Documentary Films – Setting You Free…Film Series Part II

screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-8-01-48-amThe Documentary Film Series has come to D.F. in large fashion.  Friday was the opener, and as we took in the first film Friday , 8:30 PM, at The Goethe Institute, utter shock.  Shock always comes at these films as we witness events that we thought we should know about and yet do not.  Such was the case with the first film we witnessed, La Promesabased on similar events that occur from reading In Cold Blood.

“When my love swears that she is made of truth, I do believe her, though I know she lies, That she might think me some untutored youth, unlearned in the world’s false subtleties.”
Sonnet 138, Shakespeare

I could give details, but no, not until the film fest is over, just relieved when we walked out that we were not in serious relationships and the realization that how good life is as single individual, after this disturbing documentary that has escaped the attention of many.  (Macbeth has nothing on this film).  One of the best things about the DocsMX festival is the humbling of information that you discover, the opening if a window to events that are occurring in your own country, and others, that you have had no idea at all about.  Sometimes a Pandora’s Box, other times not.  La Promesa was no exception at all.  Meeting Marcus Vetter, a director from Germany, was quite intriguing to see how he became involved in this project from Germany, as it took place in Virginia.

Saturday – We headed to the Parque Mexico theatre but realized the collection of program 1 film was actually at The Goethe Institute at noon. We headed back to the Goethe, and settled in.  However, we didn’t know at the time, Program 1 of films was the children’s collection of films, which to be honest, was set up amazingly for children.

Being a few minutes late, we came on on a claymation picture, but wow, amazing.  Latvian film, Meza Sargi (Forest Guards) was unique but AWESOME.  Maris Brinkmaris is worth a double check as an animation director but this was ideal on the themes of respecting the world we live in.  Classic references to Wallace & Gromit. I was amazed at the preparations Goethe and DOCMX to have this series of films for children, and the actors on stage in between to interact with the children, it’s funny when you drop in and not knowing what Program I means on the Film schedule!


This is one of my personal favorites – The PressKit is maybe an anticipatory set to the film but no, seeing this is simply like a breath of fresh air – Perhaps one of the most beautiful films due to the scenery, the characters, the idea, was Dancing for You, about dancing the Norwegian traditional dance, the Halling, but as a young girl doing so in light of the hardships of her grandfather, documenting his fight against cancer as Vilde works through this reality.  I gave too much away already but this is one of the most beautiful documentaries originally made for children, but amazing and touching for all.  This was a huge highlight of the DocsMX fest so far. The vision of this director? – Erlend E, Mo?  True it seems to be only capable of being captured on film. The beauty of Vilde Ellegaard Westeng,  Norway, and the Halling is captured and you simply want to GO, FLY TO NORWAY, to witness.


Tibet has always been a place of mystery, absolute.  Loden is a monk in training as a young boy and this is a spectacular look into what the film, Loden the Little Monk has to offer. Idolizing Drogba Didier who plays for Chelsea, brings a sense of reality and focus into the Tibetan beliefs as well as a reverence of the breadth of Tibet.  This film carried a sense of reverence you can’t ignore, with all the previous experiences we’ve had, just being in Mexico, with Tibet.

The Ecological School -La Escuelita Ecologica – WOW.  This is again reinforcing the reality of students, at such a young age, that can change the future – this is the film that proves and shows this.  Located in the municipality of Tlaxco Tlaxcala, this is how, and only one example, of how change can occur and is vital.  The students being the voice of this documentary is perhaps one of the strongest message that Rene Lopez Caballero allows to emerge and show how such a change can occur.  This is a true example of how ecology can be preserved, on every country.


Next Stop – Utopia – Again, one of those looks into a way that government seems to stop helping, and individuals that want to change the outcomes of their country – this is an AMAZING film to see how those privileged, and maintain the privilege, despite those struggling, and fighting for a better way- this is a success story worth of examining.  When, in the United States so much accountability is being asked for in the wrong individuals, much attention is needed to be brought and given to other countries – to increase the possibility of what this country can do, and that country/ is an example of what is needed in the world, NOT walls, but a willingness to open the doors to be collaborative in helping each other, and not beating each other.  Next Stop: Utopia has so many messages worth investigating, this is something you can’t read and gather it all, you have to see the process and understand what it can mean for the world.    P.S.  I do NOT like Christina Philippou, at all!

