It well may be it's followed me across the seas.
Then tell me please ..."
E.Y. Harburg

DAY 211:  It's been OVER THIRTY YEARS since I've been "home" to Ireland.  I have two pairs of aunts and uncles who have visited the States in the meantime, but I haven't been "across the pond" since high school.  First cousins who were infants the last time I saw them (and some who hadn't even been born yet!) are now grown adults, many with families of their own.

This summer, I'll be heading back to the Old Country - one of the most beautiful places on earth.  You would think that pictures you see of the Emerald Isle (like the one above) are retouched ... they're not.  That's what it looks like and it's often stunning in its splendor.  I'm grateful for the chance to revisit my mother's home country (she came over when she was a teenager) after so long a time.

I'll be travelling with my friends Carole, Gus, and Amy (and Amy's mother) for over a week in July a couple of days after my musical Parade opens and I CAN'T WAIT!!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Brush Up Your Shakespeare


"But the poet of them all,
Who will start 'em simply ravin',
Is the poet people call
The bard of Stratford-on-Avon."
Cole Porter

DAY 210:  I make no secret of the fact that I don't care very much for Shakespeare.  I'm not fond of reading it, seeing it performed, and CERTAINLY not performing it myself.  I'm not too proud to say "I don't get it" ... and probably never will, if I haven't already.  Imagine my trepidation at going to see a comedy in which a 1940's film noir private eye interacts with a multitude of Shakespeare characters - a play called The Maltese Bodkin.

Imagine, then, my utter DELIGHT when I found myself laughing from the beginning to the end of this remarkably clever, original, and HYSTERICAL play.  I'm not a Shakespeare fan, but I knew enough about most of the plays to get the witty references and gags peppered throughout the show, which detailed detective Birnam Wood's (get it? ;-) investigation of his partner's death and the mysterious Maltese Bodkin.  Among his suspects and clients - Mercutio, Falstaff, Puck, Viola, Donalbain, Richard II, Prospero, and Iago.

Favorite moments ... a terrific Tom Stoppard-ish take on Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and a couple of gut-busters.  GB #1 - Birnam Wood's line to his secretary, "We can't give the bodkin to the police, they lose evidence - remember what happened to all those knives in the Caesar case."  GB #2 - Wood's secretary to Lady MacBeth, "Don't get blood on your dress, those spots never come out."  LOVE.  IT.

Thanks, Theatre Jacksonville for a FUN night!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

In Every Heart


"In every heart there is a room
A sanctuary safe and strong
To heal the wounds from lovers past
Until a new one comes along

I spoke to you in cautious tones
You answered me with no pretense
And still I feel I said too much
My silence is my self defense

And every time I've held a rose
It seems I only felt the thorns
And so it goes, and so it goes
And so will you soon I suppose

But if my silence made you leave
Then that would be my worst mistake
So I will share this room with you
And you can have this heart to break

And this is why my eyes are closed
It's just as well for all I've seen
And so it goes, and so it goes
And you're the only one who knows

So I would choose to be with you
As if the choice were mine to make
But you can make decisions too
And you can have this heart to break

And so it goes, and so it goes
And you're the only one who knows ..." 
Billy Joel

DAY 209:  Another song lyric to be grateful for ... coupled with one of the most beautiful melodies ever written.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Losing It


"A New Life -
What I wouldn't give
To have a new life!
One thing I have learned
As I go through life:
Nothing is for free
Along the way!"
Frank Wildhorn

DAY 208:  First month back on the "program" ... down TEN pounds, a steady and attainable two pounds per week ... and that's with "challenges" (JC's euphemism for "screw-ups") like a long weekend in New York City, eating out, and Grad Nite.  At this rate, I'll be back at my "fightin' weight" in no time and maybe even LOWER!

This time it's for ME ... and this time it's for GOOD.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Patterns


"Patterns in my life that I trace ev'ry day.
Patterns as I say the things I always say.
Patterns in the ceiling as I lie awake.
Why are patterns haunting ev'ry move I make?

Just look: Here I am on cue again.
Upset, feeling torn in two ... again.
Afraid, saying I'm OK,
Making little jokes.
Till I run away ... again.

And yet, today, I am not the same.
I feel my life slipping from its frame.
Strange feelings rise, feelings with no name,
And I can't face them.
So I shake them hard,
Fold them up and tuck them safely away ... again.

Patterns that begin as I walk through a door.
Patterns in the curtains and the kitchen floor.
Patterns in the day's routines I must arrange.
Patterns in the ways I try ... but never change.

Just look, as I'm thrown a curve ... again.
I leap, then I lose my nerve ... again.
In tears, running home I go,
Secretly relieved,
Safe with what I know ... again.

And yet I know I am not the same.
Inside my heart is something I can't tame.
I feel my mind bursting into flame
And I must change or else I'll break apart,
Or break away,
Or end up having to start ... again.

Patterns through the day I seem to use
To give my life a shape.
Patterns through the house that give me comfort
When I need escape.
Patterns that lead me ...
Nowhere at all."
Richard Maltby, Jr.

DAY 207:  One of my favorite songs ... from the musical Baby.  When I directed the show over ten years ago, the lyrics didn't have any personal significance for me, but these past ten years have made them MUCH clearer.  Now I COMPLETELY understand every word of this lyric.  I've grown more during that time than perhaps any other span of ten years in my adult life. 

The most painful, but also the most rewarding, part of that growth has been noticing the patterns and habits that are self-defeating and prevent me from finding and keeping what I truly "want" from life.  I have been known to do a REALLY good job of beating myself up ... those "patterns" are difficult to break.  Over the past decade, I've started to recognize those patterns and it's only recently that I've started to make some gratifying inroads on battling them and approaching life with a different view.  I'm grateful for the progress I've made ... but there's still a long way to go.  To quote one of my favorite authors, Richard Bach - "Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you are alive, it isn't."

Old habits die hard ... mine aren't going down with out a lot of kicking and screaming, but they ARE going down ... eventually.

Monday, May 3, 2010

It's Monday?


"We're off on our way,
What a beautiful day
For a weekend in the country -
How amusing,
How delightfully droll.
A weekend in the country,
While we're losing
Our control."
Stephen Sondheim

DAYS 203-206: OK, so it wasn't exactly a weekend in the country ... but I'm REALLY grateful that my weekend was SO great that I didn't have time to post in my blog!  I'm also grateful for a new outlook and new possibilities ...  PERHAPS more later ;-)