Reflections on St. Lucy and the “Plus” Sized Women’s Clothing Industry

…in this time of inclusiveness,

why should 80 million women be marginalized?

~ Tim Gunn, Fashion Designer on Project Runway

On the one hand, all I want to do during this month-long break from school is to rest and be lazy. On the other hand – I want to read and do things that have nothing to do with American Sign Language or interpreting.

The first thing that caught my eye on my Facebook feed this week was a short video clip from Tim Gunn, a fashion designer on the reality TV show “Project Runway.” A dear friend who lives at a distance has been helping me to come to terms with my poor fashion self – esteem, so this clip was perfect timing. Last August, just before classes started, I sent him a message that included a plea to help with ideas about how to organize my clothes. We have small closets and I had just finished adding a new bookshelf and organizing my growing piles of school books and materials. My desk and school things are in the same room that I have my closet. So, one day I went on a complete ninja culling marathon. I kept on finding ugly clothes that I never wear. I was stressed about my final and very busy year of classes for the ASL-English Interpreter Training Program that I am working on, so it makes sense that I was worrying about my looks as well.

Its interesting – it only took one hissy fit and one hour of pulling and dumping a pile of every single piece of clothing that I have in my dresser and those items plopped on the floor of the closet  – to know that I needed a friend. I was so upset with myself.

I found item after item that was either: 1: sloppy and huge, 2: impossible to fit into, 3: possible to wear, but don’t make me feel even close to good, or, 3: were totally unflattering.

So, my friend messaged: “We can do this together – do it! Garbage bags pronto!! Send me photos, I want proof that you are doing this.”

So, a few weepy fits later and about 15 garbage bags I started sending him photos.

“Good job, I’m proud of you – still too much shit there girl. Keep on dumping.”

And, it started to get fun, and I started trying things on. My friend, and then also my cousin, started chatting about specific fashion and colors that would work for me.

“You are amazing and I’m so proud!” said my cousin. “Get rid of those thick ass socks and show your legs!” said my friend.

So, the Tim Gunn clip I saw this week? It talked about how unfair it is that larger women’s clothing is not backed by the fashion industry, because it makes the industry less money and it is, well, “not fashionable” to be less than thin and fit.

Because of my classes and being mildly Hard of Hearing my self, equal access is on my mind and a part of my every single day – most often all day long. Then, the other day I stumbled onto some amazing sales at a store for larger sized women and I was incredibly excited to find some work clothes that looked and felt professional. So, the follow-up of stumbling onto this rant by Gunn about how unfair it is for my body type to not have equal access, not just to clothes, but clothes that fit right and feel spiffy – well, it cheered me up almost as much as the heeled boots I found. See for your self what the clip says:

Why the Fashion Industry Needs a Makeover

And what is the connection to the St. Lucy doodles I made a while back and included above? For the Catholic Church, St. Lucy is the Patron Saint of eyes. She was tough and blunt, and legend has it that being her own woman got her killed.

“Rather than accept the hand in marriage of a lover who desired her for the sake of her beautiful eyes, (Saint Lucy) she plucked them out, and sent them to him with this message: “Here hast thou what thou so much desirest; and for the rest, I beseech thee, leave me now in peace!” Nevertheless, as the legend expressly tells us, her sight was restored to her the next day. Her martyrdom, instigated by her rejected lover, was accomplished by a dagger thrust into her neck in AD 303.”

So…there you have it. The struggle is real, and I’m so very proud of my now very bare, but well fitted for the most part clothing collection. Moving on up!

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Advent: Hope

linda shootPhoto about

HOPE

taken and shared by my friend Linda.

 

First Sunday of Advent

Reading 1 Jer 33:14-16

The days are coming, says the LORD,
when I will fulfill the promise
I made to the house of Israel and Judah.
In those days, in that time,
I will raise up for David a just shoot ;
he shall do what is right and just in the land.
In those days Judah shall be safe
and Jerusalem shall dwell secure;
this is what they shall call her:
“The LORD our justice.”
Amen.
( the video that is connected to the word hope above contains photography from Jim Crotty and music from Alison Krauss and Yo-Yo Ma)

“Proud” : Easy to Learn in ASL

11188262_825705304161925_1221999162433126540_n This is what I wrote on my Facebook page this morning:

“I’m waking up feeling so thankful about the tight little group of friends that I am making.

