Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pardon My French

As I've mentioned before, I'm not working this fall.  I almost got a part-time job but it turns out I make more money on unemployment.  Go figure.  Anyway, I feel that I need to keep busy in order not to fuck too many things up which I feel like I've been doing a lot lately.  Especially with my daughter.  She's having trouble with friends at school (she feels that people put her down and tease her a lot) and in trying to be sympathetic, I think I may have become too involved.

To prevent further grief in her life, I'm getting out of the house and taking an adult education French class.  I was a French major in college although none of the professor knew it because I spent all my time in the theater.  Anyway, I love all things French and with time on my hands I thought it'd be good to re-learn the language a bit.

At the start of class, the teacher wanted to make sure that she had our correct phone numbers.  The first student recited his in French so we all felt we had to follow suit.

Now, I've spoken enough French in the past to know my numbers well so I rattled mine off quickly.  And this woman, another student, turns to her neighbor and says, "Well, that was an easy number, that's why she did it so quickly."

Do people never change?  Maybe I should ask my daughter for advice....

Friday, September 24, 2010

Ligers, Cheetahs, and Servals Oh My!

My son, Jorge, provides me with an overabundance of pride, joy, frustration and worry, just like every child.  He came home about 8 years ago it was only 6 months after his homecoming that I couldn't imagine my life without him.  Just like every child.  Someday, I'll write about the entire adoption process but it's Friday and time for fluff or should I say fur?  See, Jorge's latest obsession (and I mean obsession) is with:

Big Cats!

It started with an interest in Cheetahs because they run so fast and Jorge loves to run.  It expanded to cover all the big cats in the category.  Every library book he brings home has to do with big cats.  He actually keeps a notebook with facts about big cats.  When he gets computer time, he spends it watching YouTube videos of big cats.  He has, in fact, introduced me to species I have never heard of:  Servals?  Caracals?  Ligers anyone? 

Oh yes, there is such an animal as a Liger and it is a cross between a Lion and a Tiger.  What?  You don't believe me?  Here's a clip:

And, if you want more, here is my new favorite video of a Caracal making a HUGE leap into the air to catch a Guinea Fowl.

Isn't it great what our kids can teach us?  Happy Weekend Everyone!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Well, I Finished

Yep, I finished the half-marathon on Sunday.  Just barely though.  I ran it by myself so I didn't have to worry about keeping up with another runner which was a good thing.  About mile 3, we ran near to where I had parked the car and I thought, "I could just run right over to the parking garage and take off."  Mile 3!
  • The good side of running a race by yourself is that you can cop out without anyone knowing.
  • The bad side of running a race by yourself is that you can cope out without anyone knowing.
I did end up walking A LOT.  But I managed to finish in 2 1/2 hours.  Not great but not awful.  I did feel awful though at the end of the race.

How awful you ask?  Well, as I walked away from the finish line, a voice over the loudspeaker directed runners to the beer garden for their free beer.  The thought of a beer at that time nearly made me vomit.  And you know how much I like beer.

So, yeah, I felt like shit.

I was scratching my leg and it felt like it had sand all over it.  It was dried salt from my sweat. 

Not only did I feel like shit, I looked like shit.

Here's the funny thing.  I went out for a run today for the first time since the run on Sunday.  And I felt great!  I didn't go too far but my legs felt light, I ran fast, I thought I could go forever.  I haven't felt that way about a run in months! 

Go figure, I finally find my groove....3 days too late.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Keep the Kate Running

I usually don't ask for things on my blog but this time it's different.  This time, I really need some help.  If you wouldn't mind, please send good thoughts my way for Sunday morning.

I've signed up to run the ING Philadelphia Distance Run on Sunday.  Or, as I'm calling it these days:  13.1 miles in the 9th Circle.

Last year, I ran the Philly Half-Marathon in late November and had a great time.  But since then, I've had a running injury and worked on two shows, and lived through the hottest summer on record in Philly (that last one may not be absolutely correct).  And yes, I'm trying to make excuses.  It's true, I did run 10 miles a month and half ago but since then, if I try to run farther than 6 miles my body just shuts down.  I'm not kidding.  It just says, "Nah, we're good.  We're going to stop now."  There's not a damn thing I can do about it either.

When I signed up for the distance run, I figured I work up to 13 miles no problem, I've done it before.  Instead it's been a grueling process with tons of disappointment.  And, I can't not run because I have my t-shirt and I can't wear the t-shirt if I haven't done the run.  Right?

So, it looks as if I have 3 options:

1.  Get really sick before Sunday.  Got any germs you don't want?

2.  Feign a really bad injury in the middle of the run so I have to be carried off the race course.  I like this option because people will feel sooooooo sorry for me and try to make me feel better for not finishing the race.  I could even sob (as they are carrying me off), "No, I can make it, I can really finish."  Good huh?

3.  Trudge it out and walk as much I have to in order to finish the freakin' thing.  Of course, my son's birthday party is as 4 pm that afternoon so here's hoping I finish by 3 pm (the race starts at 8 am).

If anyone has any other ideas, I open for suggestions.  In the meantime, your best wishes would be most appreciated!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bored to Tears

My daughter was bored to tears today.

