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What a 2017 it’s been.

My sarcoidosis went into remission, and although it has caused permanent changes (glasses, asthma, arthritis), I am basically still the same person and not too badly worse for wear. Notwithstanding a few smaller issues with my back and knees, this year was the year my health started the slow climb back upwards, and that’s something worth celebrating. I plan on spending some time in 2018 making small changes to keep on feeling better and staying better. My 40’s have definitely been the years to put plans into action, and my health is a big one on that list.

Shawn and I celebrated another anniversary and every year that we get to do that is a blessing. If there is one thing that we’ve clung to since 2014, it’s that life is short. Super short. You should be with the people you want to be with and let go of anyone and anything that isn’t a positive force in life. We know that as the years go on and the kids keep on leaving to pursue their own lives, it will only be ourselves left at the end, and we better still like one another. We’re still planning that trip to Italy and one of these years, we’ll actually do it.

We bid a final goodbye to our beloved dog, Katie. And we miss her every day.

I took my first ever in my life solo trip this year. At the end of June, I flew to Edmonton Alberta, my first time west of Ontario, to see my baby brother get married. For one day short of a week, I stayed with my internet-now-real-life friend Allison in her beautiful home and learned to drive my way around Edmonton. I went to the big mall, had dinner with my internet family/friends, visited with my family (all six of my siblings in the same place for the first time in six years!) and watched my baby brother tie the knot. I missed my own family dearly and it was sad that my husband wasn’t able to come with me. That just made the coming home that much sweeter.

As soon as I got back from Edmonton, I jumped into a jam-packed rehearsal schedule, as, for the first time since moving East, I got involved with a theatre show. I have to admit, I was a little gun-shy to get into a theatre again, my last experience not exactly leaving on a high note, due to (pun intended) drama, but, I’m glad I did. I threw on a habit, and became a singing nun in Sister Act. The run was fantastic, playing to nearly sold out crowds nightly and it was great to be a part of a production again.

We celebrated three years this fall of Shawn’s life since the heart stopping September of 2014. As always, I had a mini-meltdown in the days leading up to the anniversary and as always, we reflected on the fragility of life.

Speaking of getting back into the habit, I put on my writer’s cap again this fall and was a featured author at the Saint John Fog Lit festival. It really felt good to talk about my writing again and to speak at the events. I am, as ever, appreciative of cities that celebrate the arts and their own local artists.

And to cap off a wonderful year, I did my exam for French with the province and received a certificate of Intermediate ability.

2018 is already shaping up to be a busy one. Shawn and I will both be students at the University, working towards continually improving and updating our skills. I will keep working on French while I move to a new department at work. Kathryn, our second youngest, is graduating from high school and Shawn Michael, the baby, will start his Grade 12 senior year in the fall.

Life is a journey. It should be savoured and enjoyed. Live well, love hard, and let the rest go.

Peace, my friends.

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I was 14, he was 15. The very first day we met, he kissed my hand, very Cinderella style. Little did he know he was kissing the hand of a hopeless dreamer. An incurable romantic. A girl who, even at 14, had learned how to exit the world of her reality and dwell in the world of books, movies, plays and music. My fantasy world was the real one in which I dwelt and the reality of school and homework and parents and such were just the nuisance that had to be endured between escapisms.
Our first date. How ironic it was to a movie. Escapism please!
We went to see The Little Mermaid. When it was first released to theatres (am I dating myself, much?). The song “kiss the girl” was the backdrop to our first kiss. He with his towering height and me with my fantasies and already I had us married off with kids and living in a far away land.
Cut to now, and we’re married with kids and moved provinces, so in a way, my 14 year old dream came true.
My number is inverted now. I’m 41. I still use books and movies and plays and music as a way to leave the trappings of the adult world, a world VASTLY more disappointing than I was led to believe as a child. Sure, I can eat what I want and go to bed when I want, but I also pay taxes and clean and raise children and have a job. But I have my dreams. Tucked away where I can call upon them when needed. I still read books and fall in love with the mythical worlds weaved for me. I even write books where I can bend the fantasy to my own will and whimsy. Songs still transport me and movies are where I give over my heart and soul to be drawn into another place and time.
So, it’s no surprise that when the live action Beauty and the Beast was announced that I immediately professed that I would not only see this in theatre, but that we would all go, husband, wife and the three children still remaining at home. No one minded. When your mother is a dreamer, she tends to influence her children.
The day approached and the closer we got, the more excited we became. The kids would frequently play the trailers on the internet and I, the eternal crier, would more often than not, feel my eyes growing hot with anticipation.

