Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Birthday Event

For my 35th birthday, Steve and I drove to The American Shakespeare Center to see Hamlet. I figured it was long overdue since I teach the play, but had never seen it before. What I discovered on this little jaunt was delightful.

Shakespeare's plays are divided in to three categories: his comedies, tragedies, and histories. And Shakespeare, in general, was an expert at drawing in all members of his crowd, from the groundling peasants to Her Highness, the Queen. One way to do this? No holds barred sexual innuendo and tongue-in-cheek banter.

My list of Shakespearean plays that I've seen is shamefully small; it will be remedied, one at a time. But through the plays I have seen, and the film adaptations of a slightly larger list, I've never seen a tragedy take on quite the humor that this particular rendition of Hamlet did. And frankly, it was unexpected and appreciated.

We all know I'm a nerd, a geek, or as Shelly so lovingly puts it, a dork. I care not what you think; I enjoy my literature. But I can't help but immediately envision film noir techniques when I think of William's tragedies. They're supposed to, as Aristotle points out, elicit feelings of fear and pity and sadness, enough to bring on a catharsis. When I read the plays, I seek out the flashes of comedic relief to break up the sheer curtain of mourning that drops down on me. Come on - His expressions are beautiful, but dark. The directors of the film adaptations seem to take that feeling and run with it, though many times their intent seems too contrived.

But here, joy of joys, was an adaptation that fully engaged the banter Shakespeare is known for. Granted, a few errors in the memories of the illustrious actors helped - seriously - Polonius was ranting on about his son, Laertes and forgot what came next. The poor audience member who had the luck to sit in the Lord's chair on stage was asked what came next. "Line? What's my line?" "Um, I don't know..." Hilarious! Yes, some impromptu improvisation took place throughout the play. But the actors still, for the most part, owned their roles. Hamlet, the younger, was quite convincing and would provide much fodder for discussion in my class - was he truly insane? Did he pretend too much until he took on some of the insanity? Or, as Steve thinks (and with this rendition, I tend to agree) did he really know all along his own wits and simply fool everyone else?

My point is that this is the first time I've witnessed any sort of Shakespearean tragedy that made use of the full amount of comedy present in everyday (Elizabethan) colloquialisms and vernacular, in banter, in day-to-day emotions that we have as children, parents, friends, sisters, brothers. This particular troupe truly made the play come alive for me, and I can hardly wait to bring these ideas to my classroom. For now, though, I need to re-read Othello...Summer reading projects will be here before I know it.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

My "Homework" List

I started the summer by discussing the laundry list of chores I was setting for myself over the next 2 months. I am very happy to announce that it has slowly dwindled. Anyone who is/knows a teacher knows that whatever we do not get to during the summer will have absolutely no choice but to wait 9 months until June. Yes, I can do small projects, if absolutely necessary, but let's be honest - teaching is one profession where we have no alternative but to take it home with us every night and every weekend, and try as we might, outside projects fall to the wayside. We're lucky to maintain basic relationships much less attempt to paint a room or rebuild a porch. I have several friends who, though we live in the same city, I see only 2x a year - at Winter Break, and some time during the summer. No more, no less.

Regardless of time constraints and priorities, my list is nearly complete, and none too soon. I have 2 weeks of blissful obliviousness to enjoy. I won't be able to completely relish it, but I can try. Ever since my conference, my mind won't stop thinking about the coming year, but I do not have to stress over what I'm planning and I don't have a deadline for putting together an assignment, or grading it. I can sleep until... oh - wait... I can't, but that's ok, because I don't have to get dressed until I want to. Sydney is still a very early riser. And we think he's cutting another tooth, so he's been on a very early stretch lately (consistent 5 am this week).

I have been more productive this summer than I think I ever have before, as far as the house is concerned. In the past, because I was trying to maintain my footing on the treacherous mountain of teaching today's youth, I focused my energies on re-shaping my curriculum, organizing my folders, etc. This year has been all about the toddler and the house, and I feel so relaxed. I also feel ready. I believe just taking a step back from education and my curriculum have allowed me the quickening I need to look forward to this school year.

