The sporadic ramblings of Emily C. A. Snyder - devoted to God, theatre, writing, and much randominity.

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Location: New York, New York, United States

Artistic Director and Co-Founder of TURN TO FLESH PRODUCTIONS. | Author of "Nachtstürm Castle," "Niamh and the Hermit." | Playwright: "Cupid and Psyche," "Math for Actors." | Classical director and educator.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Oh, what a circus! Oh, what a show!

What a year it has been. Good.golly. Breaking things down thematically this year:

Family: Gained a brother-in-law and a nephew in one swell fwoop. Am entirely enamoured of the pumpkin pie (aka Jamie) and plan to Auntie Mame him mercilessly. It's so fascinating to watch a baby examine the world: everything is a surprise...because it remains the same. I have very Chestertonian thoughts course through my brain as I watch him discover things like his hand (they never get old), and most recently his feet, and he's determined to figure out how to make this top spin and I think he's trying to sing with us whenever we sing now, having realized it's a social sport. (Johnny also has a collective bun in the oven. No news yet on the gender.)

These changes were - are - but mostly were challenging, trying, more than I had thought they would be. Frankly, they paralyzed me from November 2008 through maybe late August 2009. Because of these changes, or the nature of the introduction of these changes, as well as several other factors that I'll get to in a minute, this year of my life became probably the most unfocussed in my entire life thus far. To be frank, I haven't enjoyed 2009. Although, the year brought me so many blessings - the biggest among them, and the most important among them, being Jamie and Jay.

AND on top of that, and because of the wedding, I had the pleasure of meeting and becoming good friends with Bonny Kate - who saw me through much of the hardest part of the spring and summer, and to whom I am indebted.

I also got the opportunity to go out to Steubie-U for my 10-year reunion (yipes!) and meet up with so many of my Household brothers and sisters, and several of their offspring. It was very nice. I stayed with Allie, saw Jenn, met the new crop of Anathan alumni, caught up with Dr. Sunyoger and Mr. Dougherty - who both had good advice and encouragement - and I realized again that I desperately want to teach college. (Please, God? Please, Ph.D? Pretty, pretty please?)

I hope, in the years to come, I'll learn from this year how to be less rigid - or how to recognize that I'm being ridiculously rigid and therefore ignore it - learn how to bend, how to give myself breathing room, and the hindsight from this event to know that - when I'm in future messes - that those things, too, will pass. "On the third day, look to the east and the dawn."

A Slight Rant: I've been really, really silenced these past two and a half years with not teaching theology and being in the secular world. And the first thing I said when Jules told us she was pregnant was: "This baby is a blessing." The circumstances were beyond difficult, but Jamie was always a blessing. Even when I was afraid that I was seriously going crazy (it got bad this year), Jamie was - and is - always a blessing.

So, I'm thinking of how at Emerson folks who were liberal were, by and large, wonderfully supportive. They knew me, they knew where I stood (without, I should add, me really saying much of anything - at least in compare to my five years at HCH!), and they were very gentle and understanding. Only one person - I really forget who - asked whether Julie and Jay were keeping Jamie (meaning, had they considered abortion). I think that person said something along the lines of, "Now if it were me, we'd have more choices." And I forget what I said (or likely didn't say), but I do know this....

Even then, when I wasn't in my right mind, when I was feeling very end-of-ropey, when things were very much out of my control, when it looked like I was going to be losing/forced out of the apartment, when my friends were my sole supports, when the world was topsy-turvy and everything was careening along at breakneck speed, even then I couldn't believe that anyone in or out of their right minds could ever consider killing my nephew to be a...ahem...viable choice.

I cannot imagine life without Jamie. I am constantly enthralled by him. Holding him is therapeutic for me. His very presence has healed so many wounds, has solidified so much, has brought about new peace - that I can't imagine why we continue to lie to families and tell them that living, human miracles aren't desireable. That we have a "choice" - implying "the best choice" - to destroy miracles, to butcher grace, to deprive ourselves (as much as the child, of course!) of the fun of just being alive.

