Sunday, February 26, 2012

Back to life, back to sense, back to child, back to husband...

You can't live in the woods.

Post show depression. It's been so long since I have felt this that I forgot it was a thing. It's been ages since I was more excited for a show than I was for its Pajama Done Day, and it's alerted something inside me.

This was the best experience. The absolute best. The process, start to finish, the product, but above all, the feel of it all...the flow of knowing that we were doing well at work worth doing, and that we were making something that would actually impact people - the kids in the cast, their parents who were so incredibly grateful and complimentary, and our little artistic staff, who became true friends and partners through this show.

I've talked about my big secret project, and it's very close to fruition. If it happens, my life is going to utterly change, and it will all be due to this show. This show brought all the certainty I needed to follow this path, and to have the courage I needed to takes patience and fear and despair to change...

I have changed. I know it's just a little show to some people, and that I'm a little bit crazy for how I ramble on about these things. But the fact is, I felt LIT by this. I CHOSE to be lit by this, to make it matter, and whadya know, it totally worked. NEVER underestimate the power of a 4 a.m. vision board. Mine keeps coming true, layer by layer. I have never worked so hard, with so much inspired energy, on any work project in my life.

It's not always like this. I don't WANT it to be always like this, because to tell the truth, I'm very effing tired. But every now and then you have to pour yourself into something, and trust in the journey. You have to let the real stuff of life in, and leave behind things you thought you were, or should be, and decide to become who you really want to be NOW, without apology. That's what I'm doing with eyes wide open, listening hard, and making the Law of Attraction my bitch.

My friends came to see this show, and lots of them sent me supportive messages. My family came, and my mom saw it three times. I felt deeply blessed and loved because of this. I am a part of such an amazing community, never alone. From parents I got tearful thank-yous, from kids exultant emails and texts. A perfect rose, a pendant, a meaningful apology, and a red-hot dis that infuriated and somehow also assured me. My daughters loved every second of being with the most awesome teenagers ever for the seventh year in a row, making my parenting so much easier. I am awash in gratitude for the life I get to live and the people I get to connect with in my life.

Today I did laundry and returned microphones while listening to Barry Manilow and cried a little and took a nap. I made a delicious vegetable soup and watched a show about whales. I typed this while watching the Oscar awards death montage. If I got hit by that proverbial bus tomorrow, I would leave this life knowing that I had lived with purpose and inspiration of my own choosing, and that everyone in my life that matters most would know exactly how I loved and valued them. And that's like, seriously, the best that I can do so now I'm going to bed. I don't actually care who wins best picture. I only saw two of them anyhow, because I had other stuff to do.

Friday, February 24, 2012

It's Time to Go

Opening night tonight. We had an excellent dress rehearsal yesterday, where just the right amount of things went wrong to make it step up for tonight. Some staff members came, and a few parents, and my Mom and Auntie, and Christianna and her kids. Just enough for the kids to take it seriously.

This show has been a whole long litany of "just right" since the very start. Just the right cast. Just the right timing for everything.

The two best comments I heard today about the show were from a mom who said, "They work so well together - it is as if they are a single entity." And my mom, who said, "They are all just so into it, and they really understand what they are saying." That's everything I wanted it to be.

Very soon I'm going to be able to write about my Big Project, my magical potion that I've been brewing so carefully for the past several months. It has everything to do with this show, and everything I have been writing about for years. I'm so close. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Woods are Just Trees

Okay, so, when I write late at night by the twinkle lights in the Athenaeum, everything is so freaking emotional. I'm calmer now. I'm really not going off the deep end with this show - or, at least, not any more off the deep end than usual, I guess. I'm not spending every second seeped in profound feeling. I'm really not. It's just sometimes, and true to fashion, I can't possibly keep it to myself in those moments. Out it pours.

Right this minute, Wednesday morning of production week, this show is a list of things to do, and to get. To deliver the program, to get the blind girl glasses, to paint the flats, to find the prop corn, to pick up the borrowed carriage to go to the festival.

