Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"Pippin", "Grease", and the Benefit of High School Musicals to the Growing Teen

Grease is the word.

It is in this house, anyway.  Our daughter, Elizabeth, plays “Frenchie” in her high school’s musical “Grease”, and I can’t tell you how it tickles me.  I snuck back stage during rehearsals a few times when I picked her up, and doing so brought it all back.

The one thing that kept me sane when I was a teenager was children’s theatre at Constance Moore’s “Children’s Theater Workshop”.  Miss Connie, as we called her, had about 300 students and each year incorporated them and their dancing lessons into a musical.  We, the bigger kids, got to audition for the musical roles in each show.  Let’s see ... we did “Gypsy”, “Hello Dolly”, “Babes in Toyland”, “Music Man”, among others. The year we did "42nd Street", I was the character lead and the stage manager. I knew every single cue in that script. I was 16.  During the summers, we were occupied with community theater where we did “Oklahoma”, “Mame”, “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” and “Pippin”.  I was Fastrada in Pippin, and I tell you, it was one of the best times I’ve ever had.  Jody was Pippin, I was his stepmother, and Gina was Pippin’s grandmother, Berthe.  There was a scene where Gina sang to Jody. She sang “No Time at All” in a long flowing gown, her head wrapped in veils, and during one performance, she had Jody absolutely mesmerized to the point where he forgot his lines.  Those were such wonderful times.  Wonderful memories, too.

I went to the local high school’s brand new, state of the art theater to pick Elizabeth up tonight.  Typically, I have to go back stage to drag her out of there.  “I’m so stressed out,” she said to me. Then, her director decided to go over another number, and lickety split she was on the stage with a gaggle of other kids, and they were ecstatic.  No more stress, just joy.  That was an hour ago, and now it’s after 8:00 p.m.  They’ve been at rehearsal since 3:00 p.m.

For years, Leslie and I tried to get Elizabeth involved in one thing or another.  She didn’t like sports, didn’t want to ice skate, and had no interest in Brownies or even dancing school.  But this high school musical and the drama department has her hooked.

It had me hooked when I was a kid, too.

It feeds confidence.  It feeds the spirit. 

It's wonderful.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Question the Universe

I used to have great faith in the powers of the universe. I’m not religious and never have been, so I don’t put my faith in god, and I don’t walk around thanking the Goddess for everything. Not out loud, anyway. So, it was all about the universe for me back then.

Now, I think the phrase is grossly overused. Every other person I bump into on Facebook thanks for universe for one thing or another. I’ve noticed the phrase is also used a lot by younger people, people with few real problems, and people who know they’ll have enough money for the rent because they have little responsibility and plenty of excess cash.  These people also see magic in everything. Seeing magic isn’t a bad thing, but in all things? Granted, I acknowledge magic in many things. I know that coincidences are rarely coincidences, and I believe in animal symbols and synchronicity.  I even believe in magic. I just don’t see it absolutely everywhere.

That used to be me. It was easy to see magic everywhere from my office in downtown San Francisco. I mean, the view there was spectacular. It was easy to acknowledge the power of the universe through the lens of $100K plus per year. Now, I have a non-profit job that I love.  I march to work in a baseball cap and t-shirt with my favorite comic book character on it, size large since I've lost over a hundred pounds, and the view sees me much happier. It might be easier to see through a $100K per year lens, but it doesn't make me as happy as this does, highlighting the enormous difference between "easy" and "happy".

My past certainty is replaced by unanswered questions, lots of unanswered questions. Like, why is it possible for bacteria to take down a robust 60 year old woman? Why is it so hard for me to find a well-paying job that has benefits?  Why is Daizy peeing in the bedroom upstairs at night all of a sudden instead of outside like she has without fail for the last 7 years?  Why is good fortune often accompanied by equally bad fortune, as if some kind of balance must be maintained, and how does one enjoy that good fortune without guilt?

Truthfully, I spend considerable time feeling tossed about like a leaf in the wind.  I always try to see the bright side of things because most of the time I have no idea how things work.  I can’t simply throw a blanket explanation on it.  Like, I don’t know for certain if we pick our lifetime before we’re born, and I don’t know that we all travel in soul groups. I can’t say with certainty that bad things happen to us so our souls can learn some specific lesson from it.  I like to believe there is a bigger picture because I don’t believe anything out of a book or religion without question, and because the alternative, the possibility that there is no purpose to life and our experiences at all, is simply to grim an alternative to entertain.

I do believe in a higher power.  It doesn't matter to me if it’s God or Goddess or the universe. What matters is the knowledge that God/Goddess helps those who help themselves.  Certainly, it’s the higher power that can deal you an Ace over a Queen in Black Jack.  But you have to understand what’s in your hand and take the initiative to ask for a card.

I guess what I’m saying is that at almost 50, I see less and less of those magic moments.  And when I do, I know they happen because I helped make them happen.

Donna L. Faber
April 5, 2013
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