Monday, September 27, 2010

I Am Not a Finisher

I was doing so good...

I haven't written down a learning in 10 days. I actually haven't written down anything I've eaten in 10 days, either, and that might be why I only lost a pound this week. At least I'm still moving in the right direction.

I went to church yesterday (for those of you who know me now, you know how rare that is). I subbed for someone in the handbell choir. I do enjoy playing handbells. But, that's not my point. While I was there, a friend mentioned to me that she was really enjoying reading my blog. She said that she didn't blog herself, nor did she read very many blogs because she didn't really find them interesting or captivating, but that she liked mine because I could come up with all of these great plans, and then life gets in the way and they all fall through.

Maybe that's my niche. Maybe that should be my blog; all the things I start and never finish. Because there are a lot of them! This friend said she wanted to ask me for some advice on doing some scrapbooking. I told her I would love to help, and that I had all kinds of advice on how to start a scrapbook, but absolutely none on how to finish one.

I say all of this facetiously, however to a certain extent it's true, and it's helping me further define my identity for myself. I am not a finisher. And, interestingly enough, I knew this when I was in at least the sixth or seventh grade. I used to write fiction, and I had all these great dreams of writing a novel someday. I had tons and tons of ideas of what novels to write. I had notebooks full of one page summaries of novel ideas. And to this date I actually completed one of them. Out of the hundreds of ideas, one has actually surfaced into a (relatively bad) story (I mean, I did write it when I was a freshman in high school). But I remember thinking that I would be good at presenting story ideas, and then letting a novelist take over and actually write the story, like so many of those series books I read as a teenager did. I knew, even then, that I am not a finisher.

The thing with all these things I learn about myself is that I need to figure out how to put it into action in my life. So I don't finish things unless I have external forces holding me accountable. I memorize lines because I'm going to be standing in front of an audience delivering them, acting, and not only will I look like an idiot if I mess them up, but the audience will be sorely disappointed. I keep track of what I eat because my husband asks me what I've eaten, and helps keep me on track each and every day. I feed my dog because if I didn't he would go hungry. I do laundry because I need clean clothes to wear.

But I only clean my house when company is coming over. I don't scrapbook, because I'm the only one I disappoint when I don't get it done in a certain amount of time. I follow through when there are consequences that will affect others. I don't mind suffering my own consequences, as long as I am the only one I'm affecting.

So, how do I use this knowledge about myself to improve myself?

Well, first of all, I think I need to do a better job of setting boundaries and determining my priorities. (What else is new?!) And then I have to learn to rely on others to hold me accountable. I've gotten pretty good at that with hubby, and he is so supportive of me in so many ways. But I can't expect him to help me with everything. If it's a priority in my life, then I need to treat it as such, and get others to hold me accountable - expect something from me.

All of this may only make sense to me, and maybe that's okay. I also don't really have a conclusion to this. I don't know where to go from here. But that's part of the process, right? Finding the peace in between - being at peace, even when I haven't reached the end. Because, as we all know, whatever "the end" is, be it perfection or completion or anything else ending in "tion", it is very far away.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Kate Has Abducted Me

At least, it seems that way.

For those of you who don't know me, my extra-curricular activity of choice is theatre. This fall the company I act with (my school's company) is performing an original piece about Shakespeare's Women, and I am, you guessed it, Kate, from Taming of the Shrew. I'm also Lady Macbeth and Desdemona (from Othello), but those characters don't seem to have taken hold of me quite like the shrew herself. I have to say, this is the most fun I have ever had doing a Shakespeare show, and I've had lots of fun doing lots of Shakespeare. But there's something about Kate. It may be that she has so much depth for a comedic female character. It may be that she gets to beat people up. Whatever it is, I love her, and am having a blast.

This joy, however, has completely consumed my life. Between that, class, and trying to get in observation hours at the local public schools (part requirement for two of my classes), I have been going non stop from 8am to 10pm every day for two weeks. Hence, no LSNED pages. (My ink did come in, by the way. Haven't even printed one picture.)