Seriously, she was literally bored to tears.

And, I'm not talking about a few drops down the cheek.  I'm talking about full-on, one hour, uncontrollable sobbing.  You could call it a temper tantrum but she's 11, almost 12, going on 23.

And, what caused this you might ask?

Math homework.

Being the proactive parent I immediately began to problem solve:

"Do you need a math tutor?"
"Shot of whiskey?"

Hey, it's disconcerting to have a normally well-behaved (if albeit 11, almost 12, going on 23) young girl crying for an hour.

Turns out, as she explained when she calmed down, that her math homework is so incredibly boring she can't stand it.

She's bored as hell and she's not going to take it anymore!

But honestly, that's the answer.  She is a good student.  She understands what the homework is all about and she does it perfectly.  Her problem is that she's been doing the same thing everyday, over and over again and it's boring and it's frustrating and she just had to let it out.  I'm not against letting it all out.  I do have to point out, however, that it's only the 5th day of school.

Lord, help us all.  Or at least me.  Or at least provide more wine.  Wine should work.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Une affaire de femmes, Claude Chabrol: 1930 to 2010

Claude Chabrol died yesterday.  While I haven not watched all or even most of his films, he is responsible for one of my top 5 All Time Favorite Movies:  Une affaire de femmes (The Story of Women).  To be honest, I haven't watched a ton of French films although I love them and I was even a French major in college.  During a one year stint at graduate school (I couldn't hack it), I took a course in French culture through film.  I loved seeing how societal attitudes changed through the years and how they were reflected in films.

But I digress, as I am wont to do.  A boyfriend introduced me to Une affaire des femmes, probably 20 years ago now.  He said the first time he saw it, it left a pit in his stomach.  While I can't say anything nice about the boyfriend because having dated him still leaves a pit in my stomach, I will say I'm glad I saw the film.

The movie is loosely based on the real-life of Marie-Louise Giraud who was one of the last women to be guillotined in France in 1943 for performing abortions.  In the film, Isabelle Huppert plays Marie LaTour who discovers that an easy way to make money in Vichy, France is to perform abortions.  Now, I know what you are thinking:  Vera Drake.  But it's a far cry from that.  In fact, there isn't an ounce of sentimentality in the film.  Chabrol uses the fact that we know what's going to happen to Marie LaTour as a way to distance us from the story and to let us decide how we feel about this women.

But oh!  The film covers so much more than that!  Marie LaTour isn't a sympathetic or unsympathetic woman; she is at the same time warm, loving, sly, business-like, cold and opportunistic.  What would you do if under a totalitarian regime your kids were starving?  It reminds me of a line in Le chagrin et la pitie, a documentary that explored the collaboration between the French and the Vichy state.  A farmer states quite plainly (and I'm paraphrasing):  We did what we had to do to survive.

Does it make it right?  No.  Does it make it real?  Yes. 

I believe, if I remember my course in French Film correctly, that it was this documentary, The Sorrow and The Pity (which figures prominently in Annie Hall), that ushered in a new consciousness in French films.  No longer were film makers castrated by the point of view that EVERYONE in France was part of the resistance.  Of course, French television banned this documentary until 1981, perhaps they were the last hold-outs of the belief that, yes, EVERYONE in France was in the resistance.

A precursor to Marie LaTour can be found in Louis Malle's Lacombe, Lucien.  Another story about a young naive person, who seizes opportunity to make his life better under Vichy France.  I think the reason that Chabrol's film hits me harder is that the main character is a women.  Of all the World War II movies, not many are centered around women.  And even fewer, look at their lives in such a cool, objective way as this movie does.

What this movie does, and why I think it stays with me, is that it asks difficult questions but doesn't answer them.  And it does it in such a brilliant way that you are caught up into the story without realizing the depth of the questions until the movie is over, leaving you with a pit in your stomach (and not from your boyfriend).

Adieu, Monsieur Chabrol et merci.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Decks, Hot Tubs and Electricians - Whatever

This summer we put a deck on the back of our house. Well, to be technical, we hired someone to build a deck on the back of the house. Oh, and we added a hot tub as well. It looks great. Here are some pics:

This is the deck with the new deck furniture and below is the hot tub which sits off to the left of the deck.
The hot tub has changing lights!!!!

We went back and forth between building it ourselves and hiring someone to do it. Then, our neighbor, who has a construction company, came in with an offer we couldn't refuse. He did a great job. The first thing he did was to offer us two kinds of composite material to use on the deck. Every other contractor told us to go to a store and look at the material and pick out what we like. Do you have any idea how many different kinds of composite material there is out there? And when you see them all lined up together...they all look exactly alike! I'm like a 2 year old: just give me two choices. He did lots of other great things like helping with the lay out and using wood railings but putting the composite material on top to avoid splinters.
We like our deck. And we love our hot tub.
The best part of the entire process was the electrician though. He came on a day when Brian wasn't home. He went out back and then came into to the house and said, "You have a wire. Whatever."

