Friday, January 29, 2010

Finishing the Hat

I have some lofty and some simple goals for this weekend. They include the following:

1. Have a delightful evening with my in-laws tonight. Remind them of how much I love and appreciate them, and be glad, yet again, that my kind, smart, stable, devoted father-in-law is healthy and recovered from his recent health scare. And be grateful for my mother-in-law who always supports my endeavors, even if she doesn’t completely understand me and my zany schedule. I will enjoy the beautiful rapport that they have with both of my daughters, and recognize that the memories they get to build together - of the small things like dinners out and building puzzles and sharing report cards are treasures.

2. Enjoy a bustling Saturday with my daughters tomorrow. Play the Name That Showtune game with the radio show on WERS while we drive about, share an Orange Julius with Abby while Amelia is at Irish Step, and have a cheerful and peaceful afternoon together. This might include sitting through the Tooth Fairy movie, but at least this will include the pearly white smile of Dwayne The Rock Johnson. There are worse things than an hour and a half of that.

3. Appreciate the opportunity for a Girl’s Night Out with Andrea. We’re going to see (title of show) which I have been looking forward to for absolutely months, and the evening will also definitely involve colorful martinis and dress-up clothes, including high heels. (Her influence, not mine, as I would certainly go out for a night in the City in my flowered Doc Martins given the chance.) Still, it will be delightful to be OUT for a night of supportive girl talk, theatrical inspiration, and City Living. I want to be mindful of letting it replenish my tired spirit and appreciative of the hard work I have been doing that allows me to spend $15 on a martini once in a while.

4. Be glad that Sunday morning means I can drink coffee in my bed and watch the Sunday edition of the Today Show and read my Oprah magazine.

5. Survive the Irish Step School party on Sunday afternoon, involving small talk with many mothers I barely know (even though they’re very nice), kids running around doing the Limbo and the Macarena, and inevitably…lots and lots of jiggity jig music. I will congratulate myself for taking the girls to this event that is important to at least one of them, and entertaining for both, even though there are at least 759 things I would much rather do with my Sunday afternoon.

6. Relax with my husband on Sunday night, and attempt to connect and have real conversation about Things That Matter.

Between all of these things, I will fit in laundry and dishes and grocery shopping and the various erranding that occupies every weekend. But my goal is to be in whatever moment I’m in, and enjoy the fact that Finishing the Hat no longer looms over me, guilting my leisure time, nudging me to get it done. It’s done.

I wrote a play. I started and finished a real-live romantic-comedy play. I’m going to celebrate that with all of these fun things this weekend, and remember to appreciate the fact that this Nice School has employed me, and that these Nice Kids have something fun to do this winter, something to work toward, and something to connect them to each other.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


It's been another of those manic weeks where I feel like I never got a chance to catch my breath, resulting, I think, in a fairly spectacular migraine last night. And here on Sunday Morning, even though it's early and the morning is sunny and fine, I feel tired in advance of the week ahead. It's all for good stuff, good work, good life, but still...I'm starting to feel the need for one of those mental health days with movies, magazines, and fish sticks for lunch.

I have to go to a wake this afternoon for my dad's best friend. It was shocking and sudden - a heart attack in his sleep - and it seems almost impossible that this vigorous, charming, firecracker of a man is Elsewhere now. My parents have had the same group of friends since forever - my dad and the guys all went to high school together - and this is the first of their group to go, and the last that anyone would have expected to go first. It makes me think of my group of friends, how close we all are, and how great a hole one missing member would leave. I'm not sure how to be supportive of my parents in this one except to there. It's going to be rough.

On another note, Act Two is nearly done. A few holes. I like the ending, and I like the beginning, but the middle is a little shaky. Tomorrow afternoon one of my Favorite People in the World is coming to teach my kids a fight choreography workshop, and that will be undoubtedly one of the highlights of this whole process for me. She is just inspiring to be around, and makes me want to be a better teacher and a kinder person, and I'm confident that she'll cast that magical spell of Aspiring to Excellence on my kids the way she does on everyone else she teaches.

The Vacation House makes a lot of strange noises in the night, and we've all had some trouble sleeping. I got earplugs for Patrick, who has informed me that I now snore for pretty much the whole night. We are joining the town gym on a family membership as of March 1st - swimming lessons and classes for the girls, yoga and elliptical machines for me, strength training for Patrick. I'm very excited, and see it as part of the new leaf we're turning over in our family. New home, new commitments to our health, new beginnings. The Spring of Inspiration and Renewal.

