I’m Awake Now

When the term “white privilege” first was being tossed around, I found it offensive. What do you mean I’m privileged? I was barely making ends meet. I didn’t understand why I was lumped into this group.

Though it’s a little late in the day, I’m awake now. I now understand that it’s a reality. And I’m embarrassed. I’m embarrassed because I took it for granted that everyone has the same experience in life as me (in the most general sense of that statement). I really didn’t get it but I have a much better understanding now.

I accept that there is white privilege. I acknowledge that I have benefited because of white privilege.

The other day I was riding in the car of a friend of mine who is a POC. We were driving through Philadelphia. A police car pulled into the lane we were in, directly behind us. My friend made the off-hand remark “please don’t mess with me today.” I asked who he was referring to and he said the police officer who was now driving behind us. I joked “well he won’t because you have 2 white people in the car with you.” My friend chuckled, but it was sad and angering that it was even an issue. He took it as par for the course.

The events in Charlottesville were occurring while we were in Philadelphia at a sporting event. I was not home watching the news. The only information I had was what was showing up on Facebook and Twitter on my phone. It wasn’t until the next day that I really saw the news footage. It’s taken me a few days to fully grasp what all went down in Virginia. I think part of that was because I couldn’t fathom this much hate.

All of the social media discussion, news reports, the VICE footage, and the comments from POTUS have been overwhelming and horrific. This event has brought to light the blatant racism and bigotry of the administration in the White House. It has shown that people are willing to make excuses for the NAZIS/KKK/white nationalists/white supremacists but will vilify those protesting the hate.

I am stating here and now I cannot and will not keep someone in my life if they align themselves with NAZIS. I cannot and will not defend hate. There were not “very fine people” among the NAZIS who were protesting in Virginia. They are vile people who want to annihilate anyone not like themselves. There was a World War to combat this type of hate. I will not allow history to repeat itself.

Trump has straight out supported NAZIS, KKK and White Nationalists (supremacists) on National television and on social media. This is not acceptable nor should it be tolerated. The Joint Chiefs have come out condemning the KKK, NAZIS, White Nationalists, Skinheads and White Supremacists. They did what our President won’t. Thank God we have a military who knows right from wrong. Our President feels the NAZIS have been treated “absolutely unfairly” by the press. And the press are “very bad people” for condemning the hate groups. Trump is a racist and he and his cronies will come after every one of us given enough time.

I understand that there are a number of people I have been friends with and even some of my relatives who support Trump 100%. I do not understand how you can support a hateful racist who will destroy everything we hold dear in our lives. I cannot stand beside you or defend you anymore. There is not defense for hate.

LOVE must ALWAYS beat hate!

 

Looking Toward The Theatrical Future

In 12 days I get back into the whirlwind of auditions, rehearsals, set build, performances and set strike and I can’t wait! If I could move up the auditions a week I would as I am that pumped to get started!

audition comic - pinterest
source: pinterest.com

The audition process is an interesting beast. For the actors it is pure stress. For the director it is the first step to realizing their vision for the production, so in other words – stressful. This fall I will be directing both the fall play for Reedy Point Players and a murder mystery at the Judge Morris Estate in Newark, DE. The play Dracula in Love is a comedy and the murder mystery can be comedic. Given this genre, I’m looking for people who either have decent comedic timing out the gate or can be trained to have such during the rehearsal process. In the case of those auditioning for the murder mystery, those auditioning need to be able to handle improvisation – quickly thinking on their feet while staying in character.

community theatre perspectives - pinterest
source: pinterest.com

As a director, I have the weight of making a show a success – financial and artistically. When directing a show that is not well known, it makes this a bit more of a challenge. There are a million decisions to be made, from the big (set design, actors, lighting, costumes) to the small (hairstyles, props, seating, etc.). The best thing I have going for me is an awesome Tech Director and an enthusiastic Stage Manager. That and a lot of drive to make these shows fun, entertaining and successful.

stage
source: unknown

Rehearsals can be exhausting, time consuming, frustrating, stressful, and miraculous. During the rehearsal process I watch my vision become a staged reality. I guide the first time actor to emerge from their cocoon. I watch the seasoned actor bring depth to their character. I direct the actors to make the scenes believable for the audience. I work with the stage manager to have all transitions and prop changes to seem seamless. I collaborate with the tech director on getting the lighting and sounds to evoke the emotions and atmosphere I am striving for on stage. It’s a process and it is an art unto itself.

