Monday, April 6, 2009

Old Friends and New

A couple old friends stumbled across the blog last week, and they surprised me with pictures, and details of what they are up to. The first email came from Katie, a former student. Katie was one of those kids that just had a unique vibe about her. She was an explorer - open to whatever we had to offer, and she excelled. Katie was a musician, a writer, and a thespian. But, even bigger than that, Katie was insightful beyond her years, judicious in the people she allowed into her life, and amazingly tolerant, and even accepting, of those who did not share her views...and believe me, there were many. For a while, she found quiet space in my classroom before the first bell, to read from her Bible. Katie has finished college, had done a retail gig, worked in radio, and is currently in divinity school.

The second note actually came from Katie's mom, Judy. She read my post about the great bluebird hunt and shared the photo at the top with me. Her daughter Amy has a pooch, Olly, who is carrying on a love affair with the bluebird you see at the window. Each day, the bird flies head first into the window, before settling in to gaze into Olly's eyes for hours on end. What fun!

On the new friend front, this is Corrie, getting all gussied up for her role as Lily in Heart-A-Rama. She looks quite happy for someone about to be married to a frog, wouldn't you say? We have given Corrie the great HAR newcomer challenge - three skits in a row. That means casting all modesty aside and changing backstage amid mingling cast and crew. Now, don't go getting the idea that the scene-behinders look forward to these quick change shows. Seasoned cast think nothing of this exercise, throwing one costume off with reckless abandon. Some even relish the opportunity to be sans suit in order to cool off from the hot lights and on-stage anxiety, before suiting up for the next bit. But for a new person, there is sure to be trepidation. I hear that Corrie is hard at work building a personal, little dressing room that will fit snugly into a backstage corner, and serve as a quick change retreat! My guess is that the changes are so fast she will have people tugging at her clothes the minute she steps out of the light. This girls doesn't stand a chance of getting to use her little dressing room. Watch for her (in three in a row) and in the show finale. She sings, she dances, she acts up nicely, and has taken to our brand of wackiness quicker than anyone I can recall.
Each year, I have two simple goals for HAR: 1. to cast at least one new person in my skits, and 2. to get to know one cast member a little better. These perks are what it's about, that, and knowing that the group is doing so much good. After the show ends, after the sets are packed, after the bills are paid, we get to puff up and send lots of money to the American Heart Association - usually $100,000,00 or more. We have general ideas on how the money is used, but we seldom know, specifically, how our efforts have changed lives. Occassionally, someone will slip quietly into the dressing room, or seek out one of the event chairs to share a story of a surgery or other intervention that saved a life. We just never know, but that kind of not-knowing if OK.
We just never know how we fit into the picture others have been painting. Hearing from Katie and her mom was one of those feel-good things. In addition to sharing personal updates, they spoke a bit about my teaching days. Amid the day-to-day business of planning, deciding, teaching, organizing, grading, and the many other things a teacher does each day, you just don't have time to stop and ask if you are doing the most important job of all...inspiring! I would like to think that there were a few moments in my career when I did that.

But hey, Katie, if you're reading this, thanks for keeping me on my toes. You challenged me, and demanded the best of me each day. And, do me a favor, keep surprising people from your past - you just never how meaningful that is!

*****Just for or kicks and giggles.......

This is Connie, out Heart-A-Rama pianist. Connie's camera shy, and this is the best shot I have gotten of her for you. I'll keep trying. Connie claims to be a "mediocre" musician. Boy, I would love to be as mediocre as she is at something.