Into the woods and out of the woods, way way after dark.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I Think I See a Glimmer

I know I talk about work so much in this blog, but when I sort of revived it recently, I decided that I needed a focus, something to keep me motivated. I wanted to pick something that I would be compelled to write about anyhow so that I would not just give up. So, I have been writing about this show.

I wonder a little bit, now, if this experience has become another example of my writing something into existence that might not occur otherwise. I have done this a number of times, as it turns out. This show has been actively in the works since the middle of October, and a twinkle in my eye for two years before that. I have been writing for all of that time about how special it would be, how much it would mean to all of us, how much we all could learn. And…we have. Would this have happened if I hadn’t set this intention so strongly, and written it out with such specificity and deliberation? I don’t really know, but honestly, it doesn’t matter now. It is here. It has become the vision, the intention. It’s become that already, and it’s only Tuesday.

It is magical, as I knew it would be. I have moments of doubt where I think I’m just making too much of it all, and making much ado about nothing in particular. It’s not rocket science; it’s musical theater. It’s high school theater, for cry-sakes. Why can't I get through the freaking finale without crying? We’re not curing cancer or anything.

And yet…if you don’t recognize moments when they happen, what’s really the point of anything? I could just go through my life, day after day, doing the tasks that need doing, teaching the lessons I am paid to teach, punching the clock, grading the papers, living a quiet, gentle, peaceful life, free of all drama, either on or off the stage. I choose, instead, to make theater. When I’m not making theater, I still choose to not only recognize the moments, but sometimes, create them. And hopefully, if I am doing it the way I am intending to, the moments are not just for me. When I work in the theater, the moments are for the kids who make a friend, who overcome something in themselves that troubles them, who get to wear a very pretty dress and a feather hat. They’re for the parents who get to see their child excel, and express something about themselves that they used to think only they could appreciate, and instead, get to see it shared with others.

Oh, if life were made of moments, even now and then a bad one.
But if life were only moments, then you'd never know you had one.

I have my blogging doubts now, about writing about this, as I have all along. That if someone reads this, they would only think that I am a psycho ego-maniac, needing to always sound like the big important cheese. I don’t mean to be that, or to do that. It’s the Big Fear, and the thing I most feel like I have to apologize for, and try to guard against. And yet, this little blog is kind of the story of how I live my life, so by definition it has to be about me, and my perceptions about things. Would you like to know how many times I will re-read this one stupid paragraph and say, “Am I apologizing too much? Am I over-explaining? Over compensating for actually just being utterly self-absorbed?” I don’t know. Probably a bunch. And then eventually I’ll just say, eff-this, and hit publish. My constant insistence that “it’s not all about me” seems ironic in this context.


The boy who plays Jack in this show suffers from anxiety, as lots of people do. In the past two rehearsals, this kid has performed “Giants in the Sky” triumphantly. Soaring vocals, dead-on intentions, and cheers and howls from his cast mates. The beaming grin on his face as he hits that last soaring tenor note is all him, genuine and exultant, and if that’s not real, and worthwhile, then what the hell is? Nothing. Someday, he’ll be nervous for a job interview or something, and he’ll think, “I nailed Giants in the Sky and everyone cheered for me. I can certainly nail this.” And maybe that little glow that he felt in those moments will be the thing that gives him courage to walk through the door and convince those people-in-suits that he is the one who deserves the job. Or maybe not. Maybe it’ll be nothing, and won’t linger for him. How are we to know? How are we ever to know?

Since Beauty and the Beast, I have to decided to err on the side of, “It might matter.” When Matt’s mother hugged me at his wake, and said, “Matt thought that Beauty and the Beast was the greatest moment of his life,” something shifted in me, and in my perceptions of events things impact people. This might be nothing, this little show. But then again…it might be something. I make it matter to me. And this time, I think pretty much all of them have made it matter to them, too.

