Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Seven Dollar Nap

When you spend 65 hours a week raising other people's kids, sometimes you don't even know how you got home on Friday. From Ivins to Washington there are unaccounted hours and hours of BLUR. You know what I'm, talking about. Especially if you have kids yourself. When you finally get home, you don't often want to get back in the car and go do something active, or fun. You just want to die.

A typical day gets us out of bed at 5:30 or 6 in the morning and returns us at 7 or 8 at night if we're lucky. A typical week includes the same thing from Monday through Friday and about half the Saturdays during the year.

I teach a technical theatre class at the high school and two film classes at the local college. Because my title is "Artistic Director" I also do the scheduling for all the arts events at our high school. I have to make sure the dancers, musicians and artists are all moving forward as best we can. Our school is a performing arts based school and we have ONE performing space. Every one's programs are growing, and in order for us to continue to offer our young artists what they need to prepare them for college, for life, I need to make the puzzle work so they can all perform several times a year.

I also direct two huge shows a year, a couple of smaller ones and three competition teams. You wouldn't think it was such a huge part of the job, but I do all of the shopping for those plays and musicals. In anticipation of having between 120 to 150 kids in our spring musical 2012, I have been buying costumes for that musical since last summer. On our vacation days we shop the thrift stores from St. George to Salt Lake and since we have annual passes at Disneyland, we don't go to L.A. without spending a day or two in the fashion district and hunting down discount dresses and fabric for our shows. We have some great help from the parents once the shopping makes it back to the school, but the props, paint, light bulbs, lumber, zippers, buttons, tape, patterns, programs, posters and props and everything else must all be purchased or rented by me. We pass a Walmart every day on our way home from work. Andy started calling it "church" because we were spending more time every week there, than we were "Do you need to stop at church today?"

We have no business owning a home. There are still tomato plants out back that we planted in the summer of 2009. There are more dishes next to my bed than are in the sink and everyone always says, "you have so many clothes, you should go through them and donate the old stuff." I would if I was a person who had time to do laundry. I have over 50 pair of underwear and it's not because I like to buy underwear.

We actually bought a computer for our home office that would allow me to design marketing, P.R. and lesson plans at home because I just wasn't getting it all done.

It isn't that I'm unfocused or unorganized. The sheer volume of work that gets done every day is miraculous if I do say so myself. But it's the glass. I have a window in my door, that practically invites a student to pass by, see me, and instantly remember that I am the only person on the face of the earth that can solve their special problem, right then.  Because I'm at the college part-time, I'm not at my desk as much as I used to be. I think the kids save up their emergencies for the days when I am there. They make lists. Like when you go to the doctor and you make a list of questions beforehand so you don't forget anything. You may not be able to get in for another three months and the stress of forgetting something!!!!

There is no secretary or intercom to filter the needs and wants of the students before they burst in and present me with their emergency. Just a state-mandated window. Sometimes they just stand there and stare at me until I look up and wave them in. I tried not looking up one day, just to see how long the kid would stand there. I could sense him at first, and then I shifted to see him peripherally...he just stood, staring at me, waiting. I got and made a copy, went to the filing cabinet, shifted some files around and then finally shouted "WHAT DO YOU WANT?" Big smile! BURST!!! "I can't come to rehearsal today...." That's what I thought. He'll miss rehearsal which means that I will have to find other hours in the day, that don't exist, to catch him up with the rest.

Andy made me a "filter" one day. It's a red piece of bulletin board paper that covers the window and says "KNOCK AND DIE" basically. I use that sometimes if there is an ad deadline or...I'm crying...or....can't think of any other times I've actually needed to tape it up.

So when you teach 93 different students and regularly have 50 to 100 kids in a play or musical, there must be 50 to 100 questions, excuses or issues that you try to solve all day, every day. 50 to 100 schedules to work out, 50 to 100 emotional breakdowns per event and 100 to 200 parents that are not communicating with their cast member and need to hear the news from the horse. So the emails alone from that group of shareholders are like a blinking set of Christmas lights that can never be shut off.

Success is a wonderful thing. (choke, cough, hair ball.)

Back to the dying part. Friday nights we try to have a "date." We try to get home before 6 if there isn't a show about to explode. We drive through the fog to get home, and like so many, we say "I'm going to sit in this chair just to decompress, for just 15 minutes." Hehehehahahahahlololol. Three miserable hours later, one of us will lift our aching bodies, look at the clock and say "the movie starts in 20 minutes, we should go." Then we count to five, hobble up onto our feet, put the dogs out, get back into the car and head to the closest movie theatre.

Last night we went to see Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. It's a 9/11 movie with Tom Hanks. I have been looking forward to it. I thought I'd better see it so I could talk intelligently about it in class. We bought popcorn, sat down and I was really enjoying it until.... my power went out. It was warm and dark, no one was bothering me, I had on my favorite Sherpa jacket, there wasn't a computer, student, white board, sewing machine, poster or email in sight. And as soon as I sat down, the sleep button on the bottom of my butt, the one we Shelton's are famous for, just put me right out like a baby. A baby with a sore neck two hours later, but a baby nonetheless.

Andy was crying when I woke up. Daaaaaaaang it! You know it's been a good movie when Andy cries. He said it was "good, I can't talk about it right now." DOUBLE DANG IT!!! Andy's learned, from the past 13 years of going to movies with me that he will usually have to talk about the movie with people that actually SAW the movie and didn't pay $7.50 for the optional nap. Like I did.

Though it was two hours of uninterrupted bliss that I have always paid and will gladly keep paying.