Saturday, February 28, 2009

We're playing Tagrit!

I've been tagged, and around my house that means we're playing tagrit. My daughter coined that particular phrase, using the term over several days before I figured out exactly what she meant. She lives for the fleeting moments when her three big brothers will play with her, and tagrit is a favorite game. Tag, you're it = tagrit in little-girl-trying-to-keep-up-with-big-brothers language.

Now I'm playing a different kind of tag - one that brings less physical benefits (I really should be playing the real tag game, or anything that would have me running or getting more physical exercise than my current chasing and transporting my kids regimen), but is stimulating, just the same. It seems to be pretty popular among those who join me in being connected to their computers for escape and amusement purposes, as well as for all the enriching and socially satisfying benefits. I've been blog-tagged by one of my oldest friends.

Here are the rules:

(1) Share 6 non- (though not necessarily un-) important things about yourself on your blog.
(2) Tag 6 blogging friends to then do the same.
(3) Let each person know s/he’s been tagged by leaving a comment on his or her blog.
(4) Let your tagger know when your entry is up.

After much consideration, I decided I’m thinking way too much about which 6 things to write and should just go on and write something already.

I use this one whenever we have events where we do one of those getting-to-know-you activities and have to tell a few things that are true about ourselves and some that are not, then others have to guess which are the true statements. No one ever gets this one right.

I paid for much of my college education with a soccer scholarship (of sorts) from our men’s soccer team. Two of my favorite men in the world (Mike "Bert" Berticelli and Chris "Rico" Petrucelli) were our coaches. After I worked for them during my Freshman year, one or both of them arranged for me to receive work-study pay for my job as their statistician and manager. They didn't have to do it; I loved the game, the team, the coaches, and the experience. I didn't ask them to pay me for the work I did, but I'll be forever grateful that they offered. They made all the difference in my life. They allowed me to quit the job I held at a department store, which meant I didn't have to waste all that time driving to a neighboring town to work and be so disconnnected from campus. They gave me not only a way to justify spending all that time at the soccer office/stadium and with the team, but more importantly gave me a kind of confidence and priceless memories that I cannot imagine having built any other way.

The same year I graduated, these coaches moved up from positions as Men's Soccer Head Coach and Men's Soccer Assistant Coach at our college (Old Dominion University) to build successful programs as Men's Soccer Head Coach and Women's Soccer Head Coach at Notre Dame University. They both went on to make soccer - and the world in general - better places in many ways. To me, they'll always be the guys who saw more in me than I saw in myself and who treated me like I could be someone important when they were under no obligation to do so. I've worn my little gold soccer ball charm on my necklace almost every day since Coach Bert gave it to me just before my Senior year.

Here's a link to a poem Coach Mike Berticelli, former Old Dominion University & University of Notre Dame Head Men's Soccer Coach, NSCAA Vice President of Education, and NSCAA Director of Coaching Emeritus wrote about Youth Soccer coaches before his untimely death in 2000:

I love the ocean. I love learning about and watching ocean animals, studying ocean science, teaching about the ocean, doing ocean-related experiments, sitting next to and listening to the ocean, sorting through seashells, and taking pictures of my kids at the ocean. I think I could watch the ocean churn, roll, and foam for hours on end. I do not, however, enjoy swimming in the ocean. No matter how shallow or deep the water, every minute I'm in the ocean is spent imagining how many of those ocean creatures could possibly be lurking in the murky waters immediately around and below me. I used to love ocean swimming, always marvelling at the power of the swells and waves and the way the tides affect the direction we end up going. Some time in my grown-up years, though, I lost my tolerance for the mystery and the possibilities of things that could invade my personal space. I don't know if it's correlation or causation, but the change seemed to have possibly come around the same time as the summer when I had a horrible case of shingles that followed a nerve around my abdomen and back area, swam in the ocean, and suffered agonizing pain from the sand and salt water rubbing under my swimsuit and into those patches of blisters.

I have a kind of love/hate relationship with numbers and patterns. They calm me. When I'm feeling overwhelmed or stressed, a few games of Free Cell or Sudoku will help me step back and feel like I can put things in order. On the other hand, my need for patterns can be nearly paralyzing. I've been known to count the parents standing in a line on sign-up day at school, then move myself back the correct number of people to make sure I get a carpool number or lunch number I can wear without feeling like the Earth is spinning out of control. The last time we got a new cell phone, I literally broke into a cold sweat while we waited for the randomly-assigned phone number to appear on the computer screen. I begged the man to let us change if, just by chance, the new number would be some random jumble of numbers. He first thought I was joking, until he saw how wide my eyes were and how close I was to crying. My current number crisis is the order in which our new health insurance company has assigned our member numbers. They've made my husband first, then put the rest of us in alphabetical order. Dolts. How could they? Don't they know that the universe might split into pieces if, after the main policy-holder, the rest of us are not listed in descending age order?