I'm ready, in many different ways. My house, though messy right now, is clean. My files and folders await my new zeal for the year. My list of 'chores' I have is greatly reduced, and, for the first time in YEARS, I've gotten to do a bit of pleasure reading. I've also attacked my book list (see column on the right hand side) that I've set for myself. All in all, I am feeling full of vim and vigor and ready to enjoy my last 2 weeks with my baby boy, living it up for all it's worth. I am taking on Summer, and I'm winning.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Long Overdue, But As Promised

It's been a busy summer with only a few weeks left. But here's a bit of what Syd's been up to, since May - I know...I've been remiss in downloading the camera... Oh, and due to my ineptness with planning this posting, the pictures go in descending order - most recent to the oldest. My apologies.

Syd and Zane play "Jump!"

Annie and Mommy make a "frowny face" at Syd and Zane's jumping!

Syd had a long day at the Children's Museum in Richmond with Daddy. Mommy would rather have been there than sitting in class at the conference.

Meet Ines, our French foreign exchange intern! She and Sydney color one afternoon.

Sydney re-discovers his Elmo slippers that sat, forgotten, on a bookshelf since the holidays.

Sydney took swim lessons! He LOVES the water - always has.

Sydney and Mommy after finishing the 'Lazy River' and practicing "scoopies."

Ines and Sydney at the Star. It was a beautiful day to see the city and visit the animals at the zoo.

My big boy loves to run!

Sydney has such a soft heart - kitty Skye was terrified of a summer storm and he was trying to comfort her. Normally, she doesn't let him near her, but circumstances being what they were...

Decked out in carcharodon carcharias gear for swim lessons!

I think the photo speaks for itself.

For anyone who doesn't know, Syd has a deep-rooted passion for lawn maintenance. Here, he decided he needs to try his mower as a riding mower instead of a push mower.

No reason for posting - just cute.

Syd and Daddy spend a moment stretching their backs after a long day at work.

Syd also has a passion for automotive maintenance and helps Daddy wash the cars.

Syd decides to accessorize with Daddy's hat.

There are more to come, but I have to actually download my cell phone instead of just talk about it. I promise, it will come.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dear Journal,

So often, I forget that you're here and that you are a medium for me to sort things out. I forget that I don't have to always have someONE to bounce ideas off of, that I am capable of determining a path, and sticking to it. I forget that, sometimes, it just helps to write it all down.

Journal, Diary... You've gone by several names over the years. And even though I am inconsistent in my visits, I always come back to you. You are quite loyal to stick around, but you're always there when I need you.

And, here we are again. I am at a crossroads. A parenting crossroads; I do not know which route to take. I know this is only the beginning of many, many times I will run in to a situation that requires and desires contemplation. And I know I will ultimately zero in on the best plan for myself and my family. But for now, I am ensnared by this decision.

I know what I want, but that is not happening. I know what I was told, but I am dissatisfied with that answer. Therefore, I am trying to make peace with the two, and there are several directions for that to take. Needless to say, I am an oscillating queen, right now, waffling back and forth between the routes, turning from one direction to the next, and wondering how to start the process for any of them.

Journal, which do I choose? And regardless of the peace I make with my choice, how do I start? How do I begin that path? I know. Begin first with a step. Find my balance. Put the other foot in front. Find my balance. Repeat as necessary.

And believe me when I say I am fully aware that I am not special. I know women have been making these decisions for generations. But I am special in that this is MY decision. Steve is wonderful and is supporting me, with whichever direction I choose, but it is mine to make.

I don't think this would be as difficult if I knew we were having more children. But even if we wanted more, we can't, so it is truly the end of the line for me, which compounds the choice. But, I will take my time, weigh my options, and determine my best route. I will put my foot forward. And find my balance. And I will move forward.

Regardless of my decision, Journal, thank you for sitting here, patiently, waiting for me to return to you with another dilemma. We'll chat soon.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

It's Been A While

But I promise you I haven't forgotten you.

We've been quite busy the first month of summer vacation:

  1. Swim lessons

  2. Foreign exchange intern from France

  3. AP conference in Richmond

  4. That whole "reorganize, reclaiming" of the house (whew!)

  5. and a few play dates sprinkled here and there

  6. in addition to numerous other things - some fun, some awesome, some not so much

But regardless, I plan to (key word: PLAN) to download the camera this week and catch up on everything. In the meantime, Syd's healthy and happy, so all's good in the world.