 

I wasn’t ready to make friends for two years – yet the key was barely in our new door before my neighbor sent fresh-baked cookies…and how can one resist being hopeful with daily jokes from a sign language interpreter who was my first coworker in this new town we are in ?…and now the list goes on.

 

I’m just as introverted and still need hours of solitude and some of my rough edges will never go away, and that’s okay… and the work load is kind of huge, and it is going to get exponentially bigger soon….

 

When I first registered for these classes I sent a note to my (speech therapist) friend about how unreasonably worried I was that I was making a mistake to be taking this side route at this point in life and his main comforting advise was :

 

‘Your brain will be so happy, and if your brain is happy, your family will be happy.’

 

So, if you are wondering if those articles that you’ve read about language, foreign language especially being good for your noggin? It’s true. Do it. It’s not too late…

 

my class mates are saying the same thing…it’s like our heads smolder with information and vocabulary and grammar rules and confusion and then we go to these Deaf social events…and it works.

 

It’s like having a popcorn popper suddenly launch with yummy linguistic happy time. We understand, they understand us, and if there’s a mix up, who cares, we are still cordially invited to another event! So. That’s what I have to say this morning. Have a good day.”

11054444_817268375005618_6549938944609850678_nP.S. I apologize to the t-shirt company that advertised these shirts…if I can find you again – I will post a link and advertise for you!

P.P.S. The green t-shirt is showing how to do the word “proud” in American Sign Language.

Reminders from Thomas Merton and St. Francis and a Mute Button about Small Favors

popeILY“My mom’s home care nurse called. She was having distressed breathing. Her pulse ox level was 83 which is poor. She was struggling to breath. Having pain. Ambulance was called…I am beside myself….

Gracie’s pain is being managed to the best they think we can do without surgical intervention….

Today we will be discharged…we will be making (her 90th brain) surgery date in the next few days. Grace has had a wonderful spirit through all of this. She just wants to not have pain anymore. Team Amazing Grace needs prayers for wisdom and peace…

Please pray for. Grace we are turning back to go to the. ER … I am over an hour out and she is. 10 pain. She is not well…”

Those are just a few of the frantic Facebook status updates that a friend of mine has been putting up in the past two weeks as she asks for prayer from her huge circle of online friends. She is one of a small handful of women that I’ve tried to keep in touch with for almost fifteen years on the internet. I met them while looking for information about adoption before our youngest was born. Lately contact with them has dwindled to a lot of clicking of Facebook “likes” or these cute cartoons that have a bit more flare in a response and “save time” for a “real” response. Two of us have been going in a new directions – one as a writer and me with my American Sign Language studies. One of us has been doing a lot of elder care and is busting out all over with pride as her daughter is stepping into her own skin and singing like no other all over her town.

In this small group of friends two of us, the mom whose status updates I quoted and another mom – have during that 15 years buried three children. One child took his own life and two other boys died from genetic illness. Another mom’s child has been diagnosed with a lot of maybes – but a “probably” that he is struggling with neuro sensory issues that are along the lines of autism. He is a complicated puzzle of emotions. He is a delight and she sometimes shares quotes of what he is saying out loud that are at times hysterical. Other times his quotes are heart wrenching observations about the world that should be coming from an old man, not a Ninja Turtle who is barely old enough to read chapter books.

What I appreciate about this group of friends that I have never met is that because we’ve grieved together with prayer for those three sons that died – we don’t, well I don’t anyway, always necessarily explain what prayer is being asked for when one of us requests an all out bended knee effort. And we And I feel comfortable with not always having the time to explain the details of what is going on with me or my kids when I share with any one of this small bunch – I have sort of a code phrase that is about the song “row, row, row your boat.” If I make a swing by comment about that song it means either that I know that their mom heart is in a state of worry, or it’s a general announcement that I’m in a bind and don’t have time or space to explain why I am a ball of nerves and doubt.

merton worthy

I have to share something really cool that just happened…but I promised my husband I would do an important chore in a few minutes, so forgive me if I don’t make sense.

