Saturday, January 12, 2013

Who Am I?

Ha, I still have Les Mis on the brain. 

So, throughout my life, I've identified myself certain ways and been identified certain ways.  Labels, I suppose.  Some people really dislike being labeled, they feel it limits who they are.  And I can see that.  Some, labels, however, can be useful.  Like I said, I label myself a certain way, and it does change and has changed throughout my life.  And some labels I apply to myself cautiously, because they don't always mean the same to an outsider as they do to an insider or to me.
For instance, some of the labels I apply to myself are Mormon, Mother, Friend, Designer, Cutter/Draper, Feminist, Pro-Choice, Liberal. 

I have noticed, after the last election, that those last three are sometimes gravely misunderstood.  Feminist does not mean man-hater, Pro-Choice does not mean pro-abortion and Liberal, well, that's a whole other ball of wax....

The extent to which I identify with certain labels changes as my life changes, and the labels themselves may change.  At one point in my life, Career woman and Feminist were some of the more important labels. 

I have to say, and it isn't how I thought I would be, that Mother is the most important label to me right now.  It is the one with which I most identify myself.  I have a great job that I love in my field of study, and I am very good at it.  I am an ardent feminist.  I am a Mormon.  But, if I had to give you the single most identifying label, it is Mother. 

This thought has come to me lately for two reasons.  One, I am currently a single parent.  (That's another story)  Two, The Small One has been sick since Christmas. 

Being a single parent throws into focus just how much of one's life is actually spent parenting.  And how we think of it, what we think of it.  Now, I am lucky, my mom and step-dad live with me, so I do not actually have to do it all alone.  But, their obligation is only so much.  Their willingness extends greatly, but they have raised their kids and I feel like she is my responsibility when I get home from work.  Sure, sometimes I am a slacker and let her stay in their room watching TV and irritating the dogs, but mostly, especially when she is sick, I feel an obligation to not bother them about her.  She is mine, and it is my job to take care of her.

When I was younger, and even after I married, I thought, I want to work full time, even when I have kid(s).  I couldn't IMAGINE myself wanting to stay home and be a housewife and a mother all the time.  Heh.  Shows what I knew.  I never stopped working part time, but, I loved staying home with my wee girl.  I loved being her mamma, the center of her universe.  And I loved that I was in a position where I could do both.  Full time Mamma, part time wedding dress creator.  And when my wee lass got sick the first time (meningitis at 6 months) and there was a very real chance I could lose her, it was hammered home to me just how much this label of Mother meant to me.

So, yes, fast forward to now.  Single parent of a sick child.  We got parainfluenza the day after Christmas, and it lingered.   She got better and went off to school for two days when it started back up.  Day 3?  Nope.  Fever.  And it just got worse.  Fever, cough, headache. Called the doctor.  Just the flu, keep her on fluids.  Two days later, her throat hurt.  Crap, must be strep.  Off to the doctor again.   Nope, no strep.  Just the flu, make sure she gets her fluids.  Several nights in a row with The Small One waking up 10 or more times a night, crying and gagging.  Freaking out because she felt so wretched.  Yesterday, she got even worse.  At this point, I am running on fumes.  I've not slept more than 2-3 hours a night for a few nights.  All day today, she would cry, doze off, wake with a start, crying and kicking and coughing.   I've gotten nothing done.  I've held her, rocked her, cuddled her,  fed her, forced fluids down  her, bathed her, medicated her, massaged her head and neck and face for endless hours.  I'm so tired.   I'm on the verge of tears myself.  I've run out of patience.  I've resorted to telling her if she doesn't take her meds and drink and eat she will have to go back to the doctor, or worse, to hospital.  Everytime she lets out a cry of frustration and pain, my nerves tense up.  I'm so tired of hearing it.  I'm worn out.  This is one of the worst parts of parenting.  There's just no respite.


I would take this pain and illness from her in a heartbeat.  Because worse than the aggravation of tending to a cranky sick child, is the sorrow and pain of the child.  My heart hurts that she has to go through this and there is not a damn thing I can do to help.  I'm Mamma.  I'm supposed to fix things.  I'm supposed to make it all better.  And I can't.  And it kills me.  I would trade places with her so fast, remove all that pain from her.  But, I can't.  So, despite my frustration and fatigue and nervous tension, I will continue to sit up with her at night, and cuddle her feverish little body as long as she needs it and rub her head until my fingers feel like they might fall off.  Because that is who I am.  I am her Mamma.  My label is Mother, and I wouldn't give it up for anything.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Once a week, if you're lucky...

