verbosevictoria

Painting heart-cries, word by word

Pause (short story challenge #1) March 4, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — verbosevictoria @ 3:30 pm

BlogPrompt1(photo credit:http://dirtyprettything.tumblr.com/post/29988659360)

Plonk, plonk…plonk. Mae shifted the bucket on her bucking wood floor slightly to the left with one toe, minimizing the splash that was starting to soak into her favorite Calvin and Hobbes socks. I really need to get that leak fixed, was one of the thoughts that floated across her mind, but it was quickly swept aside by the hunt for a particular shade of burnt orange. Most of Mae’s practical thoughts were swirling at the very back of her mind. Her left-brain life put more importance on the new sable brushes arriving in the mail next Monday than on winterproofing her funny little house.

Mae loved her crooked, leaky island home. Sure, it had about a thousand problems, anywhere from a beetle infestation in the attic to cracking in the concrete slab it rested on, but who else lived in cozy one-person castle surrounded by a rippling lake and crowned with maple trees? As far as she was concerned, the lack of visitors to her remote home was a boon and not to be lamented in the slightest.

A soft chime from a glass domed clock on the crumbling brick mantle shook Mae from her shade searching. She blinked, breathing in through her nose the faint linger of that morning’s rain and damp moss, and pushed her too-wide glasses up with a finger spattered five different blues and browns. Mae made a face as she felt the tension in her neck from sitting forward too long. Then she yelped, realizing her left leg, tucked under the right one, had fallen asleep some time ago. Carefully working the bloodflow back into her leg, she checked the time. 4 p.m. Leaning back until the chipped white chair legs tipped away from the braided rug on the uneven floorboards, she stretched, her  chestnut brown ponytail nearly touching the floor as it swung its way loose from a piece of velvety green ribbon.

“Well, I suppose that’s enough for today,” she said, letting the chair legs come down with a thump. She squinted at her progress on the canvas. Swaths of Windsor blue bled into streaks of eggshell white and pure black on a background of pale yellow. There wasn’t much form to it as yet. Mae had been feeling her way through this one, trying to explore sensations more than concrete images. She still needed the right shade of orange.

“Hm. Maybe orange is still too warm for this anyway. Maybe I need to do another piece…an angrier one…” She continued to muse as she turned from her little corner studio into the tiny kitchen and switched on the radio. Trumpets and crooners from the 1940s swirled around her other thoughts and she hummed while putting on a shiny stainless steel kettle for tea. She sashayed over to the chubby, vintage yellow fridge and began to make a tomato-mayo sandwich.

“CleanSweep Services of Greenville is the one to call for all your house cleaning needs,” a commercial blared into the tranquil space of Mae’s kitchen. “Known for three counties wide as reliable, quick, and thorough, CleanSweep makes it easy to–”

Mae’s hand rested on the dial for the radio. Her whole body seemed to be paused, unable to move through this moment to another. The mantle clock ticked on, the kettle began its whistle, but still Mae could not move. She was caught. And she was somewhere else.

***

“NOOO!” Mae’s mother screamed.

“Diane, come on back inside, come sit down, ” Mae’s father half-heartedly tried to pull on her mother’s elbow. It didn’t seem to make an impression.

“Are you telling me–” Diane’s grief choked her and she grabbed the police officer’s jacket, as if it would help her grasp what he was saying. Because Cameron couldn’t be dead.

“Are you saying to me,” Diane had to gulp twice more before she got the words out, “that my little boy is–is gone?” Her eyes were wide, mascara ran down the sides of her face into her bleached blonde hair, although she didn’t seem to realize she was already crying. She stared wildly into the face of officer, still gripping his blue jacket. He let her hold on, but he didn’t look at her. He was gripping one of the handlebars of Cameron’s blue bike, knuckles glowing white in the dark.

“Mr. Burnham, I’m so sorry for your loss,” the officer said carefully, so carefully. Like the wrong words could blow up a bomb in his face. “I am going to need one of–” his eyes flicked to Mrs. Burnham, still staring, “–I need someone to come downtown to identify the body.”

The bomb the officer tried to avoid went off in his face.