On Sunday we crammed our five adult forms into the car and drove to the theatre where Belle awaited. As we sat in a row at the back of the theatre, I leaned over to my husband and whispered “I love that 22 years of marriage later, you’re still taking me to Disney movies. Only now we bring our children.” He tried to pretend like that didn’t make him “catch the feels” too, but I know it did. He has been much more sentimental since his heart attacks.
The show started and transported is exactly what we were. My youngest, the 15 year old, 6’2 man-child sitting beside me, spent the entire show holding my hand, or laying his head on my shoulder, or hugging me. My girls sat at the end silently letting tears fall. The movie was perfection. It should be held up as an example of how to bring a beloved animation to live action. I won`t go into the details of the myriad of ways I loved it, because this post would simply be too long.
It was beautiful visually, artistically, musically and in it`s composition. The casting was perfect and I truly wanted to step through that screen and into Belle`s world.
We left the theatre that evening to go home to the world that we built. It`s warm, inviting and loving. It`s full of laughter, and yes, sometimes tears. Usually mine. It`s teenagers and adult children who still hug their parents. It`s kids who were brought up to love and to treat people with kindness and dignity and inclusion. With all the mistakes and pitfalls I’ve taken in my life, it`s my deepest source of pride to see the family that we built and what we`ve built it into. Even with my love for escaping through books and music and movies and plays, it’s still that Prince Charming of mine that I come back to.

And he still kisses my hand.

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Where did all the damn traffic come from??? Seriously? And I won’t even talk about the INSANELY aggressive drivers. No wonder we were always smoking and stressed out. Woah.
We landed yesterday morning at about 6:45am Ontario time, got Shawn dropped off in Brampton and then I went to Guelph to pick up our oldest daughter Keisha from her house and we zoomed 25 minutes north to Elora, my hometown. We walked around for about an hour, saw the house where I grew up and where she spent most of her childhood weekends and almost all of her childhood major holidays and decided that it had changed too much. The town, that is. The vibe was completely different. It no longer felt like home to me. So, we headed back to Guelph. As much as to beat the massive storm clouds as to go play around the other city I grew up in and where her Dad and I first met. We had a great time. We saw the high school I went to in Grade nine, both where it used to be and where they rebuilt it, the park where Shawn and I had our first kiss, his old high school, the hospital where my beloved Nana lived out the last years of her life, and a whole bunch of “places of interest”. Read: where all my teenaged shenanigans took place. The Guelph ones, anyway.
But the city has changed SO MUCH. At one point we were headed to a Walmart, which I distinctly remembered the location of, and she kept telling me to turn too soon. I tried to argue with her but, well, she lives here now, so I turned and there it was. Guelph had picked up the whole damn building and moved it. And painted it green! I told Guelph to go home, because it was (and is) clearly drunk.

We didn’t actually wind up taking a lot of pictures, though I thought we would, but, we were so in the moment yesterday. And dudes, she looks fucking amazing. She has worked really hard for the last year and has lost almost 80lbs and she just was so, so, HAPPY. I loved it.