Then there’s tech week. Otherwise known as hell week, the end of humanity, the week of no sleep and much caffeine…you get the picture. Every director will give the countdown (not that it didn’t happen during rehearsals, but now it’s through gritted teeth or screeched at a high volume) until opening night in case everyone forgot. And every director will be seriously worried that the show will be a disaster because it just doesn’t seem to be coming together. An actor will completely forget lines. The stage manager will be threatening everyone’s life because props were not put back in their place. The tech director will be making repairs to lights and cursing the actors and director for existing. There will be yelling, crying, laughter and more caffeine, sugar and carbs consumed than you can imagine.

Finally, it’s opening night. For me, I’ll have two this fall – 2 weekends in a row. Everything we’ve been working towards comes down to this moment. As a director, I sit in the back of the auditorium (or in our case gymatorium) critiquing everything. I pay attention to where the audience reacts and how they react. Did they laugh at the jokes? Did they gasp at the shocking turn of events playing out on stage? And I take notes… can’t hear actor very well … other actor missed their lines… can see that actor waiting in the wings…that actor nailed the scene they struggled with for so long…the audience liked it.

When it comes right down to it, it’s an adrenaline rush from start to finish. It’s a dance. It is emotional and chaotic. It is fulfilling and exhausting. And most importantly, it is art. This is why I am so pumped up to get started. I want to feel that rush, and be a part of the process. What a blessing theater is to me and to this world.

What Makes Life Worth Living?

The title may sound overly dramatic, but this topic recently popped up on my Facebook feed and I thought it was worth thinking about for me. So I’ve come up with a working list of things that keep me going when life is difficult to handle – in no particular order. (Disclaimer – this is not a complete list – it’s a “working list” as it will always change and grow.)

  • My family – all of them, even the ones I don’t speak to hardly ever – we’re the functional dysfunctional family and I love them all.
  • My dogs – they make the sun shine on the cloudiest of days.
  • My friends – the ones who have been by my side in good times and bad – you are golden.
  • Books – after the first three, this may sound odd, but if you know me you know they mean so very much. They’ve helped me combat depression and loneliness.
  • Theater – where else can you be a complete drama queen and no one bats an eye?!?
  • My job – this job is the best one I have ever had – low stress (overall), wonderful boss/colleagues, and a beautiful environment. Who can ask for anything more?
  • Working out – I’m so glad I’m back at the gym regularly!
  • Good food – again, anyone who knows me know this is important to me!
  • Flowers – happiness in a plant!
  • Music – it’s the soundtrack of my life.
  • Game night – a fun time to have with family and friends!
  • Cards Against Humanity – this game has made me laugh more than any other!
  • Learning – I enjoy learning new things – which happens every day.
  • My health – it’s getting better, which is wonderful!
  • Memories – good and not so good – they remind me of lessons learned and the good things that I’ve had in my life.
  • Our new car – Oh how I’ve been wanting you for quite a while!
  • Rubber Ducks – they just make me smile!
  • Rainy days – the type of day that makes you want to snuggle in with a good book.
  • Snow – I know it’s not popular with many, but I love the first snowfall and seeing a blanket of fluffy white covering everything.
  • Fire – as in a fire in a fire pit or fireplace. Again – comforting.
  • Grilled cheese – one of the best comfort foods ever.
  • Potatoes – most versatile produce in the world. I could eat it with every meal and be happy.
  • Sunshine – nothing like a sunny day to brighten my mood.
  • The Beach – I love almost everything about it.
  • Technology – it makes life better.

Okay, that’s it for today. I could go on forever but then I wouldn’t get anything else done!

What are some of yours?

Bullying – Now A Prime Time Sport?

 

 

Big-Brother
source: archbishopryanreview.com

 

 

A friend of mine recently posted a blog regarding the blatant bullying that has been on display in the reality show, Big Brother 19. I have posted commentary on Facebook regarding the bullying they’ve been showing and the complacency of the producers to allow such bullying. And though Big Brother 19 is the worst I’ve seen, bullying on reality shows isn’t anything new. Watch a Real Housewives season (any location) and I will put money on it that someone will act like a bully to someone else.