So, it's the New Year.  Woot, and all that.  I have New Year's Resolutions (do you like how I capitalize that?  Feels more important.)  Do you have resolutions?  I know some people think they're stupid, why do you have to wait for the new year and all that.  Well, it's a fresh start.  It's a dividing line between the past and the future.  If time were linear, which it isn't.  It's more like a big ball of wibbley-wobbley, timey-wimey stuff.  But, I digress.
But, the new year seems sort of like a giant Monday, without all the bad stuff.  It's a beginning, so we like to start at the beginning believing that we are going to do all sorts of good things.  I don't see anything wrong with that.   Well, unless you have too many resolutions and feel bad about yourself if you don't keep them all.  That's a bit silly.
One of my resolutions is to shift this, um, baby weight.  Except, I can't really call it that anymore, since baby is nearly 6 years old.  (WHAT!?!)   I should probably change that goal to accepting it for what it really is (my no longer 25 years old body) and go with it.  But, alas, I cannot.
Another of my resolutions is to try to blog weekly.  I really will try.  I seem to have lost my mojo lately, and although I have a lot of followers, I am not sure that many people actually visit the blog.  This is likely due to my sporadic posting style. 
Here's the problem with my goal.  I seem to have a smidge of writer's block.  I can't think of anything to write about lately.  Stress has rendered me boring and commonplace.  So, I ask you, dear readers, if you are still out there, is there anything you'd be interested in hearing about?  Let me know in the comments.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Totally Biased Review of Les Miserables

