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Sunday, July 31, 2011

4 Lovely Women

The girls and I went to the mall yesterday.
This giant pin is one of their favorite things to see when we go to the mall.  We made our usual rounds, and saw our usual things, the pin (of course), the fountain, the turtles, and the ducks.
They were trying to watch the duck, but I think the duck got the better show.  The middle one (in age) is trying to touch her hair in the water.  the oldest I think has had enough , and the duck, well I'm pretty sure she is thinking, "here we go again.  Some stupid kid is going to fall in.  I am just going to stand over here out of the way."
After we played with the duck we went to do one of our other favorite activities, ride the escalator.  When we reached the top something happened that revealed my future to me.  The girls stepped of the escalator look up into the heavens of the second floor of the mall and their jaws dropped.  Just then their mother said, "who wants to go to the make-up store?"  From the escalator they had seen this eden of womanhood, and even though they have never been allowed to wear make-up, they instinctively knew that this store was exciting, mysterious, grown-up, and where they needed to be.  They squealed as if they were in junior high, and yelled as they jumped up and down thrusting their hands in the air, "I do, I do."
They entered this shop as if they were entering Cinderella's castle.  This would make them princesses.  As soon as we entered the store a sales woman came over and said, "Hi ladies."  They gleamed with excitement.  Their dreams were coming true, they were grown-up ladies.  "Can I help you find something?"  The sales woman asked.

 "We are looking for lip gloss."  Their mother answered.  "Here, Lindsay will show you where it is."  And off they went with lindsay to find the lip gloss.
They found it, and began to pick their favorite colors and try it on.

All four of the girls were excited.  There was a flurry of activity, and they were all talking 90 to nothing. It was almost too much for my male brain to handle, and I was contemplating going to my empty square when I remembered a conversation I had with Barry Nash.  Barry is in his 50's and has two daughters.  I was directing him in a play when we got to talking about being the only man in a house full of women.  His daughters are grown now, so I was hoping to pickup some points of survival.
He said to me...
"There will come a time when you walk into your house and want to talk to someone about what is going on in your life.  As you try to do this, you will realize no one in this house understands me.  Not only that, but they don't care to."
Here in the make-up store, I could feel that moment beginning to creep its way into my life.  I told the Barry Nash story to my wife, and told her that sometimes I do wonder what it would be like to have a son.  Because, let's be honest, I think almost every guy thinks about having a son, and how he's going to rear him.
"Oh stop it."  she said, as she figuratively slapped me in the face.  "What."  I thought.  "I don't understand this sudden feeling of aggression."  "You are lucky to have 3 daughter.  Because we all know that daughters love their daddy's best, and when you are older you will have 4 girls that all love you to death."  She said, as the reality of these words tugged at my heart.
"Aw, you still love me."  I said.  "Shut up."  She answered, and in that moment I knew she did.  Then I looked at these 3 beautiful young girls, and saw how happy there were to be in the make-up store, and like the grinch, my heart grew 3 sizes.  Then one at a time they came over to me and asked how they looked.  "Like a princess."  I said.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Baseball Game

The girls and I went to see a Rangers game last night.
As we were watching the game, the oldest, who is 6, asked why I like baseball so much?  That got me to thinking.  I think I like baseball because I played the game growing up.  That is the simple answer.  However, there is so much more to the answer, and at her age my daughter wouldn't understand it all, but I felt like I needed to write my answer down so I can remember the answer when she is old enough to grasp it.

Baseball can be a metaphor for life.  The field is precisely measured and very green and pretty, but the action on it can be chaotic.  The action is sometimes nonexistent, but then can happen at lighting speed.  The field starts from a single point, home plate, and fans out.  All the action starts from this one point, gets knocked around in the field, and comes back to this one point.  The players are all trying to get home.  It is the only game where the defense has the ball.  There is always tension, and a power struggle between two players, and in those seemingly quiet still moments there is a tremendous amount of action as we wait for the pitch.

Baseball is a great social outing.  As we watched the game there was a couple behind us that were on a date.  The girl didn't understand the rules of the game, and the guy was ever so happy to explain them to her, and she just loved his explanations.  Baseballs inherent structure, and pace allows time for conversation, which is the cornerstone of a great social event.

Baseball, like so many other events, is an escape.  I played baseball growing up, and my father coached me.  As I watch a game I am always taken back to an idealized time in my life when things were better and easier.  In the rough times of my life baseball always gave me, and my father something to talk about.

