Sunday, May 31, 2015

In memory of an acquaintance.

I've been in the thespian community for a few years now and while I act and direct or help out with sets, I generally stick to myself or people I know.  Is that the introvert in me?  I don't know.  The truth is that I am shy.  I will reach out when it's needed, but mostly, I just do my thing.

Funny!  I met my husband that way.  I met him through learning to write a play, but this story is not about him.  It's about the man who was sitting with him the day I met my husband.  While I was flirting with Brad, the president of the theatre company, in hopes of getting a part, I totally ignored the man who was sitting with him, Jim the producer of the show.

I even ignored Jim the first few Mondays I went to Big Daddy's for a reading.  I would go straight to the one man I knew Brad, my future husband (didn't know that then) and say hello.  I might have said hello to Brad's son too, but I don't know.  One Monday, Jim made me know who he was.  After I said my usual hello to the couple of persons I knew, I sat down.  Jim came up to me and said, "What?  Am I chopped liver or something?"  I was taken aback.  I back tracked.  He was right.  I hadn't say hello to him.  After that day, I never missed saying hello to Jim again.

As I spent more time with Brad, I would see Jim there.  It was a Brad/Jim combination that had kept the theatre going all these year.  I didn't know Jim very well then, but over time, I got more comfortable talking to him.  I would be there for Brad and help out and Jim would always thank me.  Eventually, with Jim, I took the liberty of offering advice about the theatre company.

One day, Jim offered me a position on the board of the theatre company.  I looked at Brad who was working at something in a distance.  Jim noticed my glance and said, "If you are thinking about what Brad would say, don't worry about him.  I'll deal with him.  I'm asking you to join!"  I declined.  I thought it was too much.  Yes, it was a big mistake on my part.  Until today, it's been a huge regret of mine.  I later joined the board, more in memory and honor of a man who respected me enough to ask me to join, but I wish I would have served on the board when Jim was around.  I was never on the board when Jim was alive, and I don't know what it would have been like.  I do often feel his presence at the meetings.  I had often joked to Jim about not joining the board and stating that I was the invisible board member.  "I'm there Jim!  You just can't see me," I would say.  Well, Jim is the invisible board member now and he's watching on the sidelines.

It is a great honor for me that Jim saw the first play I directed and was very happy with the results.  After the show, he pretty much gave me his blessings to direct a full length.  It was those times that I was getting to know Jim better.  I was getting to know how much time and effort he put into the theatre and just when I felt like I wanted to work with him some more, he took ill.  I saw him on his death bed, the day before he died.  He couldn't talk, but he very clearly nodded his head when I asked him to give me permission to direct a full length play.  See, the theatre company was going through changes and without Jim to defend me, I wasn't going to be given a full length play.  Jim in the presence of my husband was using his last bits of energy to nod and tell Brad that I needed my play.

I'm in the middle of rehearsing actors for my first full length and I miss Jim terribly.  The thing is that Jim wasn't my best friend.  I don't even think he was a friend.  We were acquaintances.  We spoke when we were at the theater but nothing major.  The usual hi, how are you and bye, or I would talk shop with him, but nothing more.  Today, I look back and see how much he was the wind beneath the wings of this theatre company; my husband too, but without Jim, we have taken a major hit.

I guess we don't consciously think about death everyday or think about seeing someone one last time.  We may think about our families, but not anyone else.  We don't know what they mean to us, if they mean anything at all, and then when they are gone, you realize what they brought to the table.  Gosh Jim.  I still miss you.  Wish you could take a break from heaven and stop by and watch my first play.  Would be nice!

Geekway to the West

Hi all,

I haven't been MIA.  I have been busy.  It's been a week since I returned from Seattle and there's things I can blog about that, but here's a post that has been long overdue.  The weekend before I left for Seattle, I attended my first "Geekway to the West".  It's a board game convention!