We all ordered t-shirts for this show, and we have names or phrases on our backs. Some say character names: BWife (our abbreviation for Baker’s Wife), Got Milk? for Milky White. Once Upon a Time for the Narrator. Wishes Come True, Not Free for my hard-working student director. Mine will say, “Children Will Listen.” It’s become a cliché from this show, almost, but it captures the sense of responsibility I feel for making this all come out right.

Careful the things you say. Children will listen.
Careful the things you do. Children will see, and learn.
Children may not obey, but children will listen.
Children will look to you for which way to turn
to learn what to be...
Careful before you say "Listen to me."
Children will listen...

I love this work. I hope I get to keep doing it for a really, really long time.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Something's Bound to Linger

I think every show I have ever been a part of has had a “Super Sunday.” All of our college shows, the Company shows, all of the high school shows I’ve directed. Oddly, I don’t really remember Super Sundays from being in high school. Not sure why that is.

Anyway, today’s was very long. Some disappointments – one important actor who does not even kind of know his lines, costumes arriving two hours late, and one student who gave me serious attitude to my face – which almost never happens to me there, so it was very notable. Mostly, though, it went as I had hoped it would…working out the set changes, a few moments of major advancement for a few people, some good laughs, and a very satisfied feeling after a very long and tiring day. I have a twisted nerve or something in the arch of my foot which had me limping like a fool all day, but otherwise, no complaints.

I have a new musical director in this show – in this very intricate, complicated, difficult Sondheim musical, and he is just…I don’t even have the words to really capture it. His name is Dan, and he is so incredibly calm and steady, straightforward, on-the-level, clear-talking, peaceful, realistic and really just glad to be there. He’s been my accompanist for three years, and just became musical director in this show. He’s not gushy or emotional or effusive, ever, but he is the perfect example of a person whose still waters run deep, who will tell you how he feels under the surface if you ask him the right way, and it’s always good things. He loves the kids so much in a quiet, supportive, paternal way that reveals itself in unexpected moments – a rescue on a lyric, the plunking of a melody for a struggling singer, a calm acceptance of a ripped microphone cord without a twinge of a guilt trip. It is a delight, and a relief, to work with someone in this capacity who operates completely without ego…because it’s never about him. It’s about the kids. I love him for that.

My other teammate is my technical director, Brooks, who works way too long and way too hard for his own good. He gets a little crazy at this time of the year and I often have to talk him down from of the rafters, and off of the very enormous Little Giant ladder very late at night. We have found a way to communicate with each other after seven long years and a lot of trial, error and misunderstanding. He didn’t like me at all when he first met me. He thought I was just a flighty, shallow rah-rah cheerleader type, lacking substance, and I very much had to prove myself to him. Now, though, we understand each other very well, and he is always able to conceptualize what I want – a tower, a tree, a sewer with only lighting effects. Can we fly Finch down from the ceiling? Of course we can. Can you make me Juliet’s balcony? Of course I can. Can you build me a two story English manor house, with seven slamming doors, and then take it apart in pieces to spin around? Um…well…sure. Yes, I’ll do that for you. And then he somehow makes it happen, and I am always very grateful, and cognizant of how important it is to express that gratitude. He always goes so far and above the call of duty, with creativity and, most of the time, a sense of humor.

It’s a happy little crew there at this very special school, and I only hope that we can keep building on this good thing we’ve got going.

This will be the best show I have ever directed. I know I’ve been saying that all along, but every single day, I’m more and more certain. I hoped, of course, that it would be more than just an enjoyable performance, played to a supportive audience of loving parents cheering on earnest, plucky kids giving it their all. What I hoped is that it would be a transcendent piece of theater for every cast member, and maybe even some of their parents… something that would elevate the experience of the kids in a meaningful way that they would carry with them, that they would allow to alter their perceptions and become a part of how they view themselves and the world.