I have, however, been keeping track of my learning! I'm very surprised at myself. But, as part of my weight loss adventure, I write down what I eat every day on a notecard, and I decided sometime ago that I would write my learnings for the day on the back of said notecard, and so now I have a lovely stack of September notecards with my diet on one side and my learnings on the other. I think I may just scrap the notecards when I get around to it.

So I have a great stack of notecards with learnings, but alas, no pictures for at least the past week or so. And really, no end in sight for my crazy schedule. When this play ends, I'm hoping to have a part in the next one to pick up, and I'm not even a third of the way through my observation hours (though I am close to that beloved third mark).

In the midst of all of this craziness, I am not finding time to "reflect" (my word of the year), nor am I even really finding time to breathe. I feel constantly stressed, and worry about whether I am actually going to be able to get it all done or not. I worry about my husband and my dog, whether they feel abandoned or neglected by my constant schedule. I know the rest of my family does because I am never able to talk to them. But one thing I am not doing is regretting. I do not regret my choice to quit my cushy job with benefits, sell our house, and follow my husband back to this crazy place called college. When I walk across the campus green, or spread out my blanket to study for an hour, I am nothing but thankful for the opportunity to take a new direction in my life, in our life. I know in my bones it was the right choice to make, just like I knew in my bones almost ten years ago that my husband was the one I was supposed to marry.

And so today, I learned that I am thankful. Because it took me a long time to get here, and I'm going to be grateful for every second. Even though there never seem to be enough of them.

Monday, September 6, 2010

September 4

One of the challenges Shimelle helps us get over in this project is the hesitation to believe that you can learn something new every day. Because it is true, we do learn something every day. It's just whether that something is worth scrapbooking, or even worth noticing. I think the latter may be my problem - I don't notice all the things I'm learning.

Saturday evening found us watching college football at home. I was struggling with my learning for the day, because I couldn't pinpoint one thing I had learned. We were watching the Auburn/Arkansas St. game, and they showed a picture of Toomer's Corner. Now, if you're not an Auburn fan, you may not know the importance of this intersection. It's right outside the Auburn campus, and after every home game that is won, fans flock to Toomer's Corner and TP it. There's even a live webcam where you can watch the action.

Auburn football runs in my blood. Even though I've never lived in Alabama, my grandfather was a professor at Auburn and the pastor of Auburn First UMC for a number of years. My father attended Auburn for his associate's degree. And Auburn is the town where I knew my grandparents. It always felt like "home" - especially to a preacher's kid who moved a lot and never really had one home.

I remember visiting during the fall, when college football was alive and kicking. My grandfather often worked at the games, and if we were in town my dad would go with him. That left me, my mom, my sister, and my grandmother at home, where Grama would cook while she listened to the game on the radio. Boy, she got into her Auburn football games!

I have a vague memory of going to Toomer's Corner one night after a game. I'm pretty sure it happened, because it certainly is something every Auburn fan should experience at least once. I must have been very small, likely riding on my father's shoulders, as the fans went crazy in celebration. Seeing Toomer's Corner on TV brought back all those memories of Auburn games, and Auburn itself - my grandparents' home, my cousins playing in the back yard, the sense of family that I was surrounded by as I grew up. To me, Auburn will always feel like home.

Today I learned that even though I never lived there, Auburn, AL will always feel like my home.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

September 3, or Why You Don't See Any Scrapbook Pages

Friday morning I was feeling great. Two nights of sleep, and I was still manageably up-to-date with my homework (mainly due to the reading I was able to get done between the hours of 2 and 5am several nights before). I decided that I would finally print out some of my pictures and get them and my learnings on those beautiful pages I'd started the previous weekend and feel up-to-date with my LSNED book, too.

Here's what I found:

Today I learned: check your ink levels in your printer BEFORE beginning a month-long scrapbooking project.

I printed out two pictures, and they looked horrible. My husband had noticed a couple of weeks before that we were running low on black ink, so he ordered a new cartridge for that. (We live in a very small town with only a Wal-Mart for shopping. They don't carry our cartridges.) He didn't think to check the color cartridges because he rarely uses them. So, now, three days into LSNED, I am unable to print pictures. That kind of messes with my hope that this year would be "easier" because I can print pictures at home!