So why is it so much worse on Big Brother 19? I would say because it’s many people participating in the bullying or are encouraging the behavior. There are a few that are watching and doing nothing to stop it. The bullying is against two people who started out as the bullies in the house with their mean girl/boy attitudes. Now they’re the targets.

Some might say this is karma coming at them for their bad behavior at the beginning of the season. As bad as they were, they weren’t to this degree. Personally, if I was in that house, I would have gone to the producers and complained about it. But alas, that has not happened and the bullying continues.

 

rhonj2006
source: Hulu.com (2006 season image)

 

As I said, bullying in reality TV is nothing new. It seems we tune in to watch people be awful to each other on reality shows. Who can forget the table flipping antics of Teresa Guidice on Real Housewives of New Jersey? My husband watched some of that particular show with me one afternoon (I’m sure he forever regrets it too). He couldn’t believe how petty, bitchy and just plain mean the women were to each other. Hubby accompanied me to meet one of the housewives and her husband later that day at a local store. He asked the TV husband how he puts up with it. The TV husband just shook his head and said he has no idea.

survivor-logo.jpg
source: planetbuff.com

Then you have shows like Survivor who are a competition type but in extreme conditions. The bullying is not as obvious as in Big Brother, but it still exists. People create alliances and alienate and harass those who aren’t as strong/capable. It’s a jungle out there according to the players.

So are reality shows just a microscope on humanity? There’s good and there’s bad in life and when it’s put under a lens does it intensify? Is bullying an acceptable norm in the world? Our country elected one of the biggest reality TV bullies to be President. What does that say about us?

 

City Living Is Not All It’s Supposed to Be

I live in the city of Wilmington. That’s probably where things went wrong right from the get-go. I will admit that some of the outskirts of Wilmington are nice, but within the city limits is another thing. Let’s start with the violence:

Incidents by year (Latest incident: Jul. 30, 2017)

Annual Total  Year-to-date (Jan. 01 – Aug. 01)
Year Incidents Homicide incidents Victims Killed Incidents Homicide incidents Victims Killed
2017 109 20 129 21 109 20 129 21
2016 127 21 145 21 80 16 91 16
2015 131 26 151 26 64 16 71 16
2014 114 23 124 23 54 14 56 14
2013 127 16 154 18 76 8 92 9
2012 96 23 118 25 63 16 77 18
2011 88 21 95 22 50 12 56 12

Source: http://data.delawareonline.com/webapps/crime/ – accessed August 1, 2017.

If those statistics aren’t enough to give you an idea how bad it is in Wilmington, the fact that these are only the shootings should give you a good idea. Where we live in Wilmington, there have been 6 shootings within a 2 block radius of our house since January 1, 2017. I try not to be outside much near my house. I love being able to sit outside and enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning or read a book. I can’t do that where we live.

As in most cities, there are primarily row homes (now called “townhouses” – it’s a fancy name for a row home in the city to garner a higher rent). My husband and I, unfortunately, live in a row home. The problem with living in any type of attached dwelling (apartment, row home, townhouse, condo) is dealing with neighbors.

The typical issues that don’t bother me much are noise and such. I can deal with it as long as it’s not obnoxious and completely intrusive on my living space. The other issue is that people down the row smoke weed out on their porch…a lot. It smells like rotten skunk weed. We cannot open our front windows because it comes in the house. We get assaulted with the stench every time we walk out our door. It’s disgusting and we shouldn’t be subjected to it. It’s still illegal in Delaware but they blaze up in front of the police with no repercussions.

The last issue is vermin. Specifically, bugs that abandon one house when they bomb and enter another. Yes, this has happened and luckily we have a wonderful landlord who took care of the unfortunate situation quickly. It is this last issue that is driving us to move out as soon as possible. Our lease is up the end of October so hopefully, we can purchase a home and be out by the end of this year. We’ll move on Christmas Day if necessary.

Update: After I wrote this blog and before I posted, another shooting happened. This one about 1.5 blocks away by our laundromat. If we had been driving home from a different direction, we could have driven through the gunfire. It’s terrifying. I fear for us all living here and no longer ask anyone to come over to visit. I feel like our house is a prison because we could be hit by a stray bullet any time we step out of the door. It’s an awful way to live.

