Friday, January 27, 2012

Stage Mother

Stage Mother has taken quite the hiatus. She believes it is time to indulge in the Diva. For a brief history of Time (meaning Scarlett's entire childhood), settle in and start here.

Scarlett has been busy.

She returned to her favorite theatre, Youth Performance Company -- the best thing going for young actors in Minnesota (maybe the U.S.) -- when they reprised this stellar show, with Scarlett in it.

The show was about bullying. The actors who perform it? All about love.

Love, community service, social justice through art, incredible theatre, = Youth Performance Company. It's like Buddha-God-Oprah-Allah-Universe spread the Magic Carpet and Scarlett strolled right on it.

Over the holiday season, Scarlett returned as the little match girl in The Match Girl's Gift. The show -- and the diva -- earned a nice review. Plus, another amazing group of people.

But forget nice. Scarlett's favorite roles appear to involve illness, trauma (Scarlett played young Clara), and onstage death.

The Matron's brother was coincidentally in St. Paul during The Match Girl's run. Naturally, he and Grandma Mary took in the show. Despite-- or perhaps because of -- Scarlett's dramatic collapse toward death, Grandma fell asleep. Twice.

Matron's Brother afterward: "How can you stand to see her suffer onstage like that?"

Matron: "That's nothing. You should see her at home with a head cold."

This fall, the family discovered that one of their own could shake and shimmy. Loves to dance on national TV.

One guess how the Matron's only daughter spent this very evening? At rehearsal for this upcoming show, followed by seeing a friend's play --as an audience member.

Weekly Conversation in the Matronly Home

Scarlett: "Here's the list of plays I need to see this week."

Matron: "Is there some kind of natural selection we can fall back on? Like budgeting?"

Scarlett: "But my friends are in these!"

John: "Is there a single play in the Twin Cities that doesn't have one of your friends in it?"

Scarlett: "Actually, no."

Ah, the wild thrills and prestige of Stage Mothering. These perks take place behind the wheel of a minivan and are: listening to All Things Considered on NPR, coffee and cookie while driving, slowing down when being tail-gated and fielding frantic calls from children left behind at home.

Merrick: "Is dinnew befowe ow aftew weheawsal tonight?"

Don't hate her for her glamorous life. It's actually very exciting to map out the daily driving. What ramp is closed?!! Who will cut her off!? Where is the traffic lighter! The Matron could probably mobilize and move a small army with her well-honed transportation skills.

But Scarlett? Ah, she's moving the world -- and her own beautiful, independent spirit. The Matron is happy to provide the ride. For the time being.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Opportunity, Knocking her Over and Out and Uncertain

Recently, Opportunity presented itself to the Matron in the form of a possible new job: Dean.

That's right folks. The Matron has been lost a little in a gridlock, a schemata, a spreadsheet of possibility.

Dean Matron. Dr. Dean Matron. Maybe someday PRESIDENT Dr. Dean Matron (she will never let go of a title).

These all have a lovely, nearly poetic ring. Makes her misty, just considering. And consider she has been, knowing not only that she has a real shot at this particular fiefdom.


As she drifted through her future, Reality -- a fast runner -- quickly caught up with Opportunity.

Yes, she'd make more money. She would converse, hourly, with like-minded people who also hold many academic degrees and know how to construct complex sentences, as opposed to teaching students HOW to construct sentences. And not complex ones.

She would be In Charge! A person of authority. The job? A stepping stone to higher administration . . .you see, she may very well enjoy being President or Queen of a College.


Instead of working 190 days a year, per current faculty contract, she'd be working year-round. All summer with two weeks of vacation like everybody else.

She'd be gone from 8-6, minimum.

There would be limited time for writing.

She would spend most of her intellectual energy working to benefit an institution.

Most of all -- she who goes to campus just two mornings a week - -would lose the hourly freedom that currently defines her life. She can log into her online class and teach until midnight, and spend the afternoon at the dog park if she chooses.

Okay, mostly she drives kids in the afternoons. But the dog park thing sounded a little more daring. But she volunteers in Merrick's classroom, tests new recipes in peace, strolls around the house ALONE for more than twenty minutes and can clean four closest in under an hour in the middle of the day. And read. Yes -- she often does work until midnight. But so far, she's been liking this groove of life.


The Matron made up her mind: she was not applying.

Until . . . a colleague or two called and urged her on. Go forward! Deanship be thine! Then, the competition began. So and So was applying?! Surely, the Matron had her beat! What! Colleague Q considering? A crisis, indeed.

Matron to John: "I should do it. X and B think I'd be great at it. I should."