It’s happening. I can already see the glimmers. Not to everyone, of course. Some of them are just going through the motions, a show like any show, a time to hang out with their friends. And that’s okay. But some of them…they get it. They know what’s happening, and are being mindful and present. I am working hard to balance praise with criticism for the group in general, and trying hard to not just consistently gush about the same people all the time…but it’s not easy, to tell the truth. It takes a lot of focus to make sure I hit every one with compliments, and not save them all for the kids who regularly take my breath away – my Cinderella, who’s just luminous, graceful and lovely and charming, and the first one off book, which I always appreciate. My Narrator, whose voice and demeanor make him perfect for storytelling, and who started off as a very goofy, child-like freshman, and has become a man in four years before my very eyes, poised and confident and kind. My fierce and funny Witch, belting sustained b-flats and giving everyone shivers. My hilarious Stepsisters. My Harvard-bound, accordion-playing mathlete valedictorian playing Granny and the Giant with absolute sincerity. And my Baker. My favorite ever, quite simply, who is able to show the full gamut of everything he does best in this role: singing like a true musician, expressing a sly, clever sense of humor, and showing an ability to access, with sincerity and mindfulness, a depth of human experience that is well beyond his years. He is so smart, and he truly understands his character’s journey. He takes the whole thing seriously, which helps everyone else to take it seriously, too. He is a leader, and I feel so proud that through these little plays we did together, he was able to learn that about himself. It wasn’t just this, of course. He would have learned it anyhow, somewhere, but he got to practice it here. He has been a leader by example, choosing to be the best of himself, just because it’s the right thing to do. He had a mentor, someone like a brother, leave him halfway through the wood, and he had to figure out what to do with all of those feelings and reverses. He could have just brushed it off, or he could have gotten all dark and angry, but he chose, instead, to take the best of the lessons and let them make him stronger. So, now, others have watched him, and learned from him, and will be the better for it. And I believe, more strongly now than I ever have in my life, that those ripples of genuine kindness and dedication and commitment linger, and are bound to be heard. I have learned so much from this student, which is why I think he is so special to me. I was supposed to be the teacher, and he has ended up teaching me.

I will soon be having a very important conversation about teaching that will have an impact on my life. In preparation, I was thinking about the many different teachers I have had, and how you never know when you will meet someone who will become your teacher. Really, the moment a person becomes a teacher is the moment when the student decides to learn from him…or her. A thing I have been enjoying lately about life is that I am finding so many teachers and learning so much. They come in unlikely forms sometimes, so I have learned to recognize and appreciate these kindred spirits when I find them. At this particular vibrant time in my life, they seem to be presenting themselves in rapid succession, and I determined not to miss a single one.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Patrick and I have started twice-monthly Friday night Payday Dates. The girls are just old enough now to be home alone for a couple of hours at a time as long as we're fairly local. Last week, my smart husband picked a very tacky, very townie Chinese restaurant, which shows precisely how well he knows me. I love a place with a vibe - an energy all its own that sets it apart from a place like Bertuccis or Olive Garden or someplace that's just...ordinary. The decor is incredibly out of date with giant pandas and bamboo in random places. The drink menu included things like Singapore Sling and Suffering Bastard and Scorpion Bowl for one. (Which I ordered, just because it came in a bowl. Perfect.) The bartender was in his 50's, and had the most enormous, pouffy, sort of streaky Chinese afro I have ever seen. The bar was wall-to-wall townies, Boston accents rich and jangly, just the way I like them. Keno, flaming pu pu platters, and a waitstaff that has been there for twenty years. It reminded me so much of my favorite Chinese restaurant of all time, the Aloha in Hingham, which is now a Starbucks/jewelry store/insurance agency. We would go there after every chorus concert and for most of our cast parties, and it was the tackiest place you ever saw. It had this scary sort of dark sunken bar area with - I kid you not - a whole bunch of shrunken heads hanging over the doorway. I vowed that the very second I turned 21, I would get a drink at that bar, and I did, exactly once before they tore it down. I still have a menu from the 80's that Barry Violette stole for me in an effort to impress me. It worked. We had a great date, and I was very grateful to be so understood.