Picture source: margiewell.com; Feature image source: wrbl.com

 

 

Long time…no blog…

Okay, I know I’ve been awfully quiet on the blog-front for a few months now. Partly that had to do with life getting chaotic. Another part had to do with health. And another part was I didn’t know what I wanted to talk about.

Let’s start with the chaos from early Spring. I had 3 minor roles in the production Titanic: Tragedy & Trial, which took up the first half of Spring. Great production and I was proud of my performance in it. Reedy Point Players also hosted their first playwright competition – which was quite a success for an inaugural event. But the really craziness started…

with my health on May 19 at 4 am. I had a stroke one week to the day after I turned 48 years old and it turned out to be a blessing. Yes, you read that correctly, a blessing. You see I knew months prior that I was heading to having either a stroke or a heart attack and did NOTHING to avoid it from happening. I was smoking, eating poorly, not exercising and never finding a way to relax and decompress. So, at 48 years old I had a stroke. I was lucky because I had the stroke in the ER of the local hospital as I was there for a complication from an EMG done the previous day. The doctors and nurses started medication and treatment as the stroke was occurring, literally. Because of their fast reactions to what was happening I had minimal effects from the stroke. I was so incredibly scared and confused and upset as it was all happening. I still tear up thinking how truly blessed I am to be doing so well today.

I spent 5 days in the hospital and had about a month of Physical Therapy (outpatient). My job was beyond supportive and caring during my recovery. I am blessed in that regard too. I work with the best people who are very kind, caring, and loving people. I digress. Some after affects of the stroke were weakness on my left side (basically gone now), issues with stuttering (not as bad now, but still happens occasionally), extreme anger and lashing out (this has been remedied with a little help from a therapist), and some memory issues (still figuring out what’s gone for good). Overall, not bad.

The stroke proved to be a wake up call for me. A HUGE (or is that yuge? haha) wake up call. I stopped smoking immediately and haven’t had one since. I changed what I’m eating and how I’m eating, which has resulted in 14 pounds lost thus far (114 to go to get to my goal), and I work out regularly. I feel better than I have in a long time. I had to make some major lifestyle changes because I do not want to end up having another stroke or a heart attack. I have too much living to do.

That brings me to the last part – not knowing what I wanted to talk about. You see, the confused feeling stayed quite a while after the stroke. That influenced my desire to write. I couldn’t figure out which end was up half the time, so putting my thoughts into writing was way more than I could fathom. That seems to be have fixed itself too.

So, I’m back. I’m better than I was and I still have a long way to go. I’ll get there. Just wait for me.

Priorities

Prioritizing what is important in life is something we all do, either consciously or not. We do it in everyday decisions that reflect our priorities. Do we do what we promise we will? Do we check in with our family and friends? Do we do something for others? Do we focus on ourselves? How we respond to these questions gives us an idea of what our priorities in life may be. Of course, this is a quick list of questions that do not cover all things people may prioritize in their lives.

priorities-quote-about-family-2-picture-quote-1I was taught at a young age to know my priorities. Number 1 priority is family. My father, especially, repeated that to my brother and I our entire lives. He and my mother live(d) it and my childhood and through adulthood, it has been evident. My parents have always been there for us and for our extended family. I’ve not taken it for granted.

Priorities in OrderA common situation in which prioritization takes precedence is at work. We prioritize what needs to be done first versus what can wait a bit to be done. We prioritize who we respond tAs I said previously, what your priorities are says something about who you are and what is important to you. For almost everyone I know, their family and friends top that list of priorities. Typically, the second highest priority is our careers or supporting our families. Next may be taking care of others. Some would argue that we should prioritize ourselves over everything else. And that’s okay too, as long as you remember that without family and friends, who will be there to cheer you on through the good times and the bad?o first and who can wait for a response. We prioritize our goals at work.

get priorities straightPriorities also come into play with political agendas. Take what is going on currently. Our president has prioritized building a wall over meals on wheels for the elderly and poor. He has prioritized this wall over social security, which takes care of the elderly and disabled. He has prioritized “getting rid of those not like us” that is reminiscent of another dictator over the National Endowment for the Arts. In my opinion, the president’s priorities are not in the right order. But some may feel that taking care of our elderly, our disabled, our poor and the arts are a lower priority than building a wall to “keep out the criminals.” I hope those same people re-examine their priorities as one day they will be elderly, they may end up poor, and they could possibly become disabled. And one day they may wonder why there’s no longer a wonderful show called Sesame Street for their grandchildren to watch.

