Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Acting Happier (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)

This week, handed me Mama Kat prompt number four: Kids say the darndest things…describe a time a child’s honesty made you think.

Three and a half years ago, I could still tell my two kids (then 9 and 12) "let's hop in the car and go on a trip." Now there would be strings attached - pleas to bring friends along, complaints about being cooped up in the car together - it just wouldn't work.

In August 2008, Tenley, Wayne Kevin, and I took a trip to Orlando. The "goal driven" part of the trip was to visit an open casting call at Background Entertainment, an extras-casting agency. The day after the casting call visit, we planned to spend the day at Wet 'n Wild Water Park.

A picture from our day at Wet 'n Wild!

For several years prior to this trip to Orlando, I had ridden the waves of several emotional ups and downs (mostly downs). One of the lower points of that period was when I was visiting the St. Louis Arch and approached a staff person to ask if I could use my admission ticket for a slightly different time. It was a small housekeeping inquiry in the scheme of things, but the tone with which I asked it (it must have been sort of Eeyore-like) led the employee to say, "Smile, things aren't that bad."

As I began to claw my way out of the morass of concerns that had been weighing me down, I got involved with the FSU Film School (I got involved with the Film School because Tenley was auditioning, then Wayne Kevin who could barely read was auditioning ... and I started going in to auditions because that was a lot more fun than sitting in the waiting area). My interest in filmmaking and acting started as a tiny spark. The spark got fanned considerably when the HBO Film "Recount" was made here in Tallahassee and I had an "extra" role as an attorney. That scene ended up on the cutting room floor but starting off an "extra career" on an HBO Film three feet away from Kevin Spacey was kind of like learning to drive in a Mazerati.

The trip to Orlando was a way to dip a toe in the water of the film business outside of Tallahassee. Background Entertainment had done the extras casting for Recount so I had met some of the staff already.

Here's where the "kids say the darnedest things" part comes in. As we were driving to Orlando, Tenley said, "you seem happier now." She was right. I was no longer alarming customer service people with my low affect; I felt more positive about the options in my life; and even though the acting/film world steps I was taking were very small, they were steps. (I had not realized my daughter was so tuned in to my low mood.)

And like my friend Jarrod, who had a "day job" but contributed such heart and commitment to so many FSU Film productions before his untimely death last year, I was discovering an avocation that, despite a lot of hard work, a lot of "hurry up and wait," and a lot of unpredictability, made my heart sing every time I walked onto a set or interacted with the students. That happiness was not an act.

Still isn't.

The making of "The Looking Glass" with Nestor Bustamante
October 2011



Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wordless Wednesday (Shades of Autumn Finale Edition)

This is Week Eight of the Shades of Autumn Photo Challenge. It's finale week!
For finale week, I am sharing images from the labyrinth garden at my church (Holy Comforter Episcopal). Last Saturday, I spent time in the labyrinth reflecting on the experiences I had and the images I captured during the Shades of Autumn Photo Challenge. As I walked the labyrinth, the main thing that came to mind is that although the focus was on images, there were also many special people involved in helping make those images happen, such as the rare opportunity to be with my friends Audrey and Kimmi that resulted in my green week post or the kind employee at Esposito's who helped me pick out the perfect milkweed plant to attract monarch butterflies for orange week.

The Labyrinth, Autumn 2011:

If you are interested in learning more about labyrinths as spirtual tools, here is one resource.
Finally, thank you to Kristi of Live and Love Out Loud, Alicia of Project Alicia, and Rebecca of Bumbles and Light for coordinating this challenge. I can't think of a week during the challenge when one of the organizers did not comment on my post. Thank you for your encouragement and the work each of you put into coordinating this challenge.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ten on Tuesday (on Sunday)

Hello everyone! Here it is Sunday night and time to post. I am on deadline for an editing project, so I am going to take a shortcut and rely on someone else's structure.

Every time Teacher Girl posts a "Ten on Tuesday from Chelsea at Roots and Rings," I think "wow those are interesting questions!". This week's questions were centered around Thanksgiving (shocker), so I am going to answer the "Ten on Tuesday" even though it is Sunday. These questions were provided by Elizabeth at E is Random.

