Thursday, February 19, 2009

Review of Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment. Quite a provocative play to watch on Valentine’s Day - full of pride…..angst…..regret…..and shame. Dostoevsky’s novel set in St. Petersburg in the late 1800’s amidst a scorching summer reminds me of the Langston Hughes Poem, Dream Deferred - What happens to a dream deferred??…..Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?....Does it fester like a sore…then run??

The scene opened with the spotlight creating an intense gaze from the portrait on the wall…..looking down on Raskoinikov prostrate on the floor. He is in white rags…..spent….hopeless…angry. A man flings the door open and demands, “Do you believe in God….Do you believe in Lazarus rising from the grave??” Raskoinikov retorts, “Does it even matter?”

From that moment, we were funneled into the story of a young man who believed certain individuals had a right to commit lawless acts if the greater good was served…..yet wallowing in anguish for the crimes he committed. That duality of mind and spirit…..of truth and Truth……of believing God was in control and of believing man was in control propelled the story deeper and deeper until the emotions….the questions….the choosing between the “greater good” and an individual’s rights came to a head…..found a balance of sorts….or at least a balance of neither “side” being perfect. At the end, all I could do was look at my date and say, “Wow.”

This was the first time I had seen a play at the cozy Upperstage Theater. Walking in, I was momentarily taken aback with how close we were to the stage - the theater seating surrounded the stage on three sides. It was small….cozy….much like a community theater in size. However, once the play started, it was apparent that this was the same caliber as the productions on the main stage - with great detail taken with the movement, lighting and sounds in the production.

The production of Crime and Punishment was a bit “different” as there were only three actors in this complex story. The Director, John Green, created an engaging story with pauses in the character movements, onstage costume modifications, and props to reflect changes in characters. Most notable were the character changes of Jennie McKnight as Sonia, a young woman forced into prostitution by poverty; Alyona an unscrupulous pawn broker who preys on the poor conditions of others; and Lizaveta, the sweet and kind sister of Alyona who is oppressed under her sister’s unreasonable commands. The changes were seamless…..and quite believable. Never once did I think of her as the “other” character.

The play ended as it began, with Raskoinikov prostrate on the floor….being asked, “Do you believe in God…Do you believe in Lazarus who rose from the grave.” To which he replies, “Does it matter?” Sonia’s reply still gives me pause…..”It might.”

As I sat in the chair next to my Valentine date, I was suddenly glad he read the book in college and understood the inner and outer struggles of the characters…and that he didn’t think I was crazy to bring him to see Crime and Punishment on a day full of flowers and promises…..but then again…..I am a complex being…..and was being true to form…

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Surviving Valentine's Day

As I sit here at Hubbard and Cravens, drinking my earl grey tea, my mind goes back a few days contemplating the Valentine weekend… I had an amazing weekend full of friends, laughter, companionship and even a date…..yes, that is right….the girl who puts all into the friend box actually had a double date for Valentine’s Day. But of course, that is the subject of another blog……I am working on being transparent……but some things need to stay in my head for a while….

My thoughts for the past couple of days have gone to What Happened to Valentine’s Day?????

When I was a child, Valentine’s Day was one of my favorite holidays….. We spent a whole week in preparation - making “mailboxes” out of paper sacks, shoeboxes, envelopes and decorating them with hearts, glitter, cut-outs……it was just a beautiful holiday…..full of pink and red….lace…..candy…… was the highlight of the year. Before the class party, we would make the annual trek to Walmart to choose our Valentine cards and convince our parents that we truly needed candy to go inside them. Each card was addressed to my classmates with the selections thought out carefully. I loved getting all of the valentine cards and would sit for hours looking through them and of course sorting and eating the candy. My Valentines box/bag/envelope would become a treasure for the next month reminding me that I was liked…loved…..special.

Somehow as an adult, Valentine’s Day turned into a day full of pressure - of knowing in the back of my mind that I was somehow going to be disappointed….the expectation of having a dream deferred…a hope quashed. I know there are others who feel the same way. Why is that?? How did a holiday full of “community” - of parties, giving encouragement to friends, and of course, presents - turn into a day of isolation for a single girl (and even a married girl)?? Where did the shift begin?

Ghandi says to become the change in the world that you want to see…….so that is my goal - to take back those dates in my mind - - those dates on the calendar that loom over me like an anvil…..the dates haunt my soul and cajole me to eat a whole box of Girl Scout Cookies with a nice Cabernet.