A government’s main priorities should be its family. A government’s family includes ALL of its constituents. Those people include the elderly, the disabled and the poor. When a government stops prioritizing the people it serves, it loses its focus. And as they said in Monuments Men, what are they fighting for if everything we create is gone? (I’m paraphrasing.)

The National Endowment for the Arts ensures that we have shows like Sesame Street. It provides funding for the plays our children have at school. It provides funding for community theaters. It provides funding for art schools to exist. These art schools are where people hone their artistic talent that entertains us and enriches our world. The National Endowment for the Arts provides scholarships for students. The NEA provides funding in so many aspects of our country’s daily life it would be an almost endless list.

new prioritiesSo, thanks to our president and his cronies, my priorities are shifting a bit. A new priority is to help fight their agenda tooth and nail. They will not take away from the poor, the elderly, the disabled. They will not take away the arts from my country. They will not make this a militarized zone where no one can think for themselves. They will not take away what makes this nation so great.

Good-things-happen-when-you-get-your-priorities-straight
Make it a priority to do something positive for those who are being tossed aside. Donate your money, your time, and/or your talents to organizations that help those people our leaders want to throw away. Support your extended family – your fellow citizens. Support the arts in your community. Prove to our leaders that making these things a priority will not take away from anything, but it will make us better for doing so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Musings and Observations

I’ve been taking a bit of a back seat lately regarding my activism and social media. It’s even been a while since I have posted a blog. Theatre business and rehearsals, work and errands have kept me too busy to focus on other things. Or so you would imagine.

Lately, I’ve been taking on an observer stance on a number of fronts. I will share some of my observations here, and some I will keep to myself.

  1. I honestly believe that the current administration is a bad reality TV show and we’re the unwilling/unwitting participants. I say this first and foremost due to what is going on with the EPA funding and the administration’s stance that climate change is not a reality. It’s 60°F outside – in early March – at 9:39 pm – in Delaware. It was around 70°F earlier today. Tomorrow it is forecasted to snow. That is not what the climate was like 10 years ago, never mind 20+ years ago. Climate change is SCIENTIFIC FACT that has been accepted worldwide. It is not some liberal conspiracy.
  2. I have noticed that people are more blatantly supporting local candidates strictly on political party and/or gender.  It seems the concept of researching all candidates to see which one is truly wanting to improve the local issues, no matter what political party or even what gender they are, is becoming passé. I have a hard time supporting a candidate blindly and refuse to do so.
  3. Women who have been doing an incredible job promoting and fighting for women’s rights can be downright rude and mean to other women. I have personally experienced another woman trying to shame me because I went to work on March 8. Actually, I saw a lot of women shaming others if they didn’t participate in the Women’s Strike. That’s not how it’s supposed to work. Women need to stop knocking each other down and be truly supportive of one another. How can we ask to be treated as equals by men, when our own sisters don’t treat each other as equals? Empowering each other by building up and supporting each other is how we rise.
  4. When given the opportunity, people will step up, volunteer, and make a difference. I’m not talking only about social issues, but within the theatre world, at my job, and in other situations. People want to feel needed and useful. Some of the best volunteers are our senior community. They have tons of experience and wonderful ideas. In addition, they typically have more time if they are retired.
  5. I need to always remember to let people know that I appreciate their help, advice, support and kindness. It feels good to let them know they’re appreciated and it feels good to hear it.
  6. I really miss having my dogs living with us. We’re unable to have them here for a few reasons and my best friend and her family are caring for them until our living situation changes. As much as I am glad they are loved and well taken care of, I miss them terribly and want to have them living with us again. There’s nothing like snuggling up with my pups, being greeted by wiggling pups who act like you’re the best thing ever, getting dog hugs and just feeling the comfort of having my dogs nearby.
  7. Wilmington, Delaware is incredibly riddled with crime. The 12th homicide happened last night in the section I live. Luckily is was several blocks away. We just have drug dealers, prostitutes and other crimes being committed on my block. (One of the several reasons my dogs don’t live with us.) I know a lot of people that try to say it’s not that bad. Yes, yes it is. I have a panic button at my job – at a church. How sad is that?
  8. I love my theatre involvement. I adore my theatre family. I feel truly blessed having Reedy Point Players and all of the people I’ve met through my involvement with them in my life. It is a lot of work at times, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’m enjoying having the opportunity to be on stage in the upcoming production of Titanic: Tragedy & Trial. I’m excited for their upcoming Playwrighting Competition. And I’m looking forward to directing again in the fall.