From the director Apostolos Karakasis:

“They are going against the law, the judicial authorities and the factory’s ex-owners, while they fight to gain some kind of legal status. There are conflicts within the group as well; practicing direct democracy among people with different attitudes, convictions and ideas can be very hard. But what proves to be the hardest, is the inner conflicts each individual has to face as the times are calling for a deep personal transformation. These people in their fifties are forced to develop a new identity, one that will allow them to survive in dignity and withstand the sufferings of an «outrageous fortune». The giant shifts they have to perform can sometimes seem comic and tragic at the same time.”


La ciudad de los fragmentos La ciudad de los fragmentos – City Fragments –

La ciudad del caos constante y la calma momentánea,
del milagro vacío,
del remedio instantáneo,

de las patadas voladoras,
la ciudad sin límite de tiempo,
la ciudad de las múltiples caídas.

La ciudad es un pasatiempo, un sueño,
un juego, una contradicción
La ciudad es un destierro.

When I am flying in or out of Mexico City, I look down and still wonder, how did I get here?  It seems like a error, a mistake of luck, and yet, I realize sitting here, watching this personal documentary directed by Anaid Gonzalez Saenz, that to understand a country, is not to simply read and be taught it from my home countries’ textbooks, but to find the truth for myself.  I have been lucky to have been given a gift to see through realistic eyes, not politicians’, not blinded individuals that read what Mexico is from newspapers, but been given the gift as an American – realizing the power and pride of what Mexico is amid the painted descriptions of corruption, to see how beautiful Mexico is, and to appreciate it

This film is able to paint that picture for you!




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No Manches Monday Leads to Many Film-Oriented Paths Part I

screen-shot-2016-10-15-at-7-53-38-amIt truly was a No Manches Monday.  Mondays are hard as it is, but, with the help of an amazing library cadet, the typical Monday was thrown out the window this past week.  In working with library cadets, often you face the same stereotypes – library- a book depository, and maybe a little more – yet, when you peek inside and see what is happening, you realize that libraries, and the individuals who support them, can be the key to unlocking door never thought to be opened.

Meet Sarah, new to our school this year and obviously full of potential, and Monday was proof of that. Through several weeks of planning, Sarah made the correct contacts to invite the producer of a current film, Mauricio Arguelles, No Manches Frida, as well as an actress and former Repentino. PR staff member, Pamela Moreno  (both ASF alumni to our school on Monday, October 10th.  Just as we are often fooled by the word library into thinking what a library stands for, both Mr Arguelles and Ms Moreno helped us see what goes on behind the scenes as well as in front of the camera.

I fall into the trap of thinking that everything I see on the screen, is a product of what comes from the heart and soul of the actors, actresses, as well as producers.  Not necessarily true and often, scenes and moments lead you into the paths of being taken away from the reality of the business.  Mr. Arguelles was able to define the ground rules of how films do work and often from a producer’s perspective as well as from an actresses.

Seeing the film industry, from a Mexican perspective in the United States reflected totally different appreciations for films on behalf of individuals from Mexico IN Mexico itself, loyalties to Mexico from abroad often affected the numbers of individuals seeing No Manches Frida – depending on where you were viewing this film from.  Never thought about that.  

Based on the German film Fack ju Göhte, Lionsgate did take a risk, but a successful one in taking on this venture, as well as the producer and actors themselves.  Over the Labor Day Weekend, numbers highly supported the evidence Marguelles demonstrated of viewers that have a different sense of loyalty that tie films to Mexico, from individuals not necessarily in Mexico.  Lionsgate showed that No Manches Frida “…scored solidly with $4.7 million at 362 locations in the U.S. for an impressive per-screen average of $12,845 for the Labor Day weekend.   Also, “it’s the second biggest opening after 2013’s “Instructions Not Included,” which grossed $7.8 million in 348 theaters and totaled $44.4 million, setting a record for a Spanish-language movie in the U.S. market. Pantelion also opened “Un Gallo con Muchos Huevos” with $3.4 million at 395 locations on the same weekend last year with the comedy winding up with more than $9 million by the end of its run” (

At times in your face, rough, and sometimes portraying the worst of what “that class” can present to a student body, as well as to teachers, and to other students, when I viewed No Manches Frida the first day it opened in Mexico, yes, there were likes and unlikes on my side for sure. I found myself laughing out loud, loving the soundtrack song, as well as moments that not necessarily aroused my interest and thought overdone.  Yet, the IDEA, the idea of the misadventures that involve a high school, students, teachers, and the dilemmas, both rowdy, conservative and more, they were all there.   In meeting the talented producer Mauricio Arguelles and Pamela Moreno who played Cuquis in the film, I was able to make the connection that yes, sometimes you take on films because there is a success rate and you have partial views to taking on a project due to its success, not necessarily a film you will hold close to your heart, but also giving a chance for the members of that film for a new opportunity.  

