Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Forgot to mention that, did I?

My friend, and fellow Sight Nine company member, was driving me back to work this afternoon following a short rehearsal for Mrs. Klein. Just a simple read through. We're chatting about this and that, the MLIS program and how long will it take me? etc., etc., etc. "...and blah blah blah, now that Shawn's living in California...blah, blah, bla-" "WHAT?!" (that was Heather.) O. Didn't I tell you?

This is not the first time that changes of a sort of monumental proportion have occurred in my life and I have neglected to tell those that might be interested. I think it's because I'm lazy. I get tired of telling the same story over and over again. And, generally, I find it's not the good stories. My boyfriend has moved to California. My sister died. I'm getting a divorce. I mean, how many times does anyone really want to repeat the details of that particular kind of life changing news? At some point, I hope that enough people have been told so that they can start telling other people and save me the trouble.

Maybe whenever there has been a shift in our fortunes (be they good or bad), we should write up a little summary, including an FAQ, and print it out for distribution. Then, whenever someone asks the inevitable "What's new with you?" all you have to do is hand over the already prepared tale of joy/whoa. You might even add a "Feel free to distribute as you like" hint. It's like that Christmas Letter people write and David Sedaris makes great sport of in one of his books--I think it's Barrel Fever--only you don't have to wait until Christmas. And you don't have to mail it. Keep a few copies on your person whenever you're going to be out and about; especially if you're likely to run into folks you know.

Monday, May 28, 2007


My oldest sister, Gina, has asked me to write a little remembrance about my very first dance teacher, Willa Dean Nilesen. I was about five years old when I started taking dance class at Nielsen's school of Dance and the only reason I was there was because my sister, Holly, was taking class with her friend, Emily Youngman. With my mother, I sat--or tried to--and watched from the sidelines. Apparently, as Blumenthal legend has it, sitting was just too much for me and, standing near my mom, I would copy the dance steps that my sister was learning until they finally decided I should be taking the class, too. This isn't really a story about Willa Dean. In fact, I can't really recall a story about her, particularly. My memories tend towards events that involved her, but only as a figure at the front of the class. Or, sitting behind her desk as we practiced our dances. Her sadness when her daughter, Pam, died tragically in a senseless motorcycle accident. Doesn't seem right to talk about how she always seemed too old to have a teenage daughter, that she seemed more like a grandmother than anything else. Her hair cut, colored and set. Painted eyebrows and red-pink lipstick. My childish ideas of her weren't meant to be disrespectful or mean-spirited. I liked her a great deal, looked up to her. My own grandmother died around the same time that I'd started the dance classes, at least my memory is that it happened within the same year. And Willa Dean looked more like my grandmother than she did my mother. So it wasn't with malice that I thought her old; it was a youthful syllogism long before I knew what the word meant. Shocking 20 years later when during a visit with my mom, living once again in Southern Idaho, we run into her at a store and she's even older than she was the last time I'd seen her, in 1984. My goodness, I remember thinking, she was old when I was 7!
So, what story can I write for Gina, in celebration of 50 years of Nielsen's School of Dance? 50 years, really?! How excited we were when the Stargazers dance class got to have the matching, white and blue "v" striped leotards so that she could see better if someone wasn't doing the same dance step that everyone else was doing? The silver tinsel Christmas tree that was in the upper right corner of the studio, every year, with empty wrapped boxes stacked festively underneath it? How she hated ballet and how anyone who wanted to take it had to do so on the sly at another studio? I always thought that was so funny. Strange funny. When we moved to Utah, and I took my first ballet classes, I couldn't understand what all the fuss was about.
I see her so clearly, in her tan colored jazz shoes, black dance pants of that parachute-like material, rolled down at the waist, leotard and accessorized with a skinny belt. Demonstrating a dance step. I see her sitting behind that desk, counting and clapping on the down beat. I just can't come up with a single moment that translates to a story of guidance. Something that has stuck with me all these many years. The kind that you tell your own children--nieces and/or nephews in my case--when they're feeling blue. "Someone once told me..." it begins. I remember her presence. And her love for the dance studio and the students. The long and strenuous preparations for the annual dance recital held on the stage of CSI (College of Southern Idaho). Always a theme. Always a beautiful, lyrical solo for Pam. A family dance for all the Nielsen's. The supporting cast made up of the rest of the students. When Michael Jackson's Thriller was released, that was our theme. The older students recreating the graveyard zombie dance. Our own Footloose for another recital, as well as a Rainbow Connection the year the Muppet Movie came out. For that year's finale, sung by Kermit the Frog, we were a rainbow of dancers. Each class a different color. Was that the year, while waiting to rehearse in one of the college's classrooms, I toppled over in a heavy, metal desk that sliced my right hand middle finger requiring an emergency room visit and stitches, though not missing the recital? Dancing with my right arm bent, but upright the entire time? Maybe that was the Footloose year...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Hellooooooooo Debt!

I did it. I got into grad school!!! My acceptance e-mail arrived last Wednesday, with the hard copy to follow in the mail. That I received today, and holding it in my hand, reading that first line "Congratulations on being accepted...", well, it felt real somehow. As though I was afraid that the e-mail wasn't going to count if they suddenly decided they'd made a mistake. But the paper. The printed word. Now, that is tactile and can't crash or magically disappear or get accidentally erased. The paper I can place on my refrigerator, using one magnet for each corner. Every time I walk by the 'fridge, or open it, or stand in my kitchen I can look at it. Peruse the positive affirmation that is acceptance.

I'm waiting to hear from U of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, too. They're about 1/3 less expensive than Drexel... though Drexel's program is highly rated. I don't know. Maybe I'm being greedy and only want to stroke my ego a little more. (Sing it with me, I got into grad school. I got into grad school...). Speaking of ego... a few people that I've mentioned my good news to have responded in such a way that implies that they don't think I got into a real school. That I'm doing some kind of correspondence course. Like the kind you see advertised late at night. "You too can have a career in the transistor radio field. Simply send for your free catalog and you'll be on the road to choosing a career int he exciting world of short wave radio repair. We'll even send you the tool kit!" No, I explain, this is a university. With a campus in Philadelphia. They have some degrees offered online. That's the only difference. I could there, too, but I don't want to live in Philly. "Ohhhh. Sure. Good for you." They don't look convinced. I want to convince them. I need them to be convinced. (I'm a little sensitive right now what with my my boyfriend moving two states away---one VERY long sate which may as well make it three states away--and though the first month wasn't so bad and I spent a lot of time this last month actually seeing him, these last few days I have missed him terribly. Enough to want to go across the street and buy several pints of Ben & Jerry's to eat for dinner. Thank goodness for sheer laziness.)

So, come January 2008, I will officially be enrolled in Drexel (or UW-M, we'll have to wait and see) and on the road to being a librarian. I can't wait to do my first show as a librarian so I can write in my bio "Linnet is excited to be working with the cast of insert play here. Last seen in insert another play here, she embraces the challenge of a completely opposite role for this current production. Linnet received a BA in theatre from Arizona State University, and has a Masters of Library and Information Science from Drexel University. You can see her in insert month several months in the future here when Sight Nine Theatre opens their production of third play here, please."