(Thanksgiving decorations by Jessica Oglesby)

1. What are you doing for Thanksgiving this year?

My 12 year old son and I ran the Turkey Trot! He ran the mile and I ran the 5K. Then we headed to Thomasville (Georgia) for the family get-together at my husband's sister's house.

2. What are you most thankful for this year?

I am thankful that Tenley and I had the opportunity to travel to Guatemala to meet our sponsored child Silvia, and to start sponsoring Estela. I am also thankful that my husband has a job through the end of the legislative session (March 2012). Never underestimate the effect on your morale of having somewhere to go every morning.

3. Do you have any traditions on Thanksgiving? The parade? Football? Long naps?

My son and I always run the Turkey Trot. Going to Mary's house in Thomasville has been the tradition for a long time; she has a great house for entertaining. We all pitch in to make the mounds of food that end up being consumed.

4. Is it called stuffing or dressing? Is it in the bird or a separate dish?

I use the terms interchangeably, but it has always been a separate dish. Separate dish growing up; separate dish now at Mary's. This is partially because the birds are now fried (can you stuff a fried bird?) and partially because I really don't want salmonella.

5. Do you cook?

It's a group effort. My brother-in-law fries the turkeys; my husband makes a killer pumpkin-shrimp bisque; I did the green bean casserole this year. The list goes on and on.
6. What is your favorite dish?

My favorite dish is the sweet potato casserole with all of the calorie-laden junk on top. It is one of the reasons I run 3.1 miles every Thanksgiving morning.7. What is your dessert preference?

I am an equal-opportunity dessert consumer. This year's hit (to me) was the chocolate-pecan pie. I do like fruit pies such as apple. I am not a tremendous fan of pumpkin but it is a tasty seasonal treat sometimes. But it doesn't have chocolate in it so pumpkin pie will remain in the "sometimes" category forevermore for me.

8. What is your favorite Thanksgiving memory?

I wrote about one favorite memory in last Wednesday's post. For another favorite memory, I would have to say Thanksgiving in New York City with Wayne in 1990, watching the Macy's Parade and eating at a Southern restaurant afterwards.

9. Do you plan to shop on Black Friday?

I did not shop on Black Friday. Although I am incredibly grateful that  Wayne has work (for now), clawing our way out of the financial effects of his job loss in August 2010 is going to take a while. Rampant consumerism is leaving me cold.

10. What are you most dreading about Thanksgiving this year?

I can't say I really dreaded anything. I knew that my niece, Kris, and her family would be staying with us. I dreaded them seeing the house in less than optimal condition. But Kris, being her wonderful self, looked past the various pet stains on the carpet and my general clutter. Spending time with her, her husband, and her kids Allie and Griffin was so great. The house seems so quiet and idle now that they have gone home.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Not Your Average 5K (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)

This week, handed me Mama Kat prompt number three: A favorite Thanksgiving memory.

Every Thanksgiving, thousands of my fellow Tallahasseeans (along with visiting friends/family) and I gather to run 5, 10, or 15 kilometers (or the 1 mile "gobbler") to kick off the day.

I had no illusions of running a "fast" (for me) Turkey Trot last year; I had been injured for several months and had barely been running at all. When the race started, I began a slow jog. Within a few hundred feet, I ended up falling into conversation with Charlie Yates (who was 85 at the time!) and my friend Judy Alexander (our Gulf Winds Track Club president).

Charlie is a true institution in Gulf Winds. Back in the mid-90's when I started running races in Tallahassee, I thought of him as "one of those older runners." I don't know what that means now that almost 20 more years have elapsed, but he's still out there - maybe a little slower but still putting in the miles.

As we traversed the course it was Charlie who made us feel like rock stars (I think the exact words were "two beautiful women"). Our pace allowed me to enjoy the surroundings, such as this autumnal vista that turned into the following week's Wordless Wednesday: 

More importantly than the scenery, I had an opportunity to spend time with someone who has done so much for our sport locally*.

Judy Alexander, Charlie Yates, Me
November 26, 2009
Photo Credit: Samantha Corbin

A sixty-eight minute 5K may sound incredibly slow compared to the average runner.

But this was no average day.

And for that I am thankful.


*And lo and behold I was having a good hair day. A double bonus!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wordless Wednesday (Within the Lines Edition)

This is Week Seven of the Shades of Autumn Photo Challenge. This week's color is white. 

