Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Another step back in time...

I've been meaning to post these early samples of my writing for quite a while now.

"What If..." Written May 23, 1998, when I was almost 5.
What if all the countries all of the towns were just a bridge away?
What if everything was in my neighborhood?
What if everything was perfect?
What if everyone would do everything we wanted them to?
What if we stayed in the same town?
What if we lived everywhere and did everything that we wanted to?
But it's just not possible.
The End.

"What if the Country" Written the same day.
What if we lived in the country but we'd rather live in town.
I go around my neighborhood finding things I wouldn't find in the country.
Like old newspapers and old bubble blowers and old pencils that are not very useful.
But the countries are clean.
Nothing like that that's in town is in the country.
But what if everywhere was very sad and pitiful like this.
It had garbage everywhere.
But it's just not true.
The End.

I had sort of an obsession with wanting to live in the country when I wrote the second one, as perhaps you can tell!

This one was inspired by our nature table.

"Christmas at the Oak Tree" Written December 2, 1997, when I was 4 years old.
The tree hears the call of Santa Claus, the crunching feet of Santa Claus, and the angel plays on the guitar a lullaby to me.
And I can hear the angels singing to the lullaby.
Santa Claus is opening up the gate and I can feel the cold and warm and it mixes together making hot.
A big giant candle stands behind the boat before me.
Presents are being dropped down by the angels above the earth in heaven.
I can hear footsteps crunching - Santa Claus is leaving me a present!
In the little pool there is some mermaids also singing from the lullaby.
Shhhh! I can hear the fishes calling help from the ice!
My friend, the giant rock, also got a present, too.
The End.

That part about the fish is sort of creepy... o.O haha Oh, and the picture is of me from about that time.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A step back in time.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I'd forgotten all this time to write about our last day in Milwaukee! I must remedy that. :) Last summer was doubly exciting, because, not only were we at a ballet intensive, but we were in a big city for the first time ever! We weren't even in the city much of the time, because the actual classes took place in a suburb, but it was still exciting. I think we'll probably die of excitement next summer when we're in the actual city the whole time! :D

So anyways, Dad came down for the last few days, and the morning after the performance we checked out of our awesome hotel and headed home, taking a detour through Milwaukee on the way. We tried to go to Mass at St. Stanislaus, but it turned out that was going to be that evening, so we drove out by the lake. We were a bit pressed for time so we didn't stop, and stopped at a Starbucks on our way back downtown. It felt so...urban...to stop at a little Starbucks in a tall brick building in a big city and order a latte. Mine tasted terrible, but oh well! It was still extremely fun.

We decided to stop at the library. On the way there, we saw a movie being filmed! I've no idea what movie it was, but they had extras in old fashioned clothes, old cars, big cameras, everything! It was awesome, and we drove around the block a couple of times, excitedly staring out the car windows. Evangeline and I were also thrilled to see signs for the Broadway production of "Phantom of the Opera" hanging on kiosks! I tried to take a picture of one, but we were going too fast.

Then we came in sight of the library - major excitement! That's it in the picture to the right. I'd heard about libraries that were that big, but I'd never actually seen one. That is a library!

So we went inside, and wow...it reminded me of dreams I've had! I often have dreams about buildings, usually houses or libraries, and this was just like something I would see in a dream. The dream-like feeling intensified as we walked through and I realized that it was like many, many libraries all in the same building, and each one the size of a normal library in a modest-sized town! Dad's comment: "Wow. When you and Bailey grow up and are dancing down here, Mum and I will move down here too and I'll just spend every day at the library!"

I really want to go back and spend a whole day at that library sometime. One place I'd like to see is the Rare Books Room. It's locked, of course, but I was able to look through the windows and see a dimly-lit room, with rows and rows of shelves full of old books. There were even little balconies with more shelves. I would love to go in there someday!

