Where the inside of my mind leaks onto the screen.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Some People Don't Like Me

I have been through a painful process over the last few years of realizing:

Some people don't like me.

I try to be friendly and cheerful all the time.  The consequence has been that throughout my life, most of the people that I have enjoyed being around have also liked me.  This has given me a somewhat delusional sense that all people like me.

But I have had plenty of opportunities, especially since entering my 30's, to realize that some people don't like me.

I have mostly realized this because they have told me so.  Point blank.  To my face.  Specifically informed me of the reasons why they don't like me.

Interestingly, the reasons some people tend not to like me have turned out to be some of the very same reasons why I like myself.

And that has been hard to handle.

I won't go into specifics, partly because three of the people who have had the courage to explain face to face why they don't like me are still friends of mine on Facebook and two others (who only explained why they sometimes don't like me) are related to me.  Also, I won't go into specifics because that isn't the point of this post.

Not only have I realized that some people don't like me, I have realized that some people won't like me.

I met a new person who doesn't like me this last week.  He also had the courage to tell me to my face exactly what he didn't like.  However, unlike the others who expressed themselves privately and whom I respect and continue to consider friends (despite their not always liking me), this person told me in front of my Dickens bosses, my cast, my sons, and his camera crew.  And as shockingly uncomfortable as the ensuing minutes were, I also got to realize something else.

Some people do like me.

Some people like me for ALL the exact reasons why a few people don't like me.

A recent Facebook quiz got it dead on:

Big Buddha, I am really sorry I cut you off.  I didn't mean to be rude; I was just looking for the efficient solution to the quandary in which we found ourselves.  Yes, I guess I do often respond quickly.  Yes, I speak very directly.  Yes, your pointing this out in front of everyone bothered me a whole lot more than I let on.

Some people don't like me.  It saddens me to see this list grow.  I'll do what I can to take your destructive criticism and make positive changes to how I interact, especially with strangers.  

But I like me.  So I won't change much.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Night After Dickens

I get asked in nearly every radio and television interview, "You've been with the Dickens Festival for a long time now.  What makes you stay year after year?"

My answer for me is easy: family.

And yeah, I'm definitely talking about this one:

Gen 1: Mom and Dad; Gen 2: Michelle, Andrea, Jack; Gen 3: Alex, Dylan, Adam

But I am also talking about this one.

Some of them came to Dickens because they were my students. Some were already practically family. Some followed me over from other theater projects. Some joined their own family after watching the fun. Others truly just showed up the auditions hoping for a positive experience. But no matter where they came from, each of them ended up in the same place.  A Dickens family.

Which made the decision to trade this 44 person family for the 5 person one that lives within my same walls particularly difficult.  But last night I resigned, in my own quirky style, via poem.

The Night After Dickens
by Andrea K. Fife

‘Twas the night after Dickens and all through the streets
All the vendors were boxing their wares and their treats
And the boxes were wheeled through a room now so bare
It was hard to believe London had ever been there.
The orphans were headed straight home to their beds
With leftover soot still anointing their heads.
And having checked in every apron and cap,
I started to dream of my own winter’s nap.
I thought of five nights in consecutive years
When saying goodbye had brought nary a tear.
No “farewell,” no “so long”, no “pip cheerio”
For in only nine months, I’d be ready to go!
I would hold the auditions; I’d see my old friends.
I’d teach that old shuffle-step combo again.
But this year was different, I’d already decided
To leave this dear project o’er which I’d presided.
These five years were perfect, each one a delight,
But five years is five years.  Six wouldn’t seem right.
And so then I’d stay on for years seven and eight,
I’d get clear to ten without taking a break.
I’d be worn out and busy at Christmas each year,
And though I would certainly hold memories dear,
I’d miss out on football, I’d miss school productions,
I’d miss family parties, I’d miss my church functions.
I’d miss… well, I’d miss a lot more than I honestly know.
I have to step back and just watch my kids grow.
And so with great fondness for each of you now,
I take my own quiet last Dickens’ year bow.
Thank you for making this last year just right.
Happy Christmas to all!  And to all a good night.

I cried when I read the poem aloud to Kirk.  Alex cried when he asked me to read it to him.  It's an emotional departure for us all.  Which is why an incredible gift, orchestrated by my mom and given by the cast, means so much to me.

Some women have their fine china.  A prized possession they hope to someday pass on to posterity.  I don't have china, or quilts, or a cedar chest, but now I have a hand-painted porcelain nativity set purchased at the Dickens Festival by my very last cast.  I have wanted a nice nativity set since marrying 13 years ago, and this one is perfect.  The picture doesn't do justice to the reverence of the animals - one of my favorite features.  It doesn't highlight the tiny details - the lantern, the pottery, the baskets.  It doesn't capture the tears I shed when I realized what a gigantic gesture this family of mine had made for me.

I look forward to a lifetime of carefully unwrapping each delicate piece and placing it near the handcrafted stable.  Of picking up one particular Wise Man to see the insignia, "Dickens 2014."  Of remembering the people who were a part of not only my life, but the lives of my children.  Me from 29 to 33, Adam from 5 to 9, Alex from 3 to 7, and now Dylan at 5 - we have lived Dickens.  And I know our lives will forever be better for it.

Thank you not only to the cast of 2014, but to 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010 as well.

In fact,

"Thank you very much."