When my oldest daughter asked me why I liked baseball this is what I wanted to say, but I said, "I like it because I used to play, and it is relaxing."  She looked at me and said, "You still play.  With me in the back yard."  Yes I do.  The youngest got up the next day and asked "can we go to the soccer ball?"  She repeated the question several times before her mom and I realized she was talking about the baseball game.  We began to ask her questions about the ball-game, and were shocked when she could tell us some of the things that happened in the game.  I just thought they went for the snacks.

I am glad they liked the game, and the snacks.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Totally Technical Theatre

For the past two weeks I have been co-teaching a class at the Dallas Children's Theater called "Totally Technical Theatre."  The class was for middle school students.  We had 6 brave souls sign up for this inaugural venture.  The class covered the basics of technical theatre, you know, lighting, scenery, costumes, props, video, and sound.  Yes, the students actually had hands on experiences in some aspect of all the previously named areas.  It was a busy two weeks.  Our class worked in conjunction with one of the acting classes.  We designed the lights, set, and costumes for their final show case.

The students loved it.  They showed up early for class.  Were eager to get started, and on the last day said they were going to be sad when the class was over.  I think one of them might have even said they might cry when it was over.  As I sat back stage and watched the students I realized another important role that theatre can play for children this age, it provides a place where they fit in.

I continued to observed the students, all the reasons I loved theatre, and chose it as my career came flooding over me again.  I stood there, and relished those feelings.  It made me love theatre again.  I had gotten so used to the "theatre factory" that I work in, that I had almost forgotten the things that made me fall in love with theatre.  Then, like a gift from heaven, these students helped me remember the fun, excitement, coolness, magic, entertainment, happiness, and joy that is theatre.  They also helped me remember that theatre is a place where I am the cool kid, I fit in, I am good, and the acceptance that we all really want from others can be had, if only for a moment.

I was told once that success is helping others achieve their goals.  The students in the Totally Technical Theatre class made me feel like a success, and all I had to do was share what I know, and pay attention.

We made a video of the highlights of our class to show the parents what we had done the last two weeks.  I figure I should share it with you.  The link is below...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Rug Doctor

So the little girls left this morning to visit Nonni for a while, and the wife decided it was time to clean.  A good idea since it has been since 2005 that we have had the house empty of all children.  "Can you go rent a rug doctor?  They have them at Kroger."  She asked.  "Sure," I thought "that is easy enough.  Just get in, get out, we will have clean carpets, and everyone will be happy."  Off I go to Kroger.

I get to Kroger and realize, walking into a new store is like trying to find your way out of a labyrinth, and without the string to guide you.  I wondered around, and in true male form, found lots of things to buy that we didn't need.  Until finally I found the Rug Doctor.  I paused, looked at the rug doctors, and realized they were all locked up.  I mean as tight as fort knox.  "Ok, I need customer service."  I thought, and headed to the customer service counter.  When I arrived there was a long line of people.  "Wow, everyone needs some service this morning."  I thought, as I headed to the end of the line. While waiting I read the board hanging above the service counter, and discovered just what services they will provide for you at the customer service desk.  The services included, but are not limited to, cashing checks, money orders, lottery tickets, carpet cleaning, and apparently tickets to Schlitterbahn.  While I needed to use the carpet cleaning option, I really wanted to use the Schlitterbahn option.  However, I did now know why the line was so long.  No, everyone was not buying Schlitterbahn tickets; they were buying lottery tickets.  It is Saturday after all.  I really wanted to ask someone if they would buy me a lottery ticket.  Support your local starving artists, you know.

When I finally reached the counter I rented the rug doctor and the cashier called Adela to help me out with the rug doctor.  Adela comes, talks to the cashier, in spanish, and begins to take the rug doctor I just rented back to the rack.  "No, no I am parked out here."  I said, pointing towards my car.  She continued to walk away from me.  "No, uhm, excuse me that is for me."  I said, as I followed her back to the aisle.  "Hello, that is for me."  I began to wave my arms.  "Me, that is mine.  Hello."  I exclaimed, laughing on the inside at the sight I imagined others in the store saw.  Me, a long tall gangly man chasing a very tiny woman through the grocery store waving my arms wildly, and her just walking as if nothing was going on.  Finally, I caught up to her, and tapped her on the shoulder.  "That comes with me." I said.  She looked at me, turned, and headed to the rug doctor rack.  "No, no."  I said jumping in front of her to stop her.  "That is mine.  I rented it."  I explained.  "oh."  She said, and stood there looking at me.

