Thursday, August 30, 2012

Be Careful What You Wish For

So the day has finally arrived:  WG is in her first full week back at school (she started last Thursday) and LG started Middle School today.  For the last couple of months I've been looking forward to today, when both kids are back in school for a full day.
So why was I crying walking home from dropping LG off?
I didn't sleep well last night.  When I did sleep, I had anxiety dreams.
Surprise, surprise.
The middle school is HUGE, and there are SO MANY kids, and they're SO BIG!!!!!! And since the move, whenever I leave, LG gets anxious, asking after me and sometimes crying until I get home.  He seemed fine when I left his classroom this morning.  I hope he stayed that way (I'll find out in about 90 minutes).  If he didn't, he'll be fine in a couple of days, once he gets into the routine.  But he WAS excited last night:  He kept saying "Sleep, wake up, school!"
After I walked home I got into the car and left to run some errands.  I went to the grocery store for the first time by myself in 6 weeks.  I sat in a coffee shop.  I kept reminding myself that there was no rush to be anywhere, and it felt...odd.  I'm sitting here now trying to relax, but it feels strange to not be checking on the kids every 10 minutes, or herding them into the car, or taking them to the park.
And I have this constant, fairly high-level hum of anxiety.  Which I imagine will stay with me until I pick him up.

And WG doesn't get home now until 4:00!
They're growing up, and I'm not sure I like it!

Yesterday I was thinking (yet again!) about what I've been doing with my life.  We met up with some friends who are in town with the national touring production of "War Horse" (we're seeing it tomorrow).  They mentioned auditioning for the Broadway production, and we talked about our friends who are writing for HBO and the networks, have TV series they created coming in the Fall, and plays they've written being produced on Broadway.
To be honest, I was feeling a bit of a failure.  Granted, many of these friends don't have kids, and the ones who do don't have kids with special needs. This morning it occurred to me that, while I may never be a Broadway actor or playwright, I have two great kids with a lot of challenges who are thriving. And I'm so proud of them I'm surprised I don't burst from it.  And our friends who don't have kids tell me they're jealous of me, as well.  Because sometimes it's just not possible to have it all.

Earlier this morning I accepted 2 jobs that were offered to me last week.  I'm going to help one company develop a theater curriculum for public school kids who have Autism, and I'll be the "head teacher" for the SF Shakespeare Festival's Midnight Shakespeare program in San Jose, which brings Shakespeare to elementary and middle school kids. It's a program I taught  in the City 12 years ago, and it's terrific.  The now-head of the program is a woman I know from 20 years ago at Shakespeare & Company.  We met up again at the workshop in March.
Kismet?  I'd like to think so.  20 years and 3,000 miles has to be more than coincidence.

So it may not be Broadway, but it's something that, hopefully, will make a difference.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sometimes You Just Need a Good Cry

Ever since my kids came along I have become something of a leaky faucet.  During my pregnancies I would cry at things like "Emergency Vets" on Animal Planet, I now cry at...well, whatever strikes my fancy.
Some of them make sense: Sad movies, sweet things my kids do, stuff like that.  Sometimes I'll cry even just THINKING about these things.
But other times I'll tear up for no apparent reason whatsoever. And I finally realized that it's OK.  Sometimes a body just needs to shed a few tears.
Sometimes, too, you need a good belly laugh, which is why I'm re-reading, for the umpteenth time, "The Long, Dark Teatime of the Soul" by Douglas Adams.  It's tinged with a bit of sadness, however, as Mr. Adams departed this plane in 2001, at the age of 49 (6 years older than I am now!), leaving behind a wife and a young daughter.  I think we could really use his perspective today.  And, on a personal note, when this book came out I went to a signing he did in NYC, but was too nervous to say anything beyond "Hi" and "Thank you."  I wish I'd told him how much I loved his writing, how much it inspired me, and so many other things. As I walked out that day, I told myself that NEXT TIME I would tell him.
Except there was no next time.

I've since been to other book signings.  I make it a point to tell the authors, briefly, how much I enjoy their work.  I don't want to make a pest of myself, but I think we all like to hear when something we've worked hard on has affected another person in a positive way.  Whatever it is.