Early this morning I read what could be a day old status update that my friend’s daughter is needing her 90th brain surgery to help with hydrocephalus – I started looking for some music to send her way. Her oldest child is a wonderful musician. And I went with a liturgical dance video that I found yesterday while looking for videos of church sign language interpreting.

But…as I mentioned in my last post, music sometimes hurts my ears of late – especially violin or high pitched vocals. I read a recommendation to listen to cello music because the frequency is lower.

So, I’m watching the liturgical dance video and wondering if I should share it, got cranky that the music was ruining the video for me, and clicked off the sound button on the video itself.

I had forgotten that I had Pandora running at the same time and an instrumental song called “Expression” was being played by Helen Jane Long. (The link I attached to her name is not the same song – but just as pretty).

Here is the amazing thing: the instrumental song, when I replayed it in the background, but watched to video in front of it (remember now, the actual music that was being used in the video was turned off) – when I paired the instrumental words with the St. Francis prayer dance – they were PERFECTLY in step – seriously. Don’t quote me but I think it was in 3/4 time – and in any case, there are a few moments of silence after the song finishes and she finishes her dance prayer.

Maybe it’s just me, but I find that 15 minutes of my day much more interesting than the day of chores I have ahead. And I may not be able to to check in on my friend and her little girl until tomorrow – but I firmly believe that the music, and the dance video, and my friend’s pain, and my sadness about singing out of key- all of it – got a really, very, super nice fifteen minute reprieve.

We can’t do it all, can we now?

But every once in a while, we get a deep breath from out of what seems like no where at all.

Thank God for small favors, eh?

“Okay” Can Be a Comforting Prayer

BPyUYW1CIAA-IFqIn part of a passage I posted the other day by Anne Lamott she said that

“okay”

is one of the four great prayers.

o TN_handsigns_O

I wonder what the other three are?

I’d bet they are one worded – perhaps thanks. Amen would be kind of obvious. What about yes? or Hallelujah, or yipee or yahoo or agreed? That’s what amen means in terms of word roots I think. I’m fairly sure it just means “Yup, I think the same thing as you my old pal God the greatest.”

About a month ago my prayers were not close to being quite that amiable. “Greatest” is still not the first thing that pops in mind with how I am feeling about the heavenly host, but I’m starting to ease up on my internal sky rant which started out pretty much like this:

Are you *%@+&ing kidding me? What happened to that giant life plan that you and I mapped out and you were so generously CLEAR with your instructions about what you want me to do with my life? The hints you left were not random on this one. It wasn’t like the time I thought I could somehow make a career out of folding origami cranes and little paper frogs. That wasn’t very practical was it now? Did I try to figure out if that’s what you want. Well YES SIREE I did! I prayed, I journaled. I reflected. I went to mass and made the sons come along as well. I even started reading Anne Lamott books. I may not have gotten to my goal of making a thousand paper cranes, but I got good at that craft and hosted a couple of really fun workshops for kids and showed those little kidlets a good time. Did I whine and moan when I figured out that the want ads had nothing that said: “intensely reflective and fairly forgetful paper folder wanted to fold cute little animals out of beautiful asian paper squares” ? NO MA’AM! I kept on truckin’ and started out working on Masters degree #2 because the first one was not in big demand in the countryside where we were living. Was I bummed when it stopped working out for me to continue in that program. Well sure. It was really interesting and the career demand was going to be huge. And did I stop trying to figure out what you want? Hell’s bells no I didn’t. I dug up all of the Thomas Merton books that we own and got friendly with him again. And I found another hobby as instructed and spent hours and hours building that outdoor porch train track. Giving up that corner of our house that became my little prayer space was pretty damn hard to leave, but I did, DID I NOT? Our buddy Merton says keep reflecting not matter where and no matter what so when I discovered how ridiculously large the Mississippi river is compared to my serene corner on the great Ohio, THAT’S WHAT I DID DUDE! REFLECT, REFLECT, REFLECTED MY *#%…..