I walk into a room Jamie is in. His face lights up and his arms and legs flail because he is so joyful that I still exist, that I am still me. It's like he's saying, "You're still you! That's miraculous!" As Chesterton says, we have the great honour to introduce Jamie to the world. Everything is new because he's never seen it before. A bath becomes a thing of mystery. A toy becomes an intricate item of science. Hands are infinitely amusing.

I want so badly to take Jamie and parade him around all of Washington and San Francisco and Wherever, USA and say: "Look at this wonder! A child is born! Life is good and worthy to be treasured! Love, friends, love!"

And yet, I know I am so mean of love and grace and goodness. I suppose that's also the great grace and miracle of a child: that we are reminded of who we ought to be. Jamie can hardly sit up, and he'll be bent nearly in two to examine something or other - the most fascinating bit of detritus on the table - and then suddenly he'll throw himself back and into myself, with no thought that I wouldn't be there. And suddenly, all remembrances of Christ imploring us to "be as this little one" come to mind.

So, it's been a crappy year. Babies make all better.

Professional Stuff: Ironically, if I look at the year not from a personal but a professional point of view, everything looks fabulous and peachy keen. OK, so big things include:

  • Graduated with a 4.0 from Emerson College in May

  • Wrote my Master's Thesis On Character which is about how taking on a part in a play can positively influence the development of the adolescent self. You can read it here, if you've got insomnia. Flip through it for pretty, pretty charts.

  • I have since applied to the MFA: Playwriting program at UT-Austin and the Ph.D. theatre programs at Columbia in NYC and CUNY. We'll see if anything comes of them (please God, please God, please God!!!).

  • Wallace's Will came out from Playscripts and was performed three times this year in GA, NE and FL. It's up for a fourth performance (not counting the original performance) in February in VA.

  • Playscripts also accepted The French Butler and Math for Actors. I expect at least the latter will be available in the Spring.

  • Continuing theatrical work, I wrote and had a workshop production of Cupid and Psyche performed at Emerson College in Boston, MA, and directed by my dear friend, Brenda.

  • This spawned the plan for five more plays in iambic pentameter - two more as "prequels" to C&P and a rewriting of the Oedipus trilogy.

    The plays I've been involved with this year were (gosh, more than I expected!):

  • Cupid and Psyche (Emerson, author)
  • Once Upon a Mattress (HHS, music direction)
  • Pink Noir (HHS, one act original musical - one of the more...interesting...times I've had directing. Ah ca.)
  • Math for Actors (Gaudete summer, original one-act, mucho fun!)
  • Coraggio! (five short plays for VBS, author)
  • Macbeth (Lights for Ryan's debut)
  • All in the Timing (Actor! Whoda thunk? Waitress in The Philadelphia, Betty in Sure Thing, Milton in Words, Words, Words and Mrs. Trotsky in Variations on the Death of Trotsky. Incredible experience to be valued as an actress and seen other than how I see myself.)
  • Little Women (HHS, director)
  • Guys and Dolls (HHS, music director - this one's just barely started)

  • I might as well do it. The plays I wrote this year:

  • Cupid and Psyche (full-length, 5-act iambic pentameter, finalist for the Princess Grace award)
  • Pink Noir (one-act musical farce...wants to be expanded)
  • The Accidental Assassin (first draft of a one-act addition to An Evening's Diversion series)
  • Math for Actors (one-act two-person comedy)
  • Supermarket Soliloquies (one-act three-person comedy)
  • Coraggio! (five short plays for VBS)
  • Charming Princes (one-act farcical take on Cinderella)
  • The French Butler (a revision so profound it's basically a new play, one-act addition to An Evening's Diversion series)

  • I've also been published again - this time Nachtsturm Castle, upon which I got to do a significant revision, which is currently available in ebook form and which I'm looking at a contract for paperback. (Gosh, I sound so blase, don't I? Oy. That's why I like to do these year end reviews - realize the graces that I don't during the day because I'm an idiot....)