“MY SON IS DEAD!” Diane screamed, pushing herself back so hard she staggered and her husband caught her. She clutched his forearms, twisting to face him. “Ken, please,” she pleaded, her voice cracking from the strain, “He’s not a body! He’s our Cameron, our 8 year old little boy! And he’s dead…dead…” She crumpled, sank to the ground in the front yard and covered her mouth with one hand as she sobbed.

Ken Burnham and the officer began to quietly talk while Diane lay in the yard at their feet. Shadowy figures began to leave their driveways, heading for the wreckage of the Burnham family.

Mae stood in the doorway of her family’s neat suburban home, golden light pouring out of every window. Her lanky fourteen-year-old body shivered in the late summer chill. She hadn’t grabbed a jacket or shoes, thinking the adults would come inside to discuss things, so she was standing there in boxer shorts and an old college t-shirt of her dad’s. The headlights from the police cruiser were blinding, stinging her eyes. Tears started to form as Mae blinked. Her shivering turned into shaking.

“Mom?” She tried to say, but no one could hear her from the house. Not when Mom was crying so loud and the police were busy talking to dad. She saw the dim shapes of neighbors slowly moving, cautiously approaching. Her shaking got worse and her teeth began to chatter. “Mom?” she said a little louder, but no one turned around. She felt dizzy, the edges of her vision seemed to close in on her. Then she felt a sharp pain in one knee before everything went black.

When she woke up, she was in her bedroom upstairs. She turned her head to look at the Nickelodeon alarm clock on her vanity. 9:37 p.m. Why are the lights still on, she wondered. The alarm clock’s radio was playing just audibly, some 80s rock station she never listened to. Mae tried to remember when she had gone to bed, but her head felt too heavy and her thoughts were slow.

Someone turned the doorknob to her room and opened the door a crack, peeking in.

“You came around quicker than I thought,” said a short, plump woman with a mass of faded red-orange curls like a helmet and an orange knit sweater vest festooned with grey kittens. She was carrying a tray with water and a sandwich as she quietly stepped into Mae’s room and gently pulled the door closed. Mae could see a bottle of Tylenol on the tray as the woman came to sit on the pale yellow comforter at the far end of the bed. The woman set down the tray, looking at Mae with concern and curiosity. Mae squirmed, and winced as pain shot through her left knee. She looked down and saw a bandage over her kneecap, a small dot of blood beginning to seep through the center.

“I’m Mrs. Ortiz, dear,” she said, seeing Mae’s confusion. “I live three doors down. When I saw the police cruiser, I knew there had to be some news about your little brother. We’ve all been so worried, ever since he went missing this morning.” Mrs. Ortiz gave Mae a small smile that was somehow sad and sorry. Her face was nice. She looked like a mother, maybe a grandmother. She had that warm, comfortable feeling about her, the feeling that it didn’t matter what she looked like because she knew how to love people. “Then your mama took the news so hard, I thought I better come see to you.” There was a pause. Mrs. Ortiz looked away for a moment, then took a breath. “Mae, do you remember what happened tonight?”

“How long was I asleep?” Mae asked, the words coming out slowly and too soft.

“It was only for a few minutes, really. You fainted, Mae. Your father carried you upstairs, I bandaged your knee–you banged it on the doorstep when you fell–and then I went to get you a little something to eat. How do you feel?”

Mae was overwhelmed by the sizes and number of the feelings that rose up to be identified. She shrank from the clamor inside of her, keeping her eyes down. Without knowing exactly why, she felt her eyes prick with oncoming tears.

Mrs. Ortiz took another breath in and scooted close enough to put a warm, gentle hand on Mae’s shoulder.

“Mae, dear…” she said quietly, “do you know your little brother has passed away?”

A commercial kicked on the radio.

“….Known for three counties wide as reliable, quick, and thorough, CleanSweep makes it easy to make your home feel brand new! Call now for a special on all floors, carpet and hardwood…”

***

 

So this is the first of my Visual Prompt short stories! I’m pretty happy with this result, as it happens. I almost feel like this one was just gifted to me in order to keep me going for the next one, and I will take it! Initially, I felt like I needed to go back to Mae in present day to bring it full circle, but the tension of leaving her in the past felt more appropriate to the feeling I wanted to portray. I hope you enjoyed this! I don’t expect every short story to be this long, actually, so props to everybody who made it to the end. Please let me know you liked it by giving it star or leaving a comment about what you specifically liked (I love that). Okay, thanks, byyyyeee.
~Victoria

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I Challenge Thee… March 3, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — verbosevictoria @ 11:33 am

One of the things I have had to admit to myself recently is that my writing muscles are atrophying from lack of use. It’s hard to say that because I love writing so much that it seems ridiculous to realize I haven’t written creatively in months, and I haven’t written consistently in years.