Being given a different perspective is what films, as well as education is all about.  Often we do not get the chance or opportunity to do so, and Sarah was able to work very diligently over a few weeks to being that opportunity to ASF.  As the ASF alumni representative, Mauricio Arguelles was a welcome window to the film industry, as well as Pamelo Moreno of what students involved in an international education, as well as Repentino. then film, can go on to do, and to express to a viewing public.  I realizing that no one was asking me to LOVE No Manches Frida, but to play closer attention to what the production, involvement, and presence of a Mexican – based  language film can have on publics outside of Mexico and on an international scale.  That developing a new perspective is a value that goes beyond what the film makes at the box office.  Thank you Sarah and ASF for allowing this opportunity to flourish!  To see more of that question and answer session, please check out Repentino.’s coverage of the Q& A with Mauricio Arguelles and Pamela Moreno here – Part I, Part II, and Part III.  Thank you ASF Foundation, Film Club, Upper chool Library, and Repentino. for allowing and supporting an event that allowed an opportunity to see what goes on, on and off the screen.


Next up, the first initial look at how the current newly opened DocsDF Documentary Film Festival is having on Mexico.





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Solidarity “Trumps” Quality

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-3-49-46-amSolidarity. You very rarely see, feel, or understand that word when it comes to social events on the weekend, at least in it’s truest sense. Yet, Monday September 26, 2016, indeed despite being the biggest Presidential Debate disappointment I have ever seen, and perhaps true to the Saturday Night Live’s call of being the biggest joke,


in a larger scenario, it was no laughing matter.

As the days unfold, we STILL have bouts of leaked garbage from both candidates, Hilary’s leaking of her true feeling of Bernie and supporters,


as well as Trump’s plan to address the issue of Bill Clinton’s infedlity as well as his lack of disclosure when it has come to financial transactions (or the lack of), and more

really, one begins to realize before the debates, but exemplified through them, that this has become less of a country-character test and more of a circus put on by various political parties. Even with a declared winner, the disgust at a government flawed and producing even two more flawed products is a dismal look forward indeed.

As I am already stating the same obvious pattern and rhetoric we witnessed at the first presidential debate, one thing would not have been clear unless you were at Pinche Gringo on September 26th.

In arriving at Pinche Gringo at 7:40ish, a truly amazing site greeted you. Reporters from all over the world, reporters like Carrie Kahn, local business owners like Lucky Dog’s  Cynthia Kaplan, Democrats Abroad volunteers (and yes, they are gracious enough to repeatedly emphasize the fact that they support ANY party as long as you are voting) and to top it off, afterwards a three individual panel that broke down the disappointments and those meanings to everyone at large, ALL of THIS – amid of course a heaping plate of food that carried everyone through the night (or was it the SALUD! every time Trump mentioned the word Mexico?) – one thing begins to dawn on you.

The election, as disappointing as it is with the newest revelations of cheap gossip and bad tabloids that bring itself to our doorstep every day, one thing still remains. The power that lies in the numbers, each of us standing together, whether from the United States, Mexico, Latin American, South American the multitudes that were around all of us and experiencing this loss, this heartbreak, and the disappointment we witnessed, it mattered and it helped us smile, weather through this three ring event, and it mattered.

When a restaurant, or any public institution, puts forth the effort to create a public space and make it a meeting place of ideas, no matter what ideas they are, and to give everyone a chance for their opinions to be voiced, heard, and reflected upon, you can actually rise about the turkeys and yes, feel like an eagle. Pinche Gringo served as a forum for so many people of various backgrounds, political arenas, and diverse voices, they made it possible to get through one of the ugliest debates ever, thanks to the commiserating people that surrounded us.

The days following the debate, yes, it is as if returning from camp where no one truly understands how you felt at that high around so many – there is just this buzz of the moment when you come back to the dirty, ugly reality of wading through so much garbage. The obvious disappointments still hung in the air –

-Hilary succumbed to Trump’s calling out on issues that has nothing to do with the future of this country.

-When Hillary could have gone high she remained low, sucked into a vaccuum of addressing Trump’s bait and hook, wasting valuable time that could have been redirected.

