Posts Tagged ‘Friends School’

Poetry

April 18, 2018

I used to write a lot of poetry. Part of that was that I thought I was really deep and literary and poetry sounded like somebody smart would do. For the record it actually is but I was a teenager who was definitely trying too hard. The other reason I wrote poetry was because of my school’s literary publication called the Mock Turtle. The Mock Turtle was, of course, named after the character in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It was also a class where our English teacher (Helen  Underwood, I think) taught us how to write poetry. We also read a lot of some of the best poems in history. For the record, my poems were never celebrated (except the bad poetry slam I once won).

However, a lot of the friends I hang out with most are scientists. They either studied science or work in the field in some way. I was never a scientist. While I respect science immensely, my two careers have been mostly dealing with the power of words. The word that my friends use is ‘poet’ and so I sometimes refer to myself as a poet. It actually reminds me of Patton Oswalt describing a college course he once took called Physics for Poets which was an easy Physics 101 course designed for humanities and art students. That is what I am. I study the law and I write, those are the two main things that I do. I am a poet, I guess.

None of this is to denigrate scientists. I love science and my scientist friends even when they are overthinking water filtration or child development in a tabletop gaming session. Science is how we track and examine our world on a physical level. “Poetry” is how we examine and govern the world based on its meaning to us. Both are important for different reasons and neither make life worth living alone. This is why it is so important to not only push STEM when it comes to education. We also have to push the humanities. Art and the various other ‘poet’ pursuits are so important to how we run our daily lives. Of course, communication between the two is integral to running a fair and beneficial society. But I digress.

Here are a few types of poems:

Haiku:

I hate the summer
The heat is too oppressive
I love the fall best

Cold wind like a sword
Driving deep into my chest
I huddle for warmth

This month is crazy
I am writing many words
Please enjoy it all

Pastoral:

I listen as the train’s wheels clack on the track below
I feel every bump as the train travels downtown
Every turn threatens to toss me to and fro
I try to keep my head up, try not to let myself frown
I am used to this kind of treatment every day
The other choice is enduring traffic on city streets
So I shake it off and just let my music play
I listen closely and nod my head to the beats
I know it is what I must do to get to work
So I just smile and try not to be a jerk

Limerick:

There once was a young writer
A “poet” since he was an ankle biter
He scribbled some rhyme
Most of the time
But he was nothing more than a blighter

There once was a woman in B More
As a mayor she thought she could be more
In the end she was wrong
She just sang the same song
And as a politician she was mostly a bore

Freeverse:

I am writing this after going to the gym for over an hour
Why do I punish myself by pushing my body so hard?
Because the future is a place I want to live
What use is fighting for the future if I keel over?
I also feel so invincible afterward
A little sore but I feel like I just killed a dragon
It is so rewarding and my shirts fit a little better lately
That is so great
As I lay on the couch and write
I feel like I am conquering the world
Just don’t ask me to move

The Very Bad Audition

March 5, 2018

When we are young, a lot of experiences can both open our eyes and open paths to our future.  In the end, nothing we do is really all that inconsequential.  When I entered high school at Friends School of Baltimore, I was a total geek.  Now, if you have read this blog you know that geek is a word I use with pride when I refer to myself.  I was really into comics, video games, and letting my imagination run wild.  I was getting good grades and, for the most part, I was pretty much enjoying school.  However, I was still a shy and solitary kid.  I had my friends, two of whom I had spent eighty percent of my social time with for years.  When it came to public speaking, I shriveled up in what was probably a close cousin of a panic attack.  My mother told me point blank that she was worried about whether I would be able to speak in public in the future.  However, thanks to my younger brother, she had a solution.

And so, it was that I was sitting in the auditorium, waiting for my turn to audition for Tartuffe.  On a side note, Tartuffe is an excellent satire by Moliere which is also called The Hypocrite and The Imposter.  I definitely felt like an imposter while I was sitting in the old red-cushioned steel chairs.  I had no desire to perform, I was just there to get over a fear.  I took my turn up on stage, auditioning for the part of Damis, an angry young man.  The monologue I delivered that day was intended to be angry, but I could feel my knees shaking and it must have been clear how scared I was.  Director and English teacher Tom Buck thankfully saw that I was not cut out to be an actor and passed the role onto one of my classmates.  Walking away, I realized that I did not want to act but I realized that I did not need to audition to be on the Stage Crew.

The Stage Crew met after school and on Saturdays.  They welcomed me with open arms and it was cool to hang out with sophomores, juniors, and seniors.  For the first time, I felt like I was actually in high school instead of in the fourth year of middle school.  I started to form friendships outside of my little friend group or the youth group at church.  I started to grow as a person and I realized that I had a passion for the building part of show business. When they asked who would run the lighting board for Tartuffe, I volunteered when nobody else stepped up.  I ran that lighting board for the next four years.  You got up to the board through a Spanish classroom in the rear of the auditorium, so they eventually gave me a key to that classroom.  There were definitely some awkward collections where I had to walk through Spanish or Russian classes.

I eventually became co-Head of Stage Crew and then Head of Stage Crew.  I also started to dabble in the design part of things as I eventually designed the lighting for each show.  Although I was a little distant, I felt a fellowship with the cast of the all of the shows I worked on.  Things really kicked into gear when we all put on Fiddler on the Roof and I teamed with Michael McVey as well.  By the end of my time at Friends, I had kind of become friends with Tom Buck, sadly a teacher I never had in high school.  My only regret was that I realize now that I never trained anybody to take over for me because I wanted to be the go-to guy until the end.