There’s more, but I’ll spare you the details. Consider that a prelude.handsigns_K

By the way, I know that I used both “he” and “she” words for God. I’m one of those people who feel like God is so big that gender kind of limits the whole point of divinity. And I get irked at continued references that imply that our collective imagination stopped at the image of a white guy with a big old beard being in charge of the universe. That’s kind of boring I think. And none of my grandfather’s look like that anyway. One was a motorcycle cop and the other a journalist with big thick eye glasses.

Anyway.

My dear friend sent me a beautiful gift after I called her to tell her what was upsetting me so greatly. Wait, no, She is the one that had called me first. I had sent a rapid fire set of text messages saying “ahhhhhhhhh” and “eeeeeeeeeeeeek” and “yowwwwwwwwww”! She knows me well and called and said “I’m calling to talk about the weather and want to know what you are making me for dinner.” So we had a great and funny conversation that was mostly a “not talking talk” about what I was upset about, but at the same time she got a basic run down on the scene.

Shortly after, a gift that she had promised came in the mail. I wasn’t expecting it quite so soon! The card that she sent with it had a cute front that talked about how God’s world is full of all that is good. On the inside though, the little bear was shaking her hands at the sky and saying “give me a *xyz#%ing break!”

So all of this to say is this….

yeah. I agree with Anne.

It took me a month or so, but the best prayer I can burp out at this point is “okay.”

And once I said okay, my load started to lighten. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still angry, but this particular situation is not one that I can afford to pout about for very long.

Some new realities have fallen into my lap that are complicating my plans to get through this Sign Language interpreting certification program, but thus far there is no reason to do anything other than continue to enjoy and get as far as I can in the courses.If some fine tuning needs to happen, then so be it – I’ll deal with it when that time comes.

I’ll say this though – and again, I won’t bore you with the details, but adjusting this quickly from a “BLEEP YOU” cosmic conversation to a kicking my shoe in the dirt and mumbling “okay” prayer stance is completely unheard of for me…pun intended. I hold grudges like a toddler who is unwilling to release a blanket during nap time.

And. I have fallen in love with my studies about a language and culture that surrounds and protects the lives of those who have less than perfect hearing. Somehow, some way though, I didn’t wait even a day this time before sounding the alarm bells to get help and comfort when I had a wrench thrown into my plans. I scattered out a few “hey friends, I’m freaking out” messages and predictably there were those that said “huh?” and those that said “got your back girl. Bring it on. You’ve got this thing. Don’t stop now.”

And the best part? Some of these people are new friends. I survived the three-year mark of relocation and am meeting and entrusting some really, really great people in my new world. I’m encountering people who are flies in my soup too…but I don’t care. This is not my first trip on the pumpkin wagon and I know to be careful to trust only those who gain my confidence. I hope that I have the sense to pay that back.

I don’t know that I need to read up on what the other three prayers are that Anne Lamott mentions. Saying “okay God” is comfort enough for now….gotta start somewhere.

(The top photo is mine and is morning sun on the Mississippi River which is now a favorite water way, second only to the Ohio.)

Anne Lamott on Praying for Spiritual Signs

fallRecently I’ve been enjoying this song by Colbie Callait.

And, this morning I stumbled on an interesting Facebook Post from Anne Lamott. I think it fits with the month of remembrances and thanksgiving.

She wrote it on August 9, Just last summer.

I love the idea of God’s grace being available in an ATM.

Every morning these days, you have to ask yourself, What the hell IS it all about, Alfie? Or you pray for a sign that you absolutely cannot miss or misinterpret, the tiniest hint of direction and assurance.

Well? I got one.

It has been one of the worst week in years, and that’s saying something. You know exactly what I’m talking about, no matter how much you love your life and your pit crew; no matter how hard you strive to present a good face. It is so hard here. It’s like Old Yeller meets the Hunger Games; plus the parking is terrible.

Under the best circumstances, we are a nutty and sometimes violent species, on an extremely dangerous piece of land.

But one of the saddest things happened. We had to put my darling old dog Lily down. She died peacefully at home in my son Sam’s arms on Wednesday.

I think she was the closest I’ll come, on this side of eternity, to experiencing the direct love of the divine. You may know the feeling.