But, here we are.

I narrowly avoided despair over my current condition by remembering that I can start writing again any time I choose. Good!

Then I quickly crashed into a wall of doubt by remembering that I will need to faithfully exercise these writing muscles with some kind of regimen, preferably daily, and that I am horrible with daily ANYTHING. I don’t even eat the same times every day. I don’t even use the bathroom in a predictable manner. Nothing I do is consistent! So giving myself even tiny writing goals to hit every day feels intimidating.

But, here we are.

pexels-photo-891674.jpeg

Writing for other people has always been easier for me to actually finish, so I thought maybe tossing some blog posts up would help. I also like imagining things visually, and I have an entire Pinterest board devoted to Visual Writing Prompts–no words, no starters, just images that intrigue my mind. I started doing a few of them and, while they’re not very good, it felt nice to explore how I felt about an image. My idea is to put the next 10 Visual Writing Prompts up on this dusty blog and plug them on my social media, because I will confess right now that getting outside approval on my work is like a dangling a carrot in front my writer-nose. It makes me feel a little cheap to say it, but I’m desperate enough to do anything that gets me to actually sit down and create at this point! BRING ON THE LIKES!

Um…

Anyway.

For the next month, my goal is to put up 10 different short stories based on a visual writing prompt and–well, wait a minute. A month is too long, I’ll forgive myself for not doing it too often. I need a better deadline.

By March 18th, 10:30pm EST, I will have 10 short stories here on verbosevictoria.

(hmmm, maybe i should devise a penalty if i don’t make my deadline…but i’m terrible at coming up with those…)

Well, if for some reason I miss my deadline, leave a comment with a penalty idea I can actually do.

And here we go!

~Victoria

 

Quilters, A Review February 27, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — verbosevictoria @ 8:00 am

Quilters is a fascinating, moving musical production based on the book “The Quilters: Women and Domestic Art” by Patricia Cooper and Norma Bradley Allen, originally developed at The Denver Center Theatre Company in the 1980s. The musical unfolds, piece by piece, what it meant to be a pioneer woman in the early days of the United States. Not only does it highlight the concepts typically connected to that time, it does something else rather special—it connects the past, present, and future in a way that strikes at the very soul of what it means to be a woman.

Directed by Brint Learned and performed by an undeniably talented cast, Quilters will certainly surprise the audience every time. Using the motif of quilting blocks, the play visits scenes from the lives of pioneer women, from one room schoolhouses to raising a log cabin to fighting wild fires. But instead of lingering on the events themselves, the musical gives voice to the hearts and minds of the women who experienced the harshest conditions, the deepest tragedies, and the simplest joys. The small cast adds to the sense of intimacy as they tell us their stories, embroidered with the humor, vigor, and faith that was needed to thrive in the days of covered wagons and corncob dolls.

The show introduces the matriarchal character, Sarah, who explains the significance of quilting and the various block patterns women chose to use for these practical and artistic life works. Played by Mim Goloboff, Sarah, acts as the joining thread between the captured scenes of each “block.” Goloboff performs with wit, strength, and tenderness, giving a clear impression of the qualities needed by the mothers of America’s prairie lands. Sarah’s daughters take on various roles throughout, from narrator to supporting character to main character as needed. The set is used as a frame upon which different tableaux can be highlighted in their turn. With soaring, blended vocals and intense situations, the ladies of the cast truly outdo themselves over and over within the show.

Jackie DiFrangia shines with sass and sensitivity, tugging on the heartstrings with her honest portrayals of the prairie’s trials. Hannah Williams charms with her portrayals of innocence and pleasantly surprises with her flautist talents. Shelbi Guy brings brightness to each scene with clear vocals and frank humor. Evie Koh explores her breath-taking range, both vocally and emotionally, leading the audience into her scenes with a steady hand. Maria Lister Lyons gives her all, evoking heartache and laughter throughout the show, as each emotion is clearly etched on her face. Colleen O’Leary stands out as a grounding force among the cast, carrying one of the most intense scenes and complementing in others with a calm confidence. Although so much happens from quilting block to quilting block, these talented actresses give a poised and cohesive expression of feminine unity. And it cannot be said enough how perfectly blended the voices of all seven women are from beginning to grand finale.