Last year on Valentine’s Day, I called a guy friend to see if he would like to accompany me at the local Art Walk. We had a great time discussing art, drinking complimentary wine and eating fine chocolate. It was a great evening……and for the first time, I realized that I could take back the significant dates in my life and make them my own. I realized that I didn’t have to wait for someone else to plan, organize, or even generally make me feel special - - I could orchestrate my own happiness….and you know what - it worked. Two weeks later, I threw my own birthday bash… was a wonderful feeling….

So - I am taking back Valentines Day, my birthday, Easter, Mother’s Day, the Indy 500, the 4th of July, my old anniversary, my children’s birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. From this day on……these days will be filled with community, fun, food, laughter, and smiling caring faces…. The dates will no longer loom over me….reminding me of what “once was…” instead, I will create new memories to cherish and to add to the old memories.

As far as the date goes…..stay tuned……all is beautiful…..I feel special…..and for once in a very, very long time….I dare to hope and dream….

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Ending of a Marriage is a Strange Thing

The ending of a marriage is a strange thing. One would think it is a relief, a celebration, an event to look forward to after months or even years of turmoil…….but when the time comes, it is a bittersweet moment. The moment when my pen touched the first paper to start the process, I had to stop and put the pen down - - “is this really what I want?”

Your soon to be X-spouse is part of your family - albeit a family member that you don’t want to see often and talk much to - but a family member all the same. Somehow putting pen to paper to end the relationship seems almost like the reverse process - instead of the pen writing, it is erasing - erasing all of the good memories of a life shared. It seems as if divorce has a way of stealing those precious memories away.

My friend, Michelle, wrote this beautiful note on facebook about her memories of her marriage……I felt compelled to share it…..and she has graciously consented….

For those of you that know me well, you will know that what I am about to share is VERY much out of character for me...yet, I feel compelled to share anyway....

Today I received a draft version of my final divorce papers. And, as I was sitting and reading these papers, it occurred to me how much life can change with just a couple of signatures. Flashes of the last 8 1/2 years of my life started to go through my head and I began to am I ever supposed to sign these? It seems like signing these papers are like saying that the last 8 1/2 years of my life that I have worked so hard to build mean nothing and this thought makes me sad beyond belief.

Don't get me wrong, my soon to be ex and I have had our share of rough times. We have screamed at each other and both done things that I am sure we could take back. But there have been so many good times too...

1. The time that he sent me flowers for no reason at all after only 2 weeks of dating (so out of character for my ex).
2. The time that he surprised me for valentines day and bought tickets to a fancy dinner at the zoo, along with all of the fancy clothes we both needed to wear to the event.
3. When he used to make me breakfast in bed every morning, because he knew I was not a morning person, but thought I needed to eat breakfast anyway.
4. How excited we were when we decided that we were ready to start trying to have kids.
5. The birth of both of our beautiful children.
6. Crying together when his grandmother died.
7. Crying together when my grandfather died.
8. Trying not to kill each other when Owen had acid reflux and cried non-stop for the first 4 months of his life.

These are big and small moments that make up a life. They are a history and a family that two people build together. How am I supposed to sign papers that seem to minimalize these events down to who pays for what and who gets what items in the house? Does life really just come down packed boxes and broken promises? It all just seems so sad.

Her note inspired me to share some of my favorite memories - - as a reminder of the beautiful friendship that the X and I shared……..once upon a time

1. Playing cards…..canasta, hearts, spades, speed…until the wee hours of the night
2. body surfing in the ocean with waves that were less than spectacular…..but laughing for hours about it all
3. The time he wore a goofy hat (with the ears hanging down) at Disney and following Lauren around the park talking to her in his goofy voice
4. lying on the couch for hours eating popcorn and watching movies
5. All the times he made no-bake cookies for me when I was stressed
6. sitting for hours listening to him play guitar
7. the hours spent in the tractor together while plowing, planting, or harvesting our crops in the fields
8. shoe shopping with him - when I would try to decide between two pairs….he would grin….look at me slyly, and say, “buy both!” (Trust me - I miss that terribly!!!!)

After contemplating the memories of my marriage for a few days……I have decided that the memories give me hope…..hope that someday I will be making new memories with someone special…….adding to the gallery of happy times. I will not take the old memories off that gallery wall - I will cherish them for what they are……and continue to paint on the canvas that is my new life.