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May 2016

April 2016 entries

Thank you, Pat.

Today, I had the very great honor of singing at a memorial mass for a young man named Pat.  His family and I have been close for years, through the church where I used to be the director of music.  Pat was 25, gorgeous, charismatic, talented, funny, intelligent.  He was also a recovering addict who had been clean for over a year when he died, after what his obituary bravely called "the disease of addiction."  (I can imagine how tempting it would be to write a euphemism like "died at home" or "unexpectedly passed away.") When Pat's family asked me to sing for the mass, I immediately said yes, and made arrangements to be off from school. 

As I entered the church that I haven't been in for 2 years (with the exception of an Easter vigil mass this year), I was a little nervous.  Would people ask me a lot of questions?  Would I need to explain myself to every person I encountered?  And, as it turned out, I felt very much at home, a prodigal cantor returned, as it were.  

The service itself was beautiful, and I was happy to be able to be use my voice to comfort people in a sad time.  I have been greatly impressed by Pat's parents.  As the service started, his father gave me a big grin and a thumbs up.  At such a time, he wanted to be sure I felt encouraged.  Imagine!  The church was packed, essentially standing room only, with people who love Pat and his family.  

After the mass portion, a few people spoke, delivering beautiful, touching, and humorous eulogies about Pat's life.  His parents stood before the congregation and said, "We are so proud of our son.  We are proud to be his parents."  His father read the Serenity Prayer and ended with the words no parent ever wants to say: "Sleep well, my son."

A celebration of life.  A celebration of love.  A celebration of family.  

One of the other speakers, a pastor Pat was close to, said, "We know that relationships are what matter in this life.  The relationships we have and how we treat those we love."  

And so, when I picked the kids up from school today, I hugged them a little tighter and a little longer.  We truly never know what lies ahead for any of us.  If this day wasn't a reminder to make each moment count, I don't know what was. 

Also, it seemed like the perfect night to have ice cream for dinner.  

Thank you, Pat, for the life you led, and for the reminder to love every moment. 



I DO love a challenge...

Recently, a cast member had to drop out of a play which is slated to be performed in early May at CTL.  When my friend and artistic director of the theatre called me to see if I would consider learning the part in less than 2 weeks, I decided to investigate the details.  The play is called "Belles," and the character I am playing is one of six sisters who have grown up and moved to various parts of the country, with the exception of one sister who moved in with their mother after her own husband died.  The play is cleverly staged as a series of phone calls between the sisters: the stage is divided into the 6 living spaces.  The character in question is named "Dust" (this week, anyway.  She's always changing her name) and she is a new-age, free-spirit type who loves life and loves taking on various personalities.  She does this to cope with the reality of her childhood as the daughter of an abusive alcoholic, we learn as the play progresses. 

Dust currently lives in Washington state, and she simply cannot be without a man in her life.  Her latest, "Chore-Boy" (on account of all the odd jobs he'd do around the house) may or may not be "the one" for her.  Dust also does yoga, eats tofu, and has lengthy dreams which she loves to tell to those around her.  

So, of course, I agreed to do the part.  Who wouldn't?  I was given a script on Thursday, and I managed to make a serious dent in my memorization goal -- most of Act 1 is roughly there, in the phase I called "approximation," in which an actor knows the gist of the lines, if not every precise term.  I walked on Williamsport's River Walk yesterday for an hour, happily embracing the role of "crazy woman talking to herself as she walks by the river."  


And I found this message from the universe:  as I was working on a dream monologue in which Dust is an eagle, "a beautiful bird of prey totally without preying instincts," I walked by ...


With that, I bid you a fond farewell.  I've got lines to learn! 

Spring Cleaning and Spring Learning

It's spring.  Can I get an "Amen"?  I am beyond happy to see the sunshine, to hear the birds chirping again, and to feel the warm air.  Even if it does mean the advent of yard work.  Luckily, I have some help on that front.