As a "Dance Mom," I do a whole lot of waiting. In the car. Between white lines on the pavement. These white lines:

Life lived "between the lines" doesn't have to be dull; we just have to look a little harder sometimes to see the beauty that is there to enjoy.

The Shades of Autumn Photo Challenge is hosted by Kristi of Live and Love Out Loud, Alicia of Project Alicia, and Rebecca of Bumbles and Light. The challenge welcomes photographers of all skill levels. Next week's theme is FINALE! The linky for finale week will be up starting on Friday, November 25 (after which we will be on our own to think up Wordless Wednesday topics - it's been a while!).

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My World on 11-11-11

On November 11, 2011, I participated in the 11Eleven Project. The 11Eleven project is an effort to capture (then immortalize) images of the world through the day on 11/11/11. The result of the contributions will include several things, including a world music collection, a photo book, and a two-hour documentary. The organization coordinating the project is a non profit, and proceeds will go to:

For a really interesting representation of how tweets mentioning "11-11-11" moved across the world on November 11, visit this link.

The 11Eleven project was loosely organized around eleven topics. In keeping with the idea that everything had to be recorded on 11/11/11, I am simply including the name of the topic and an unedited image I took that day.




Make a Wish








Lastly, here is my recording of my thoughts on the eleven topics, as the day neared its end:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Oh, Parenting (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)

This week, handed me Mama Kat prompt number two: Your biggest parenting challenge and/or joy.

I have two children, Tenley (15) and Wayne (12). There was never any question that being a mom was a goal for me. I have never been disappointed that I chose to have children, and despite all of the poop, human pacifier-ness of those first months, sleep deprivation, homework monitoring, mom-taxiing, Barney viewings, close calls almost breaking my neck tripping over Hot Wheels cars, goodie bags with cheap plastic crap, and a thousand other up-and-down parenthood experiences (dance, gymnastics, running, football would take a whole additional post), it is still my core purpose in life.

The challenge? Reconciling the ideal of the family I envisioned, with the reality of the one I ended up with. Before I had kids, I had a vision of being the house in the neighborhood where everyone congregated. Instead I walk into the house sometimes to loud rowdy boys and am annoyed that I have to stay "on" until they leave. Before I had kids, I envisioned my offspring dressed in durable, stylish, clean, ironed clothes. Instead (and this comment applies to my son as opposed to my daughter) I see a kid who really doesn't care (much) that his Croc (that he is not supposed to be wearing to school anyway) is missing a back strap or that he is going on his first "date" in gym shorts and a tshirt from a summer camp.  I envisioned children sitting down at their desks in their rooms, getting their homework done studiously. Although my daughter has adopted better work habits, I still walk in on my son "doing his homework" at the computer ... with YouTube on the screen (and they AREN'T instructional videos)!

Even with all of that, I guess the verses I chose for their birth announcements sum up the joy with which Tenley and Wayne were welcomed into the world (I just didn't know the world would be quite so chaotic!).


Don't know why you chose us
Were you watching from above?
Is there someone there that knows us,
Said we'd give you all our love?
--Marc Cohn


Everything we feel for you
Started many ages ago.
Long before we knew you
Long before we met you.
We were sure we'd find you
someday, somehow...
Now you really are here and
now at last we know.
That long before we knew you,
we loved you so.

-- Jule Styne





Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Wordless Wednesday (Brown Understudy Edition)

This is Week Six of the Shades of Autumn Photo Challenge. This week's color is brown. 

We have a tree in our front yard that is (on first glance) pretty nondescript. I have hung the occasional bird feeder in it; I have driven past it thousands of times as I pulled into and out of our driveway. It's green. Right now it has some red coloring. Fortunately, for brown week it has some cool brown nut-things hidden deep within the leaves.

To me, the brown nuts are like the understudy who knows a part backwards and forwards but has never gotten a chance to shine. This is your week, brown!

The Shades of Autumn Photo Challenge is hosted by Kristi of Live and Love Out Loud, Alicia of Project Alicia, and Rebecca of Bumbles and Light. The challenge welcomes photographers of all skill levels. Next week's theme is white! The linky for white week will be up starting on Friday, November 18.