We went out for dinner all three of us last night and finally Shawn and I got some sleep.
Today I get the morning to do just this: writing. First this post and then I’m working on my book again. (SQUEALS OF JOY) and then….
We’re off to Paris Ontario tonight to see our beloved friends and to go to the theatre. You remember my theatre days, right? Lord I miss that. The last show we ever did and by far my favourite was I’ll Be Back Before Midnight. Damn I loved that role. I played Jan. I got to go crazy, shoot a (fake) shotgun, cry onstage, kiss onstage, freak the fuck out on stage, go catatonic onstage and finally, murder my stage husband with an axe. It was awesome.
And Paris Performers are doing the show tonight. So we’re going to see it. YAAYY!!!!

Tomorrow we are going to meet our new niece for the first time, see my brother and sister in law, see my Grandparents and get ready for the early Sunday morning flight home.

I’m already sunburned (I had forgotten about Ontario heat, it’s going to be 40 today with the humidity), I’ve already laughed until my face hurt. I’ve already gotten emotional.

It’s been the best day so far. I’m looking forward to the next two immensely.

Happy Friday, all!!

Now I’m off to exercise my fingers and work out what’s going on in Summer Poppies. I’ve been working on this book for Four Years. It’s time I get serious with it again and wrap it up.

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It was a week ago today that I schlepped my 15 yr old daughter and I to the emergency room in Saint John for discovery of what we both already knew was a raging bad case of strep throat. I hate using emergency services for that, but the clinic couldn’t get us in the night before and we just couldn’t wait for the chance they might get us in again that night. When you don’t have a family doctor, those are the options. Anyway we went, we were seen, we were diagnosed. Acute strep. Bring on the pennicillin.
We both started to feel less like we had glass in our throats by the end of the weekend, but, that’s when I lost my voice.
All week I’ve been dealing with some pretty bad laryngitis, which believe you me, is no picnic. At all.
I was a source of entertainment to the kids, a trouper to my ladies at work, a complete frustration to myself.
This morning though, after seven days of throat issues, it’s finally starting to come back.

Do you know how rediculous it looks and sounds to witness someone laughing with almost no sound coming out of them? My kids do.
Do you know how crazy it is to try to have a phone conversation and be proffessional when only the odd squawk of a word is coming through? My clients do. And don’t get me started on trying to interact with people in the public…like Tim Hortons. I’m through with feeling like someone has to mime my order to me, or point. Lost my voice, not my hearing. I’m a smart lady, I don’t need you to point. Taking drive through this morning felt heavenly. Not to mention that the window guy calls me Miss. Not Maam.
I felt very much like a muppet. At least I think I sounded like one.

Getting better isn’t coming a moment too soon either because in a week, I plan to audition for Saint John theatre company’s fall production.

In other news, this weekend promises to be warm and sunny and beautiful, so hopefully I can get my pool opened up and get some writing done outside. I really have to put this book back to work.

Have a wonderful, happy weekend friends.

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The rest of this month and the beginning of June is going to fly by. FLY BY. There is so much coming down the pipe that I just know the time is going to move faster than I can keep up with.

Emily Giffin has a new book out and of course I need to read it as soon as I can get my hands on it.
The movie Chef is coming to Saint John soon and I am greatly looking forward to this one. Nevermind the fact that I adore Jon Favreau and pretty much all of his work, the cast looks great and the movie is about food…so, yeah. I’m in.
Also out soon is Maleficent. My daughter is obsessed with this. When she was in grade seven (she’s in grade ten now), she had to write a paper on a famous story from the villain’s point of view. She wrote about Maleficent, her favourite villain. Needless to say she’s been counting down the days and I am also looking forward to this one.

And then…TFIOS. Yes, I am 100% on this bandwagon. I already love John Green’s books and yes, I watch his video’s on YouTube, and I firmly believe that he is to this generation what John Hughes was to mine. The Fault in our Stars is a stunning book. It is touching, sad, laugh-out-loud funny, poignant and sweet. And it made me cry like a mo-fo. Knowing that John himself was so involved with the movie makes me more than optimistic that this will NOT be one of those film adaptations that misses the mark. On the contrary, I feel like this is going to deliver in a way no other film adaptation has. Maybe ever.

