Friday, September 25, 2009

Off to DIsney World!

On our last trip to Disney, four of us got sick. (The fifth one, Rachael, waited until we got home to throw up.)

So we are trying again.

We're leaving tomorrow morning, and when we get back home, I have six days until the opening performance of Godspell!

I won't be able to post at Disney, because internet connection is $10/day, and you already know I'm as cheap as dirt.

Catch you in a week! (or two!)

Monday, September 21, 2009

And finally ....

Okay, now after two posts of Somewhat Unnecessary (yet hopefully entertaining) Autobiography, I can finally answer the question of "Why I had no desire or interest in writing" in one sentence:

I've been very focused on my piano lately, and when I'm delving into the piano, I have little mental energy left to focus on writing.


I hope that was worth waiting for.

To be more specific ....

I've been trying to market myself more, and have put up two websites. I'm in the process of putting together some audio clips, and once I put them up on the sites, I bet I'll start getting more leads. I've been working on a lot of music, including things like Jazz Standards and lots of "Charlie Brown music."

In the meantime, I was smart enough to put the word "accompanist" in my Party Pop listing, and was contacted to ...

.... be the accompanist for a local production of Godspell!

The show is in less than three weeks, so I am, uh, learning the music rather quickly. What's fun is that the whole family is learning it. For example, last night Becca was getting ready for bed and singing (very sweetly), "Pray ye ... pray ye ... the way of the Lord ..."

The kids particularly like the song "All for the Best," which three year old Benjamin calls "the silly song."

So there you have it: Right now I'm focusing on being a Pianist, and not a Writer. Stay tuned for which of my two identities takes over next month.

Cliff-hanger ... resolved!

When we last left, you were breathlessly awaiting the answer to what kept me from pursuing a journalism degree and/or being a well-known children's writer by now.

Well, when I was sixteen, my piano teacher at the time quite casually asked if I was planning on majoring in music in college. And I was completely intrigued by that idea.

Believe it or not, I had never heard of someone actually studying music in college until just recently. I honestly thought (and sadly, I think a lot of people think this way) that piano teachers and accompanists were just bored housewives that wanted to make a few bucks and had taken piano lessons as a kid.

To be perfectly honest, I was not a very good piano player when I was 16. But I was good enough to get a partial music scholarship at a college that was very generous about their music scholarships.

So when I started college, I thought I would either:
a) Get a double-major in journalism and music; or
b) Take the required classes to be a freshman music major, so I could keep the scholarship for a year, then switch to studying journalism

Well, I ended up staying a music major.

I still feel torn between my two desires, for music and writing. Because I've been driven to do both, I've never been able to pursue either one with the intensity that most musicians and writers do. And I often feel like I've never really excelled at either.

If you'll excuse the laughable comparison, I've often felt a little like Joni Mitchell. While she professionally pursued a music career, you can tell that, in her heart, she is more of a painter.

I feel like writing sums up more who I am, while music sums up what I do. I'm naturally a pretty good writer. I feel like I even have what I call a "writer's personality." I am not naturally a particularly good musician, but for whatever reason, I've felt driven to work hard at it.

Of course, right now I am proving that I am not a very good writer, but taking three entire blog posts to address something I could have actually answered in one sentence. More to come ...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Post with a Shameless Cliff-Hanger ....

Since I'm sure many of you have been tossing and turning at night, wondering why I haven't had the desire to write lately, I thought I'd address it.

I've always found it curious when people got to college and said they "didn't know what to study." For one thing, that is a hell of a lot of money and time to be spending when you don't exactly know why you're there. But more to the point, I could never understand it because I always had the opposite problem.

When I was in third grade, I dimly remember being given a school assignment to write a story called "What I Would Say if Snowmen Could Talk." (And I distinctly remember my father pointing out that it should be titled, "What I Would Say if Snowmen Could Listen." Well, what can you expect from a South Jersey public school?)

I no longer have this story, and do not remember what, in fact, I would have said if snowman could talk (or listen). But I do remember writing it and thinking, with an unusual clarity and certainty for an eight year-old, "I'm going to be a children's writer when I grow up."