So, I went and finally saw Les Miserables tonight.  There was decidedly some high school theatre geek squee going on with me, as attested to by my companion for the evening, who is a friend from Jr. High and High School.  He laughed at my squee, but I cared not. 
It was like I was a teenager again, seeing the stage show for the first time.  When the orchestration began and the men's voices started, I felt a bit giddy, no lie. 
So, here's what I think.  Technical bits first, perhaps.  There was, without a doubt, the stamp of Cameron MacIntosh on the show.  Now, some might say that that is not a good thing, for it to be so obvious whose creative fingers were in the pie, but let's be honest, if you've seen Les Mis onstage, you have seen Les Mis.  It's a Cameron MacIntosh production.  Since Les Mis was the first "real" Broadway theatre I ever saw, I did rather enjoy recognizing the "Cameron MacIntosh-ness" of the whole thing.
In addition there were some fairly significant lyric changes.  This was interesting to me as well.  The screenplay for the movie was written by Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil, who were the original composer and lyricist for the stage production.  So, the changes to the lyrics were, in my opinion, well done and kept with the spirit of the show.  I won't lie, though, it did throw me off a bit, although, in the same way, it made me pay more attention to what the changes meant with regards to the character.
Jean Valjean, our protagonist/hero was played by Hugh Jackman.  I've seen Hugh Jackman perform musical theatre before (Boy from Oz, anyone?) so, I knew he had at least some MT chops.  Russell Crowe has a band, so presumable he could sing.  Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried, though I knew, quite well, who they were, were unknowns to me in the singing department.  And, I am sorry to admit, I had no idea who Eddie Redmayne was before this.  Or Samantha what's-her-name that played Eponine.
So, yeah, Hugh Jackman was good.  I'm a huge fan of Colm Wilkinson's voice as Valjean, so it took a bit of getting past the fact that Mr. Jackman wasn't Mr. Wilkinson, but I did enjoy his performance very much.  He was a bit nasally in parts, but the raw emotion visible on his face and his body more than made up for the lack in his voice.  Of course, watching a musical requires even more of a suspension of disbelief than does a straight show, but I felt like Hugh Jackman's singing really was just an extension of his talking, and not like I was having a song thrown at me.
Russell Crowe.   Oh boy.  I don't think anyone is lukewarm about his performance.  They really enjoyed it or really disliked it.  I disliked.  Big time.  I didn't feel he grasped the character at all in his singing.  His posture, body language and facial expressions captured it and I think his spoken lines were ok, but his singing quite took me out of it.  His songs sounded like pop-ish ballads to me, rather than the emotional,  hard core feel that I have come to expect from Javert.  It really felt emotionless.  I find Javert to be such a passionate character.  Passionate in his search for absolute justice.  He is not a cruel or evil man, he is simply a relentless pursuer of justice.  And his past is what drives him to pursue said justice.  I think he feels like he did not get any.  He was born in a prison to "scum like you" as he tells Valjean.  There was no justice there for him, he had to work his way out of the gutter and proved that it can be done, so there are no excuses for anyone else.  I like this character, a lot.  In fact, he is one of my favorites.  Now, as stated in my title, this is a biased review.  Because I have come to expect a certain "feel" from Javert, to have it not delivered was quite a disappoinment.  I never felt any of the solid entrenchment in his beliefs that I would have expected and in Javert's final scene?  I felt no conflict.  Seriously, it was like Russell Crowe was singing a Taylor Swift song about her lousy boyfriend who betrayed her and then he jumped off the bridge.  Lame.
Marius.  Ah, we was lovely.  Nice voice, attractive boy, perfect for Marius. 
Cosette.  She is one of my least favorite musical characters EVER.  I think she is utterly insipid and she twitters when she sings.  And Amanda Seyfried nailed it. 
Fantine-Wow.  Just wow.  I admit, I missed most of the death scene because I had to pee, but what I saw of it coupled with the rest of her performance was amazing.  She captured the utter despair that Fantine feels in "I Dreamed a Dream" like I have never seen before.  I've never really been a fan of the Fantine character before, but I am now.  The raw emotion on her face, the despair at her betrayals in her voice.  Oh, she was perfect.  And, let's be honest, it takes a bit of guts for an actress to allow herself to be that unattractive on film.  Anne Hathaway looked the part.  A beat down, malnourished, hopeless woman.  She NAILED it.  It was beautiful and heartbreaking.
Eponine-Meh.  She was fine.  She had a slightly freakish body shape that distracted me.  The corset did not work for her.
And, ok, major highlight for me.  COLM WILKINSON.  That was EPIC!!!!  Oh, how I loved seeing him as the bishop.  That was utterly and completely perfect.  And also elicited some fangirl squee from me.  Now, if Michael Ball had had a cameo?  I might have fainted. 
The costumes were divine.  I loved the texture of the fabrics they chose.  The smocking on Fantine's first dress was gorgeous and I loved how it showed that she had once seen better times, despite her current poverty.
However, the costume highlights for me were Marius and Jean Valjean.  Oh, they were amazing!  The costumers absolutely got the shape of the body right for the period.  It's a hard shape to create, the stacked up neck and sloping shoulders.  It was beautiful.  And the varying textures and fabrics in Valjean's various coats and vests and cravates made me drool.  I loved the way they changed from point to point and it was easy to see who/what Valjean was at any given time. 
There were some camera moments that had me reeling, and not in a good way.  It seemed that any time there was quick camera work, dodging between shots, etc, that they went out of their way to NOT make it smooth.  I get that the steadicam thing is not in vogue at the moment because the natural movement makes it seem more real, but ouch.  I have had a background migraine for a couple of days waiting to sneak up on me and that choppy camera work certainly exacerbated the problem.  I had to cover my right eye a few times so I could watch without falling out of my chair. 
It's a rather politically charged movie and I would like to see it again, to be able to watch with a more critical eye how the story is told.  This time, I really was kind of all fan girl about it.  But, if you want to read an interesting take on the politics of it, go here.  He's an excellent writer, and one of my former professors.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Thank Goodness it's over

It's been a hell of a year, friends.  I am not sorry to see this one go.  Often, at the end of the year I am a bit sad, a bit depressed.  Another one gone.  Not this year.  I am glad this one is behind me.  It has not been my best year, perhaps evidenced by the serious lack of posts on my blog.  I don't like to post as much when I am not happy, and I have not been happy much of this past year.
But, I have high hopes for 2013.  I have made a lot of changes in my life.  They have not been easy changes, not been easy decisions to make, but they have been necessary.  2013 will not be easy.  Far from it.  It will come with a whole new set of challenges, with new adventures to navigate and situations I have not encountered before.  Hopefully, I can rise to these challenges with vigour and a good attitude. 
God grant me the strength, the patience and the good humour to navigate this new year well.  And may he grant the same to all of you.