Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Can you hear that?

Shhhh! Listen...you have to sit very still to hear it. But if you do it's almost deafening. It's the sound of children all over the world reading. Isn't it amazing? They're not watching television, or hanging at the mall. They have their noses in a book the size and weight of a bowling ball.

The latest wave of mass reading started at about midnight last Friday, when the last installment of Harry Potter was released. Some managed to complete it by Saturday morning. Others are anxiously tapping their fingers and watching their siblings read, waiting for their turn. Most are huddled on couches, in corners, sprawled on their beds; engrossed in the imagination of J.K. Rowling. My 8-year-old is currently reading book one. My mother just called and asked to borrow book two, both caught up in the excitement and trying to catch up.

It was all any of the kids could talk about at church on Sunday:

"Who's finished it?" "Don't tell us anything!" "My sister's reading ours. She's taking forever."

Whether you love her or hate her, or think her work is of the devil (yes, there are some that think that), you can't deny that she's brought the excitement of reading to a new generation. And it's spreading. Last night I got a phone call from one of the girls in my neighborhood asking if she can borrow Twilight, a novel by LDS writer Stephanie Meyers that all the teen girls around here love. Unfortunately it's loaned out already, has been ever since my daughters and I finished it. In fact, I got a new copy from one of the people who borrowed it, the copy I'd loaned her got so hammered. So I gave the girl the names of some others that have it (including the neighbor that ended up buying her own). I suspect she's tired of watching her sister reading their only Harry copy. Whatever. They're reading, and I'm grateful to those brilliant women who have helped it happen.

Friday, July 13, 2007

A solo!

As predicted, the musical I'm in has taken over my life. Three rehearsals in as many days. It won't always be that hectic, she's putting together Act 1, and since I'm A LEAD I have to at all the LEAD rehearsals. The definition of a LEAD (it's such an impressive word I feel it has to be in caps) is anyone with a speaking part. And I conveniently have one speaking part. It goes like this, "And this is Mrs. Squires, and Mrs. Hix, and of course you met Eulalie Mckecknie Shin, the mayor's wife. Isn't it exciting Eulalie?" I typed that by heart, thank you very much. And the director told me I did a good job last night. She said the emotion was just right. Thank you, thank you, hold your applause please.

But here's the really exciting news: I have a solo! Yes, I will actually be singing, on stage, by myself. My part goes like this: "Or dishes."

Yep, that's it. "Or dishes".

It's in the Wells Fargo song, when the towns folk are reminiscing past packages, and speculating on what they might be receiving. I'm pretty sure the part was hand-selected for me, because every adult in attendance got one, and there weren't any one-word parts. Two words - can't mess that up too bad. Although I did the first time - I yelled instead of sang. The second time wasn't much better. It wasn't quite a holler, but still didn't have any lilt that would qualify it as singing. I can sing it at home by myself. "Or dishes." Yep, sounds fine - has a lilt and everything. But at the rehearsal, the pressure is so intense - everybody's bouncing and bopping and singing, really fast, and all of a sudden a lady says "it might be curtains" and I've got to remember to stop bouncing, stand tall, and belt out "OR DISHES."

Phew, I have totally new appreciation for actors.

I'll keep practising, "Or dishes..." plus I just ordered the DVD "Or dishes..." so I can figure out how to get it like I did my line last night, with just the right emotion. "Or dishes..."

Isn't it exciting Eulalie?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Gilligan Lives On

I wrote a little song for our girl's camp to the tune of Gilligan's Island. It was about the girls using amazing certification skills they learned at camp to save their leaders from drowning. When I told the girls about the song, their reaction was, "Gilligan what?"

"You know? Gilligan's Island. The show."

Blank stares.

I asked how many of them had seen Gilligan's Island, and about two hands went up! Out of fifty teenage girls! Two hands! When I asked how many had HEARD of it, I got about three more. What is with that? We're talking an American classic! So one of the first things I did when I got home was head to the library where I checked out DVDs from both seasons. My daughters may not be able to find Argentina on a map, but they have to know more about American history than that!

After watching the first episode, I asked my 15-year-old daughter Natalie what she thought. She shrugged and said it was ok, not laugh-out-loud funny, but sort-of funny. Hmmph. It takes a lot to entertain kids these days.

Within minutes there was a scene where Gilligan and the Skipper are trying get into their hammocks. The Skipper started at the bottom, and Gilligan climbed over him to get to the type, subsequently falling on top of him. Natalie chuckled. Gilligan tried again, flipping the hammock upset down. Natalie laughed. Outloud. By the end of the scene, the Skipper is on the top, slowly slipping closer and closer to poor Gilligan, who is about to be smashed flat. Natalie was literally falling off the couch laughing.