Musical Director Alex Ulle does a beautiful job with the live ensemble. The music and choreography in Quilters is gorgeously interwoven with the rest of the play. Seemingly equal parts music and dialogue, the actual spirit of the play lives in the songs and the theme of familial community is reflected in the choreography. In a whirlwind of patterns and crescendos, the cast and musicians craft a meaningful display of the lives of these pioneer women.

Thanks to the creative vision of Learned and the faithful determination and devotion put in by the cast and crew, Quilters stands out as one of the most uniquely moving shows I have ever been privileged to see.

On top of the wonderful performance, Royce Hall for the Fine and Performing Arts on Lake Erie College campus is also hosting a display curated by the Lake County History Center (with contributions from the Western Reserve Spinners and Weavers) that takes visitors through a wraparound exhibit of textile history. From quilts hundreds of years old to 1800s fashion, from Ohio-centric stories and artifacts to locally made modern materials, this exhibit is the perfect way to appreciate on a deeper level the rich tapestry of history performed in Quilters.

With March 2nd and 3rd , as well as a matinee performance on March 4th, being the last performances of Quilters, I highly recommend seeing this marvelous and poignant musical before the final curtain. March 2nd and 3rd begin at 7:30pm, March 4th begins at 2:00pm. Come early to enjoy the exhibit. Tickets are on sale at rabbitrunonline.org or you can call (440) 428-5913.

(Please note that this show does deal with some mature themes such as death and abortion. While not the main emphasis, I advise caution for children under 13.)

 

Just a Journey February 15, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — verbosevictoria @ 10:42 am

I feel the need to write down a brief account of my health journey. Last night, another step was made clear and the frustration and intimidation I felt came out in hot tears and flailing arms and raised voice. So this morning, I want to see the big picture. I want to get a glimpse of the tapestry, even though I kind of have a vice grip on the strand in my hand at the moment.

Let’s start at the very beginning.

As a kid growing up, I don’t remember being particularly sickly. I had some seemingly unrelated issues that were occasionally inconvenient—borderline anemia, exercise-induced asthma, migraine headaches from age 10, mildly poor eyesight, sensitive skin prone to hives breakouts, and a peculiar mini-seizure-like response to irregular flashing lights. Just a hodge-podge of stuff that was easily managed.

When I was pregnant with my 4th child in 2010, I suddenly developed some symptoms that began to hinder my everyday life—painful gas and extreme bloating, long and excruciating trips to the bathroom, increased migraines. I started to wonder if I had IBS, but my midwife suggested seeing what a change in nutrition would do first. I cut dairy, and had some immediate relief. The symptoms began to return and so I cut wheat. I had a brief respite when I gave birth to my 4th child in 2011, but when they came back with a vengeance and an added psoriasis-like rash on my neck, ears, and forearms, I cut gluten. Then beef. Then peanuts. Then garlic.

By 2015, I finally had a manageable hold on my everyday life, but I couldn’t seem to drop the last 20 lbs of pregnancy weight after my 6th was born. The bloating and long trips to the bathroom continued, the rash eased off my arms and ears but remained on my neck constantly. I could survive it, but I knew there was still something wrong inside me.

In 2016, I researched the Candida yeast overgrowth problem and found enough confirmation in my symptoms to attempt a diet plan designed to starve the yeast while building up the good bacteria. For three months I was on a strict no-sugar, no-carb regimen. My bloating reduced to some extent but no other results were apparent. I stopped the diet as I felt it wasn’t providing me with enough actual nutrition to warrant continuing it. I wanted to start working out more vigorously and knew I needed more complex carbs in order to fuel my exercise.

In January of 2017, I took my daughter to an allergist and decided to get some answers for myself as well. With a prick test we determined I was not allergic to anything. The doctor felt I was on the right track with the yeast overgrowth problem and prescribed Flagyl, an antifungal, and a probiotic, as well as a topical medicated shampoo for my neck. While on the antifungal, I again felt some minor relief from bloating and a slight increase in successful bowel movements. The rash remained but did not itch as much. I finished the course of medication, and went back for my follow-up appointment.

