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.

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