Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy Holidays

Hello from the other side of Christmas. In my last post, the kids were driving me to drink (not that it takes much, who doesn't like a tasty beverage?) But today I'm happy to report that things have been running much smoother. I think the parents really instilled the holiday spirit in their kids, and that along with a good dose of fear and guilt from the stage manager has improved behavior mightily recently. I even made out with all sorts of goodies - a nice stationary set, a candy apple, a Target gift card, and chocolate. I've decided to make cookies for the kids on Friday when I have a whole day to prepare - it doesn't cost much, but it requires effort and therefore qualifies and a nice gift.

Yesterday David and I spent a lovely day with my parents opening presents, playing Scrabble and eating. This was definitely the best year yet, I was smart and told my parents exactly what I wanted so I didn't get any weird gadgets or items that I don't know what to do with. The one thing missing, of course, was my brother.

For those who don't know, my brother is currently in Iraq with the Tenth Mountain Division. He was going to try and call yesterday but wasn't able to for some reason. I never imagined I would be one of those people who have to experience a holiday without a loved one because of a war - but here I am. I have to say it is weird. My fiercely liberal, peace-loving family with a solider in the family. On other hand, I feel like it gives me more credibility as an opponent of the war since it directly affects me. This is not something I would ever have asked for, but here it is.

My dad brought out the old video camera and hooked it up to the TV so we could watch old home movies. My mom almost lost it a couple times seeing images of my brother as a 7-year-0ld, not to mention the footage of her older brother and father, both passed away now. Thank goodness for home movies! While it was sad to see these people, I personally am grateful to have these images of them. My favorite footage was of the family reunion we had when I was I don't know, around 8, in Iowa for my great-grandmother's 90th birthday. She has also since passed away. And one of my uncles in the video is now embroiled in a nasty divorce from my mom's sister. But the video is a nice little time capsule of a time when we were all alive, all together and all (mostly) happy.

Happy Holidays to you and yours, and a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Almost pondering a hysterectemy

When I started this blog, I really wanted to try and post more often. But then I got the Supervisor job, and all my free time went out the window. Kudos to arduous for being a busy bee and still managing to blog every day!

So, at last post I think I was sounding pretty optimistic about my current job. I'm still fairly optimistic, but the last couple days really tried my patience. We had two days in a row of one show at noon and the evening show not until 7:30. This is a really long gap between shows. Wednesday I was clocked in for over 11 hours, which was great for my paycheck, but a little rough on my sanity. Yesterday I got a three hour break between shows, but the kids were so rowdy during the second show that I snapped on the boys. Not in a mean way, just in a speaking-very -firmly-reminding-them-of-their-obligations kind of way. The depressing thing is that I'm not sure it made a difference. The kid who'd started it - he'd thrown a (soft) object at another boy, causing him to cry out (excessively loudly, he wasn't really hurt) - did appear contrite, but it's not like I never had to ask the kids to be quiet again all night or remind them of certain rules.

I'm chalking it up to two long days in a row, and hoping things will improve tonight. I really wanted to say something to the parents last night so they could remind the kids to behave today, but it was already so late and they all had to get up early this morning for a TV broadcast. And part of the problem is they're all really tired and fried. So I let it go for the time being. But I'm really starting to feel like they are taking advantage of the fact that I'm not a jerk like the last supervisor, and it's frustrating.

In other news, I've had a great change of fortune for the winter. I was originally scheduled to do a couple operas in Jan-Feb and Feb-April. But I got an offer to ASM for Steppenwolf, and this time I decided not to stick with my other obligations but to give Steppenwolf priority.

I can't tell you how happy this has made me. After a couple years saying no to good theater job opportunities because I'd already signed contracts with other opera companies, I've finally figured out that it's okay to do what's best for me and my career than stick with something I'm not that excited about.