First, though, we make it through the winter of Upheaval and Waiting Waiting Waiting.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Balance

My beverage for this Vacation House is the Limoncello martini. It’s citron vodka, loads of crushed ice, and limoncello. I love it.

Worked on my play yesterday, and a little smidge tonight. It’s not at the level I want it to be, either quality or quantity. Not yet, and I can’t quite envision that it’s going to get that far in the next couple of weeks. I am trying to maintain my faith in it, though.

A right wing, anti-choice republican got elected to Ted Kennedy’s senate seat today. It feels like one of the horsemen of the apocalypse. Remember how I said that I have an embarrassing and irrational fear of 2012? There are times when I think that all of those things we have been warned about are happening – 200,000 lives lost to an earthquake in one of the already most desperate populations in the world. Tsunamis and extreme snow and freezing temperatures in Florida. Extremists taking over the government and disenfranchising both its most needy and most idealistic…I know I am being ridiculous, and someone could come along and show me statistics from hundreds of years worth of history and weather patterns proving that things are way better now than they ever have been and I would believe them. Mostly. Still...there would remain a tiny little sliver of doubt.

And then I was looking at Ghandi quotes…these are the strange things I do to occupy my leisure time. And I found one that said, “There is nothing that wastes the body like worry, and one who has any faith in God should be ashamed to worry about anything whatsoever.” That’s the other side of it, the one that keeps me moving forward in my life. Raising my children, striving to teach the children well and dress them in sparkly costumes, finding things to laugh about and people to cherish. There are shows to see and martinis to raise...and also houses to build and kids to inspire and daughters to raise. Life – the world - is all of those things. Terrifying and joyful. Flighty and full of meaning.

Ugh. I know this is so corny and that people spout treacle like this all the time. But the truth is…this is exactly how I really feel. Corny or not.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Plugging Away

Today, I spent the day writing in a cafe.

Oh, how I love the sound of that!

I got through maybe half of Act Two, maybe half of which I like. But still, it was a wonderful thing to be able to do. I have two writing nights scheduled this week, and hopefully I'll be able to get it close to done.

It was a gift to have a three day weekend, though as always, it was so packed and busy that it left me wishing I had a day to recover. Onward, though, into the week.

I wonder what this one will hold.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

To My Daughter on Her Tenth Birthday

I write a letter to both of my daughters on their birthdays every year. I only started very recently. I posted Amelia's last year when I was getting started on blogging, to help my potential readers to get to know me. Abby's was handwritten in a card covered with piggies, so I couldn't post that, though I did keep a copy for my journal. I hope you don't feel that I am invading Amelia's privacy by sharing this with you. It's part of my writing life, though, so I will share it. I won't share the journal entry that I'm writing tonight, however, even though the entry is, ironically, partly about blogging. Why do I feel disloyal, somehow, that I will be needing to keep that to myself?'s the letter.

January 15, 2010

Dear Amelia,

Double Digits.

On a cold January morning, one whole entire decade ago, on a morning just like this one, you fought your way into the world, determined and hollering, and made me a mother. Oh, Amelia. Of the many things I am grateful for in life, I think this tops the list.

When I used to think about the idea of having a ten year old daughter, I used to think that it would be a wonderful thing. Never in my wildest dreams, though, did I know that my daughter would turn out to be as smart and funny and kind and full-of-life as you are. You surprise me every day. I feel surprised when I look at your report card and test grades and realize that you are the smartest girl in your class. In anyone’s class, as a matter of fact. I feel surprised when you talk about someone else’s feelings with such compassion and understanding, and I see how sensitive and deeply kind you are. I feel surprised when you giggle and I remember how full-of-joy you are, and how that just bubbles out of your soul. You are more special than any daughter that a mom could make up in her wildest dreams. And I feel blessed, every day, when I remember that you’re mine.

Double digits. I hope you’re excited. I hope you’re proud of who you are and who you are still becoming. And I hope that the pride and confidence that your dad and I feel in you will help you to get through the things that are hard. It’s not easy to be smart. It’s not easy to be kind, and to have a great big heart that gets hurt so easily. But know that no matter what, no matter who hurts your feelings, your dad and I are on your side, in your corner, ready to give you a hug and try to soothe your feelings. And punch the lights out of anyone who messes with our girl.

