Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving: On Reflection

This year, for the first time in a while, I did not spend Thanksgiving with my family. At least two Thanksgivings during my college years were spent with the folks I fondly call my adoptive family: the Stovers of Florida. So it's probably been about six years or so since I last ate a Thanksgiving dinner with people I wouldn't necessarily call family. The Thanksgiving of my sophomore year of college eludes me. The timeline is elastic. Anyway, lots of meals were shared with family. This one, last week, was not.

A few weeks ago, I started a new job in a new town, and as many of you probably know, I don't have my driver's license. (Cue comments from the peanut gallery. Okay, now that that's out of the way . . .) Since I don't drive and I only had Thursday off from work, I couldn't go home for the holiday. (Note to self: 4.5 hours is not that far to drive. Next year, when you have your license, you will leave after work on Wednesday and go home for dinner with your family on Thursday.)

Fortunately, the lovely music director at my new church home was kind enough to invite me to spend Thanksgiving with her family: the Hicks from West Virginia. (No, seriously.) While the meal was delicious and the company more than enjoyable, it wasn't my family. My rowdy, loving family really knows how to have a holiday so there were more than a few things that I missed. However, with new friends come new memories and, on this occasion at least, much laughter.

So, here are some of the things I missed:

*My family, of course. We're close-knit and all up in each other's business. This year, nobody asked me  if I have a boyfriend yet. (Okay, maybe I didn't really miss that last part.)

*My mom's sweet potato casserole. Not the kind with marshmallows. This stuff is all brown sugar and butter and pecan topping, which is really the reason we all love it so much. (My Uncle Matt only eats the topping.)

*Exchanging names for Christmas gifts. Mom picked a name for me. (Shh! It's a secret! But with only five of us grown kids in the exchange, it won't take long for the secret to get out, I'm sure. Jena and Melanie are tops at guessing anyway.)

*Washing dishes with Janelle.

*Seeing how big Landyn and Nola are getting.

*Sitting around for hours after our two o'clock dinner and talking until it's time to eat again. Saying, "I guess we'd better be getting home" and then sitting around and talking for another hour. Or two.

And here's what made my non-family Thanksgiving memorably delightful:

*Not being alone on a holiday.

*Talking to my family while they passed the phone around in turn.

*Trying to teach Amelia to knit using two plastic spoons.
It's possible! (Not altogether advisable.)
*Meeting the extended Hicks family and feeling right at home, especially when, during the BINGO! game, Chris said something about the ball turner being broken: "Mine's broken. Mine is broken!" I replied, "Mine are broken!" and Chris and her sister Karen both caught my Pretty Woman reference. Or maybe I joined theirs. Well, we were all on the same page.

*Playing BINGO! with all of the kids.
Pinto beans make excellent BINGO! chips.

*The chaos associated with lots of little ones.

*Laughing heartily while spending time with sisters Jessica and Cassidy, their mom Chris and dad Jack, and a whole host of fond family, now called friends.

A holiday feels so much more festive with family, and even though they aren't my family, the Hicks from West Virginia sure made me feel like one of their own.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Career Girl

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
I've never really thought of myself as a career girl, but it seems I have become one. I always expected Prince Charming was waiting just round the corner, and one day, I'd come round that corner, we'd bump noses, and "TA-DA!" happily ever after. So far, that hasn't happened. (I haven't ruled it out.)

Anyway, these steps have not led where I thought they would. From proofreading to working with an orchestra to, now, working with a professional theatre (in a non-performance capacity), my professional life has taken me to unexpected places. Outside of work, too, some pretty incredible experiences have filled my days. This year has been especially notable. Wonderful though those adventures have been, I still find myself at time plagued by a thought that this is not what my life is supposed to look like.

That's crazy, right? I mean, if I were supposed to be doing something else or being somewhere else, I would be doing that or being there. Logically, that makes sense. So why do I wonder? Why do I feel incomplete because my life doesn't look like hers or hers or hers? Why do I even want my life to look like any one of theirs when my own is so incredibly blessed?

So I'm a career girl. For now. For now, my life consists more of organizing data in Excel spreadsheets and other databases than building a life with my husband and our family. My free time is spent dancing with friends or reading for fun or joining the choir at my new church because, for now, I have free time, and for that, I am grateful. I am a career girl, and that means I can learn to be a good steward of my resources now so that when I do have a husband and a herd of little ones, I will know how to be a good steward of our resources then. Or maybe I'll live a long life knowing how to manage my own business.

In any case, I'm a career girl now, and with that, I shall be content.

(Really, though, where's that corner?)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Chapter the Next

Two days ago, I moved to Lewisburg, WV, to start a new job with the Greenbrier Valley Theatre. Prior to this big move, life became pretty exciting:

At Oglebay Institute's Towngate Theatre, I was privileged to appear as "Curley's Wife" in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. Directed by Tim Thompson and starring some of the most talented actors I've ever had the privilege to meet, this production marked my debut in grown-up theatre! Also, audience members have touted it as one of the best shows they've seen at Towngate. I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to tackle this challenging role and to work with so many spectacular actors: Justin Swoyer, Mack Kale, John E. Reilly, Wayne McCourt, James Martin, Shawn Carder, Walt Warren, P.D. Gregg, Lewis Willming, and, of course, Daisy.

I went dancing in Gainesville for the first time in years and got to reunite with some pretty awesome friends and meet a bunch of new ones.

With Jenny, Craig & Weston at the Gainesville Lindy Exchange. October 2012.
While I was in Gainesville, I got to have a photo shoot with photographer friend Raul E. Fernandez S. He took a bunch of wonderful photos, and we had a grand time. Here are a couple of my favorites:

After going to Gainesville, I joined my parents and grandparents for a relaxing week at Myrtle Beach and our family return to Angelo's.

Upon returning to Wheeling, I started rehearsals for the Augusta Levy Learning Center's Dancing with the Ohio Valley Stars, Season Two. My partner, Charlie Schlegel, owns and runs local restaurant Ye Olde Alpha. We had a lot of fun learning our short routine to Peggy Lee's recording of "Big Spender" from the musical Sweet Charity. Here's a short clip of our dance (Thanks to Tracey Marra for the video!):

Even though we didn't place, we were pleased as punch to be part of a fundraiser for such a worthy cause and grateful to meet so many other talented dancers and local celebrities. Plus, we did win best costumes! Thanks to Stages for their generosity in dressing me and for their inspiration and to Charlie for all of his hard work!

Dancing with the Ohio Valley Stars 2012.

In addition to all of the activities, I also enjoyed sharing meals with friends and family. I miss you all and look forward to dining with you again in the future. :)

Now, I'm getting settled in Lewisburg and my temporary housing and looking forward to starting my new job tomorrow. Thanks to everyone who helped make this transition smooth and brought such great joy to my last couple of weeks in Wheeling!