To-Do List or Not To-Do List

Having slept for two days with brief periods of wakefulness to finish the play and attend an organizational meeting for a barbecue fundraiser on Canada Day, I now feel a bit more ready for summer! 

The tricky part is shaking of the disrupted sleep routine that I’ve now got going, so I can get the most out of the days I now have. Last time I was on break, I attempted making a To-Do list to get myself on track and I failed utterly. I have some reminders in my phone, but I’m not going to do the whole big list thing for the summer. That’s too much pressure. I already know what I have to do.

Tomorrow I’ve got to hand in some paperwork from the failed raffle I tried, make some phone calls that I’ve been putting off, and start housecleaning. I also need to finish my severely-overdue edits on Crystal and Wand, wrap up the anthology for the Writer’s Craft class, take some stuff back to school and bring home a box of stuff from my classroom, buy crickets for Elizabeth and trim my dog’s toenails. 

There is no possible way I can get all of these things done in one day. But I’m going to try. 

I find that I do better when I have appointments and a schedule to keep. Summer is a challenge when the routine is dropped, because even though it’s nice to be able to rest, the switch means that I’m now full-time parenting and I have to catch up on all the things I let go during the school year. That includes creating more firm routines and reinforcing house rules, getting the kids to work their share of chores. Jack is reliable. Bridget — not so much. I need to find a way to toughen up and dominate. That means getting off my ass and not being lazy. 

I think I’m my own worse enemy.

Semi-drunken post-concert poetry; or, impressions of a small-town rock concert with a big-name Canadian band


Heat is a series of smoky walls sliding open

An invisible atmosphere from another planet come to rest with the music



My head and shoulders reverberate 

Ears deafened

The bag on my shoulder shuddering

It’s not my phone that’s ringing 

Is anyone else self-conscious here when they dance?

Is that a sobriety test?

Hipsters standing elbow to elbow with white-collar executives and average joes

Avoiding eye contact except among their party 

Or to slip past with full cups of alcohol in hand 

Some splash against my calves

When I get excited I flail my arms and hands

I hit the first drink my husband offers and splash him


Pull him deeper into the crowd

Who else is dancing?

He stands behind me when I choose a gap

My shepherd 

My protection 

I spy another gap

Closer to the stage

Understand the phrase “a sea of people”

Energy rises and binds us to the stage

Performers loving us back

Front man’s mic is his plaything

A rope

A paintbrush

His players driving the beat while he steers an imaginary wheel

I laugh as loud as I want

No one can hear my voice in the mass of sound

I sing even when I forget the words

I know the tune

I focus on the moment

But I want to freeze it 

Stop caring if anyone is watching

Just dance

Cranberry and vodka

Drink three is the loosening of bolts

My feet are glued to the floor no longer




I am a wrung-out washcloth.

I watched my son attend his last elementary school day.

I watched the young people I’ve known and worked with for the last four and five years, who made mistakes and drove me up the wall and made me laugh and taught me as much as I taught them walk across the stage to receive their diplomas in symbolic movement toward real adulthood.

I walked home in the cool summer evening, a quarter moon hanging nearly opposite the sunset in the clear sky.

The water has been wrung out of me, so I shall lay flat and wait for the morning dew to bring me to myself for another day.

In which I needed to be in two places at once…

If you’ve been following me for more than a few days or weeks you’ll know that I’m currently involved with an amateur performance of The Comedy of Errors (LaSalle Productions’ 2nd annual Shakespeare in the Park show). I’ve been balancing that with the full-time schedule of work and home, plus the end-of-year marking madness. Tonight went even further with the craziness: not only was there a show to do, but my son also had his grade 8 graduation ceremony, which I was NOT about to miss. Ergo, I needed to clone myself or be quick about shifting both body and clothing quickly from one situation to another. 

It went down almost exactly as I’d imagined it. Not necessarily a good thing, though.

Originally, I’d thought to be able to leave as soon as the ceremonies were completed, but it was not to be: even though the cast was amazing and tried to slow things down, I got a text from my stage manager that they’d hit Act III when we were only halfway through the awards, and then another that they were starting Act IV just as the awards were ending. There was still the slideshow and the final speech, but I only had 20 minutes until the beginning of Act V, where I make my entrance about six lines in. 

So with ten minutes to go (I figured), I took off my heels, handed the boy’s graduation gifts to his dad, and quickly slipped scrambled down the aisle as the slideshow was playing, my purse and camera bag in hand. A bit embarrassing to hurry out of the auditorium in front of everyone (I had to walk under the screen), but I was on a mission. Once I got through the doors, I was running. Ran in my stocking feet all the way to the parking lot, tossed my heels into the front seat and drove home shoeless (shhh, don’t tell the po-po!). Sent a quick text to my SM as I was starting the car, too, to let her know I was on the move. 

Got home, ran in the door, yanked off my dress in the middle of the living room (thankfully a stretchy jersey with no buttons or zippers), struggled into the nun costume, stuck my feet into my flats, and ran back out. 

First error: I didn’t stop to take out my earrings or remove my lipstick.

Jumped into the car. Texted the SM again. Drove off, this time with shoes!