Admittedly, I didn't realize how much happier I am doing theater than opera until recently. And clearly not every opera I work on ends in tears, as my great experience with Cinderella and the The Ryan Opera Center this fall demonstrated. There is a part of me that feels a little sad that I don't know when I'll do another opera. Usually when I look ahead in my schedule, I have a new opera to learn, and I always found that exciting. At the very least I always knew I'd be doing an opera in the spring, but now I don't even have that to look forward to since I am not returning to Chicago Opera Theater. But some of you know what a struggle I've gone through trying to get back into the theater scene after doing so much opera for the past few years, and I finally feel like I'm getting there.

Monday, December 3, 2007


I survived Week 1 of wrangling the kids, and I have to say it's been very successful so far!  I did manage to discover that the last supervisor was in fact fired because he was too much of a disciplinarian (as the Supervisor I am mainly charged with making sure the young performers are where they're supposed to be when they're supposed to be there, and that they are safe - I can tell them to be quiet and remind them not to run in the halls and backstage, but discipline is to be left up to stage management and the parents).  The kids have all raved about me to their parents, which they tell me almost every day, and the parents are all very appreciative.  

What I noticed right away is that the kids are all smart and professional.  All I have to do is be friendly with them and respect them.  Then when I ask them to do something or not to do something, they generally do it without question.  They know that I respect them and have their best interests and safety in mind.

As for between shows activities, it really helps that there are a couple parents that get very involved.  They take kids out to get food so that I can stay in with kids who already have food, and they come into the lounge where we hang out which allows me to go to the bathroom without worrying about leaving the kids alone.  It also takes a lot of pressure off me having the parents there because they have no trouble reining in their kid or any of the other kids, and I can relax and have fun with them.

So yeah, I feel really lucky.  I've been wanting to be involved with Christmas Carol for several years, and this seems to be the perfect way for me to participate.  I think I'm enjoying myself more than I would had I just gotten hired for a run crew position.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


So I managed to land a job for the month of December, which I'd been really afraid wasn't going to happen.  The Goodman Theatre jettisoned their Young Performer Supervisor on Christmas Carol for reasons unknown (or perhaps he quit?) and I got a call on Monday asking me to go in for an interview Tuesday afternoon.  The interview turned out to be "come in so we can run a background check and then hire you."  Which worked great for me.

So then I reported for work yesterday.  Without ever having seen the show.  I basically got thrown into the deep end and told to swim.  But I'm a good swimmer, so everything went fine.  Helps that the ASM is walking the track with me this week until I can really get on my feet.  The kids are all pros, they've all been in shows before and know where they need to be when.  The biggest challenge of course is keeping up with them and reminding them to be quiet and respectful.  But they're pretty good kids and I don't think the coming month will too bad.  I'm just going to have to come up with a good plan for those two show days...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Still Stuffed

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!  My honey and I went to visit his brother's family at their new home in Lafayette, Louisiana.  It may not be as exotic as where arduous spent her Thanksgiving, but different enough.  We don't exactly have swamps up here. 

While there, we of course treated ourselves to some etouffee, gumbo and sushi.  (Sushi?  Yes, we figured it would be really fresh, more so than we get in the midwest.  I didn't say so at the time, but it wasn't any better than anything I've had here at home).  We also took in some of the local sights, including Breaux Bridge and Vermilionville.  Thanksgiving dinner was spent with the in-law's family, and featured highlights of sweet potatoes with chevre and a blue ribbon-winning apple and cranberry pie, followed by a couple games of Skip-Bo.

David's sister-in-law gave us an earful about the heartbreaking conditions of the Louisiana public school system.  She taught in public school there for a short time before transferring to a Catholic school.  The words she used to describe the difference between the public and private school conditions were: "like a caste system."   Apparently all the families with money send their kids to Catholic school, and the families that can't afford it settle for public school.  But the public schools are as bad (and according to her, even worse) than what we hear about inner-city schools.  While there, David's sister-in-law said she spent most of her time disciplining students and hardly got any teaching accomplished.  She contracted asthma while working in the dirty, dusty conditions at the school.  Students are not given SAT or ACT tests because the schools don't want the parents to know how badly their children are doing.  Gifted students from Louisiana who have moved to schools up north have been put in remedial classes.  From what we can tell, no one makes a fuss about the schools because just about all those kids will have jobs, even if they don't finish high school - they will go to work on the numerous oil rigs in the gulf area.