We had to leave all too soon, however, but we still had one more place to visit before returning home. I don't remember where we found out about it, but we knew that there is a chapel on the campus of Marquette University that was originally built in Domremy, France. You can click here for the history of it that appears on the Marquette website. According to legend, St. Joan prayed in this chapel before leaving her home, and kissed one of the stones, which has ever after remained colder than the surrounding stones.

So we decided to visit it, especially seeing as Evangeline's confirmation saint is St. Joan. It took us a little while to find it, but after walking around the campus and asking some people for directions, we found it, deeply surrounded by trees and gardens. As you push open the wooden doors, it's incredible to consider that, nearly a thousand years ago, people were here, worshiping God, and that one of those people was St. Joan herself.

We knelt on kneelers in the back of the chapel, prayed a while, and then began walking around and looking at everything. The chapel is tiny, with deep stone walls and a few ancient tapestries. Being around history is awesome, and that is, in my opinion, one disadvantage to living in America - we just don't have that many old buildings. Being in that tiny medieval chapel almost gave one a feeling of stepping back in time.

As we walked around, a lady appeared from the sacristy. She proceeded to loudly explain the history of the chapel, which sort of bothered me...I like to quietly absorb things. :P But then Dad asked her where the famous stone was, and she led us to it. It's to the left of the altar, and she explained that if you place your wrist on one of the surrounding stones for ten seconds and then place it on the stone St. Joan kissed, you will feel that it is indeed colder.

Evangeline went first, since St. Joan is her patron. She felt the stone for the prescribed time, and then came away with a look of awe. "It really is colder." Next went Dad, who said, "Wow. That is incredible...it brought tears to my eyes." Then I walked up and laid my hand on one of the stones. I counted to 10, and then placed my hand on the stone she had touched. The stone really was much colder. Like Dad, it brought tears to my eyes...it was such an amazing manifestation of God's power. It's so hard to describe, but if you're ever in Milwaukee, do visit the Joan of Arc chapel!

And then we returned back to the sunny, bustling world of a July day in 21st-century Milwaukee. But a little bit of that wonderful, otherworldly joy and peace I had experienced in the chapel remained in my heart.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Of performing.

After this weekend, I have concluded that I absolutely love theaters. I just love the buildings themselves...they're portals to an enchanted land. And it is one of the most exciting and thrilling things ever to be standing in the wings, surrounded by darkness, watching the story unfold under the bright lights of the stage, and thinking, I am an inhabitant of this world!

This has been an all-round awesome weekend (it always is!), so I thought I'd share it with you all. Well, the awesomeness started on Friday morning when my mom, Evangeline, and I went out for breakfast at a little diner right across the square from the theater around 7:30 am. We all had pancakes, scrambled eggs, and bacon (remembering too late that it was a Friday :-/ ). As we sat there eating and talking, our ears suddenly picked up "A Hazy Shade of Winter" by Simon and Garfunkel playing on the radio! We are all major Simon and Garfunkel junkies, so that brought great joy to us, and we all started singing along!

Around 8:15 am, Evangeline and I headed over to the theater. The morning was gloriously warm, sunny, and springlike. As we applied our makeup in the spacious dressing room, the cell phone of one of the girls went off to the tune of "I Wanna Be (500 Miles)"! We've been obsessed with that song ever since watching "Benny and Joon" several nights ago. "This day just got even more epic!" I exclaimed. "First Simon and Garfunkel in the restaurant, and now "500 Miles"!"

We got into our costumes and headed upstairs for the performance, which would start at 9:30 am. It was for the area schools, but about 40 people we know from church were coming, and there would be a full house. I love going up the stairs from the dressing rooms at the theater...there are three flights, and the steps are wide and concrete, with paintings of performers on the walls.

As I stood in the wings, listening to the familiar music of the overture of "The Ugly Duckling", the previous week's performance came to my mind. I remembered standing in the wings and looking up at the ceiling, which soared high above me, shrouded in darkness. I had wanted to write a poem...something about a starless night that is suddenly transformed into beauty and light.