My favorite times have always been in places with a vibe - and my favorite people are the ones who share in and appreciate that. One example of this is my friend Dillon, (who was a student in my very first class) and his fiance Lisa (picture a combination of Gidget, a 1940's pin-up girl, and Meg Ryan...though prettier, and with a subversive, slightly bad-ass edge.) They live in NYC, and have a very unique appreciation for the concept of the vibe. Last year, they took me to a rooftop bar, full of plants and flowers and a fabulous drink menu in a very brown-stoney upscale neighborhood near a gated park. The year before that, Dillon took me to a very secret bar in Grand Central Station (one of my favorite places in the whole wide world) where I turned 39 over a giant goblet of "Prohibition Punch." Very vibe-ish. They are getting married this summer, and they are having a Mad Men, 1960's themed reception. See? Vibe. They will make it work. I absolutely cannot wait.

Some of my favorite vibe places include: the Haymarket in Northampton, the Purple Pub in Williamstown, 12 Westwood Road on some particularly memorable party nights (some large, but the best of them much more intimate), the 8th floor lobby of the Marriot Marquis Times Square, the Company Theatre fireplace room, and the Loring Movie Theater in Hingham. Places where things happen to you, feelings happen, and you can tell from the energy that things have happened to other people there, too. I love that. I love being in a place that's very full of humanity and connection. You know them when you feel them, I think, and I'm always on the look out for more.

By way of update...we ran Act One last night, and it was a little rough. At least, rough by my current standards of what is "good" and "rough" in high school theater, which is to say...pretty freaking fine. I am so far ahead of where I hoped to be by the week before production week of a Sondheim's just the best. The kids revealed their Secret Valentines at the end of rehearsal last night, and the bonding in this cast is so deep and entrenched. I wrote them all Valentine notes, and I always feel that moment of hesitation when I tell students the truth of what I think about them. I feel it when I write each of my 6th graders their end of the year project letter, and I felt it with this, too. I want to say what is truly in my heart, but I also have that moment's hesitation of, "What if this were broadcast on the 6:00 news?" Would my outpouring of affection be misinterpreted? I guess that's just part of the job - that worry. I have chosen consistently to just SAY it, what I think and feel about them, come what may. I just have to. It's who I am, and I can't be NOT that.

In the musical "Big," (yes, there really is one) there's a song called "Stop, Time." It's sung by Josh's mother, and it's about how you love every phase of your child's growth, each one more precious than the next, and you just want to stop time right where it is to truly revel in the moment. That's exactly how I feel about Into the Woods.

Stop, time. I'm not ready to let them go.

Monday, February 13, 2012

"But if life were made of moments, then you'd never know you'd had one..."

Lately, I’ve taken to catching myself smiling while driving alone in my car. I will be barreling up or down rt. 3, 45 minutes from one workplace to the next, and for no reason, I’ll feel a smile on my face and realize that without even noticing, I’ve been thinking happy thoughts. I probably have written this before – at least, I know I’ve journaled it – but in Eat Pray Love, the Balinese medicine man tells Liz that she needs to “smile with her liver.” Smile while meditating, while doing your small daily tasks. Just choose to be happy with your body and soul, and make a habit out of it.

I would say if I could pick the greatest of the changes in my life since turning 40, that would be it. I smile with my liver now, more often than not. Despite an enormous uncertainty in my life, waiting at the crossroads, despite working many many hours a week, despite some annoyances and worries, I am just happy most of the time. I know it’s because I am in the flow of my life, living on purpose, and with great appreciation and a continual expectation that things will turn out just the way they should. An attitude of gratitude. Feeling so energized by it all.

We had another great rehearsal tonight. We ran act two for the second time, and if you know anything about high school theater, you know that to be running act two three times before production week is kind of amazing. But they are all kinds of amazing, and while I had a vision when we started of what “cast bonding” with this group could be, I had no idea how very much it would exceed my expectations. They love each other so much, and are so caring and aware of each other, and it is a beautiful and heartwarming thing to witness. The senior girl who is my student director has taken charge of leading some warm ups and wrap ups with the cast, and they had a “favorite moments” circle on Sunday after sharing the first day of clues for their secret Valentines. Their compliments to each other about their favorite moments were so thoughtful and sensitive and judicious. They not only said what they felt, sincerely, but they also said things that were the very sentiments their castmates most needed to hear. And I think pretty much everyone had something special and unique about themselves recognized and praised aloud in front of people they all respect and admire.