-Trump indeed calling on Hilary’s discrepancies and lack of motivation to move forward in so many years and yet, Trump’s holier than thou “I did this, I received this endorsement, I did, this, I did this…” after awhile the noise resembles the Charlie Brown teacher we had witnessed for so many years.

The silver lining is the realization, that the future, and the pressure that is put on whatever comical candidate is elected, the power resides in each of us. The future, whatever it holds, remains a long one for the public to not stop at getting their voice out, but for pushing that candidate, and pushing that candidate HARD towards a better future, as we see what the candidates are “able” to do on their own. It seems it is very true that hardly any matter relies on the correct candidate, as there does not seem to be one. However, there does remain the conviction to move the country in the right direction, but so many people that we witnessed surrounding us that first debate evening.

It is a gift of enormous proportion to have an institution at Pinche Gringo provide the opportunity to have such a large number of individuals to air these disappointments and find solace in the power of numbers in each of us. Despite the continuing controversies, secrets, discoveries worthy of the worst soap opera, within each other we continue to find the hope and strength to support each other in the very long road that lies in front of us despite which candidate (still difficult to say President for either candidate) is chosen.

The biggest disappointment is each of us, here internationally and those domestically, being represented as Americans at the mercy of those that do not reflect the true values of a United States that respects others, has tried to do better and walk away from the disastrous havoc from past mistakes, and become a better nation thanks to nations around us.  Again, the opportunity to vent these frustrations, the opportunity to point to any hope of restoring the better values of being a UNITED STATES with the support of so many from outside the United States, seemed a much better possibility thanks to the chance to be around so many voices of varying backgrounds. Thank you Pinche Gringo for offering whatever possible bright spot that could come out of a futile and hopeless debate. You did good, way good!

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“With Each New Life, I Was Learning a New Lesson…

Wow.  Sometimes, you just have something, a click occurs, your brain’s neurons just race to a point and you just – it just, it is important to be said, but also lived.

When a former student shared a video trailer, due in January, titled, A Dog’s Purpose,           ( side note – released on Friday which was National Dog Day of course has me celebrating every day I am surrounded by some pretty amazing canines.) –   Take in the fact that this student, a smile that could change anyone, every morning studying and taking advantage of everything that came their way – (I am leaving the fact whether he or she, was male or female, does it matter?)  – The personality this individual contained was something we all wished would remain in so many at our school. It is fitting they picked this movie that would move them.

One main theme stands out, The Ones We Rescue, Rescue Us.  Lately, I have felt this so incredibly much, for so many reasons and I think everyone SHOULD feel this every day, the world would change. Amid so many films that serve to destroy, break others done, and out pit good versus evil, I love the fact that a film is coming that helps us dig deep and contemplate how we can make ourselves better, as those around us.

September 11, 2016.  I remember the exact day I was in the classroom and a student ran in and told me what was on thew television.  I stood in disbelief at the replay, and remember a sense of panic, then anger, then revenge, then knowledge and remorse. Stages I realized had surrounded me so much before, and would after but things we have a choice to pick.

Years laters, working at US Investigations, we had a morning where we had a moment of silence, and that event lingered and hurt in my heart as much as the day I remembered this occurred, we all had out own story of where we were (similar to other past events individuals can point to where they were).  I also recalled the moments we trekked to new York City, the very first time we could go to the 911 site and we could still smell the concrete – it I can’t describe it.  I appreciated it even more, this moment, when I travelled and had so many amazing students with me year after year, they helped me reason this out on each visit.  I was lucky and wealthy in the moments they accompanied me. 

Here, in Mexico, as 911 occurred, I was lucky to have all these moments flash back through my day, and I also remembered the moment where my cousin in Takoma Park, MD, pointed out the house of the neighbor that lost his wife in that fateful day, as well as another house down the block, and the same sense of chills, silence, meditation took over as I just wanted to think about all the implications about this.

A few days later, yesterday in fact, we celebrated El Grito, and the sad fact is I NEVER KNEW this existed, while in the states, EVER.  Which is a shame, because would I regret not knowing about it now?  100% – which taught me another mini-lesson, be more aware of the events and individuals around me, and not just contained to one country.  it will brighten my horizons.Because it is not just about the events in other countries we do not know about sometimes, it is the people that will change our lives forever.

I sometimes look back and wonder where I would have been had I never took a simple decision to check out Mexico, a chance to get a fresh start.  AT that time, I needed a fresh start, I was frustrated with the education system and how it missed and passed over so many individuals in need of other aspects, when policies, standards, etc seemed to be more important.  Years later, the individuals that WERE passed over I see being arrested and worse, there is a direct link.