The doctor said that although I seemed to respond marginally to the Flagyl, it should have produced more drastic results if the yeast was my biggest problem. At this point he recommended trying Metamucil, to see if that helped. If that didn’t work, he suggested the FODMAP diet people with IBS can follow for relief. And if those did not bring that drastic improvement, he recommended seeing a GI doctor to rule out IBS, Celiac’s (which can apparently be asymptomatic), colitis, and diverticulitis.

I tried Metamucil, which was really gross, but it felt like trying to use stickers when you’ve got a three-inch deep wound. Effective? Not really.

I just looked up the low-FODMAP diet, and wryly wondered what in the world I’d be left with to eat this time. I read one medical article and my heart sank a little. I already do this naturally. I’ve been driven to it by the guess-and-check I’ve been doing for the past 6 years of my life. This has no new information for me. Effective? Apparently not.

So now I’m down to the GI specialist.

I didn’t realize how intimidating that would be for me, but now that it’s here… Everything I’ve been told and everything I’ve read says that to leave a digestive issue like mine to fester gives you a significant chance of acquiring colon cancer. I can’t ignore this. I have to know what I’m dealing with and how to best move forward. I don’t even know if I’m hurting myself every time I eat.

At the same time, I’m still weirdly optimistic because the allergist doctor did say my symptoms seem to be rather mild for any of those “scary,” life-long conditions. Usually there are more extreme problems that act as a red flag.

But the not-knowing part of health journeys is sometimes the more frightening and frustrating part. My journey is mild, so very mild, and I’m not afraid. But I am intimidated by the unknown. What will I have to change about my life? How much will it take away from my everyday routine? Can I handle the added pressure? Will I be strong enough to do everything it takes to be my best for my family?

These are all things I’ve had in my heart in the last 24 hours. I’ve since given them over to God and my spirit is quiet again, patiently waiting for the next step forward and being so sure of who my God is that the unknown shrinks into the back of my mind. But still, that was a process I had to go through. And what I deal with, again, is not really awful. I wrestle more with inconveniences and the feeling of being punished for trying my best. I have a drip, and I know there are those dealing with fire hoses and waterfalls. I am grateful and humbled that this is what I have been given.

I suppose what I wanted was to write down the journey. Sometimes I struggle to know whether what I feel on a given day is an extreme or an appropriate reaction. Writing it down can help me with perspective.

So, I still can’t eat gluten/wheat. I still can’t eat dairy. Or beef. Or peanuts. Or a lot of garlic. I can’t eat rice and potatoes and gluten free pasta too close together. I may never lose this last 20 lbs. I may always look like I’m 4-5 months pregnant on my bad days (not self-deprecation here, people mistake me for pregnant all the time).

But I can learn from this. I can learn compassion for others on their health journeys. I can learn self-discipline, which is always something I need to do better. I can learn not to look to food for my emotional comfort, but rather lean on my God. I can learn to be gracious and think of others’ needs when so many are gracious and thoughtful towards me. I can learn to get creative and have gratitude for what I am able to do, for what I have available to me, for being able to seek answers. There is plenty to learn.

Maybe I should start writing it all down.

~Victoria

 

This Is For The Theater People: I Adore You September 9, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — verbosevictoria @ 7:11 am

I went to see the musical production of Carousel: A Concert at Rabbit Run Theater about a month ago and I was captivated from the beginning. I promised myself I would write a review and I have finally done it. As many of you know, I’m Maria’s daughter. And so you should also know that I would never give a disingenuous opinion of anything—my momma raised me right! My enjoyment of this show was more complete than I’ve had in a show in a long time. This performance was incredible and I will never forget it.

Also, I have never written a review of a play before so if it sounds cold at all, it’s because I leaned on my brief experience of writing for the newspaper.

Stepping On the Captivating Carousel: A Review

                Directed by Brint Learned, the themes of the play shone through every detail in setting and every nuanced performance. From the incorporation of the orchestra on the stage to the symbolism in scenic design and in simple, yet striking, costumes, the careful attention to a cohesive story was evident from the opening interlude. The gorgeous songs and brilliant acting immersed the audience into the story and pathos of Carousel.