This clarity and certainty continued and, when I was ten years old, I actually wrote a rough draft, then typed up as a 45-page manuscript (yes, on a typewriter!), asked a neighbor friend to illustrate it for me, and mailed it to Dell Yearling Publishers.

Why Dell Yearling? Why, because I had a copy of Judy Blume's Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret -- I still have it, and it has the cover torn off, is permanently curled, and has Various Food Stains on it -- and Dell Yearling was the publisher, and their address was on the copyright page.

At age ten, I didn't know enough about the publishing industry to even enclose a SASE. So, really, it would have been fair for Dell Yearling to have thrown it in the trash and go on about their day. If they were feeling particularly generous that day, I could picture them paying the postage to return the manuscript and send me a form rejection letter

So it rather is quite stunning, in retrospect, that they took the time to send me (and my illustrator friend) a personalized letter, saying that it "had potential" and other encouraging things I can't remember at the moment. They also sent me a list of periodicals (like Stone Soup) that publish children's work.

Without boring you too much with details, I was thirteen when I had my first story published, I won a school-wide, then county-wide writing contest when I was fifteen, and I was the front page editor of my high school newspaper my senior year. Surely my Snowman Epiphany when I was eight was no passing phase.

Yet ... a college friend I recently found thanks to Facebook [Shelley] recently said to me, "Oh, I never knew you liked to write."

What?? How can this be, you ask? Wasn't I avidly writing in college? Where did I go wrong? What happened?

Ah ... the same thing that is happening now, and if you haven't figured it out already, you will have to wait for Part Two to find out the answer ....

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Movie Night Update (AKA "Lazy Post #2")

Boy, talk about Lazy Posts.

Since I've don't feel like Truly Writing, I'll just post some images of what we've been watching lately for Friday Pizza and Movie Night.

I originally saw A Bug's Life in the theater with Robert back before we had kids (and back when I went to the movie theater more than once every two years.)

I knew I enjoyed it then, but had forgotten how good it was. I was a little worried that it would be too scary for the kids, but they enjoyed it (although it was particularly difficult to get them all calmed down and in bed that night).


Does anyone remember those Disney movies about college student Dexter Riley, back when Kurt Russell was young and cute? (As opposed to Older, but Still Rather Cute):

The girls liked this one a lot. Benjamin liked it too, because it had a lot of cars in them. (Albeit invisible ones, at times.)

As a kid, I thought the two main characters reminded me of Micky and Peter from the Monkees. I was actually a little surprised to see that they still did.

And finally, we saw the movie that I knew would be a SobFest for me .....

Yup. Dumbo.

I cried through about half of it.

What's interesting is that for some reason I had a record (yes, record) of the soundtrack when I was a kid, but I don't know if I actually ever saw the movie. Anyway, it was weird to instantly remember the songs even though I had not heard them for decades.

I was amused to read some negative reviews on Amazon that said "Dumbo" was a very racist movie because the crows were depicted as being black. Well gee, considering that the crows
a) had the best song in the whole show; and b) were the only supporting characters with any redeeming qualities whatsoever ... well, um, that seems like a good thing to ,e.

The kids and I watched it again today. I cried again, although a little less this time, and was convinced that it was one of the sweetest, most touching movies I've ever seen.

My "Cheat Post"

I was touched when not just one, but two, of my dearest childhood friends (Becky and Kim), wrote to me to ask where I've been lately.

It's strange. I've had many potential posts floating around in my head lately. They would be perfectly good posts (or, at least as good as any of my past posts, for whatever that's worth).

But I have no desire to write.

I don't mean that I have no time to write. I mean I have no desire. Even though I have plenty of topics (and that's usually the hard part), I have no interest in writing them.

I have two solid theories for this .... but guess what? I have no desire (right now) to actually take the time to write about them.

But hey, my mini-following of Exactly Two People is looking for something, so at the moment I'll do what I call a "Cheat Post" (or, more accurately, a "Lazy Post") and put up a couple recent pictures of the kids:

Here's Benjamin, intently playing with his beloved vehicles
(and Rachael in the background)

and here's the girls with tattoos they were excited to get at a pool party.


and Rachael