I'm a rule-follower. I stop - fully stop - at all stop signs, even in empty parking lots. In the past, I could not stand to drive at any speed above the posted speed limit. Even now, I gasp if I look at the speedometer and realize I'm driving 5 or more miles per hour over the speed limit. I've been a rule-follower all my life. I have always imagined that my parents know this about me and made sure, when we were young, to ask just the right questions if they needed to know who did what while they were out. I know how to use creative phrasing and answer parts of questions, but if I'm asked a specific question, I will undoubtedly spill the beans.

Tomatoes. I don't like them. I want to like them. Every year I think, "This will be the year I like tomatoes!" Then I try them and, lo and behold, I still don't like them. I like looking at those cute little grape tomatoes and putting them on my family members' plates. I like making tomato sandwiches for my husband and daughter. I am fascinated by the big, huge tomatoes where each slice is the same size as a piece of bread. I especially like the kind of sandwich I make for them with toasted cheddar cheese. They look so delicious! You would think I would at least like that kind. I don't. ... Maybe next year?

I love musical theatre and performing music. I didn't realize until just recently how much I enjoy it and how much I wish I had not been so painfully shy in my youth. I could have been so much better at it if I had let myself grow to my full potential when I had such instruction available. I grew up in a town where we had opportunities that were hidden gems for the musically or theatrically inclined. Our Fine Arts Center was where I went to ballet and tap classes, tried several art/craft experiments, sang in a Youth Chorale which was led by an outstanding woman and produced several highly-talented individuals, and watched my parents and siblings participate in plays and operettas. (See my previous blog post about "Tradition.") I sang in choir at church for most of my life, as well, which probably started because my mother was the choir director for much of the time.

Our show choir director and our theater teacher in high school ran programs in which I consider myself lucky to have been able to participate. What fun! What culture! What a creative learning ground I had available! During my college years, however, I only participated in one bit of musical theatre. My then-boyfriend/now-husband is blond and I had some experience with singing/acting, so we signed up to earn extra credit by participating in our Theater Arts professor's production of "Cabaret" in the local community theatre. Through that venue, we met a unique and extraordinary group of people. That was an experience I would never trade! Oh, the stories we could tell!

Our family's more recent theatrical venues have been infinitely less - um - seedy. For several years, we did more watching of musicals - from "The Lion King" and "Mama Mia" on Broadway (and "The Lion King" Broadway tour in Atlanta) to various high school and puppet performances of "The Wizard of Oz." (I even found out that one of my former students is currently a character in Disney's touring version of Lion King!) We all sang, danced, and acted together for the first time when we dipped our toes into the waters of theater again and participated in a historical reenactment kind of pageant two summers ago. The soundtrack was pre-recorded, but we did spend many hours in the car practicing the songs so we would look like we were singing the right things and so our fellow actors wouldn't be driven away when we sang along during the show. (That Pageant, "The Promised Land", is growing and now moving to an outdoor theatre a few hours away from us. We're planning to audition for it, though, and will be using this coming summer's vacation time to participate in it. We also accompanied our oldest son while he did the Trek this last summer. (It's a pioneer reenactment/ challenging journey kind of thing that youth in our church have the opportunity to participate in every few years.) We didn't follow him and his wagon, but the rest of us were actors that he and the other groups encountered in vignettes along the way. Through our Church associations, too, I ended up adapting the script and songs, then singing and acting in an inspiring production of The Parable of the Ten Virgins. That experience was a standout moment in my life.

We got fully back into actually participating in musical theatre slowly, and originally to satisfy our middle son's passion. He has always been a charmer and entertainer, full of wit and will. When we moved to NC, we were looking for something for him to do that would help him adjust to the new area and find something he loves here. He did a few plays with FACT (Franklinton Area Community Theatre), but we really wanted to sign him up with a children's theatre camp/group a friend runs. We finally made that leap this past summer. He had such fun acting in Willy Wonka, Jr. that his older brother decided to try it, too, when they did Fiddler on the Roof, Jr. (Again, see previous posts on Tradition and Another Op'nin.) By the time they did School House Rock, Jr., we were fully committed and I had a new job!

Saying that I'm working again outside of our home is quite a big thing for our family. Aside from the fact that I can provide the boys with this cultural experience and the family with a bit of extra income, I'm also able to use my teaching degree some and my love for expression through art and music. (The reasons I left teaching involve more than just the birth of our first son, but the PTSD/anxiety are a whole other tag subject I won't go into at this time.) I'm now able to spend major quality time with all three of my boys, as the young son has even joined us in our current production. I can't think of any way I would rather spend their childhood and my time. My youngest child, my daughter, is even being exposed to the theatre in a way that is quite similar to my experiences with my parents' plays when I was little. She spends hours at the theatre with me, watching me create and transform sets, hiding-and-seeking in magical corners, and singing and learning everyone's lines along the way. (She's fully prepared to step in as understudy for any of 4 characters in the current show, should some emergency arise where we'd need a 4-year-old to fill in.) I hope this turns out to be as much of a treasure to her as my memories are to me!

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