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November 2011 entries

Poignant Movie

Michael and I just watched the 2010 drama "Beautiful Boy," about a young man who inexplicably opens fire on his college campus, killing several students and professors before shooting himself. Instead of focusing on the boy's side of the story, the movie offers a heart-wrenching look at those left behind: most notably, his parents. Already struggling with a stagnating marriage, the couple is absolutely blindsided with the news that their son committed a horrific crime. One of the most moving scenes of the film occurs when the police arrive at the door and Kate (Maria Bello) reacts to the news that her son was the shooter. She screams, "LIAR!" in the placid officer's face as she recoils from his words.

The aftermath of the shooting brings denial, doubt, blame, bitterness -- from all angles. The movie features a motif of through-doorway shots, further emphasizing the precariousness of the relationship: Bill (Michael Sheen) seems to be ready to move forward together with his wife one minute, and ready to leave her the next. Kate has her own vacillation; she prepares the house to be sold yet can't seem to stop searching for clues to her son's collapse.

A thought-provoking and sobering film for a parent, for sure. How can we ever know what life has in store for us? How could parents such as these well-off suburban professionals have known that their son had a violent tendency? I think we like to tell ourselves that WE would know, WE would see the glaringly obvious signs, but just as I felt stunned by accusations made against a former priest of mine (which are still accusations at this point), the simple fact is that life has the ability to take our knees out with a lead pipe.

What's to be done, then? If a mother nags her child too much, she's criticized for being too demanding. If she remains "laissez faire," then she is criticized for being cold and unfeeling. I think I know the answer lies somewhere in between guidance and independence, but parenting is a gamble made in real time with the highest of stakes. I can only hope that my own children realize I have always done the best I could.

If you like films which leave you contemplating the complexities in life, I recommend "Beautiful Boy" to you. Keep the Kleenex handy.

(Wo)man's Best Friend

Duke has been a part of the Connor family, est. 2004, before there even was a Connor family, est. 2004. He is approximately 10 years old (SPCA special...or YMCA, if you ask Gabrielle) and has had a few more trips to the vet this year than usual. He has routinely (every 4 months or so) come down with a cough and fever. Today, the vet diagnosed pneumonia in his left lung and ordered chest x-rays because he believes that Dukey may be entering into congestive heart failure.

I just went to check on him before turning in for the night: he's coiled up in the crook of Gabrielle's leg, keeping his little girl warm and safe for the night. He seems to be feeling better (and by that I mean he was eating Liam's high chair scraps again) since the medication started to kick in, and I hope that means good news next week...but I'm also aware of the reality of a dog's longevity.

I'm not ready to lose our first baby. ("You know," Duke says in his oddly Hispanic accent, "the baby who wasn't good enough so you had to have those three brats.")

(Wo)man's Best Friend

Visitor to B206

Last month some time, I gave the play cast a night off.  And this is what they did with their time:  A group of kids went to a pet store, and thanks to a very persuasive salesman named Chris, came home with a bearded dragon . . . named Ernest.  Yesterday, he came to MHS for a visit, and made his stage debut in a stats presentation.


And yes, he's walking on my desk.  :)

Great Email . . .

I have to share the text of an email I received from my friend, retired English teacher, Chris Bower:

Hi, Denise,
I want to share with you my conversation with Aidan on Sunday.
Does he have any young friends? Doesn' t he know how to behave as a kid?
(The questions are in jest.) My story:
I asked him to tell me one really neat thing he learned in school this week. This was his answer:
"I'm so glad you asked me that, Mr. Bower. I'm trying to combine my interest in drawing with my interest in animals. Well,... let me show you what I did in church today."
I swear, Denise, his words were almost exactly those. Then he pulled out his church etchings which were indeed impressive. I thought I was listening to an applicant for college admission at his interview. He thanked me for the question, touted his interests, and then showed me his portfolio - all in less than 25 words.
What six-year-old does that? You have an awesome son.

Earnestly Thankful


Earnest gift

The wonderfully talented  cast and crew closed our run of The Importance of Being Earnest last night at Montoursville High School.   Wilde's classic comedy was an ambitious choice for a high school play, but I knew that our students could handle it -- and they did more than just handle it.  They studied the script for three months, perfected British accents, mastered the delivery of witty lines, and grew as performers along the way.  I could not be more pleased with their performances this weekend. 

The end of this show is bittersweet, to say the least.  The senior students (over half of the cast and crew) are very dear to my heart, and I remain in denial that they will be graduating in June.  (I'm working on creating ways to prevent that . . . maybe they could all fail my Drama class and be a credit short??)

Last night's show was the best of the three -- I felt "instinctively" that the students were seizing the moment, the last chance to do Earnest, and for some, the last chance to be on the boards of the MHS stage in a play.  Any hint of intentional technique was gone, and the characters alone stood on the stage, with their hearts on their sleeves and joy in their hearts.  These kids LOVE what they do, and I love to be part of that for them.

And these sweet kids gave me a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a set of beautiful hand-crafted jewelry!  How blessed am I to teach these amazing students!


It's Show Time!

The Importance of Being Earnest opens Thursday night at 7 pm at Montoursville High School. Tickets are $5 for adult, $3 for students. Come out and see this very witty and clever show performed by MHS's finest actors!

More photos to come...I only took about 400 last night...

It's Show Time!

It's Show Time!

It's Show Time!

It's Show Time!

It's Show Time!