Sunday, March 19, 2017

Fabulous 40

 March 19, 1977: No #1 Song: “Evergreen” with Barbra Streisand (from A Star is Born). The final episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show aired. Once again, the swallows flew back to Capistrano on the Feast of St. Joseph.

And oh yeah. We got married.

Yup. Us

 Looking back, I realize I was just a baby: 20. We’d been engaged three years. It seemed like we’d been a couple forever, the wedding itself a logical punctuation mark (!?) in the Story of Us. It was a small, but lovely, ceremony. We took off for NYC and our short honeymoon that afternoon. I am amazed at the details I recall (that last episode of The MTM Show? We pulled off the highway for the night just to watch it. Priorities!) In a few days, we saw three Broadway shows, ate several splurge dinners, and arrived home on gas fumes. And the future stretched endlessly before us.

1997. We observed our 20th anniversary with four days on Nantucket Island. We had no business going anywhere at that point. Our theatre company was struggling and we were too. Common sense tells you that when you have to track the grocery money to the dollar every week, it may not be prime time for a long-distance fling (not to mention leaving your five young kids, watched by saintly sister C). But 20 is 20, after all, and the future still stretched before us, though maybe not so endlessly.

March 19, 2017. 40 years today since that young couple joined hands on an altar in Atlanta. World events too depressing to recount, though the #1 Song is “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran, which gives me hope. Meaning, I hope I figure out who the heck Ed Sheeran is. I take inventory: Five grown kids. Two incredible grandsons. Our theatre company has not only survived, but (kinda) thrived. I’ve spread my tentative wings to become a Lutheran spiritual formation director and a freelance writer. Who knew, the morning we said, “I do”, exactly what we WOULD do? The future stretches before us still, but we see the end of the runway, and it’s an unsettling feeling.

Will we make it to March 19, 2037? What will the world be like then? Impossible to imagine, and at that point our future will no doubt stretch before us only day by day. But I have this constant, as I have had for the past 40 years: my partner, my husband, my very best friend, Steve. Whatever the future holds, I pray it holds us together still.

So here we are. Tonight, March 19, 2017, we are going out to dinner, at a little spot in suburban Philadelphia. We aren’t counting the dollars quite as closely as we once did, but it’s still nice that it’s a BYOB. On this almost-spring Sunday evening, may we cherish the years, months, weeks, days, and hours ahead. And may we celebrate this longest (so far) and happiest of anniversaries. I love you, honey.

Us, Today

Monday, March 13, 2017

It's All About the OCEAN

I avoid those silly Facebook quizzes (Which Harry Potter Character Are You?), recognizing that they shed little light on who I am. Human beings are far more complicated than any test can really assess. For a while there, the Myers-Briggs alphabet soup was very popular. “Me? Oh, I’m a QWERTYUIOP!” I would respond, then duck out before my questioner realized I had just recited the top line of the typing keyboard.

So why did I just take the trendy Big Five personality test?  I was curious, more than anything else. What amazing new insights about Elise Seyfried might be uncovered? The Big Five (acronym OCEAN) are Openness to New Experiences, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness and (my fave) Neuroticism. I was excited! Would I finally have a handle on “me” after 60 years?

My results:

O (Openness) I am NOT open to new experiences. True. From ziplining in Costa Rica to parallel parking in Philly, “no thank you” is my go-to reaction. Give me comfy old experiences every time! I never tire of re-reading my favorite books, re-watching my favorite movies, re-eating my favorite meals. If you only live once, I am perfectly happy to spend my one life repeating myself.

C (Conscientiousness)  I am neither organized, nor disorganized. Also true. I am careful about my appearance, and can pull things together at work well enough. Yet beneath the fa├žade is chaos, chaos I tell you! I am a closet slob (meaning, if you open my closets you will learn that I am a slob.)

E (Extroversion) I am relatively social and enjoy the company of others. To this I say: what others? I do not enjoy the company of just any “others.” And my general sociability ebbs and flows; some days I am Ginny Gregarious, and some days I would rather converse with my pillow (these are GREAT conversations, in which my opinion always wins the day).

A (Agreeableness) I am (by their rating) not extremely forgiving. I do recall my little grudges, my petty annoyances. I was often irked by my in-laws, because I hated their complacence and lack of intellectual curiosity. Once, watching a game show on TV together, the question was: would you rather be smart and unhappy, or dumb and happy? Guess which one I chose? Guess which one they chose? Now, many years later, I am much more understanding of them, and am starting at last to see the value of happy in this crazy world.

N (Neuroticism) I am a “generally anxious person and tend to worry about everything.” Hmmm. Well. Yes. But why on earth would that be called “neurotic”? To me, that is a totally normal reaction to life! Besides, if nobody worried, many many more bad things would happen! Worry keeps the devil at bay! You’re welcome.

Do tests like the Big Five really prove anything? Should I work on my conscientiousness, my openness, my extroversion? Should I strive to be more agreeable, less neurotic? In other words, is knowledge power?


Life of the Party (sometimes)

Saturday, February 25, 2017


Steve and I finally saw La La Land last week. My friend Robin just wrote a great piece about her strong family movie-going tradition and it made me wish we were doing a better job of keeping up. But at least we made it to the much-awarded film that everyone has been talking about, while everyone was still talking about it.

For those not in the know, La La Land is a very imaginative tribute to old movie musicals, in a modern day setting. From the opening scene, a big dance number performed on top of cars in the middle of an LA Freeway traffic jam, you know that you are in for a different cinematic ride from the usual 21st century fare.  This is a world where the young lovers break into song at the drop of a conversation, even floating to the top of the Griffith Observatory to waltz amongst the stars. 

I’m still sorting out my feelings about the movie (good acting, disappointing score), but after my return home I began to fantasize: what if my life was a big-screen musical? Well, for one thing, it might inspire me to dress better (the scrappy barista heroine of La La Land sports a wardrobe befitting an heiress.) I might buy a new pair of tap shoes. I took tap lessons back in my early performing days. My “shuffle-hop-steps,”while gratifyingly noisy, were light years from the fancy footwork in the Busby Berkeley extravaganzas of the 1930’s. 

But the real challenge of living in “Orela-la-land” would be the lack of plot development. My daily routine hasn’t altered appreciably in 32 years. That would have to change, big time, for my story to earn a good review on Rotten Tomatoes! So, here are some revisions to my life...

I would abruptly quit my church job, right in the middle of worship, dancing up the aisle, pushing music director Ken off the organ bench as I masterfully improvised a haunting farewell tune.

I would then read one of my stories to a small audience at Upper Dublin Public Library, one member of which would (randomly) be the top editor at Random House. She would ask me to expand my little tale to novel length, and immediately offer me a million-dollar advance. After some modest hemming and hawing, I would accept.

My love life would be considerably more dramatic, though with the same co-star. Steve and I would exchange glances across our crowded kitchen, and perform a passionate tango as we argued about whose turn it was to take out the trash. In a poignant scene, I would imagine myself married to someone from a rival children’s theatre company.

Now that I think of it, “Orela-la-land” has definite possibilities. Boogie-ing across the bridge over the tracks at Oreland Station to the tune of “Midnight Train to Georgia!” Flash mob at the Oreland Post Office!

All my world is a movie set, right? And I am the star player! Lights, camera, action!