I'm not kidding. Now, I've been trying to avoid hiding behind my husband when contractors are around. Usually, when one wants to speak with me I grab my keys and say, "I'm on my way out, you'll need to talk with Brian about that." And then I drive around the block and hide.

I'm trying to kick that habit so I probed further. He said, "There's a wire, it's exposed. Whatever. It needs to be looked at. I could do it. Whatever."

We checked out the wire and then I really did have to pull the Brian card because I didn't know if Brian had planned on doing something about it or not. So then the electrician says, "Where would you like your receptacle?"

My what?
Talk about having no clue. He takes me out onto the deck and shows me the post where he wants to put the outlet so we'll have electricity for the deck. He was talking about a freakin' outlet. How was I supposed to know that?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Block Party Madness

It was 3:30 pm yesterday afternoon and I was heading to the store to get some last minute school lunch supplies. I couldn't believe how many people were out and about at that late hour. Then I realized it was the middle of the afternoon and not late at all. I was so tired that I thought it had to be really late.

That's how much fun I had this weekend.

It was block party time for Oakdale Ave. It was the first year I was able to attend because in years past I would always be working on a show. I'd leave the house as people were setting up and return home to watch the last few stragglers stumbling into their houses.

A couple of years ago, someone suggested that I call in sick so I could attend the block party. I guess he didn't understand that we don't call in sick in theater. Oh no! We go to rehearsal or tech with runny nose, sore throat, and a high fever declaring to everyone that we'll be fine and we'll soldier through somehow.

I've done block parties before. In upstate New York, our block party consisted of burgers, dogs, a keg, a blocked off street and maybe a late night bonfire. One block over sometimes had a volley ball game or even a band playing. In Narberth (on the "main line dahling"), the block party took place on Memorial Day from 4 pm to 7 pm because everyone had to work the next day. I don't think the neighbors really like each other in Narberth.

Well, no such thing in Glenside. These people take their block parties seriously. They changed things up a bit this year and held it on Labor Day. Some believe that's the reason that fewer people attended this year. Others feel that attendance was down because it was BYOB. Still some claimed that everyone knew that I was going to be there so they stayed away.

Maybe it's true but I don't care, I had a blast. We had go-karts, a bouncy-bounce (for the kids, although one or two adults did get in), jello shots, and water balloons with 2 launchers. But the best parts were the games. Two of the neighbors, Dave and Nadine, organized a day of games for everyone. They did a spectacular job. There were games for kids, for adults and some for all ages. Although, I'm not sure Dodgeball should be played with mixed ages. Some of those dads whipped the ball like they were finally getting revenge on the gym class bully.

The races were my favorite. I notched an early win with the wheelbarrow race; those push-ups I've been suffering through have paid off. Brian and I were the odds-on favorite to win the 3-legged race because, well, I told everyone we were going to win. Dave and Nadine, a late entry into the race squeaked by us and won it twice.

In fact, Dave and Nadine, or their kids, won every race or game they entered. They were like the Lance Armstrongs of the block party games.

Next year, I'm insisting on drug testing.

You might have thought that all this fun would exhaust us for Sunday but never, ever underestimate Glenside. Because we had Monday off, Sunday was a like a second Saturday. Round 2 commenced with an impromptu volleyball game that turned into a bar-be-que with block party leftovers. And before you know it, we had the son of a neighbor lined up to watch all of our kids while the adults scampered off to a local bar to listen to Rockabilly, complete with dancing on the tables! To be honest, it was so crowded at the bar that there was no other place to stand but on the tables. We ended the night with a dip in the hot tub.

So, you can see why I thought 3:30 pm on Monday afternoon was really 3:30 am. Boy am I glad that school started.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Anybody Still There?

Ooph, it's been a while since I posted last. So long in fact, that I wondered if I would ever post again.

It's like exercising (at least for me). I'd work out for a while, months in fact, and then stop for a day or a week and think, I'll work out again tomorrow. And there would be so many tomorrows creeping in their petty pace from day to day.

But really, it's not as tragic as all that. I got busy is what happened. I got busy and I got down. It's not that I was depressed but I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do. I stage managed 2 shows in a row at the Arden and they were both HUGE shows and I did not feel in control as I usually do. Brian said that most likely what happened is that someone did something and instead of standing up for myself, I cowed. And then, instead of fixing it right away, I stayed down. Then I didn't know how to get out. Not sure if that made sense but I think he's right. I lost my mojo.

I wasn't even sure I wanted to stage manage anymore. I was signed up to do a production this fall and I had to tell the Arden that I couldn't do it. Because I was feeling all weird about stuff, I expected them to say, "What a flake! How can we count on you again?" Instead, they just said, "Okay, but can you do the show in the Spring?"

Well, if they didn't think I was flaking out, maybe I wasn't. It was time to get my mojo back.

So, slowly, I worked on feeling better. Running helped. A lot. It's hard to feel crappy after you've proven to yourself you can run 9 miles.

Then, a few weeks ago, a bunch of friends/neighbors were sitting on our newly built deck chatting. We were laughing and generally enjoying a beautiful summer evening. And it hit me! My life is great! It's time to get my head out my ass and start enjoying it again!

Oh yeah, the cocktails helped some too....