I don’t think that I’ve ever talked about the death of my father on my blog, and it is a wonder that today I’m choosing to do so. A good friend of mine lost her father this week and a high school bff lost her mother just last summer. My father would have turned 63 at the beginning of this month. I agree with Kris in this post that the death of a parent has a profound impact on your life and that you sort of join a club. In my case, I’ve been a member of that club for over 16 years now.

And yet, everything I was feeling at that time and all the time afterwards are just as fresh and piercing as it was then. Thankfully, I no longer purposefully wear black on the day of his death and his birthday as I did in junior and high school. But the period from Christmas (when my sister and I were told he was sick) until early March (his birthday) continue to be the hardest time of the year for me. I’m definitely better than I was just a few years ago, but I don’t know if I will ever be able to wake up on Feb 19 (the date of death – just one day before my mother’s birthday, so I can only imagine what she feels) or March 5 (his birthday), without a piercing or dull ache of longing and sadness.

But I am proud of the progress I've made. In the last few years, I finally forgave the 12 year old me. I struggled for so many years to confront all of my conflicting emotions about how and when I was told my father was sick, the sort of denial I entered afterwards, not having the chance to say goodbye, the last time I saw him, the day the ambulance came to take him away, and the numbness I felt from that point on. It never really went away.

For years, I rarely talked about my father – the good times or the last months. And I think holding all that in has put a toll on me. Now, I will talk about my father with certain friendsa and on certain occassions. But not with my family for some reason. It is weird but I can't fully open up with my mother about it. The hurt is just too pure still. Indeed, I still need to see a counselor…

I know that I have baggage because of what happened and the way I chose to deal with it. I became a daddy’s girl without a daddy at the age of 12 – and I know my fear of abandonment, my insecurities, and my search for a “father figure” played out in my relationship with Floyd (and many other relationships for that matter).

That’s the unfortunate stuff that is still unresolved. But, I also know that the strong, independent, driven and success woman I am now would not have been without that whole experience. I sort of committed to taking the torch of achievement, experience, and growth that my father never had a chance to officially pass on. I know that he lives on through me and that he would be unbelievably proud (as is my mother) of the woman that I have become. I like to think that I’m kinder and more responsive to my mother and the rest of my family, especially as they get older.

And yet, what I wouldn’t give to have him back here and to relive (the “right” way) those last few weeks between when I was told and when he was gone. I forgive my mother, my father, and my 12 year old self; but there is a lifetime of grief that remains.

My recommendation to anyone dealing with grief is to talk to someone: a friend, a psychologist, family members, your priest/rabbi, etc. I have experienced and re-experienced all of the stages of grief identified by Kubler-Ross. It doesn't necessarily get easier with time but you learn to live with it and find ways to turn that grief into positive action and change in your life. You just have to be patient with yourself. And most of all take care of yourself.


The Red Derby

Over the weekend, I went to the Red Derby with two high school buddies (Celestyn and Pharma). For the record it was a very beautiful and fun extended weekend of entertaining Celestyn.

I really like the Red Derby and since it is closer to my house than The Raven, it is more likely that I'll actually return. The cash only policy is annoying but the price is right on the mixed drinks, and they offer Strongbow (still looking for a place with it on draft). I wasn't too annoyed by the patrons and it was easy to score a seat. If only, it had a jukebox. Then, it would be closer to filling the void left when I moved away from Quarry House, the neighborhood divebar in Silver Spring.

So overall, it is a great neighborhood drink option for me. The only problem is being able to lure my friends away from the convenient and rowdy bars of Chinatown and U Street for the Red Derby experience.


First Take: Acting Class

So now that I've had my first class and attended my first Actor's Center meeting, I am feeling even more like a hopeless novice.

For my acting class, we are to spend the upcoming few weeks working with a partner to develop and perfect our assigned dialogue and individually, to do the same with a self-selected monologue. I am excited by the prospects of this but more than anything overwhelmed. In reviewing and rereading my scene, I have become frustrated by the fact there seems to be an unlimited number of ways to say a word or phrase. My character could show her feelings in so many different ways and it is up to me (along with the cast and director) to hone in on my character's essence so that the lines ring true. And I find that daunting.

Part of our assignment this week is to come up with exploratory questions about our character and work on our scene based on the range of answers to those questions (without explicitly letting our partner know the answers). For example my scene is of me being dumped by a new lover. So I need to determine (based on the scene and the rest of the play), for example, how deeply my character feels toward her lover and if she might have baggage that might impact how she expresses herself. She can say "don't leave me" with varying degrees of desperation/conflict/sadness/remorse/relief in her voice and body language. Ultimately, I will have to decide what works best based on my interpretation of the play and how my partner interprets the play and delivers his lines. This makes the whole development process challenging but fun.

I am very happy that I signed up for the class. It has given me many interesting things to think about during the last week. And it is so nice to meet people who share my amateur interest in the craft.


Weekend Visitor

One of my high school bff’s will be in-town starting tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to her visit, but I can’t think of anything cool to do. Last time she was here, I took her to watch the Capitol Fourth concert and fireworks, followed by a VIP reception. It’s hard to top that.

Thankfully, the weather is supposed to be nice all weekend so I’ll probably drag her down to the National Mall for a little sightseeing. I would love to take a tour bus around the city—while wearing a FBI sweatshirt, tube socks, and sneakers. Ugh…that reminds me that the start of the tourist season is only a few weeks away! My friend will probably want to check out one or two of the museums, and I think that we'd both enjoy going to the top of the Washington Monument. Tomorrow night, my plan is to take her to The Raven or The Red Derby (no, NOT Wonderland) for the neighborhood bar experience.

It is crazy that the only time that I truly take advantage of all that DC has to offer is when a family member or friend comes into town. I love my city, and I really should make a point of experiencing it beyond my normal work-home-errand route on a regular basis.