    Jobs, Jobs, Jobs: Because the economy went kablooey, I had to take several crap jobs to try to pay the bills (hahahha) once I was out of Emerson. These included temping at two offices - one where I became a sort of accountant for two months, one where I filed things mindlessly - and a month's stint at Lane Bryant which played havoc with my hips, back and feet and from which I had to quit. That was...tough. But it did help drive me back into the arms of academia, from which I had taken the aforementioned respite because of personal emotional paralysis. So...crap jobs did their work, I suppose! I look upon them with a dread, yet I know I'll need to probably take more come April. Bills bills bills, y'know.

  • But in the nonce, I've been hired to substitute at HHS for drama - which was something long in the possibility, but which was looking more and more dire as the summer wore on. However, it came through and I'm getting my first taste at teaching nothing but drama...but in a structured classroom (and not practical play) experience.

    I'm loving teaching the older students - it's surprising me that I can teach directing after all. Sometimes someone can do something, but not teach it. So I'm grateful and delighted to see that I seem to be able to both direct and teach (effectively) directing. The other classes are a wee bit trying...mostly because it's always hard to come in as "the substitute" and largely because I want students who want to be pushed in drama - and I have students who either enjoy drama but may not be serious about it, or in last block each day, a dumping ground of students who Really Don't Want To Do Anything At All.

    So, yes, college teaching. I suppose, right now, there needs to be X amount of years between my age and my students age, and I'm reaching/past the level of that right now. (Although watch, I'll come right round the other side of it at 80 and want nothing to do with older folk at all and spend all my time playing dress-up with three year olds! I shouldn't be surpised. It seems a God thing to plan.)

    Flotsom and Jetsom: Unfortunately, between burning both my candle at both ends and the original teacher's residual candle at both ends, I came down with a three week cold, which wasn't much fun at all, and which I've only begun to recover from these past few days. I've begun working on a new story for my godsons, set in the Twelve Kingdoms and involving one of my favorite characters, Liam mac Hwyach. I've also crocheted two scarves: one for me and one for Jules, which I just gave to her a few hours ago. The whole family discovered NCIS and are making our way through seven seasons of it. I was sick for opening night of Little Women and couldn't make it - only show of mine I've ever missed - and the kids pulled it all off themselves. Bravissimo! I went down to NYC for a conference on drama and found courage. I came back to Marlborough and lost it. I lost weight at the beginning of the year (in attempt to gain some control over something in my life at that point)...and have since found all that weight again. ;P I listened to a CD of music I'd written and was surprised that I'd written it and it wasn't half bad. I found a friend, reconnected with old ones, and found space in my heart for a brother. I had my heart destroyed in the summer and wept more than I've ever wept for anything, and continue to weep when I'm reminded, and am glad for my family and friends who - if they didn't keep me together - then kept the shrapnel of myself away from the rest of the world.

    I am very much looking forward to 2010. AMEN!

    Mood: Tired-ish
    Music: Orchestration "Interlude (Benedick/Dolls)" from The Steadfast Tin Soldier
    Thought: LOL - "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times!" ...yarsh...


    Blogger Lady O said...


    2009 was a doozy!

    But YOU SURVIVED!!! yeah!!! And what doesn't kill you (or make you kill someone else...) makes you stronger - and you were pretty frickin strong to begin with bella!

    1:34 PM  
    Blogger Michael said...

    Background, just in case your UT MFA program comes through: covers theatre in the town, including reviews, "upcoming" announcements and a 60-day theatre calendar. Enjoy!

    7:01 PM  
    Blogger {lauryl} said...

    Wow. Yeah, 2009 sucked in many, many ways. But it sounds like you had some beautiful moments despite. Here's to a 2010 brimming with opportunity and possibility. Love you, Em!

    2:34 PM  

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