The performance went remarkably well! I only made three mistakes, and none of them were very noticeable. I realized something during that performance, and when I mentioned it to Evangeline, she said it was the same for her. In general, we both tend to be quiet and introverted when we're around other people, but when we perform, those barriers fall away. There is this wonderful freedom to really enter your character (be a swan or a crazy hunter!), and to become it. And of course, your own personality enters into the portrayal, too, and you are more alive and real than you usually are. That's one of the things I absolutely love about performing.

The other reason is the audience! It is so wonderful to know that you are making it possible for all of these people laugh, cry, and have an enjoyable time. You become the guides to that enchanted world, and can take the entire audience with you!

The next morning, I woke up around 7 am. Evangeline had a Music Teacher's Association competition to audition for at 8 am, so I just stayed in bed until almost 8 am so that I didn't get in everyone's way. :P I would have had a nice, peaceful morning of sitting on the couch drinking coffee, but our cockatiel would not stop screaming! So I had retreat into the upstairs hallway, until my friend (I'll call her Elizabeth) got here around 9 am. She was going to spend the day with us and sleep over as well, so she could go to the performance. Evangeline got home around that time as well. Her competition went quite well, and we found out the next day that she got 14 out of 15 on her piano playing and a perfect score on the music theory, which means she'll be going to state in May!

We left for the theater again at 10:30 am. Two dancers from the Milwaukee Ballet were teaching master classes, and Evangeline and I attended both the Intermediate and Advanced classes - from 10:45 am to 1:30 pm! It was a lot of dancing, but it was wonderful. :) I'm really happy that my stamina is improving so much! After the last class, we all sat on the stage and asked the dancers questions about their careers and backgrounds for about half an hour. Then we went and had sandwiches in the loading dock, and after that it was time to do our hair and put on makeup and costumes in preparation for our last performance!

The actual dancing part of that performance was wonderful, but I was having some issues with my costumes. :P I'd been very forgetful and didn't lay them out in the wings, so when my quick changes came I was rushing around madly looking for them. Not fun. Do not do that! But they were all found in time, thanks to the wonderful moms who double so niftily as stage and prop managers. :)

The narrator of our production was SO nice - we all love her! She was obviously very excited to be narrating for us, loved watching us dance, and even gave all of us letters and roses after the performance...she's a very thoughtful lady! I ran into her that evening as she was leaving after the performance.

"You did such a wonderful job!" she said, giving me a hug.

"Thank you! You did too!" I replied.

"It all came from you guys. The way you all danced told me how to tell the story...it's really cool." I agreed.

"Are you planning on staying with dance?" she added. I nodded my head. Despite how stressful it had been over the past few weeks, I was realizing that dancing was not something I can leave any time soon. The only way that would work is if I never heard about ballet again!

"Good!" she exclaimed. "You have such grace and poise, and your jumps look so effortless...you really have something. I'm glad you're going to continue!"

"Thank you!" I exclaimed, beaming. I was so happy. In that weekend, I think I finally started learning to really dance, not just go through the motions, and it was wonderful to know that someone appreciated it.

I just found something on Pointe magazine's website that says exactly what I was trying to say earlier!

As dancers, we thrive on that ability to transcend the normal and become someone (or something) else on stage. It places us among the lucky few people who have the opportunity to experience that intangible freedom of another world.

But aside from those precious moments in performance, we spend hours and hours in the normal classroom grind, preparing ourselves for rehearsal, where we’ll spend hours and hours preparing for the product—our performance. The overwhelming majority of our time as ballet dancers is spent either preparing or preparing to prepare for time on stage, and naturally, we strive to make the most of it.

But all too often, I find myself working so hard on technical improvements in class that I forget to perform, to live the motivation of my movement—which is, after all, one of the greatest gifts of dance and the reason I’m there in the first place.

I'm starting to think that maybe if I don't dance, I'll be wasting one of my talents. It's definitely something to think about.

I was going to write about going to the Milwaukee Public Library and the Joan of Arc Chapel this past summer, but this turned into such a ginormous post that I'll spare you. ;)