Ironically, that very same day we got that picture from my son. He is spending two years in Mexico, and just like Gilligan he sleeps in a hammock. My kids laughed at me when we learned about the hammocks, because I questioned whether he'd still want to go. They thought that was ridiculous, and I guess it was, because he didn't bat an eye when we told him. But if you told me I'd have to sleep in a hammock for two years, I'd say no flat out. No way. Nada.

But he claims to love them. Says he's bringing a couple home with him. This is what he had to say about the picture: "Thats one tiny room in our house and we dont usually sleep like that. Its actually a really big house, we just put the hammocks like that for one night. It was a horrible night."

I'm picturing all three of the boys on top closing in on the poor guy on the bottom. Now that would have been fall-off-the couch funny.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Girls, girls, girls...

So the month of June has gone by in a giant, confusing, achy and slightly embarassing blur. I work with the teenage girls in my ward (aka church group), about fifty of them. Fifty. Wow. That's alot. Sometimes we divide up into groups - I'm over the 14 and 15 year olds, in which case we have about 18, which is still a lot when you're trying to do something like bake bread or weed a flower garden.There's no such thing as a small activity any more. And in the past three weeks we've gone to camp (where the fifty joined about 200 others), a pageant, and a youth conference (where we had a bunch of very "spirited" boys thrown into the mix).

Oh my gosh, I am sooo tired. I'm weaning myself back from two naps a day between activities to just one. I kept wondering why older ladies like myself were chosen to go on these wild and very physical activities with such energetic young things. By the end of the youth conference I figured it out. It actually dawned on me while watching my friend Marsha - roughly my age - showing off the very classy "swim" move on the dance floor, surrounded by a bunch of amused teens. It goes back to that freedom of the fourties I wrote about earlier - the younger ladies are still worrying about looking good. Those of us in our fourties who are still (barely) able to keep up, don't mind making a fool of ourselves while we're doing it (note: change 'don't mind' to 'are willing'.)

For example, while fixing a plate of food at camp, I pushed the main course to the side to make room for salad, and dumped half my food on the table. I looked around, no one was watching, so I quickly cleaned up after myself. But then I heard my dear daughter's voice, "I saw that Mom." She was right behind me, grinning.

"Shoot," I said, "I thought I got away with that one."

"No," she assured me, "I see all the dorky things you do. Like when you tripped over that rock over there."

I didn't even remember the rock. But I believed her. I'd been tripping and stumbling over things all week. Dorky was kind of my theme. And while I couldn't remember the rock, I knew there was something else she didn't know about...I just couldn't remember what it was. Until I sat down to dinner and one of the girls, with a big grin, mentioned the kayak. That was it! She didn't even know about the kayak. Almost my shining dork moment:

Earlier that day we'd gone kayaking - we the leaders waited on the shore while the girls took their turns. Near the end we, the more mature leaders, left the young leaders to sunbathe and look dignified. Three of us found kayaks and rowed out toward the buoys. But it didn't take long before the other two were way ahead of me. I was rowing for all I was worth, and they looked like they were at a picnic. My friend Marsha has bad hips, and had been worried about them. My hips were killing me. So I called out, "How are your hips?"


"Fine? They're fine?" I rowed harder. But I couldn't catch up. I was getting downright peeved, and vowed to head to the gym as soon as I got home. Then I heard this little voice behind me, one of the girls: "Suzanne! Suzanne! You're in your kayak backwards!"

Yep. That's right. My feet were resting against the backrest, and my hips were crammed into the little foot area.

But that wasn't my finest moment. No, that would be the tire swing. It was suspended over a platform that allowed you to push out over a nice little babbling brook, and was pretty much in constant use. After mucho assurance that it is just impossible to fall - after all it had been tried hundreds of times, I decided to give it a shot. There were several methods, the most popular being putting one foot in the middle of the tire, then swinging the other over as you push out. But I had no shoes that could get wet, and just could not get my bare foot to rest in the center of the tire. So I went for the second method of just jumping and putting both legs around at the same time.

Yeah right.

I went boom. Feet first into the water.

But it doesn't end there. No I just couldn't stop there. I had seen another little- used method where the girl just sat in the center of the tire and pushed off. I could do that. Yep, should've tried that from the start. So I climbed back up onto the platform and put the tire over my head. But as it got to my lower back the rope went taught, and one of the girls told me that the rope is just too short to make it all the way down, and I just have to jump into it as I push off.

And that's where I should have gotten out. But I'm sure you've figured out I didn't. I pushed off, and tried to sit. Except there was no room for my rear. I pushed and pushed on the stupid tire, but it wouldn't budge. When I realized my rear end was just too big for the tire I started laughing, and lost complete control. I flailed. Into the water and out again and back again and out again. It was a mess.

Somewhere near the end of the week I decided to just give up on any notions of dignity and revel in my dorkdom. Which explains how one of the boys at the youth conference ended up with a picture on his cell phone of me wearing a purple bra on my head.