Through this love, Sam and I came through. We cried a lot, but agreed to let our hearts stay broken for a while, because that is how light, grace and healing can get in, through the armor.

The next morning, I took Lily’s beloved ne’er-do-well husband Bodhi for a walk. I adore him, but he has tiny mental issues, such as aggression, and having eaten entire chickens, and 24 muffins once. Then, too sad to stay at home without Lily, we went out for a bite.

After eating sandwiches in the car, we headed home. I was disoriented, and so far behind on my daily life, after a month of Lily in decline, that Sam frequently consults A Place for Mom online. But a block from home, I got that Holy Spirit nudge, a tug on my sleeve, which urged me, as it often does, “Stop.” It’s given up on nuance.

They say that when all else fails, follow instructions. The nudge on my heart said, “Go to your friend’s kid’s school.” So I said, “Okay,” the fourth great prayer.

My closest friend’s child, who has been through the ringer, the On Beyond Zebra ringer, starts kindergarten soon, but the friend has been on Total Fucking Overwhelm (TF0). She has not entirely gotten him enrolled, and the school’s website had conflicting info on how to do this. And, of course, no one is in the office, because it is August, which was one of the two biggest mistakes God made–August, and snakes. So we drove to the school.

There was one car in the parking lot and a woman climbing into it. Then some janitors ran into view and called to her–had she locked their lunches in the office? She had–Oops, to quote Rick Perry. So she got out, to unlock the office. I asked if I cd run along beside her, like a little dog, and ask a quick question. “Fire away!” she said. I told her about this boy, and asked all our main questions. She was so helpful. I thanked her, and asked if she worked in the office.

“Yes,” she said. “I’m the new principal.”

Of course she was the new principal, because God is such a show-off. Call this energy the Divine It, or Ed. Whatever works.

“Wow,” I said, bowing my head.

“Look,” she continued, “the easiest thing is probably for me to just give your friend my cell phone number.”

I said, “Okay,” on the verge of laughter and tears. “Thank you.”

Bodhi and I went home and called our friend. “You better sit down,” I told the mom. “I think we got some kind of Inbreaking.”

I told the mom my story, about how we’d somehow ended up at the Grace ATM, and how holy spirit had saved the day.

“Yeah,” she agreed. “Or Lily.”

I gave her the new principal’s cell phone number. Then Bodhi and I went to read the new People, and took a nice morning nap, feeling a little bit better, which is a miracle.
from FB page Suspended Coffees

I Found Great Resources on Guilt vs. Shame

1003814_10151716954828810_922373667_n

This is my favorite photo of our dog Paul. Why? Because he is always in trouble, and when I took this he was apologizing.

I don’t remember why my phone was photo ready, but I am certain that he was raising some kind of doggie hell just before I tapped the picture button. The clovers that got stuck in his collar are the clue that he was up to no good in the yard. Right before I plunked into my reading chair to calm myself, I likely stepped onto the back porch and embarrassed my family

again

by forgetting that I live in a city now. Three years later, I sometimes still yell in my farm voice.

That look on the face of Paulie is his “apology face” and it works, of course, every time. He doesn’t try to convince me that he will never do IT again. Our other dog. Lennon Francis (Lenny) cowers, and hides and shivers when he is in trouble until the issue passes. His way of apologizing is to drop a ball or chewed up play toy at me feet and then step back and sit down. It’s like he’s saying, “seriously mom, we both need a round of fetch to resolve this tension.”

Paul McCartney on the other hand, manages to make me stop shaming him by insisting that I NEED him, and I need him right now! Right here. On my lap, in my arms, or his favorite – like an infant resting his head on my shoulder.

Isn’t shame an interesting topic?

If  you don’t agree, you should.

JeezlePete. I did it again. Shame on me.

I have had some really great things happen this summer, but right now near the top of the list is reconnecting with my friend Therese Borchard. She is so funny. We hadn’t had a private chat online in a long while and for some reason time alllowed for that to happen more than once over this school break.

It’s interesting – she and I share a birthday and when we lose touch and reconnect a little bit, it’s pretty common that similar things are on our minds. I really appreciate that she passed on some facinating resources in between our twisted and humorous conversations.

