SYW: Musicals, Memories, & Other Musings

Here is my take on Melanie’s Share Your World this week.

QUESTIONS

When you were a kid, did you eat the crusts on your sandwich or not?
Always, I love the crusts!

Are you a fan of musicals—why or why not?
Yes and no. It seems like every time I turn around, there’s a new musical out (What is Six?!). Some of the topics they take on are not necessarily good as musicals, but might make great plays or movies. (Believe it or not, I actually saw a production of Jane Eyre: The Musical. Not one of my favorites.) I prefer musicals that are written as musicals, not adaptations of books, like Jane Austen novels – a few of them have been made into musicals, and I didn’t like that at all. The songs can be a distraction.

When I’m watching a musical, I often get impatient when the characters break into song, because I want the story to continue. But some musicals are really great and a lot of fun. I enjoy some of the classics, like The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, or West Side Story. I also enjoy singing along to the familiar songs while listening to a CD. I have not seen Hamilton yet, mainly because I don’t want to pay $200 for a ticket, but also I’ve heard that it’s best to “preview” the songs, to have time to understand the lyrics. I probably wouldn’t do that, and as a result, I wouldn’t “get” the songs. But I’d still like to see it. However, I don’t rush out to see every single musical or remake of a musical. Really, I’m not sure politicians or historical figures are good subjects for musicals.

The thing is, I do really like opera, although some are more interesting than others. But in opera, they sing all the time and there are usually subtitles, even when it’s sung in English. I guess I see opera as a whole “experience” while going to a musical is like going to a play or a movie. But now, I’ve taken to watching operas from the Met on a movie screen. The seats are far more comfortable and the theatre is a short, easy drive in my car!

Is it difficult to do what you do? (for a living, hobby etc.).  If you’re retired, what you ‘did’ previously for a job can be substituted.
Yes, at least my second career – teaching – was very difficult. Some situations were easier for me than others. I didn’t really like or succeed at being a regular classroom teacher because there were too many things to remember, especially non-teaching things, like checking my email every morning and taking attendance. I really loved, and I think excelled at, being a resource teacher – that is, taking kids out of their classrooms and working with them in small groups. I think the kids liked it too. Being a bilingual teacher, sometimes the foreign-born kids were overwhelmed in the classroom with all their American peers, and my classroom was more culture-affirming and comfortable for them. For me, it was more relaxed, less rigid. My groups were usually 4-10 students, that I would have during literacy block – about an hour and a half per grade level. So I was their reading and language arts teacher, one with knowledge of their native language and culture and trained in teaching English as a Second Language. I was also a resource for classroom teachers who did not know how to teach English as a Second Language. I enjoyed the collaborative and reflective aspects of teaching.

But I really struggled being a classroom teacher. Classroom management, for a person with ADHD, can be very difficult. I was always misplacing things, so I didn’t have them when I needed them. Although I wrote detailed lesson plans, I didn’t always follow them as I should have. I spent hours every night preparing for my classes or grading papers. I would say I worked about 70 hours a week! (Which is worth a couple of summer months off, don’t you think so?)

My 4th grade students (2009) performing a Reader’s Theatre play for their peers

Besides the difficulties keeping up in the classroom, there were always school politics. If your principal was a jerk or didn’t like you, your school year could be hell. Some principals have favorites among the teachers, who then would form a little clique and act superior to other teachers. I even had one principal use my classroom aide to spy on me. Administrators are under a lot of pressure these days, due to their schools having to perform well on standardized tests. And of course, the special ed and bilingual students always were at a disadvantage taking those tests. The principals were also under scrutiny and beholden to superintendents and school boards. Not an easy task, and these days I wouldn’t want to go up against a school board! Some of the parents are crazy! Anyway, I tried to understand what principals were up against, but some principals were just terrible. A few were very good and sympathetic, and those teaching years were the best – at least I was less stressed.

It takes a certain type of person, one who is organized and doesn’t get flustered easily, to be a good teacher. I think I was good, as I said, with small groups, but not as a classroom teacher. And I’m sure it has gotten worse for teachers since I retired seven years ago, not better.

What’s the best concert you’ve ever been to?  (Doesn’t have to be a rock concert either).

That’s a hard one! I’ve been to many great concerts, so it’s difficult to say which was the best. I do remember rock/popular music concerts better than classical concerts; I went to very few actual rock concerts. Classical concerts? There are too many to remember. The best popular music concerts were those at which I could hear the music and liked it, and where there were no disturbances like drunk people throwing up near me. I liked seeing Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie, and some of the Celtic bands made me want to get up and dance!

GRATITUDE SECTION

Looking back over your life, what is one thing you’re grateful for?  One thing you really regret?
I’ll do the regret first – I regret not getting into a profession earlier or even preparing for one during my years ass an undergraduate in college. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, except that I really liked writing and drawing. The work I did for 20 plus years I put in the category of “a job” – not a profession. Teaching was the one profession I went into, when I was a lot older and more mature. I went to grad school and got my MA in teaching, and did further coursework to become a bilingual/ESL teacher. I wish I had done something like speech pathology – I never really understood what that was and if I had, I might have taken that path. Anyway, it’s all water under the bridge!

I am grateful for many things, but the most important one is my family. Although my siblings and I bickered sometimes, in the most important things we supported each other. We never fought over money or our inheritance as some families do. No one tried to take more than was due to them. When I was in my first marriage, and especially when I separated from my ex-husband, my family really supported and helped me with their love and understanding. They have been so welcoming to my stepdaughter and her husband, integrating them into the family as full members, not adjuncts. My stepdaughter, who was an only child, suddenly gained a whole lot of cousins, aunts and uncles! She really appreciates that and knows a lot more about what’s going on with my nieces and nephews than I do!

I have been very lucky to have the family I do!

A family gathering in my #2 sister’s dining room