The decision to incorporate the orchestra on stage worked beautifully to create an intimate relationship between the play and the music, the characters and their emotions. Never a distraction, the musicians enriched the narratives of each storyline. I delighted in the use of the harp and violins especially. Combined with the scenery and lighting choices, which were used with artistic restraint, the story was effortlessly framed and supported. Some of the musicians even left the “pit” and joined in the ensemble scenes, making the integration complete and blurring the line between the stories we share and the ones we feel.

Musical Director Alex Ulle, who also conducted the orchestra and played the keyboard (amazing), was masterful with maintaining the tone of the show. With excellent music that was both full and poignant, the themes of Carousel were clearly portrayed in harmonious accompaniment to the actors.

The show really shone as the ideal mix of strong singers and wonderful actors. I could not get over how controlled everyone’s performance was. I was sitting in almost the last row of seats and yet I heard every word, every harmony, and there have been professional shows using MICROPHONES where I could not say the same. I will also say that I’ve never seen a live production of Carousel and I’m so glad this was my first.

Evie Koh as Julie Jordan and R. Scott Posey as Billy Bigelow had instant chemistry, which drew the audience in from their first scene together. Ms. Koh captured her character’s quiet independence and resilient vulnerability in a way that evoked compassion in me throughout the play. Her emotion spills from her soaring voice into every song, from the playful and passionate “If I Loved You” to the heartache and unflinching promise in “What’s the Use of Wonderin’?” I was left wishing that such bravery and poured out love in a character could have been better rewarded, which is wonderfully complex.

Mr. Posey’s performance as Billy encapsulated the story of a man who has learned to react to pain and loneliness all his life. Mr. Posey’s blend of bravado and romance was bittersweet from beginning to end. He found a beautiful balance between yearning for love and fearing vulnerability. Fearlessly plunging into the character’s flaws, he gave the audience Billy’s journey, not just his destination. With robust and ringing voice that gave me chills, Mr. Posey highlighted facets of humanity—apprehension, humor, tenderness, rebelliousness—in songs such as “Soliloquy” and “The Highest Judge of All.” By the end of the play, I was aching with all the loss Billy experienced and exultant over his decision to make right what he could.

Paige Heidrich as Carrie Pepperidge, together with Lincoln Sandham as her Enoch Snow, were a delight throughout the play and a wonderful contrast to Julie and Billy. Ms. Heidrich captured the earnest optimism and sweet nature of Carrie, seasoning well with humor that had me rolling! I was intrigued early in the show by Carrie’s song, “Mister Snow.” Ms. Heidrich’s strong, clear voice brought her character to hardy and idealistic life. I loved the contrasts between Carrie and Julie, with Carrie leaning on the safety of social constructs and Julie striking out wherever love led her.

The aforementioned “Mister Snow” brought another layer of fun to the show—I think I cracked up nearly every time he came on stage! Mr. Sandham’s impeccable comedic timing and clear voice gave such a perfect picture of a “gentleman of ambition” with his repeated referrals to buying more boats and having a large number of babies. His song, “When The Children Are Asleep,” was both hilarious and adorable. He was quaint but he was also sweetly sincere and this made his presence a pleasure.

Nettie Fowler, played by Maria Lister-Lyons, brought the array of humanity full-circle with a maternal and exuberant performance. Ms. Lister-Lyons’ rendition of “June is Bustin’ Out All Over” brought an energy to Act 1 that perfectly revealed the strong emotions harbored in the New England coastal village where the play takes place. She rejoiced in all the “young fry” and comforted both Julie and Carrie by turns—always keeping true to that motherly love that can see some good in everyone.

Mr. Tim Shinkle was the quintessential rough-around-the-edges kind of guy as the character Jigger Craigin. While not the strongest voice in the cast, Mr. Shinkle still delivered the tang of a man who has fully embraced a fatalistic philosophy. As the representation of the hardness Billy admired but also feared, Jigger was an arms-crossed symbol I enjoyed despising. It was interesting how my hope stayed alive for Billy but wasn’t even sparked for Jigger. Perhaps it was the difference between a man who was scared and a man who gave up on himself long ago.