I was unsure what to do next, so I did nothing, and we stood there looking at each other for a while.  Until finally I thought, "well, I guess she got it.  Start walking and see what happens."  So, I started walking, and she followed.  "Okay," I thought, now we are moving.  She continued to follow me out to the car.  I picked up the rug doctor, and put it in the back of the truck.  Adela stood there.  "Thanks," I said, and tried to get past her into my truck.  She just stood in my way.  "You have got to be kidding me," I thought, "surely she doesn't expect a tip."  However, she continued to stand and stare.  "Uhm, I think I have some change."  I said, and began to dig in my pockets.  I grab all the change I had, and handed it to her.  "Gracias." She said and walked away.  As I got in my truck, I thought, "I wonder if I just got hustled?"

When I got home the wife was ready to use the rug doctor.  So, I unloaded it, and she got right to work.  I went to another room in the house to begin cleaning it.  I still haven't mustered up the guts to tell her I think I got hustled at Kroger.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Our Trip to Colorado

We took our first official family vacation last week.  It was great.  We went to Colorado.  I have to give credit to my wife for making the trip with 3 little girls enjoyable.  She had us on an army like schedule.  We were up, on the road, and having breakfast in the car by 7:30am.  That is awesome for a family with a 2 year old, 4 year old, and a 6 year old.  She had movies scheduled, stories to read, and even left time to listen to "kids place live" on the satellite radio.

On the way out we ate at "The Big Texan."  No, none of us tried the 72oz steak dinner challenge.  That is like eating a whole roast, you know.  However, we did wait anxiously every-time some young robust young man walked in.  My wife said, "if someone takes the challenge while we are here, we are staying to watch."  No one did.  Boo!  We saw Palo Duro canyon.  The girls seemed impressed.  Then we went swimming in the pool at the hotel.  Well, let me rephrase, the 3 young girls went swimming.  That water was cold.

The next day we stopped in New Mexico at Capulin Volcano.  The girls were worried because they did not want the volcano to erupt while we were visiting.  Once we assured them that it would not erupt they loved it.  They became junior rangers.  Meaning, they completed the junior park ranger scavenger hunt.  We saw "bambi."  The youngest loved that, and kept asking to go pet "bambi."  We had a picnic lunch on the top of Capulin, and this is where "squirmy" enters.  Squirmy is a caterpillar, cute right?  The girls thought so, and spent a great deal of time following squirmy around and squealing.  I don't know if it was the following or the squealing, but squirmy got pissed.  So pissed in fact, that he stung the middle one.  I know right?  Who knew caterpillars could sting.  That is kind of cool, you know, except for the stinging my child part, but they can sting that is cool.

Once we got the middle one calmed down we went down the volcano, and they received their junior ranger badge, which they wore with pride for the next two days.  This trip to the volcano was the defining moment of the trip.  You see, after this every pile of dirt, mole hill, or bump was a "volcano," and every divot, ditch, or hole was a canyon.  And that is how we rode through the countryside to complete our journey, and arrive at the cabin where we were staying, with the girls yelling that they see a volcano, and a canyon.  In fact when we arrived at the cabin the oldest said, "Yay, we made it to the canyon."  Right.

My parents and sisters family joined us there, and we had a great time.  We went to the "sand bank," at the "lake."  This is also know as the sand bar in the Rio Grande river, don't worry we were in CO, so the Rio Grande is still blue and cold, not brown and warm like it is in Texas.  We went rafting in the "lake." We climbed "gum-ball mountain."  This is what the girls decide to call the mountain in the park where the sheep herders cabin is.  That is what we were climbing to see, and they had just finished watching strawberry shortcake before the climb, so naturally the rocks were "gum-balls," the grass was "icing," and the sticks were "candles."  Makes sense to me.  We saw two parades and no fireworks.  Happy Fourth!  The biggest and I climbed up the "deer trail."  This is a trail that leads to the top of Mount Moriah, which is the mountain behind our cabin.  I used to think my dad just called it a deer trail until I hiked to the top one March with my wife, and found elk.  She was quite scared to be so close to a herd of elk, I was like, "this is awesome, wow, dad was not lying to me when he called it a deer trail."  Turns out deer, and elk, do use this trail to come down to the river to get water.  When the biggest and I got to the top she sat on the cliffs, and looked out over the park and river and said, "It is awesome up here."  Kinda made the whole trip worth it.

The girls had a good time they did not want to come home.  Here is a video of the highlights of our trip...