Wednesday, November 30, 2016

In Need of a Good De-Grinching

Aside from setting out a few Christmas-y dust collectors and loading up the tree with the dozens of ornaments we've collected over the years, I do not deck the halls for the holidays. I consider decorating to be a form of arts & crafts, which is among the many maternal skill sets I lack. I thought this shortcoming would become less important once the kids grew up, but alas, Abby has once again voiced her disappointment at our Grinch-like abode.

Truth be told, I feel rather Grinch-like and it's not just the depression that's keeping me green and grumpy. I've felt ho-hum about the holidays for years now. I'm not sure where things went wrong for me. Perhaps when the kids became too old for toys (or at least toys that don't cost hundreds of dollars)? Perhaps when I became too old for toys? Perhaps when Christmas getaways began taking the place of gift-giving? Perhaps when I decided the loneliness of a mere family of four at the holidays was too big a bummer to bother truly celebrating? Perhaps when the radio stations started playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving and the stores decorated for the holiday in October? Regardless of the cause, I've definitely lost the passion for Christmas, which means I'm obviously missing the reason for the season.

This year I'm going to try something different. In an attempt to beat the Grinch at his own game, I'm going to decorate my heart and soul with 25 daily gifts of love. Wow, that sounds super corny, but work with me here. I'm thinking that rather than an advent calendar counting down to Christmas with chocolates, I'm going to remind myself daily of all the gifts I already have in my life. One gift each day, recorded in my journal so I can reflect on it. And to share the love, which is the whole point of Christmas (remember?) from December 1-25 I'm also going to "gift" my family with simple reminders of why I love them. My hope is that I can think of 25 reasons for each of them this countdown will fill my heart with the joy of the season.

I'd love to hear about the special ways you celebrate Christmas/Hanukkah. And if you want to get together over the holidays, give a call. Time spent with friends is one of the greatest gifts of all!

Monday, November 7, 2016

The End is Near! Or Maybe It's Just My Beginning?

Tomorrow night I officially take the stage, a real stage, for the first time in 30 years. And no, that's not an exaggeration. I haven't been in a theater production since high school when I performed in Leader of the Pack my senior year. I wore a black leather jacket in that role. In Marisol, I play “Woman with Furs” and I wear an amazing coat. I obviously have a gift for attracting roles with good outerwear.

Rehearsals for Marisol began in early October and the time has flown by. Along with the passage of time, I'm happy to say that my depression has eased dramatically (pun intended). I guess being part of something bigger than yourself and staying busy keeps sadness at bay. It doesn't hurt that I'm surrounded by a supportive family (now I have two!)—with me in the solo role of middle age woman. I've enjoyed the hugs (thank you, Rachel), loads of laughter (thank you, Nick and Leo) and ridiculous amounts of talent (thank you, all). Whatever it is, I've consistently looked forward to rehearsals, and there's little else I feel that way about these days.

The joy I've experienced throughout this process is all the more remarkable when you consider the size of my role, which amounts to one scene at the top of Act 2. A small part was ideal in the early days of rehearsal when it meant I didn't have to be there every night or stay for the entire time, but come the week before the show, a small part translates into more sitting than I've ever done in my life. Friday evening, the first of our tech rehearsals, I spent no more than 10 minutes on stage in four hours. On Saturday, during an 11-hour rehearsal, my stage time was about 15 minutes. It's no wonder I've gained weight over the past month. It's either all the sitting or the banana chocolate chip, french vanilla chip, or chocolate cheesecake muffins I've been eating regularly for breakfast.

All the sitting aside, I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Of course, I can say that now, before the performance, before the nerves attack and I forget all my lines and burst into tears on stage. At least I'm thinking positive. So let's say that barring a catastrophe, I'd love to do this again. Will I do it again? Probably not anytime soon. It's a lot to ask of my family as long as Abby is living at home and needs me for transportation. And I do miss time with family and friends. And speaking of missing things, would you believe Rob is going to Punta Cana for work later this month and I could have gone if it weren't for Marisol? Alas, the show must go on. And while we're speaking of Rob, can I publicly thank him for being so supportive? I know it wasn't easy, but this experience really has brought me considerable joy.

But enough about me and my emotional catharsis, it's time to tell you about this amazing show. First, it's not for everybody. I'd give it a PG-13 rating. If you believe the “F” word warrants an R rating, then it should be rated Triple-R. But “F” bombs aside, Marisol is an amazingly thought-provoking show. It will make you laugh, cry and cringe. It will make you consider the presence of God and guardian angels. It will make you wonder about this world we live in.

Here's the official description:

Brooklyn is a war zone, coffee is extinct, the moon has disappeared, and angels are trading in their wings for machine guns. As a celestial battle against an old and senile God brews in heaven, the rebellion spills over into New York City. Without the protection of her guardian angel, Marisol Perez begins a surreal journey through the chaos of a crumbling world to find her way home. Met by vagrants and vagabonds at every turn, she must salvage what hope remains amidst the rubble of the apocalypse. 

Perhaps one line in the show best sums it up:
“What a time to be alive, huh? On one hand, we're nothing. We're dirt. On the other hand, we're the reason the universe was made.”  
To learn more about Marisol, check out the website.

Performances run from tomorrow through November 20 at Villanova Theatre in Vasey Hall. If you're interested in seeing it you can order tickets at or 610-519-7474.