From this point, for kids, things can start to get a little weird. It’s great to be double digits, of course. But things start happening in your body and your spirit that you might not quite see coming. These two books are gifts to help you with that. Read them, and we can talk about it. Whatever "it" is. What I most want to say to you, my too-big girl, is that no matter what the question, no matter how embarrassing, no matter how upsetting…I am here for you. I am your mother, and it is my job, and my honor, to answer your questions, and help you make your way through all of the changes that lie ahead. We might fight, though I hope we don’t. We might hurt each other’s feelings, though I hope we don’t. We might not understand each other sometimes, though I hope we always do really, really try. But, through it all, I will always be your mom, and your biggest fan. I will listen, and will think that you are the greatest kid in the world, and that I am the luckiest mom.

I am so proud of you, Amelia Brigid. I am so proud that your childhood, so far, has been happy. I hope that Ten Years Old brings you lots of dreams-come-true. New friends, new great books to read, new adventures, and your very own room. Your own little space with your own desk and lots of elbow room to dream, dance, and become. And even when you have that space of your own, I hope you’ll still snuggle up on the couch with me, at least once in a while. Even if you don’t need that, I can promise you…I do.

I love you to the moon and back, my little one. You might be ten, but you are, and will always be, my precious baby.

Happy Birthday, my darling.


Ten Things That Piss Me Off

I'm feeling distratcted today by things that piss me off.

I mean, I'm generally a very happy person, but today, I'm pissed off about a variety of things. If it's going to put you in a bad mood to hear about my bad mood, then don't read this one. Otherwise, putting YOU in a bad mood will have to be added to the post I write tomorrow, which will be no doubt something like, "Ten reasons I feel really bad that I was such a bitch yesterday."

But if you're still with me, here goes...

1. American Idol Auditions. Really? Do we have to televise the humilation of people who already clearly have self-esteem issues to begin with? And I can't help but feel guilty because I hold auditions all the time, and try to be gentle with people. Gentle. Not rah-rah, you-should-be-famous-just-because-you-wanna-be, but gentle as in, "What you're doing is hard. You have a dream, and you're entitled to that. I honor the fact that you're willing to get up and declare it to the world....even if you suck." I had auditions for my middle school show last week, and my goodness...most of them are pretty awful, poor things. But do they deserve to be snickered at and disparaged on national television? No. No, they do not.

2. My messy car. There is a jar of gravy under the passenger seat that keeps rolling under Abby's feet. Every day. For, like, four weeks. Will she bend down and pick it up? Hell no. Will I? No. No I will not. It's too freaking cold outside and that would require extra time.

3. Speaking of cold, I did a crappy job shoveling the Vacation House stairs and driveway when it snowed last time, and now it's all just covered with ice. I nearly broke my neck like six times carrying in all the groceries yesterday.

4. And speaking of groceries, I hate grocery shopping. Hate it. And I hate the parents who feel that it's appropriate to hold a conference with their child's sixth grade teacher in front of their child in the cat food aisle. When I have tampons in my cart. I hate those people.

5. My real estate broker keeps pocket-dialing Patrick, making me think that she has news for us. She never does, and it's just an accident. She did it on Christmas Eve, stimulating my whole Santa-brings-magic, "Home for the Holidays" fantasies. Bad form. I'm mad at her.

6. Why must kids complain that they didn't get a "big part" in the high school play? If this were a 8-character Neil Simon or something like every other high school play, you'd be sitting on your ass in your living room with nothing to do all winter. Isn't this better than nothing?

7. I feel unreasonably bad for Conan O'Brien, and murderously angry at Jay Leno. Hang it up, Jay. Your time is done. And I don't even watch Late Night TV. Makes me upset anyhow.

8. My school, like most others, has occasional "lock down drills" where we have to lock the doors and shut the light and basically hide in the corner of the classroom in total silence. The idea is that if a crazy breaks in with gun or something, he's not supposed to know which classes are occupied, and which are not. Instant ghost town. Each room has a "safe zone" where the children can't be seen from the glass window on the door if they all huddle together on the floor. Mine is under the cabinets, under the computer desks. On the cabinet, someone has taped up a HUGE "Safe Spot" sign, laminated on bright pink paper...with a giant HAPPY FACE on it. Seriously? That's what you come up with? A happy face? I periodically throw balled-up sheets of paper in that direction but it hasn't made me feel better yet.

9. I still have to finish Act Two.

10. Number ten is full of all of the too-personal stuff that I don't write about here. The little things that people do that irritate me and hurt my feelings and make me want to just whip out my credit card and take off to Disneyworld all by myself.

