Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Angela's list

Every spring, before I am swamped by impending summer insanity with my job’s Frantically Busy Season, I make my infamous list. I also make this list every year before the Holiday Season Tsunami swamps the family. On this list, I write
That Which Is Essential.
The necessity for The List dear friends, is Yoga Mama’s lesson for this month:

Before you get lost in the overwhelming schedule of trying to have it all and do it all and losing your mind, before you crash and burn with your inner gears in overdrive, before you are sunk in the sea of overblown expectations and bound at the ankles by limited time and resources, you must, on a clean sheet of pristine paper, stake your claim to your touchpoints which will moor you in a state of zen equilibrium, while all those around you spin their wheels in the muck of mediocrity.

The summer list is simply what I MUST do to have the Best Summer Ever and it can’t have more than 15 things on it. Much of the list now falls into the category of tradition, so its not hard to put it together. This year’s list
1. go to the Renaissance Faire
2. eat a picnic at an outdoor concert
3. go to Super Dog
4. watch sunset at the beach
5. eat fresh picked fruit
6. go to a big screen movie on a really hot day and eat popcorn for dinner
7. see an outdoor movie
8. mostly give up driving
9. drink coffee in a garden
10. grow tomatoes
11. read 5 novels
12. socialize with a neglected friend

I have to say, I am one week into July and I have checked off most of this list. There are things on previous lists that were so delicious that they become habits, kind of the background noise of contented existence: grilling out, watching classic films, making pesto whenever there is a fresh crop of basil. You will notice what is NOT on the list: I do not write “clean out the garage” or ”reorganize the filing cabinet” or “fix the busted ceiling”---those items require internal and cash resources I lack at this time and they would bring me no sensual pleasure. And with summer here the briefest of sweet seasons, I need my list to be In the Moment, to refresh my spirit and renew my soul, not beat me up for being the dysfunctional broken Human that I am.

My family
Is more Druid
Than Hi Tech,
Tracing the seasons
With our traditions and
At Certain times
With Specific people
And rituals
To which we must adhere
Lest the universe comes undone.
We go to Bernies
To declare independence
And I must bring the corn.
We gather beneath
The Blinking Hot Dogs
To welcome
The Spirit of Summer.
We ride the horses
At Dawn
To initiate the novices
We don our Elizabethan Garb
To Wallow in the dust
To endcap
A solstice Season.
Twitter and facebook may link us
But our traditions
Make our world revolve.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

How an WNBA game is a little like a CSO concert...

If you know me well, you know that I’m not exactly the target demographic for sales pitches for sports team season tickets. I’m the type to subscribe to opera and theater and not the Women’s NBA ---but I understand and appreciate the innate drama of sport, and I think it’s important for my kids to take in everything—even if they spend a big part of the pre-game/pre-show hollering how boring its going to be. In the past week I extracted my kids from the idiot box watch, shoved them into the mini van and headed to a Chicago Sky game. And I have to say: after actually attending a game, the overall experience is a LOT like, in terms of family entertainment, going to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s kids series. First of all, when you head on out to either the CSO or the WNBA, what you will witness, fundamentally, is a spectacle of mastery. You will see humans who have spent a very big chunk of their lives perfecting their craft, and these folks are the very best of the best. They have survived grueling auditions and draft picks, and they have to stay really good to keep working. Their skill brings them a small celebrity and a living wage—the two operations are not the star studded overblown mass consumed celebrity of say the boys NBA, but true devotees know who they follow and love, whether its Jia Perkins or, in my families case, soprano Joyce DiDonato.

For the Chicago Sky team, like the CSO family series, a choice has been made to gear the show/the game to be the Ultimate Family Experience. At CSO you’ll find a musical instrument petting zoo. At Chicago Sky you will get two mascots, a magician and free airbrush tattoos. At the CSO they push musical literacy, at Chicago Sky, with the help of a corporate sponsor, they push reading and regular literacy. Both venues have percussion—the Chicago Sky drumline is definitely more danceable than the kettle drums at CSO. Both venues have interactive art booths, and both have Take Aways---though the CSO could learn a lot from the WNBA about those lovely lovely sponsors who laden the audience with ever desirable Cool Stuff. Not sure how I would feel about the musicians tossing tee shirts into the house, but maybe coupons for music lessons?

And the venues: the UIC pavilion and Orchestra Hall feel up close and personal, perfectly sized and close to the action, even if you are in the balcony. Both have enough potties for itty bitty bladders. And both feature nearby parking—so important when you are squiring extra kiddies to the Event, or have to carry a sleeping child back to the car at the end. The WNBA though, has way better food---cocoa and cookies can’t compete with dippin dots and Chicago Dogs.

But at the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with a family or group outing to either the WNBA or the CSO. Happy Experiences!