Spring also brings the start of Ellie's new puppet class at the Community Academy of Stage and Theatre.  While she made a very cool mermaid puppet, the boys and I walked around Williamsport.  Life is good, my friends. 



Saying Goodbye

to our butterflies.  We watched these little kids grow from crawling "callerpitters" (Liam Connor) to beautiful butterflies, and when the weather stopped jump-roping from warm to freezing, we knew it was time to say goodbye.  






The Official Handbook for Ms. Connor's Unofficial Assistant (2nd Edition)

In 2012, two students who practically lived in my classroom wrote an "Official Handbook" for themselves and for those who follow in their footsteps.  The handbook included information like my birthdate, how I like my coffee, and rules about texting me.  I recently found it as I was cleaning out my classroom, and the two current students who live in my classroom now decided it was time for a new edition.  I love everything about it. 





Judge Not, Lest...

I came across this picture online a week or so ago.  


With all respect due Mr. Dave Willis, I have to say I find this quote pretty close-minded.  For starters, it makes it sound like people who get divorced are just too petty to work through their "differences" and "flaws."  If you or anyone you are close to has ever made the extremely difficult decision to get divorced, you know that the circumstances are much more than simply deciding that staying together was paramount to any differences.  For some couples, the decision to separate is actually what is best for everyone involved.  For others, the decision was made for them by one spouse without much discussion.  

Unless you are half of short-lived celebrity marriage, the reasons for getting a divorce tend to be much bigger than "differences."  The word "differences" implies pettiness to me.  As in, "He likes to vacation at the beach, and I like the mountains" or "He likes spaghetti, and I don't."  To be sure, these "differences" can spiral into self-absorbed, unyielding partners who refuse to compromise.  These "differences" can represent feelings which are much bigger than vacation spots or dinner choices.  But, the quote doesn't make it sound that way. 

Even more so than the words Mr. Willis chose, I resent the "us vs. them" competitive dichotomy of marriage:  there are couples who make it work because they are resilient and strong; and there are couples who fail because they are weak and give up.  What a judgmental way of looking at the complexity of human relationships.  If you are in a marriage that is working and fulfilling -- good for you, truly.  If you have left a marriage because it was irrevocably broken and you decided that moving on was the best course of action -- good for you, truly.  

Only YOU can know what is best for your life and for those in it.  And, frankly, that should keep us all too busy to waste time judging other people.  


Look Up!


Last week, every time I walked by the classroom of my bio teacher friend, I was multi-tasking (which is a myth, I know, I know...Thanks, Science).  It was tech week, and I was either answering emails or looking through papers I had to take to the office or otherwise managing something for the show.  Karen decided to test my attention by writing a message for me on her whiteboard outside her door.  I should mention that in addition to the orange and purple shirt you can see in this photo, I was wearing a long teal skirt.  In other words -- I was practically a rainbow, and not at all lacking in color.  

And, of course, I walked right on by the first time!  Karen called me out with a mostly-joking reminder to look up every once in a while.  

And, of course, she is right.  The musical is a huge time commitment for me, and now that it's over, I need to be sure I am looking up a little more -- in a lot of ways.  :) Happy Post-Show Monday, everyone! 


It's Musical Time!

MAHS Presents "Once on This Island" -- a musical setting of the Hans Christian Andersen tale 'The Little Mermaid,' but set on an island like Haiti. Ti Moune is a young peasant girl who falls in love with a rich young man from the other side of the island. The gods of Death and Rain and the goddesses of the Earth and Love decide to interfere in the lives of these two young people to settle a bet: Which is stronger? Love or Death? And a beautiful story of love and loss and hope begins to weave itself through music and dance. Don't miss this gorgeous show. April 15 at 7 PM; April 16 at 7 PM; and April 17 at 2 PM. General admission tickets available online (link below) or at the door. Adults $8; Students $5. I'd love to see three packed houses, supporting the MAHS theatre students in the midst of an otherwise uncertain school year!