The new cartridges have been ordered - and I actually got a pretty good deal on them - and will be here sometime next week. So, maybe next Friday I'll still be caught up with my homework and can take the morning to put together 9 pages. :) They are all scrapbooked.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

September 2: A Cooking Lesson

Thursday morning found me feeling much better. I slept through the night Wednesday night, which was a truly beautiful thing. Tuesdays and Thursdays are long days for me, because I have class pretty much from 8:00-4:45, and then rehearsal starting at 6:30. However, feeling better and having a reprieve from rehearsal prompted me to cook dinner. Or attempt to cook dinner.

I joke a lot that I cannot cook a meal without screwing something up. This is probably untrue - I'm sure that at some point in time I have made a meal that was edible without noticeably messing something up. But I certainly can't remember it. I have done things that others told me it was impossible to do. I had a friend once tell me that cooking rice was the easiest thing in the world, and that we did not need to spend the extra money buying the rice-in-a-bag rice. So, following her directions, I bought the much cheaper boxed rice, and proceeded to not only burn the rice, but melt the un-meltable, microwave safe bowl in which I was cooking the rice. Yeah.

When I cook, and successively mess something up, it's usually not that bad. Usually I mis-measure something, or leave something out by accident. And I guess Thursday night wasn't that bad, in relative terms. I mean, I didn't render any of our cookware useless. But we did not eat the dinner I cooked. I made rice (the rice-in-a-bag kind, thank you very much) and lemon chicken. After the chicken had been in the oven for over an hour, it still wasn't up to the proper temperature. Not even close. And when the asparagus I had cooked came out limp and disgusting (again - I'd tried it several weeks before and screwed it up then, too), we opted to order out for pizza.

So, my learning for Thursday night?

Today I learned that even when I follow the directions, I can still manage to screw up dinner, resulting in Pizza Night.

I took three pictures for today's learning: the chicken (still cooking), the rice waiting for chicken and the asparagus disgustingly lumped on the plate (I was that close to having a meal ready), and our eventual dinner - veggie pizza.

I wonder how many other days' learning this month will revolve around cooking?

September 1

Well, my learning for the third day of the month will clue you in to why I haven't posted any pages. But we'll get there. For now, I'm just posting pictures and learning. The pages will have to come later.

My learning for day one was:

Today I learned that getting on stage, even for just a rehearsal, is what makes everything else go away for me.

As for the picture, I just have a photo of my script at this point, but I may get a friend to snap a picture of me at rehearsal some night.

I got sick this week. I don't really know why. I still don't know if it was allergies or a cold or what, but I felt horrible! I didn't sleep for three or four nights - I'd go to bed around 11:00, lay awake until 1ish, finally go to sleep, only to wake up around 3 or 3:30, unable to go back to sleep. On the plus side, I got a lot of homework done in those wee hours of the morning.
 Along with getting sick, we started rehearsals for the fall Shakespeare production. This year we're doing a compilation show with scenes from 10 different plays - which means everyone's playing multiple characters. I'm playing Lady Macbeth (from Macbeth), Desdemona (from Othello), and Kate (from the Taming of the Shrew). I'm most excited about Kate.

I was really not looking forward to how busy I was going to be, and to having to be all active and stuff during rehearsal, with me being sick and all. But Wednesday night, when we blocked my scenes, I found that I had this sudden energy and excitement that came from nowhere. I felt better.

I've had this experience before - during The Importance of Being Earnest, I think I was having an allergic reaction one night because I had this horrible stomach ache, and I almost called in sick to rehearsal. But it was close to performance and I didn't want to disappoint, so I went anyway, and somewhere in the middle of rehearsal, my stomach stopped hurting and I found I was actually enjoying myself, despite feeling bad.

In the musical Next to Normal, the daughter, Natalie, sings a song called "Everything Else." She's playing the piano, a Mozart piece, and singing about how when she plays the piano, everything else goes away.

Now, everything about Next to Normal resonates with me in some way or another, but this song has taken on particular meaning in light of my learning Wednesday. It was exciting to me to realize that acting is truly what makes everything else go away. And I am lucky to get to do it.