The story really started early this year when I was in casual conversation with a patient's parent about board games and how much I enjoyed it.  She talked about being a gamer, but she liked video games. As we talked, she told me that there was, however, a board game convention in St. Louis.  She wasn't sure about it.  "A friend of mine went and she liked it!  That's all I know."  The other piece of information I got was the possible name.  She asked me to google "geekway to the west" but she wasn't sure if that's what it was called.  She said it would be close enough.  The joke in the office switched to myself not showing up for work or calling in sick with some lame excuse when I really was playing games at this conference.  We all laughed at my craziness and I walked away.  The next thing I did in my office, before checking on patients was to stop by my computer.  Ah!  Google!  Thou art a true friend.

Geekway to the West showed up and I was looking at the website.  Pre-registration was open for $35.  I didn't want to go alone.  I loved board games, but did I love it enough to go to a conference?  I wasn't sure.  This looked serious.  I called my friends.  "Hey!  So, there's this conference for board games.  Uhm.  What do you think?"  Of course, they were all busy and had other things to do than go and play games.  One of my friends wanted me to go as a guinea pig.  If I liked it, she would join next year.  Others checked their schedule and said they would think about it.  The thing is that pre-registration was going to close in a couple of weeks and registration would be $45.  Walk-ins was $50 and everyone pretty much decided that they couldn't make a decision for pre-registration or even registration.  "We'll do the walk-ins if we have to," is what I got.

I told my husband that he's going with me.  LOL.  No.  He's not a big fan of board games, but he is a big fan of me, so he obliged.  I pre-registered for 2.  As luck would have it, registration got sold out.  They capped at 1300 people and so walk ins were not allowed either.  My brother was going to come into town for the conference.  I told him that the walk-ins were sold out, but he could use my husband's badge and come.  After all, my husband wasn't too interested.

The conference opened on Thursday.  I was at work and was supposed to get off by 1pm.  Long story short, it was a horrible day at work and I got off at 3pm.  I was exhausted.  I was going to throw in the hat.  Who cares about some stupid board game convention, I thought.  I'll go later.  As I thought about it, I changed my mind.  I was not going to let a bad day ruin the rest of my evening.  So, as tired and frustrated as I was, I went.  I got confused about the location.  I knew it was at the Sheraton Chalet, but at the last minute I talked myself into believing it was at the Sheraton which was walking distance from the Chalet.  So, that took a while and I finally ended up at the conference and registered.  I told the person at registration that I had a rough day at work and I had no idea what I was doing there.  This was my first time at a game conference and I was alone.  He looked at me and said, "Well!  You forget about your bad day now and you just play games."  "Games?  But what do I do?"  I really didn't know how it all worked.  He suggested I go to the "play and win" room and just find someone to play with.  I look back at that and it's funny.  A simple task - find someone to play with, seemed gigantic to me until I walked in there.  I found someone to play with immediately.  We picked a game neither of us had played - Viticulture.  We found a teacher to help us learn the game and I had a lot of fun.

The next day, Friday, I got there at 9:30am and stayed until I had to leave at 7pm to go pick my brother up from the airport.  By then I had played Viticulture, again.  I played 5 Tribes.  I played an army game I can't recall, Resistance, and The Game of 49.  Saturday, I went with my husband in the morning and I took my brother in the afternoon.  Sunday, I left for Seattle with my brother taking our badges and waiting to see if I won any of the games we played in the "Play and Win".  My brother texted me that we did not win anything.

It's funny.  It's a world of board games I would not have discovered.  So many.  I was told by a friend before I went that people may be aggressive.  I didn't encounter any of that.  I encountered like minded people who just loved to play board games for the fun of playing.  Of course, we all wanted to win, but we weren't going to be aggressive and yell.  We just played a fair game and it was a fair fight to win.

I got a text from my brother when I was in Seattle.  "Forget medical conferences.  Let's just go to board game conferences from now on!"  Hahaha!  Yes, I would say he loved it too.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Candy Crush Alarm

As a lot of you know, I'm a Candy Crush player.  I've been called an addict.  If I were an addict I would replay all the levels to either get my Candy Crush high or to just satisfy my craving.  I beat the board again.  A second time.  Last time I beat the board, I had a day of no Candy Crush and they added new levels.  This time, I'm afraid the wait will be for a few more weeks.  I play Candy Crush primarily when I wake and also when I go to bed.