I mean, really. How often in a life do you get a chance to see a thing like that happen, organically and with tremendous grace? What I get to do with my life is such a gift. And while I know it probably sounds so corny and bromidic (name that showtune reference)…I maintain that magic happens in theater. There is nothing more magical than genuine connection between people, than seeing love and confidence grow in a team united in a common goal. While singing showtunes. I feel so incredibly blessed to be a part of that.

It’s not always like this. Some shows are just shows, at least to me. I think they all make an impact in some ways to all of us, but this one is different. This one is special, and I knew it would be when the idea to do this just came to me two years ago. I thought of it, and I let a picture form in my mind of how it would manifest, and I was so right. I knew it would be this special for everyone.

It will be the saddest ever to say goodbye to this class, to watch them journey off into the world. But I’m so happy for all of them, so proud of them and so grateful to have known them. They have had some big experiences in their four years of theater with me, but this will be everyone’s favorite, and the perfect way to end.

Almost the entire cast is seniors. Most have been in lots of shows before, nearly all of them. A few are new. One of the new ones is playing Milky White. I had decided early on that I would make Milky White a person, and thought it would be funny if she were kind of jaded and sarcastic, edgy and trailer-park. But this girl walked in, and wanted to be Milky White, and turned out to be the sweetest, most sparkly sunshiney girl ever. She is one of those people that raises the vibration of the room as soon as she walks in. I had to have her in the show, so Milky White morphed immediately into a sparkly, sunshiney very happy cow, and her performance is so charming.

She’s so lovely that my Abby, who is the most excellent judge of such things, adores her especially. She draws her pictures of cows, and suggested a piece of blocking for the second act just so that everyone in the audience wouldn’t have to be upset thinking that Milky White got stepped on by the giant…LIKE EVERYONE ELSE IN THIS PLAY. (If you know Abby, you can imagine exactly how she would say that. “Like, EVERYONE dies. And Cinderella’s mother dies TWICE. What’s UP with that?”)

And she’s only one of twenty-five cast members, all of whom I like, most of whom I adore, and a few that I just love, plain and simple. Not every year, but some years when kids graduate, I think, “It’ll never be the same without them.” And I’m always right. This year, I mean it the most.

The way is dark,
the light is dim,
but now there's you, me, her and him...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Two Midnights Gone

Nothing much new or exciting to blog about. Busy with rehearsals this week. The show is going beautifully, and it's still so much fun. My friend Pam came in over the weekend to choreograph "Ever After" with the kids, and even she could see how well they're doing, how committed everyone is, and at the end of the rehearsal, when they all started to "circle up" - of their own volition, not something that I make them do - she said, "You're right. It's magic here."

Only a handful of the kids in the show are not seniors. I have been doing a very good job of pressing that knowledge down in my consciousness during this process, knowing that if I give myself up to sadness about that too soon, it's going to diminish everyone's joy. The other night, though, driving home and playing the soundtrack for the girls, I listened to the words of "No One Is Alone," and for just a little while, let myself be sad. I know that this show may represent the end of a journey for me, as well, and while I am at peace with that possibility, once in a while, I just need to let myself have a moment to mourn just a little. Maybe dealing with it in small batches will make it easier to face the end when it comes, whatever form that ending might take. When I think too much about it, I am sad to know that there are already Two Midnights Gone. Given the chance, I would do this show, with these people, every year for the rest of my life.

Doesn't work that way, though.