Little Mary Sunshine I am not. No matter what you might have heard to the contrary.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Chill, Already.

I subscribe to this website called TUT, and every day, it sends me a Note from the Universe. In my head, this Note from the Universe has the voice of Dan Ackroyd, and a snarky sense of humor. The Universe says things like, "Thank you, Kelly, for every time you've ever fallen in love. It has made all the difference. And I should know, 'cause I've been hanging copies of your love notes on my walls. Keep on rockin' it. Love and Kisses, The Universe." The Universe uses modern slang, and when I subscribed, it asked me to choose two goals. At the time, I chose to write a book and to visit Europe, so from time to time, the Universe says things like, "What you ate for breakfast this morning was just one more step toward that trip to Europe. The angels have been gossipping about that around the watercooler."

Now, any of my friends who have endured my waxing psychic at them at parties are sighing and shaking their heads right now. "Really? A note from the Universe? I'm sure everyone gets the same one!" But the truth is, the random note in my inbox is, at the least, a cheerful little reminder that though my relationship with my traditional sense of "God" is frought with questions, my belief in my place in the Universe does not waver. If anything, it continues to get stronger. I don't know what's coming for me, but I do know that somewhere out there, through a combination of faith, my own ass-busting, and whatever magic keeps the sparkle coming, the life I am living continues to improve.

I started this blog last spring as an experiment. I decided to open the pages of my journal out into the void and see what would come of it. I didn't do it to try to get "discovered" or to win anyone's heart or to try to teach anyone anything. I did it because I wanted to be a writer. To be a writer, one has to write. And eventually, if it's to mean anything, one has to write more than spiral notebooks locked in a trunk in the garage. You have to write something that someone reads, even if it's only 22 people, most of whom already have to love me because they are my friends.

So, I've gone from that to here...where I'm mid-stream writing a play that real live people are going to perform. A play that hopefully says something about love and trust and friendship and putting your spirit out there through writing, and what might come of it if you do. I don't know what will come of this for me, though I've gotten myself a little caught up lately in seeing it as more than just it is - a high school play - and instead envisioning it as a vehicle - a way to get a full time job at this high school, a way to get published, maybe, a way to put my name on a thing that's at least somewhat original. But today, in my inbox, the Universe told me this:

"The BIG THING, Kelly, rarely happens when you ask for it, nor does it typically come from who or where you expect. It usually comes a bit later, from someone you didn't even know when you first asked, as a result of some weird turn of events that were impossible to foresee. So, chill. Be patient. Enjoy the moment. And let your friends, employers, and partners off the hook. Besides, they're going to have enough to deal with when the BIG THING does arrive, if you know what I mean.
Won't be long,
The Universe"

(Did you hear Dan Ackroyd in there? No? Just me?)

And as I often do when I read my morning message, I thought...yeah. I hear you. And I sure do know that you hear me. I am going to take the Universe's advice and just chill. If the BIG THING that is coming is no more than more nights of chattering into this blog with American Idol in the background or more high school plays where 50+ kids get to be a part of something somewhat meaningful instead of getting stuck with a winter of boredom or more experience in using journaling to talk myself down from my temper tantrum spirals...well, that's worth doing. And I'll keep on doing my part by envisioning Big Things, and maintaining my own sense of expectation that something is stirring, shifting's just begun. Edges are blurring all around and yesterday is done. Yes, Stephen Sondheim, we are the movers and shapers of which you foretold. Worlds to change and worlds to win.

But, if we're going to dream BIG...I want to win a Newbery Medal, I want to have a wall full of bookshelves in my new office, I want to go to Disneyworld again, I want to lose thirty pounds, and I still want that trip to Europe.

One post at a time, I think. Somehow this is all part of getting me there.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Dear Sixth Grade Boy, Again.


Yes, I said it. I da ho.

Done snickering?

Back to work, then.

You're Totally-Over-It Teacher

Friday, January 8, 2010

Dear Sixth Grade Boy

Again, with the farts? I beg you, guys...move on. And if you're the bathroom policy is so incredibly liberal. Just go when you need to go, and sign out on the chart. No questions asked. You're old enough now to recognize when you feel one coming on. Take a walk, please. Please please please.

And, incidentally, I am deeply sorry that Lois Lowry put the verb "fingering" into The Giver when talking about the new name badges. I, too, wish that she had thought ahead and envisioned how that might land in your twelve-year-old minds. But I tried to read past it really quickly. I might have recovered if the word "throng" hadn't followed in the next paragraph, but I assure you, it means "crowd." Honestly.