Candy Crush helps me especially when I wake up because as I'm barely able to process information I throw colored candies and combinations to my brain and before I know it, my brain can process other stuff too.  This morning I woke up and realized that I had beat the board and there's no more brain processing to throw at it.  One could argue that I could have played an earlier level to help me wake up but that's the thing though.  It can get boring.  I only played to finish the levels.  I don't know why, but I feel like I have embarked on this journey and might as well finish it.  Besides, I don't play any other "games" on my phone so this is my only clutch.  Towards the end, I was just going through the motions.  I knew how to defeat the board, I just needed the candies to do it and it all depended on programming of the game when it was going to let me through.

Now that I'm out, I don't really want to play the old levels.  There's no point for me.  Go ahead and beat my score.  See if I care!  Should I get a new game to wake me up?  Do I need a new addiction?  I do not know.  Perhaps, I can just use this as an experiment and see how I do.  Today was a miserable fail with waking up and being at work on time.  Thank God I'm the boss.  Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Don't feel sorry for my pathetic Candy Crush self.  It's just something stupid I do.  We all have our little idiosyncrasies and this would be mine.  I know this is not a thought provoking blog, but it's just a light reading cheesy fun type blog.  I'm trying to mix it all up.


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Religion just walked out the door

Here's the story.  I'm sitting in a coffee shop with a friend.  She tells me about her daughter in college. Her daughter has been questioned and challenged by her friends about why she believes and follows her faith.  The topic invariably boils down to questioning faith in the light of science.  The topic is about religion.  Any religion.  Why does someone believe in God or some other deity?  Why believe in Adam and Eve, when you have the big bang theory? My friend and I talk about the climate of disbelief as both of us try to understand this new wave of distrust while we sip our coffees.
I'm Muslim so I can only speak for the Muslim religion (as well as I understand it), but I'm also a woman of faith and spirituality.  It may really be the same thing, but interesting enough I'm also a pediatric dentist so I have quite a bit of science running through my veins.  Yet, I sit there and wonder about why I believe.  Every cell in my body believes in a higher power.  I know there is an amazing Being out there who is far beyond our imaginations.  I know this because I can feel Its power.  I can feel It course through me.  How do you explain a "feeling"?
A few years ago, I got introduced to the Secret and it changed my life.  It connected me to my religion and to God and the Universe and when I read verses from the Qur'an, I feel part of the circle. I'm plugged in.  I'm connected and all charged.  Yet, I would not be able to explain how I feel.  I cannot explain the peace that comes through such faith.
I would have to say to those who question me that love can only be felt.  It's not something you hold in your hand.  You could hold a diamond ring as a symbol of that love as you could hold a holy book, but you cannot hold love.  You cannot see it.  You can only feel it sweep through you.
Some people say all religions are bad.  I guess the rituals bother them.  I don't know.  I guess they worry about dealing with crazy people, or it could be that the rituals do not make sense to them.  I've had people ask me why I need to fast or pray?  Why does anything have to be absolute and make sense?  Why can't we just believe?  I feel sometimes rituals can ground a person.  It can be quite helpful.  It also unifies.  You identify with others who perform rituals although it's not your own.  We all understand taking exams or tests.  If we heard of someone in another part of the world studying for a test, we don't ask why s/he is studying or why the grade matters, we just understand.  There are people who question an education and that's not the topic here.  There will always be people who question and it's wonderful in that it opens dialogue.  Sometimes, there's no real answer to faith, though.
I hear people talk about extremism and all religions have to deal with it.  It's not the religion that is inherently bad.  It's the people following it.  It's people who behave in ways that twist a faith.  I've heard the expression, "don't shoot the messenger", but what if the messenger opened the message and changed it to create discord in the world?  That's the case with religion.  You have few people creating havoc, taking passages out of context and you have the media having a field day out of it.  In the early days of this nation, people said slavery was biblical!  That's going out in left field again, but
I think we all believe differently.  Sometimes people believe differently within the same faith.  I feel we need to try to see and accept the other person's point of view as best we can.  If we can't, we should move on, rather than throwing stones at it.  We need to be above this climate of distrust.  It's not always easy, but it's a step in the right direction to just accept people for who they are, irrespective of their religion.  So, while religion just walked out the door for a lot of people, I only hope that perhaps acceptance walked in.

Best to you all,