In other news, today I made my sixth graders meditate. We have moved from Hinduism to Buddhism, which is more comfortable for me. (In fact, I emailed Patrick after my first Buddhism lesson last week and said, "I think I might be Buddhist!" And he replied, "You think you're everything," and reminded me that I say that every year.) I guess it's all part of my life-long search for spiritual open-ness and understanding. It's one of those areas of life, though, in which I find the journey to be much more fulfilling than any bottom line, or end result. I kind of just like thinking about it. Anyway, Buddhist meditation. I put in the guided mediation CD I found at the public library, shut off the lights, chose carefully the parts I would play (though I mistakenly forgot to NOT play the one where the lady tells them to clench and release their can imagine how that went.) The kids really took it more seriously than I even thought they would, particularly my most challenging student this year, whose un-medicated and un-strategized (and, actually, un-diagnosed) ADHD routinely wreaks havok on the most ordinary of lessons.

For 22 minutes, that child did not move a single muscle. He sat alone in a corner of the room (by his choice) with his eyes closed, palms up, as the guide droned on in her peaceful voice on the topics of breath, and self-worth, and kindness, and world-peace. He loved it. And he was even able to verbalize that he loved it because he could just listen to someone else tell him thoughts, rather than thinking his own thoughts while trying to sit still at the same time. I immediately made him a copy of the CD to keep. Hope his parents don't get mad that I sent him home with a CD that says "buttocks." was a welcome reminder to me that there are so many different ways to reach a kid, and sometimes, they reveal themselves in the most unexpected times and places.

Because this is already rambling and disconnected, I will add this: My high school director called me earlier in the week to help him with a fundraiser for my former high school's theater program. He asked me to send a message to the kids I knew from high school to ask them to donate to this year's ad book. Oh, the years I traversed my little town to ask businesses to buy ads! The hardware store, the bakery, the insurance agencies..."Can you donate $25 for a quarter page ad?" I am happy to do it, and part of the reason is because at my very special and fancy high school, I have never ever had to do that. Or anything even close to that. And I have never had to ask my students to do it, either. They just...give me what I need, mostly because I don't ask for an awful lot.

My high school director LOVED to spend money. He really did. He would (and still does - proved it to me on the phone yesterday) talk in detail about the amazing satin fabric he found at close-out prices in the garment district. The sequins, the feathers...he liked things pretty and shiny and very, very satin. (Your typical teenage girl does NOT look good in satin, might I add. To him, irrelevant.) I am not really into that. I'm more concerned with what they're experiencing, how they're connecting, than what they, or the show, looks like. This sounds like I'm being snottily superior, but it's kind of the opposite of that. I sometimes really wish that I had the time or the brain-space to care more about things like that. Instead, I have been very blessed to be able to have other people around me to who can take care of those sorts of details. I have a costume designer. I have a set designer. My high school director had to do all of those things by himself. Partly because he had to, I guess, but partly because he WANTED to do all of those things, for his own creative expression, and the result was that it always felt like "his" show. People would call them that, and still do. "A Doniger show." Everyone wears sequins in a Doniger show. Flash, sparkle, production value that mine don't have.

I often wish I could find a way to strike more of a balance. I often wish that my finished products had more sparkle and flare. I worry that the experience of the kids, their bond and intensity and joy and excitement, doesn't translate in production value. I guess that's what I need to look toward in my future. I want to grow toward that - having the experience and the "product" more closely align. That's in my journey. Maybe.

Today, I was home and in my gnome pajama bottoms and my holey UMass sweatshirt at exatly 3:23 p.m. That might be a record. Patrick is out writing, and tonight for dinner I am making comfort food, a recipe that my mom calls rice-a-roni. It is poor-people food, a combination of cream of mushroom soup, a can of tuna, and rice. Like everyone I know, some weeks are lean weeks, and we rely on whatever is in the cupboard to make it to the next payday. Patrick and I call them "Nolan Weeks," after A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. He worries about them, but truthfully, I don't. Partly because I feel like as soon as you put out into the world the concept of "I don't have enough," then the Universe supports that. We always have enough. We always have more than enough, when I really stop and look at it. I also appreciate Nolan weeks because it helps me remember that we are both hard-working and gainfully employed, and that we know that our next paycheck is only a few days away. Lots of people aren't that lucky. I need a Nolan week from time to time to remind me to be grateful for all of the abundance in my life.