When I was 15 I went to see a show with a great cast that included Jeremy Brett, he of "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" fame.  Afterwards I waited by the stage door to get his autograph.  He appeared and was immediately surrounded, so I waited my turn.  When it came, I said, very softly, "I loved you as Sherlock Holmes."  He smiled, thanked me, and signed my program.  Before turning away he looked right at me again, gave me another smile, and squeezed my shoulder.
And I drifted away on a moonbeam, having a very Marsha-Brady-"I'll-never-wash-this-shoulder-again" moment. My dad (who'd witnessed the whole thing, along with my mom) said "I think he really appreciated what you said."
I think so, too.  But even more, I think he recognized a shy, slightly terrified 15 year-old girl who'd dressed up for the occasion and was working up the courage to talk to someone she admired. And he treated her with great kindness.  And I will always remember and appreciate THAT.

Mr. Brett passed away in 1995.  (And before you start thinking that I'm somehow cursing the celebrities I meet, I'll have you know I've met plenty of famous folks who are not only still alive, but have reached a ripe old age, thankyouverymuch!:)) So I'm glad I got to meet him and tell him.

I think all of our interactions affect our lives.  Some in a big way, some in tiny ways. There are people without whom I don't even want to think about living.  Others I could probably gladly do without.  But they're all there for a reason.  Just as I'm in their lives for a reason.

As Dirk Gently would say, it is "The interconnectedness of all things."


Sunday, August 5, 2012

We're on Mars!!!!!

Just spent the last couple of hours watching the live coverage of the Curiosity Landing from JPL.  When we lived in our last place in L.A., we were about 5 minutes from JPL, and a number of our neighbors worked there. I'm sure many of them worked on this rover.
I have to admit that when they said "Touchdown confirmed," I started to cry a bit.
OK, a LOT.
When I was a kid I was fascinated with astronomy.  I wanted to be an astronaut until I was about 20, even as I was a theater major in college.  :) When I was slightly older, I kept a photo of the earth as seen from space on my wall, wherever I lived.   Of course, I stink at both math and science, so becoming an astronaut wasn't in the cards. But watching tonight, and thinking about all the years of work put in to the rover, and watching them sit through the "7 minutes of  Terror" between entering the atmosphere and the landing, it was impossible not to be moved by the successful landing and the almost-immediate first images that came through.  Especially the one of Curiosity's shadow.  On the surface of MARS!  Where it's late afternoon.
On MARS!!!!!!!!

Kinda puts things into perspective.
I just hope we keep progressing, encouraging our scientists.  It's kind of heartening that the NASA and JPL websites crashed because so many people were trying to log on. I heard a scientist say yesterday that it's a difficult time for science in the U.S. right now.  Hopefully this will help turn that around.

I'm of the opinion that scientists are our heroes.  It's not just about the big moments like landing on MARS(!!!!!!!!!), but the everyday science, as well.  My dad was on an experimental cancer treatment that gave him 2 more years of life. It's about electricity, and gravity, and driving a car or taking a train.  It's about my kids playing on a brand-new playground.
If you haven't seen it, go on YouTube and watch "Hawking."  It's a TV film from '04 about Stephen Hawking's days at university and his attempts to prove the existence of the Big Bang.   It has brilliant performances, but also explains the science in a way that even I can understand, lol!  There's a parallel plot that doesn't seem to make sense, until you get to the very end, and then your jaw drops.
Unless, of course, you've read your history/astronomy and already know about it.

Many years ago I read a book called "Einstein's Dreams."  It's a novel by Alan Lightman, who teaches at M.I.T., about the dreams that (in the book, anyway) led to Einstein's discovery of the Theory of Relativity. Shortly after, I saw a play called "Picasso at the Lapin Agile," which was written by Steve Martin and imagines a meeting between Picasso and Einstein.  They compare art and science, and talk about the parallels.
I believe there are many.  Artists are dreamers, but so are scientists, right?  Who else could imagine a way to get us to Mars? Who else looks at the world and wonders why it works the way it does?  Why does an apple fall DOWN from a tree? Are we the center of the universe, or just a teeny-tiny fraction of it? And is it possible to have indoor plumbing?  (Yes, and THANK YOU!!!!)

The director of  JPL just said this will "make the world better."  That's what science does. It's also what art does.
I may not have a brain for science, but, after many years of denial, I AM proud to be an artist.  And yes, I call myself an artist again.

As you can probably tell, I'm on a bit of a high.  :)  Gonna go watch the press conference.
Go Curiosity!