John: "You have super soft skin and a great body. Will you get naked right now if I ask you?"

Between 9 am and 3 pm? Dream on, darling.

John: "Point made. Just because someone asks you to do something and you'd be good at it, doesn't mean you have to do it."


The Matron pondered that bit of wisdom. John asked again, just in case his theory could be disproved. Sorry again, honey.

Later, Merrick asked his mother what was on her mind.

Merrick: "Mom? Why awe you so sewious?"

Matron: "I'm thinking about applying for a new job. Dean. Dean of the college."

Merrick: "The king?"

Matron: "Sort of."

Merrick (overjoyed): "DO IT DO IT!"

Matron: "But I'd leave in the morning when you go to school and I wouldn't come home until dinner or maybe later."

Merrick: "Weally?"

Matron: "Yup. I'd make more money but the trade off is that I'll be gone."

Merrick: "Will they make you do it?"

Matron: "Nobody will make me. I could choose."

Merrick: "To be gone all day just to be boss of a whole bunch of people?"

When you put it that way, darling. . . . those men in her life? Pretty darn smart. But still. Opportunity has a way of seducing . . .


Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday, Meditation

Saturday morning, the Matron startled awake at 4:18 am, half an hour before her alarm.

Because in a fit of insanity, she signed up for a half day sesshin at her local Zen Center -- silent meditation from 6 am to noon.

At 4:25 she decided not to even attempt those extra 20 minutes of sleep. She was AWAKE. At 4:50 am, slurping down coffee and a muffin, she realized that she must immediately return to her warm, cozy bed and abandon this ridiculous idea of SIX hours of meditation. That whole 'awake' thing last just about long enough for food and coffee.

Friday, this conversation had ensued.

He Who Cannot Be Named (16 year old son HWCBN for new readers): "Mom? You're going to meditate for six hours?"

Matron: "Yup!"

HWCBN: "How long have you meditated at one shot before?"

Matron: "Forty minutes."


HWCBN: "Good luck with that."

This conversation replayed itself that bleak, black morning. Indeed, only pride propelled her forward. She had signed up, rallied the children, promised herself -- committed. The day was arranged around her absence. Merrick had hugged her good-night, all pluck and encouragement for her interior journey.

Merrick: "Mom? If you fall asleep and dwop over, twy not to get huwt."

Thanks, sweetheart.

And so from 6 am to noon, the Matron sat on a pillow. There was a small ceremony, a silent meditative breakfast, a highly anticipated bathroom break or two (bathroom! Like a party!). In sum, she sat just over four hours total.

That time--four hours, which would be 240 minutes?

Flew by.

Shockingly, for much of that time her mind held only a mantra -- a brief phrase and breath truly took hold. But for another slice of that time, her past -- images, scenes, conversations, bright lights of life frozen -- scrolled unbidden and uncontrolled across her defenseless psyche.

What a show!

It was . . . humbling.

Past humiliations arose. Moments of guilt. Vignettes of wrong-doing, mistakes made. A luminous moment or two, but mostly pain and sorrow finding a path they'd missed and making the most of it. The stories presenting themselves weren't the familiar crew, but a brand new bunch.

A little girl in plaid and braids, the adorable-as-all-get-out kind you see in picture books and movies -- already afraid.

Oddly, inexplicably, she didn't feel sad during this onslaught of imagery -- just a spectator. Inquisitive and open, as a forgotten past -- one largely constructed of minutiae, little things that don't seem to carry much weight -- moved toward her.

Oh -- and she's pretty sure she did doze off here and there. No worries, Merrick honey. She didn't drop over.

Today, she can't even remember exactly what happened or what secrets shook themselves out. Really. Four hours of this and she can barely remember what happened.

But she feels . . . better. Different. Something shifted during those quiet hours. She is not of the belief that life experience can be exorcised from the body or that catharsis is a cure. There is no remedy for what we take in because it is who we are. Consider just how much one person incorporates in a single day! From the moment we wake until sleep -- and maybe even then -- the brain never stops synthesizing detail after detail after drama and sight, sound and smell.

She imagines the brain packaging and storing the onslaught of input -- categorizing each second like a file to be plucked out again when needed. Imagine the expanse of this input! Wake, pull back covers, feel cool air, dog snout on leg, clock humming, cool wooden floor, crisp window -- this is just the first five seconds! Who among us can notice the crack and spit of every second?! Most of this we never even retrieve or when we do, it's like breath -- we don't even notice it.

But Saturday, she noticed her breath--and the shock of senses that came with it.

The funny thing is? All she feels is: better. And she didn't even know she felt bad.