Often led by the resonant tones of Ms. Lister-Lyons, the talented chorus’ numbers kept the audience emotionally engaged. Embellished with lively choreography, songs like “A Real Nice Clambake” are a rollicking good time. They had me clapping along and singing the choruses on my drive home! The “Ballet” performance returned to the poignancy represented in the show, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of watching Gene Kelly’s storytelling through dance on VHS when I was a child.

Mr. Learned (director) kept Carousel: A Concert true to the story of human imperfections and the love which trumps them all. It was everything I love about a musical—acting that tugged my heartstrings and split my sides from laughter; songs that were tear-jerkers and songs that were spirited; dancing that enthralled and impressed me; and a somehow brand-new sense of what it means to be a person in this world. I still get emotional when I remember it.

Carousel at Rabbit Run Theater took an appreciative look at a universal truth—people are messy and messy people are valuable.

 

When Love Becomes a Calling October 18, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — verbosevictoria @ 1:07 pm

God has been doing something in this heart and I cannot write about anything else here until I share it.

Preface: I love my kids. I love our family life and the way I have no other option but to trust God through adventure after mishap after crazy, unforeseen circumstance. There are no regrets, no wishing I didn’t have this life. I love my husband’s passion for our family, his determination to carry a vision and pass it along. I do what I know to do in order to be the mom my kids need. But here’s the odd thing: I’ve never been specifically passionate about filling the role of “Mom.” I’m very passionate about the importance of godly parenting, of family discipleship, of submitting to the role God has picked out for me. But I was not passionate about the role itself. This has now changed—miraculously, in my opinion.

In August of this year, I was in a strange between kind of place with God. I had a renewed desire for sitting in His presence, but I was still fighting off a lot of my familiar distractions. I wasn’t moving forward. Or at least, it didn’t feel like I was moving forward. I felt suspended, pushing against the gravitational pull of my distractions but unable to soar to the heights where God was beckoning.

Then my husband and I decided to go to a community worship night, NO KIDS. I was so pumped to be there, to just bask in God’s presence with no other agendas or time constraints or the usual “I need to go potty” distractions. Again, I love my kids. But sometimes… Well, you know.

So we worshipped. And it was exciting, lovely, encouraging, everything I hoped it would be. The worship leader for the evening kept repeating that he felt this was a night specifically for someone in ministry who needed prayer by laying on of hands. I didn’t think that fit my description and I prayed for whomever that person was. I’m still not sure it was a description of me. But then, well into the service, he called out to mothers who feel overwhelmed. THAT was me. We were singing a song of Gideon, when he was told to rise up. THAT was for me. I gave my husband’s hand a squeeze, smiled and said I wanted to go up to the front to pray. He came with me. I shouted (quite literally) out to God and He showed me—oh! He showed me so much. At the time all I could manage to write down was this:

“I am called to rise, as Gideon.
I have been anointed and my calling is mother.
I have seen what He sees–
I am His VICTORY,
I am His message,
I am filled with light to give.

No more fighting lies, insecurity, doubt, insolence in order to
hear Him,
see Him.

You won’t relent until You have it all.”

He showed me what He sees and I finally opened my eyes because He SILENCED the lies in me that bring confusion and doubt. I was so open in my heart and spirit towards Him in that time, I could surrender everything. I was obedient in calling out my will to serve and He drew me up! He gave me freedom and definitions and vision and hope and love and tenderness all because I obedient for two tiny hours on a Sunday night.

When He cleared out my temple corners, I realized the disdain I held for myself, which I believed came from my impatience with my progress, such disdain was not His response to me at all. Ever. He is never ashamed or disdainful. And then I asked what He does see.

After years of yearning, I have sight of my true, God-made, real self and I have a Holy Spirit anointed calling in the motherhood bestowed on me. The acceptance and participation is deeper and more profound than I could generate on my own. There is a chasm of difference between obeying God because it is the right thing and obeying God because of love and gratitude towards Him. I couldn’t see the Victoria He designed to be a mother after His own heart. All I could see was a Victoria that desperately tried to make her square corners fit into the round hole of mommy-dom and failed, time and time again, always unfulfilled. All I could see was the Victoria who felt condemnation over not being in love with devoting her life to her family.

He eclipsed that vision of Victoria with His own. And for the first time, I looked. I didn’t glance and painfully turn away. It didn’t hurt me to look because I didn’t reject it. I received it, by His grace and power, and I am changed. Motherhood still is not a fairytale made reality for me; my personality is still here and still doing its own thing. But I now feel a long-term assurance of vision and purpose in it that, up to now, I had only felt in connection with writing. I am richly blessed.