I’ve mentioned here a couple of times, I think, that last year I started my studies to become an Educational Sign Language Interpreter. Well, this year I am able to move ahead with three classes and I am so excited. The frustrating and disappointing thing is that I had to turn down a great offer to continue working at the school I enjoyed so much last year. My classes will be during the day.

Backer to my writer friend Therese: here’s the short version of what we are connecting about right now and are both sort of, well, tearfully even, thankful about: we are a little bit stuck on the topic of shame and redemption.

I know. Strange. Isn’t it? I envy the the people that start their break with plans to be light hearted and and keep up with that commitment.

I promise that I started the summer with three goals: lose twenty pounds, create a kitchen that looks like this:

long range kitchen color planand stop obsessing about the topic of shame.

I did clean out the cabinets, and I am still obsessed about the topics of shame and redemption – but it is in a super charged and good way now!

Through conversation with my college roomate and writer friend, along with gathering some books, I sort of clarified why I was so angry during that first year and a half back in the work world. I had taken a much longer than I should have sebatical.

I’m not the only on that was, and still is enraged about the Sandy Hook massacre. But, for me, the impact was to realize that realistically, people my age don’t have forever to enjoy their careers. Maybe that’s why it is common to start one, or restart one at age 50 – which is what I’m doing.

And pardon my french, but I am thouroughly pissed at what the world has become while I was home loading the wood stove and packing the moving boxes and discovering the great Mississipi river.

Thank God I re-stumbled onto to my mental health and spirituatlity writer friend and now have some resources to try and understand and cope with how obessesd society has become with shaming and blaming each other. The first thing I learned is that what is most destructive, is that we, America espeically, are keeping our worries and secrets private and losing our sense of place and self.

How in the world did this happen? Is it because of social networking? Global warming? The Berlin Wall? The death of Fred Rogers?

I don’t know – but it was a huge shock to me when returning to the classroom and teacher lounge after a fiver year or so break,

yet, I have never been so thankful for work in my life.

My confidence is slowly regaining it’s speed and my faith life has taken off again. My family of course means the most to me, but I am also the one who was lucky enough to hold a hungry first grader who was throwing a crying fit about sounding out a WHOLE page of reading After I convinced him that sitting in the hallway with me is the most boring idea ever and that carpet time is the Bees Knees, I ended up being the lucky one. I get to remember that In grade one my belly was always full enough and I spent hours watching Fred from Dad’s lap. And while I sorely miss to my sons…those were good days indeed.

But you know what? The world has gone mad.

 

We are shaming this fantastically charming little generation of readers in epic proportion and I will not put up with it another minute.

Someone, somehow, somewhere – decided that name calling is no big deal.

Well, guess what.

It is. And the last thing that these teachers and students need, in the face of gun violence and hatred, is more wasted time on tattling and idioticTom Foolery.

20131013-085338.jpg

 

 

If you are feeling frustrated on similar topics here is a video, and here is a **killer good** article, and here is a song. Each of them have helped to calm me down while I try to sort all of this out.

By the way – isn’t that tin of buttons that my friend Marti made the coolest rainbow you have seen since yesterday?

I do like buttons.

 

Mary Oliver: Wild Geese

 

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

~ Mary Oliver

More on Thorton Wilder and Self Appointed Sins

imageI know nothing,

except what everyone knows –

if there when Grace dances,

I should dance. ~ W.H. Auden

(image above from This Quiet Lady by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrations by Anita Lobel)

Spoiler alert #1: This post is initially about sad stuff.
Spoiler alert #2: Life is being particularly good to me right now, so I’m not sitting down in order to write a “dark night of the soul” blog post.

So, here it is.

I have a friend who is dying of brain cancer.

She is a college friend with whom I’ve kept up only a little bit over the years. Originally, our acquaintance was that we shared a best friend and became housemates at the busiest (and best!) part of my favorite. four years. ever.

Without searching messages, I have to guess that it was a year (or less) ago that this common best friend had to notify me that a grim diagnosis had been given to our former housemate. The news really came out of the blue. Her story is similar to others who have been touched by this shocking form of cancer. Our friend had a headache one day, and a few short months later she is now home saying her last goodbyes to her children and adored husband.

