Friday, February 24, 2012

Creative Energy

It's never been a secret that I love the theater.  Performing, watching, working behind the scenes...there's something energizing about it for me.  And yet it's only recently that I've been able to bring myself to go to a show alone if I can't find someone with whom to go.  But in doing so, I'm getting to see friends perform, and even better, in shows that I've never seen before.  In the last month I've seen both "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" and "A Year with Frog and Toad" for the first time.  Neither were professional productions, but they were done very well.  One of the joys of being in the Twin Cities is that there is all sorts of community theater to catch. 

The result of going to these shows is that they just fuel my creative energy.  I want to perform again, but due to my work schedule, the next opportunity for that probably won't occur until the summer.  However, there are other creative ideas getting fueled watching this creativity on stage.  I suddenly have a list of four or five things that I'd like to make (and I have never seen myself as the "crafty" type).  Unfortunately, I need to hunt down very particular elements to make some of these ideas work, so until I find them I'm sitting with a bundle of unfocused creative energy.  It's great to have that desire for creativity, but I need to find the right outlet.  I definitely don't want to lose it.  What to do....what to do??

Friday, February 17, 2012

Living Up to the Hype

Hype has always bothered me.  Many times the more something is hyped, the less likely I am to want to deal with it.  I think it's the reason that I don't see many movies--there's so much promotion for the blockbusters that I'm just sick of them before they hit the theaters.  And nothing can live up to the hype when expectations are that high.

Now, this isn't to say that I'll completely avoid anything that's hyped.  I read the entire Harry Potter series (but I'm pleased to say that I got into the series before it became the juggernaut that it is now).  I have to admit to being at the midnight showings for The Phantom Menace and The Matrix Reloaded (I still regret those...).  I did, however, love the much-hyped Lord of the Rings movies.  I'll see the much-anticipated The Hobbit movie when it comes out.  But there are many movies along the way that I haven't seen because I heard too much about them.  I've never seen The Sixth Sense, for example.  It was so talked about and talked about when it came out that I ran the other direction (that and someone gave away the ending).  I haven't seen Titanic.  Never seen AvatarBrokeback Mountain, or The English Patient.  I've never touched Twilight, in either book or movie form (although there may be reasons beyond hype for that one).  The list could go on, but I don't have time to list all the big movies that I haven't seen.

As I get older and the hype gets more distant, I find myself more open to seeing the movies.  I don't want to admit how many years it was before I was willing to see Forrest Gump.  It didn't live up to everything that people told me that it was, but away from all the hype it was a pretty good movie. 

One of my friends recently warned me that if I want to get married and have kids, I'd better catch any movies that I want to watch soon because once the kids arrive, it'll be another eight to ten years before I get to watch more of them.  I don't see marriage and kids in the immediate future by any stretch, but with a realistic mindset as to what to expect from the movies (they're entertainment--they're not going to be life changing) it's probably not bad advice.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Rejected Random Acts

I like to think that I'm a reasonably nice guy with mostly good intentions toward others, regardless of race, sex, creed, or religion.  I'll hold the door open for people whether I'm on a date with them, friends with them, or they just happen to be walking behind me into the building.  If I see someone who appears to be struggling with bags or packages in the parking lot, I'll ask if they need help.  Usually I get a "No, thank you" in response, but I figure that it can't hurt to offer.

I went to the grocery store the other day and I noticed that a mother and her children were dashing across the parking lot, the woman clearly in a hurry.  She was holding her toddler in one arm while frantically rummaging through her purse with that hand, meanwhile holding the hand of her other child in the other.  I pulled a cart out of the rack and offered it to her, figuring that she'd be able to set her toddler in it and more easily free up her hands.  The thought process may have been sound, but the offer clearly wasn't appreciated.  As soon as I offered her the cart, I received an icy glare and was told,  "I'm not some helpless woman that needs a man to take care of me."  The word "man" was dripping with disdain.  I'm not sure what my facial expression was at that point, but I was a bit shocked.  I quickly took the cart into the store and watched from behind a stack of Clementine oranges a few feet into the store to see what she did next.  She dropped the hand of her older child and pulled on a cart with the newly free hand, but it wouldn't budge.  She tugged a few more times without luck and wound up setting down her other child, placed the toddler's hand in his brother's, then went back to wrestling with the cart with two hands for a few moments before it finally came loose.  She picked up the toddler, set him inside, took her older child's hand again, and went storming into the store.

I felt a mixture of sadness and frustration toward the woman.  Clearly she had a lot on her plate and was a bit overwrought.  I had an image of her having one of those days where one thing after another was going wrong.  But watching the entire process, including her having to set down her son just to pick him up again moments later frustrated me a bit.  If she'd taken me up on my offer, it would have been far simpler for her.  But I also realized that there are a multitude of reasons that she may have rejected my gesture (she might have been a little nicer about it, but that's a completely separate issue).  I made the offer, and that's all that I could do.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Random Acts

I had a serious fajita burrito craving this week, so I decided to go out and grab my dinner.  I wound up waiting in line behind a mother and her two small children, neither of whom could have been over the age of six.  The little girl was clearly tired and remaining close to Mom (read: both arms wrapped around her leg), while the boy was taking every opportunity to explore the restaurant.  He tugged on the legs of other people in line, then waved when they looked down at him; he ran to the door and pointed at the cool cars driving by.  He then dashed over to investigate exactly how full the dispensers of plastic forks and knives were (looking, not yanking them out--I was impressed!).  He was a flurry of activity unto himself and the polar opposite of his sister.  Meanwhile, his poor mother was trying to divide her attention between him, making sure that her daughter didn't fall off her leg every time she stepped with her right leg, and finishing the taco order that she was trying to make.  I have enough friends with children to know how challenging it can be at times and I wasn't in a hurry, so when the mother shot me a couple of very apologetic glances between ordering and calling to her son I just smiled back at her and told her not to worry about it.

When she finally managed to finish the order, wrangle the kids, and pay for her meal, she turned to me and handed me the gift card with which she had just finished paying.  She said that she knew there wasn't much left on it, but she appreciated my patience in following her through the line.  I stopped in my tracks.  She didn't know me, she had enough on her plate to handle, but she stopped to give me a gesture of thanks.  There was something like $1.36 left on the card--not much in the scheme of things, but it really made my day.  It reminded me that next time I go through a drive through, I need to pay for the car behind me.  Or just pay for my coffee shop coffee with a larger bill than necessary and ask them to apply the change to the next person who comes through.  Hopefully it can make someone else's day.