So there are some of the observations and musings I’ve had lately. Take them for what they are – random thoughts. Now to go quiet my head listening to YouTube white noise video of an epic thunderstorm.

Feeling Happy…

Life these days has been hectic. All good types of hectic. Working full-time again is a great. Theater activity is high, which is wonderful for my creative side. Activism has been put on the back burner a bit – well maybe more of a side burner. Blogging about life and such has been going swimmingly. We have a grandchild on the way, which is the best blessing of all. I can honestly say that I am feeling happy lately.

Feeling happy…not something I have felt much over the past year or so. Sure, I’ve had moments of happiness. But to feel happy more often than not is somewhat foreign to me. I have been diagnosed with depression in the not so distant past, along with anxiety. Both are still lurking, but happiness is what I am focusing on.

Happiness is a choice. People will argue that point, but from what I have seen and experienced in life, my statement is true. When we wake up in the morning we have a choice – we can look forward to the day ahead or be miserable that it exists.

During our bout of homelessness, it was certainly a challenge to feel happy about much of anything. Certainly I smiled and laughed a number of times during that period, but I didn’t feel it. I lived the old adage of fake it until you make it.

Putting on a facade of happiness when you feel anything but is draining physically and emotionally. I would be exhausted after putting on the mask of happiness for any extended length of time. I would bet that a lot of people would say the same.

People find it interesting to hear me say that I am an introvert. Introverts can be social, we just have to ensure we have time where we aren’t interacting with anyone too. So how can I say having a hectic life is good? Because I have my down time also.

Like tonight, I have things to work do for the theater, but it’s on my computer in my home. Finalizing a show’s program, preparing an agenda and other items for tomorrow night’s board/member meeting all can be done by myself at my computer. My alone time.

I have always enjoyed my own company. Give me a night or weekend by myself and I am a happy woman. I will read, write, play games on my computer, watch a little TV and probably bake something.I may not talk to another person the entire time and I am perfectly okay with that.

The only time that can be an issue is when my depression is in full swing. Then I overthink everything. It can also set off an anxiety attack. So I have to use my coping skills, and sometimes medication, to keep me from getting derailed.

Yet even when my depression is trying to take over, I try to find some bits of happiness. I will appreciate the weather, interacting with my dogs, reading a good book, enjoying a nice meal – well you get the idea. It’s the little things in life, as much if not more than the bigger things that can keep happiness your focus.

 

Oh My! I’m going to be a Grandmother!

Today my stepson’s fiance publicly announced that they’re expecting a bundle of joy in August. I’m going to be a grandmother at the age of 48. Holy cow!

Needless to say the first thing one does when we get this news is start looking at baby items online to buy. The other thing we do is figure out what we want the little one to call us. Grandma, Grandpa, MomMom, PopPop, Grammy, Grampy, etc. Then you have the more interesting names such as Glamma (popular with the reality TV set) and Goddess (one that is used by some celebrities).

I knew I didn’t want to be called MomMom or Grandma or Grammy. My husband knew right away he wanted to be called Pop. Not PopPop, just Pop. Okay, but what do I want to be called by my grandchildren? Enter Google search for grandparent names.

I checked out the traditional, the hipster (shudder), the non-traditional grandparent names. One name that stood out to me was under “traditional” for grandmothers – Nini. Interestingly, this is what I was called as a young child by family. How perfect is that?

So, Nini it will be. I can relate to it. I am comfortable with it. And I won’t sound old being called it. Also, it will be easy for the baby to say as he/she learns to talk.

Nini and Pop. I like it.Now the baby just has to arrive!