So, when I sat down to write last week, and was imagining K.’s children spending their summer break watching her pass on, Thorton Wilder quotes were a kind of obvious (to me anyway) place of comfort and wisdom for me.

It’s safe to assume that if you are an American following or stopping by my little blog you have seen Thorton’s play Our Town. It is a favorite of High School and Community theaters for a reason.

It has the best theater lines, ever.

I mean – ever.

I am biased and my reasons are of course personal, but I mean it.

I would offer to turn this post into a place of debate or discussion, but I hate debate and my opinion is not up for ransom or reason. I’m not a jerk though, so feel free to leave comments as I am on summer break (wiggles in her seat) and have time for lively discussion.

So.

The conversations between Emily and The Stage Manager (the lead characters of the show) contain the safest and best theater words for me because they remind me of the enchanted parts of my childhood.  My father was an actor, director and teacher and I was his shadow. Literally. As in, Dad couldn’t shake me from his side until my brother broke the rules and taught me how to cross the street alone. At this point I started wandering the streets of our little city and making friends my own age.

So, lucky I am indeed to have shared the stage with my father on the weekend that he retired from his favorite stage. Mind you, these are floorboards that he spent the most time on as a student, theatre professional, husband, and father. He turned 80 this year, so I would guess that time span to be something like 50 or 60 years, give or take a summer season elsewhere here and there.

We were part of a medley of theater scenes during a reunion show, and part of our daughter/father “I love you” ‘s were exchanged in the form of my playing Emily and he the Stage Manager in Wilder’s tender “Good-bye Scene.”

But still – had I been raised by a biologist and my best skill set turned out to be bee-keeping, I would still believe that (with due respect to the Shakespeare) Emily’s good-bye is the most relatable “to be or not to be” string of words out there.

All good theater is good because the script is about life, death, love and hate. Most likely, the writer created an entertaining time travel to all four corners of human experience and wrapped the story up with a bow at the end.

Even good existential shows wrap up at the end – it’s just a tricky “un-bow” kind of curtain call.

What makes the pleading questions that Emily asks of the Stage Manager so perfect is that the joy and pain that she describes can’t be contained by cultural and historical context. Of course her character works well for me because I am a white girl having been raised by a mid-western father, so a white picket fence story is what I know and the life I cherish.

But, context aside, in Our Town, when the character Emily is looking at her life, and struggling with having passed on as a very young woman, her self-doubt and guilt is not about whether or not she raised good children or was a faithful wife.

And. Her anger at the Stage Manager is not that she died young.

She is upset because she missed out. She failed to acknowledge grace as often as she could.

 

And, with the help of the Stage Manager, her self-appointed sins are absolved as he explains that:

she did what she could, with what she had, in the time that she had to do it.395895_10150596300328810_837678809_8894478_1239777666_n

 

All of which to say, I am VERY thankful for an open window this morning, time to reflect and am reminded to not try so hard.

Found a quote about Fortitude

asl love hands

(artist and source on the internet unknown. Please leave a comment with information if you know who did this awesome work.)

I just came back from breakfast with a new friend.

I am so thankful to be settling in even further into our new community.

We mostly talked about trying to get into shape so that we can enjoy our respective jobs for as long as possible. Somehow the topic of forgiveness came up though, and I just now found this quote that I had jotted in my “get healthy” journal:

“You will always be
the bread
and

the knife,

not to mention the crystal

and-

somehow-

the wine.”

(by poet Billy Collins.

I made the line breaks up myself – something that is a big no, no in the world of poetry…but in the interest of time…there you go.

p.s. I think when I did research on the poem a while ago I found out that he wrote it either because of a painful divorce, or to make fun of sappy break up poetry that is not good literature. I can’t remember which and my son is currently banging a basketball against the wall, so I’d better not dilly dally at the keyboard.

Why Mr. Collins wrote it and what it meant to him at the time does matter… but I like it today because it reminds me of communion and Catholic prayers about the Communion of the Saints.

And I like cheese, and I like wine.)