Her stories made me very thankful that I grew up and live in a state where one can go to public school and get a good education!  It did make me sad for all those kids, though.  Clearly No Child Left Behind has done absolutely nothing to help them and is a law incapable of helping kids and school systems in this kind of situation.  

But I have been tagged by arduous, and must respond.  

1. The colors I wear most often (not including blue jeans) are green, purple, black and brown.
2. My parents still live in the same house I grew up in.
3. I tried to feed a deer a rock when I was about 1 1/2 (yes, there is a picture).
4. My mom called me the "mohawk chipmunk" when I was a baby.
5. I love to play games - board games, card games, anything.  I'm currently obsessed with Scrabulous on Facebook.
6. My cat is cuter than yours and probably more annoying.
7. I desperately want to go to Ireland but am afraid I'll never be able to afford it.

And now I'm tagging Dave Knave, Liz, rage-ahol, David, and John.

(7 people?  Who has time to read 7 people's blogs?)

1- Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2- Share 7 random and or weird things about yourself.
3- Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
4- Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Yet another blogger against the war

I've been meaning to start a new blog, but I've also been resisting it.  Resisting because who wants to read my soapbox rantings when they hear enough in person?  But I've been frustrated, on an almost daily basis, by what is going on in the world and feel I need a healthy outlet instead of screaming at the radio.  Or the cat.  Or worst, my partner.

So yeah, this one is for me.  I hope  you read it and I hope you get something out of it, but it's for me more than anything else.

What's got my ire today is the whole Barry Bonds thing.  No, I don't particularly like the guy, and if he did commit perjury he should be punished.  But once again, where was the grand jury when it became apparent that we had been lied to by our president?  When it came to light that there were no WMD's and that intelligence had been doctored to go to war?

Well, I'll attempt to tell you.  Probably paid off.  

Not directly paid off, paid off in the sense that war is generally profitable, and gathering enough evidence to prosecute the leader of the free world is probably expensive.

I recently watched the documentary "Why We Fight," and man was that an eye-opener.  I highly recommend it to everyone.  The movie basically says, follow the money.  Our rationale for going to war has a lot to do with how profitable it is.  Profitable?  Isn't this war costing a couple billion dollars a day?  The question is, profitable to whom?

Basically, the companies who lobby for the big defense contracts have gotten the politicians wrapped around their gold-laden fingers.  They make billions of dollars making bombs, airplanes, tanks, boots, armor, etc., and they give a lot of that money to both political parties and to individual politicians running for office.  Should these defense contractors stop making money, they would stop contributing. And because of the lack of restrictions on campaign financing, the withdrawal of these funds would be seen as devastating to both political parties and is to be avoided at all costs.  Therefore, it would appear, prosecuting someone for going to war would not be good business.

Where's the impartial jury, you may ask?  Doesn't exist, not at the grand jury level.  I checked out information about Grand Juries on the ABA's website, and it turns out volunteers who serve on grand juries are not screened for bias.  It would appear that you could hate Jews, blacks, lawyers, artists, whites, republicans, democrats or Barry Bonds and still be allowed to serve on a grand jury.

In that case, where are all the volunteers who want to prosecute President Bush?  Well, they don't get to choose the cases.  The case must be brought by a federal prosecutor.  And all the federal prosecutors who may have been willing to put together a case against the administration were purged by the former Attorney General, because the in-bed-with-big-business administration has been very careful to put its friends in high places.  Therefore, we have a witch hunt - rightfully or no - against Barry Bonds but not President Bush or Vice-President Cheney.

Democracy Inaction indeed.