The Casting Dock

Posts from — May 2012

a message left on my whiteboard at school.

Glad to know I’m not needed.

Kids are awesome.

May 31, 2012   2 Comments

Speaker for the Dead

I think sometimes about what I would say at my mom’s funeral if it happened tomorrow.

I know it’s morbid and creepy and sad, but in a weird way I feel like if I think about it, then if it ever happens I will be at least better prepared to deal with it emotionally. My mom tells me I’ve always been like that: if I knew something was coming, no matter how bad it would be, I would brace for it and be fine. It was the not knowing that would make me freak out, not the event itself.

I know it’s silly because no amount of mental preparation could ready me for that level of devastation, but nonetheless, I still do it sometimes. And in my mind, somehow I always muster the courage to speak at her funeral, to speak to her life and her memory. But I do so in a holistic way, not an overly sentimental way.

I have always wanted to paint an accurate picture–to recognize pain and disappointment and heartache woven throughout the tapestry of life. I think we do an injustice to the joys and celebrations if we don’t allow the difficulties to punctuate the journey. If we only acknowledge someone’s strengths of character, we can’t appreciate what they have overcome or worked to improve.

It feels inauthentic.

I always tell Jerry that if I die first, I want him to be my Speaker for the Dead. I want him to speak about me accurately–to say that I struggled with impatience, had to teach myself empathy, and fought mentally against being comparative and judgmental. That it was my natural tendency to weigh my value by my achievement and that I prayed so often for increased faithfulness and the ability to accept grace. Of course I want him to say that I was loyal and loving and even-headed, that I was clever and worked hard and was quick to give others the benefit of the doubt. But I don’t want it all to be the good stuff, because that’s not really a complete picture of who I am. And I think it cheapens my experience in life.

So when I speak at my mom’s funeral in this bizarre little mind wandering of mine, I am her Speaker for the Dead. I share some of her sorrows and joys, her strengths and weaknesses, and her quirks too, just for good measure. I share her weaving human journey, delicately and respectfully, but in such a way that those who have come to mourn her can also celebrate a full life, of ups and downs, well-lived.

And I share little stories and snippets that capture her essence: her way of always responding, I like her. I like her a lot. even in response to questions about people who clearly annoy her; her incessant claim that she does not fall asleep on the couch despite years of evidence to the contrary; her weird fish-face face-lift obsession; the way she laughs at her own jokes; her mom dance (do all moms have those? dear Lord, how can I escape it?); and my personal favorite of the moment:

the way she took this dress, which I bought for $15 and mailed to her with her mother’s day gift, fixed the zipper and mailed it back to me in time for my weekend event.

She is devoted to a fault.

Mom, this is basically a lengthy, morbid way of me saying I LOVE YOU and would be lost without you so stick around for a while. Who else would be my personal seamstress for free (plus shipping)?

May 29, 2012   10 Comments

Summer dreaming.

Summer break is a mere 6 weeks away. An obvious perk of the teacher schedule.

Needless to say, I am eagerly anticipating it.

But more so than the break, what I appreciate about summer is that it provides a framework for the school year, an end goal to work towards. Summer break offers a chance for some reflection, space to catch your breath, reassess, and set new goals, both personally and professionally for the new year. And each September ushers in just that–a new year. A turnover of kids, a re-setting of programs with a twist to accommodate different personalities, increased maturity, and a whole host of new opportunities (and challenges).

I have been thinking a good bit about what I want to do with my summer. My husband and most of my friends work through the summer and we don’t have any kids so it leaves me with quite a chunk of free time. To be honest, that time is both exciting and a bit daunting. I have learned that without a set schedule I get bored quickly. And once I get bored, basically my entire well being starts sliding. I have a hard time pulling myself out of it.

It’s a weird little slippery slope.

I know most people do not complain about or fear abundant free time, but I have learned it’s not good for me in large doses.

So in shaping my summer I have been thinking about what I want to learn and what I want to experience. I will perhaps work a little in some capacity, I will take a few trips, hopefully spend some time with family and soak up our London/Paris jaunt, but what about the rest of the time?

I don’t want my days to just pass by. I want them to be meaningful, full of life–memorable even.

So I have been working on those two categories: what I want to learn and what I want to experience.

I find myself constantly thinking I wish I knew more about that so I am going to set aside a couple hours every morning to just actively learn. We live literally across the street from the library (a true simple pleasure) so I have the perfect little perch in which to make that happen. I’ve been keeping a running list of topics. I’ll have to prioritize for sure–the more you learn, the more you realize how little you know. Ain’t that the truth!

As for part two–what I want to experience–this falls into two (somewhat overlapping) categories. First, I just want to experience the place that I live, the local flavor. I want to be more aware of what’s happening in our area–the festivals, concerts, road races, celebrations–and I want to capitalize on them. I know I harp on it often, but I LOVE where I live. The parks, the ocean, the city, the walking trails, the hidden beaches, the abundant graveyards–all of it. I just love it here, but I never seem to take full advantage of all that is happening (often free of charge!) around me. Largely just because I’m not aware of it. But not this summer! I am on the hunt for local happenings!

Category two of summer experiences is simply to welcome adventure and spontaneity. Basically I just want to say YES more freely and more often without thinking so much about the cost or the inconvenience or the feasibility. I am such a logical person that I often fear I miss out on interesting opportunities, on being part of great stories, because I see the potential headaches. While this has surely saved me some frustration and real headaches, it has also inhibited me from actively living out great stories. Great stories, which inevitably are made even greater by the headaches along the way.

My even more logical, anti-spontaneity husband is probably cringing right now thinking of what I will drag him along to, but don’t worry Jerome–I promise you’ll love it. Even if just in hindsight.

(you are such a trooper.)

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”
-Henry David Thoreau

May 16, 2012   4 Comments