My experiences in Friends School Stage Crew inspired me to seek out more experiences with show business.  I got into community theater down at Fells Point Corner Theater.  I volunteered a lot of my time running sound for all sorts of shows.  Eventually, I started working for Mobtown Theater and, at the age of 16, I joined their board of directors.  Suddenly, I had all these new experiences outside of Friends School and new friends most of whom had graduated from college years earlier.  Those experiences were magical, and I felt like part of the greater theater community of Baltimore City.  It drew me away from Friends, as I spent a lot of my time in Fell’s Point rather than on campus.  I felt a little more disconnected from my classmates which I feel like I eventually remedied but I feel good that this was a positive path that Friends helped put me on.  In fact, that connection to community theater later sparked a connection to the school paper and helped reignite the love of writing that I still have today.

Of course, I then went on to major in Stage Management and minor in Sound Design in college.  I took that degree and I got a job for years and years in a regional theater in New Jersey.  All of that grew from one afternoon I spent trembling on the stage of the auditorium.  I am a little sad that that auditorium does not exist anymore as it has been completely remodeled but I am happy that the Friends students of today and tomorrow will have an excellent facility to experience what I did.  Not because they should all go off and major in theater but because going to that audition ended up accomplishing my goal.  By connecting with the people in Stage Crew, eventually being in charge, and then finding my voice in community theater, I became better at talking to people.  I felt more comfortable speaking in public and communicating my ideas.  I do not hold back like I did as a young kid.  For that, I feel very thankful.

Class Reunion/Free Comic Book Day 2016

May 9, 2016

So every year there is an event that I look forward to almost as much as Halloween and it’s Free Comic Book Day. Of course, this year Free Comic Book Day was on a day that was also scheduled for my Friends School class reunion. This was year fifteen so you know I was going to be there. In fact, since I attended the 10-year reunion, I promised myself that I would do whatever I could to keep attending reunions. A lot of these people were people I spent twelve years studying alongside and we grew to know each other whether we wanted to or not. Friends School is also an important place in my life as it was where I spent a lot of my most formative years. I knew I was in for a packed Saturday so sadly I had to skip out on tabletop gaming and going to see Captain America: Civil War with my friends.

I saddled up in the morning and somehow climbed out of bed even though excitement and nervousness had made it a little hard to sleep the night before. Also, I had very little sleep the day before but more on that Thursday. I hopped in my car and drove over to the school and I was surprised to find all of the parking in the world open to me. For some reason, I thought that everybody would be attending events all day like I was. I got my name tag and headed to the Math/Science building to meet up with my first event. I had signed up to go on a short birding trip mostly because of my relatives (Jack and Sandy). Everybody in the group was at least twenty years older than I was but it was still a lot of fun. The teacher and alumni who led it are bird experts and their interest was contagious. The coolest thing we saw was a Red-Tailed Hawk having a dogfight with an American Bald Eagle. I talked with another relative by marriage who (surprise!) is also a graduate of Friends. I also talked with a few other alumni who were very nice.

After that, it was time for a break from the school which was great because I was getting hungry too. I took off toward the Senator Theater and parked. I walked past Batman who was hanging outside of The Amazing Spiral and headed inside. The Amazing Spiral is my comic book shop when I’m in Baltimore because the staff is always knowledgeable and extremely courteous and welcoming. They always have a great selection of trade paperbacks and graphic novels which are usually what I spring for. I walked around and took the place in. There were people dressed as animals, superheroes and Disney characters and everybody had a smile on their face. Free Comic Book Day happens the first Saturday of May and is a nationwide holiday for geeks like me. I picked up my five comics and the second trade of Squirrel Girl. I also picked up Hawkeye #1 and an issue of Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat. I then drove north and grabbed a Qdoba burrito and headed back to the school to eat and listen to Chris Hardwick interview Bruce Campbell. After, I read a little bit of my haul as I relaxed.

Having observed the holiday the best I could without seeing Captain America again, I shut my eyes for a little to conserve my energy. I got bored of that after a while and I decided to walk around the campus for a little while to check things out. The campus had changed a lot since I went to school there and I wanted to walk around the place to see the new stuff and drink in the nostalgia of the old stuff. I ended up doing a lot of walking since it is a huge campus. Eventually, it was time for my schedule tour and I really enjoyed seeing all of the new stuff inside of the buildings. The school is a really good one and it seems that it is even better than when I went there. It made me sad that Baltimore public schools did not get the same advantages and awoke my liberal/progressive spirit at the unfairness. Seeing all of the stuff that was the same as when I went to school there was like a boxer getting hit with body blow after body blow. I felt swept up in memories every step I took and it was a really powerful tour to take.

Finally, we got to the cocktail party and I was excited and nervous since I had yet to run into anybody from my graduating class. I walked around the party and ran into Mr. Watt but time ticked by and I still had not seen anybody from my class. I thought for a moment that they had all blown off the event in favor of starting our private party earlier. Finally, I ran into one classmate and slowly that became four and then we were all together. Talking to them was like no time had passed but also felt like a million miles away from high school. High School really sucked and by the end of twelve years of being together, I never wanted to see my classmates again. However, as time has gone by it’s easier to remember all of the good times and forgive all of the stupid mistakes we each made. These people are all pretty good people and it was really a joy to have great conversations with them. We ended the night at Cosima’s at Mill No. 1 which was a little fancier than the places I like but it was a nice atmosphere to share with the handful of classmates who decided to show. I had a great time and I can’t wait until next time. It’s going to be a long five years.


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