What happened next? Well, I came home and kept up my daily tasks. My husband and I had frustrating conversations and silly teasing. I had to fight for every victory in my response to rambunctious or rebellious kids—and I didn’t get every victory. So how do I know something changed?

It is moving quietly in me. It was not just a flash of revelation that I talked over and couldn’t maintain. In a thousand tiny moments, I am choosing to walk this calling and reject the twisted version I tried to make up for myself. There is insistent, daily, excruciatingly slow, PERMANENT change happening in me.

In September, God gave me this verse to memorize and carry in my heart: “Dear children, let us not love with words and tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in His presence, whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts and He knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we obey His commands and do what pleases Him.” 1st John 3:18-22. There is so much there. Maybe I can elaborate in a separate post.

In October, God has reminded me of the verse that says His word is “a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” And He murmured to my heart, “Keep your eyes on My Face, not on your feet.” This is my lesson in continuing to measure progress by His pleasure, not by my analyzing of every tiny step and obsession with how long it takes to get anywhere.

He is faithful with this work in me. I will respond with faithfulness because He has more and more for me. What can I make for myself? Dirty rags and piles of nothingness and maybe an ulcer by the time I’m 40 years old. No. I will wait on the Lord. I will move when He moves. I will receive from Him and I WILL serve Him.

God gave freely what I could not do without.

 

Things That Might Revoke My 90s Kid Card April 22, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — verbosevictoria @ 10:22 am

It’s true and I can still totally do it, head swivel and all, baby.

 

 

You know those lists of things that go, “You know you’re a 90s Kid if you remember…” and then comes a parade of cartoons, toys, and fashion choices that make you chortle in reminiscent glee?

Well, I get a little nervous at times that if my fellow 90s Kids could read my mind, they might take away my slap-bracelet license. Here are some things I did NOT get into as a 90s Kid:

 

 

–Saved by the Bell, Friends, Dawson’s Creek

Who will get mad at who THIS week?!

They all seemed so predictable and so boring to me. If I didn’t care who was going steady at my school, why the heck would I care about made up people’s fake relationships when they didn’t even, I dunno, fight mythical beasts or save the world on the side?

 

 

–N*sync, Backstreet Boys, Hanson, Spice Girls, Avril Lavigne, etc, etc ad nauseum

As ridiculous as this was, I gotta give Justin Timberlake props. He did grow out of the ramen-noodle hair and make some cool stuff.

I knew girls who would literally scream and start crying when they heard one of the songs by their favorite artist come on the radio. I have never understood this. Besides, I was too busy appreciating the music of the 50s, 60s, and 70s (including musicals) to be bothered with Top 40 radio. That’s right. I was a hipster before it was a thing.

 

 

–Banana clips and “baby tees”

This is what banana clips are.

This is what they are supposed to do. BUT IT IS LIES, I TELL YOU. LIES.

 

Banana clips just can’t handle this curly mane. They always broke. And baby tees just made me feel like my bottom half was huuuuge for some reason. Besides, my parents would have killed me.

 

 

–Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Ren and Stimpy, Beevis and Butthead

Yes. Yes I am. And that one episode they showed us in school when I was in 7th grade STILL BOTHERS ME.

I have always had an aversion for ugliness as entertainment. I don’t find it quirky. I find it disturbing.

 

 

–Books by R.L. Stine (such as the Goosebumps series)

I kind of wanted to read them because other kids liked them a lot, but I just couldn’t do it. This was the nicest cover I could find.

Furthermore, I hate being freaked out. Especially by my own imagination.

 

 

–Power Rangers

I still cringe. Even now.

It was just…TOO cheesy. This coming from a girl who loved the show “Clarissa Explains It All”

 

So does this make me a traitor to my generation’s pop culture? Possibly.

I do redeem myself with slap bracelets, side pony tails, Walkman AND portable CD player, a little Weezer and Five Iron Frenzy, pogs, All That, Doug, and a brief celebrity crush on Kevin Zegers (from the Air Bud movie).

What are the iconic experiences of your childhood days? Reminiscing is such a joy. 😀