Sixth Grade Boys, we're all so glad it's Friday.

Your Slightly Exasperated Teacher

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


The play is pretty much cast, and I'm very pleased. There will be the ones I've disappointed, of course, which I hate hate hate, but I feel strongly that I got the group that I needed to bring this thing to life. The lead boy was definitely an upset and doesn't resemble the part as I had created/envisioned it, but that's part of how I know I got it right. When a kid makes me see a role in a way I had never imagined, my instinct generally kicks in to try it out. In 15 years of directing, I've very, very rarely been wrong when that's happened.

So, onward. Read through tomorrow. I swear to god if they hate it I will probably cry right smack in front of everyone.

Life is already beginning to settle in to this strange new routine - new house, new coffee shop that is too expensive to go to every day, new shows. Got one positive sign toward our new house at the end of last week, so I'm hoping that things will start to move very soon. I am very busily envisioning the new place, our new place, and trying to use my powers of manifestation to make it so.

' know...I totally believe in that stuff. I really do. Santa's gone into retirement for the season, so I've got to do the rest on my own.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Full Tilt Ahead

"You've Got Mail" has been playing in a pretty much continuous loop on cable for a few weeks now. It could either be a positive sign (since my play is based on the play that it's based on, The Shop Around the Corner) or a bad sign that I've copied something better that copied something better that copied something else better and there's nothing original left under the sun for me to write.

The scene that's on right now is my favorite one, where Tom Hanks brings Meg Ryan daisies in an attempt to make friends. My "let's be friends" scene takes place on a stage and features an astronomy bubble, but the concept is the same. It's meant to be the same, because it's an homage to a romantic comedy formula that works.

Audtions are Tuesday, and Act One will be in the hands of sixty people come Thursday. I'm trying not to care too much if they like it, or find it funny or engaging, but it's not like a novel where you can write it and people pick it up or put it down according to their whims. This is somehing that a whole bunch of kids will have to inhabit for two months, and since they're kind people, they'll probably never tell me if they hate it. They'll be well-mannered and polite, and because of that, I might never really know if they really like it or not.

And even just talking about this is such a whiny, ego-driven writer cliche, but it's really how I feel.

My Sunday Night Anxiety problem is starting like six hours too early, but it's been such a whirlwind of a non-vacation and I know that tomorrow will be full tilt ahead. Two months of intensity, and then a little bit of breathing room, which will hopefully coincide perfectly with setting up housekeeping in our new place.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Enjoying the View

This new house we're renting is someone's summer vacation house, and the result is that it rather feels like being on a vacation. The view of the snow-covered pond out of the living room double sliding glass doors is spectacular, and there's just the right balance of our stuff and their stuff to make it feel both temporary and familiar. The girls think it's the greatest place ever which has helped to keep their spirits up, and I have finally just now sat still after unpacking the last of the boxes that we need in this time of waiting for our house to come to us. Vanilla candles are burning, chocolate chip cookie bars are cooling on the stove, and I'm enjoying a well-deserved glass of wine on this snowy Saturday.

The closing went perfectly on New Year's Eve, and the young couple that bought our sweet house were precisely as I had ordered them up from the Universe - sentimental, kind, enthusiastic, and positively smitten with the charm and possibility of their new House of Dreams. We left them the traditional gift of bread, wine, and salt (thank you, IAWL) which they appreciated, and after a whole bunch of signatures with the still sore arm I had used to scrub the house from top to bottom, it was done. The girls and I got some essentials at Walmart - trash barrels, throw pillows, candles, the DVD of Glee, and then we rang in 2010 with our dearest friends. I even stayed awake until midnight, which was definitely in question when the evening began. Amazing the energy that good company, excellent food, and rolicking karaoke will give even the most tired of souls.

I will say one more thing about moving out of our house...the amount of hard work it turned out to be was so much more than I could ever have expected. Patrick said that it felt like a gaping hole in the center of our house just kept spewing forth more and more stuff for us to pack, haul and store. We filled a dumpster, a storage space, a giant moving Pod, and most of the Saads back garage. And...our house is not that big, either. So. Much. Stuff. But at least we know that everything we brought with us was chosen to be important as we move forward in our life. We are not tethered by anything which no longer serves us.

I intend to set a number of resolutions for 2010, but for now, I will take this day to relax and recoup. Tomorrow, it will be visiting with family and editing my act one script, but's wine, cookies, and Charlie's Angels Two.

Happy New Year to you and yours.