Now, here’s where I kind of wish I could go back in time. In my head, I was worried about creeping up along the edge of the park, in the audience’s sightlines. So I had developed a back-up plan in the event that I didn’t have time to go the back way in: I’d simply make my big entrance from behind the audience, do the scene, and then leave as rehearsed. My error here (second one) was in not communicating that to either the director or the SM. I arrived with about five minutes to spare, probably giving me enough time to go around, but the scene in performance was rocking and I didn’t want to be a distraction to the 80-plus crowd of outdoor theatre-goers. So, I texted the SM again, telling her that I’d arrived and I was going to enter from the back, by the parking lot. 

Error No. 3: there are TWO places to park multiple cars for the park. The main parking lot is in front of the Legion, and it was full, so I’d parked on the street. I didn’t choose to park in the other place, because again — sightlines — and it’s meant for wheelchair parking. Others had parked there, but I figured, with my luck, right?

Okay, so I’m crouching on the stairs behind the Cenotaph, trying to catch my breath and get focused. The scene ends and the final act begins. I approach the Cenotaph, see the director’s eyes sweeping the crowd and the edges of the park, and I’m fairly sure he sees me. But then he turns and goes quietly behind the scenes. Comes back out. 

Oh, shit.

He doesn’t see me. 

He doesn’t know I’m here. 

The SM doesn’t know I’m here. 

He’s got the script in hand. He’s going to say something. 

There’s my cue!

I stepped forward (purse still in hand) and started my lines. 

You know, if it had been a movie or something where suspense was intended, it would have been a terrific moment. And it worked, I got the audience’s focus and the attention of the actors, and I was told afterward about the collective sigh of relief backstage. But my legs were shaking by the time I got to the stage, and I flubbed a few lines near the end of that bit. Later, the director told me that he could tell I hadn’t had time to get settled. 

And that’s where I’m mad at myself. 

I think I let myself get carried away with the romantic, dramatic idea of the grand surprise entrance, when my responsibility was to get my ass backstage as quickly and unobtrusively as possible. I caused needless stress and worry among my fellow thespians, and even though it all worked out, the director was rightfully miffed that I hadn’t gotten there ten minutes ahead of my scene, which was what he’d expected to happen. And I still had my lipstick on — the brightest red he’d ever seen on a nun, he said — as well as my earrings. 

I have apologized repeatedly to my fellow cast members, the stage manager (who said she’d gotten my text but misinterpreted it, and told me not to worry about it), and to the director. After the show, when I zipped home to fetch my dress again before I could change back out of my nun’s robes and wimple at the costumer’s house, I also grabbed what I thought was a full and fresh bottle of wine to give the director by way of apology, a gesture of mea culpa and penance. Sadly, in my hurry, I didn’t notice that in fact I had opened it at some point in recent weeks (or months) and had a glass. 


So ends my tale of attempting to be in two places at once, meeting all needs and commitments. Lessons learned about communication and responsibility in theatre, the dangers of vanity overriding other concerns, etc. I’ve been told not to worry about it, it all worked out, but I feel that I’ve now lost something in my director’s eyes. Perhaps I’ve reinforced the perception of the ineptitude of amateurs. I’m now yet another cautionary tale as to why he needs to stick with professionals. I’m trying to think of some better way that I can make amends, but I can’t. 

Mea culpa. 

Dear readers, what do you think? I put myself in a pretty impossible situation, didn’t I? Crisis ended up being averted, but there was a cost, I think. 

Writing Report Card Comments: My Experience

The toughest part about report cards are the learning skills and comment sections. Such little space in which to express an individual’s abilities, achievements, and things to improve . . . I waffle back and forth over what to say for various students, trying to figure out whether his Independent Work has been Excellent or Good, or just Satisfactory; whether her Self-Regulation has been overall Needing Improvement or advanced to Satisfactory or Good; why a student whose final mark is 57% also demonstrated good Responsibility or not. 

I weigh the options, going back and forth, adjusting here and there until I think I’ve got the most accurate picture of each pupil’s performance in the course. Sometimes, in the morning, I end up changing a few again. It’s just a cross-section, but I know so many parents will be scrutinizing these things, I can’t be too quick or callous.

It’s the same with the comments. I can fit maybe four sentences in the little box provided. When I first started teaching (fourteen years ago this fall!), the administration wanted us to follow a certain formula, using certain wording from the ministry of education’s guidelines, and I’ve followed that template closely ever since. There have been some changes I’ve seen lately, such as a few years ago when admin requested that we start the comments with an outline of what students had done in the course. So I do that, plus identifying what content or ability from the course he/she needs to improve, and suggesting next steps for improvement. The final report card also has to include the mark that he/she received on the Final Evaluation. 

Once all the marks and comments are done, the last thing that has to happen is printing off a hardcopy for checking over for errors and typos. Colleagues help with that (use a second set of eyes, people!), and once the hardcopy is signed off as ready, the papers are submitted to the office for approval.

So at the moment I’m finishing up the Learning Skills, and in about 15 minutes I’ll hopefully start on the comments. Once I get going on them, I might get them done by 1 am, maybe. Already starting to feel a bit unwell because I’m overtired again. But there’s a dim light at the end of this tunnel. And tomorrow my son is moving out of grade 8 into the next phase of his education.