After all the book and movie stuff is done, we have the milestone of my daughter Kathryn’s graduation from Grade 8. High school next year. My kids are getting older so quickly.
Then we have a summer full of visits from old friends and my new job that I’m settling into and a pool to open and everything that we can think of that will keep us busy, healthy and happy. I have a feeling it’s going to be a good summer. We’re going to take the kids to PEI…because we can. It’s literally right there, about three hours away. My life here constantly surprises me.

This week I’m back to writing, working, more writing and in the next couple of weeks I’ve decided to audition for a show with the Saint John theatre. It’s been too long since I’ve been on a stage. More news about that as I have it.

Hope everyone had a lovely long weekend. Chiao!

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I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty much glad this year is over. If I thought some things got hard in 2012, they were way harder this past year.

A lot of you read my post ‘A Reason or a Season’ and thank you for that. Losing my old high school friend so abruptly and shockingly was hard, and losing his twin brother 11 weeks later pretty much threw all of us who knew or know the family for a hard turn. Both the Quin boys will be forever missed.

They weren’t the only ones I knew who had passed suddenly and quite young, the end of my year in 2012 also saw a few people I knew leave this mortal coil and because they happened so close to the end of the year that year, it still felt hurtful and fresh when Denver died.

In May my husband was courted for an excellent new position and we made the leap of faith decision to leave everything we knew and start over in a whole new part of the country. This meant saying goodbye to my beloved job, all the wonderful people I worked with, all the amazing friends and loved ones we have in Ontario. It was hard, and some days it still is. I’d love to be able to see my Ontario sisters, especially since they are both having babies this year. I would love for just one more Saturday night spent in Alex and Grieg’s basement and garage. I miss my theatre friends.

But, life is all about moving on. Taking new chances and making new friends. Making room for yourself to grow and be challenged. Leaving mistakes in the past and grieving over losses.

2014 is so full of promise. I’m learning to look for the optimism instead of fixating on and stressing over the negative. While I hated saying goodbye, I’m truly ready for some new hello’s.

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I’ve made many a point on here about how my childhood was filled with both music and with saturation of my Irish heritage. They’re a couple of points of pride with me. I’m still in love with music to this day (a lot of which is carryover from those early impressionable years) and proud as ever of being Irish.

We listened to a lot of records in our house as kids. This was well before CD’s and cassette tapes just didn’t (and still don’t) have the same resonance. My dad had and still has an impressive collection. We had one record called The Children of the Unicorn, a children’s recording of songs by the Irish band The Irish Rovers. It was autographed on the back by all the members of the band. I have no idea how or when my parents got the autographs and it never occurred to me to ask until recently, though I still haven’t posed the question, maybe one of them will tell in the comments. Anyway, this record, which was recorded live in a studio full of kids, is chock-a-bock full of great a wonderful kids songs. I have vivid memories of boogying down to the music man with my siblings.

When I married and moved out, I hijacked some of my dad’s record collection. No dad, you can’t have them back. This record was one of them. My own kids grew up listening to the songs that I danced to as a small child and fell every bit as in love as I did with the Two Little Boys on their horses and the Lollypop Tree.

Upon our move to Saint John, we found out that the local theatre not only presents plays three times a year by the local community theatre group, but it also hosts TONS of visiting acts. Just two weeks ago we had Buffy St. Marie here, Red Green is coming, Just for Laughs is coming, and well, you get the point. But, while reading on all the upcoming acts, I discovered that The Irish Rovers would be here tonight, two days after my hubs’ birthday as part of their farewell tour. Now, he didn’t grow up as I did with their music, but he sure watched his children do it and has loved that even now as 12, 13, 15 year olds, they will occasionally have a nostalgia day and listen to the music again. So I got tickets. Happy birthday.

Tonight we go into Saint John, and I’m thinking of bringing that old album cover to get new signatures, over 35 years later, to add to the front of the album. This is going to be a wonderful night.

If only Harry Chapin were still alive and performing. I’d love to see another circle complete itself.

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