The projects we get involved in, the time we take to invest in individuals that rely ion something more than what is just expected from an assignment, it changes so many individuals, and changes do many aspects of life.  Education, the field, while it can be frustrating, has changed my life for the better.  I am able to see what I value in the world, put it into a project that I enjoy, and can cater it to what others can enjoy, are interested in, and can learn something about the world, as well as about themselves.  There is no greater opportunity that exists.  

I have been surrounded by beautiful images of how to make a situation better ever since the day occurred I decided to pursue education, from the moment I stepped into that professor’s classroom, to today where I decide how I can play teacher. librarian, advisor, and more day to day.  What I did not see back then was how much the students play teacher to me, and how much I grow because of them every single day.  I could spend many days investing in partying here, there, everywhere, living it up for me, and forgetting the majority of time is possible to see and learn a new aspect of myself every day.  I guess that can also happen while partying, (lol) and yet, I can’t get enough of the students that go on to become teachers (more than they are already doing now as students) and seeing where their lives go, what their lives have to teach them, take them, and give back to so many.

All of these images and thoughts hit me from September 11, 2016 to celebrating a Mexican event, Viva Mexico! – El Grito and approaching Independence Day in Mexico.  I am crazy lucky to have the most amazing individuals that were colleagues, friends, students, family, and just so many more that I ever saw coming, and being able to have the sense to open my mind to what will come, even if it meant being afraid, I always have had so many amazing individual supporting me, and those moments stick with you forever if you are with the right people.  With the wrong people sometimes bitter sweet, but you still learn, as if you have a new life. From a shocking and somber event, to a Mexican heartfelt celebration, I had found a tie.

I love when former students post images and events we took in together say, from 2010 and even before that – it makes me feel as if there is an investment that individuals remember, hold onto, and help shape them as they deal with what seems to be insurmountable roadblocks now and int he future.  I had so many roadblocks I never saw coming, ones that broke me down personally, socially, financially, and more.  Yet, students that are now adults, always helped me push through.  Friends I had not talked to for years came through for me, redefining friendship to me.  Grudges I had over family for odd reasons were emphasized as not important, to reestablish those ties because my family was beginning to expand from blood to those who had shared something amazing alongside me.

Independence is so important as a country, and as a young kid growing up, I relished the fireworks, picnics, days of football, or baseball, and just being outdoors, a U.S. Independence was all I ever knew.  And I loved it.  When I became exposed to Mexico’s Independence, and combined with the values I brought and appreciated from the United Stated Fourth of July celebrations, something powerful was created.  I realized the history Mexico had outdated the U.S. by SO LONG, and yet, the two together game me the freedom to realize, how much I had grown, thanks to the amazing students, that have become leaders in their own communities due to some event that resonated with them.  I realized the heroes that died on September 11, 2011 and the heroes of Mexican history had a tie as well, they established some key aspects that went way beyond their own lives, how can we do that?

To see this process of giving your all, then students moving on, into adulthood, and those moments that slipped away too quickly, it is sad, you have to learn to let go, and some students disappeared way before should have disappeared, which taught me even more to appreciate the time we have, and make the most of it, 100%.  I love Mexico so so much for the experiences that have been given me in a moment that I thought I could not go on anymore, I was pretty close to a breakdown as I take what I do in education, and how others perceive it seriously, sometimes yes, too seriously.  However, the values I was brought into, in Mexico, combined with the amazing positives I received from becoming a permanent resident in Mexico – all I can do it point individuals to what made the change, but words often do not do it justice.

Today, a film, No Manches Frida, comes out.  Hysterical and profiling the adventures, and misadventures of someone stumbling into the educational field.  A former student, Pamela, (sorry Pamela, had to do it) is in this film and again, past incidents of her as a Repentino. staff and the struggles she had to work through, and that smile, why do students always have that smile that leads to the next memory? – but proud is an understatement.  Each one of us wants to see then students became later successes. Pamela is one of MANY, but just another point of evidence to show, whether you are in education, science, engineering, architecture, or any field, there are individuals, countries’ beliefs, and moments unknown to you, that will change your life forever, if you let yourself jump out of the same routine, and recognize what is truly around you.

It is more than possible to lead a new life, with each new lesson, no matter if you are 15 or 85, I have learned that already in my forties, my FORTIES?  Where did time go?  But luckily, I have an amazing group of individuals around me, past and present, who remind me of that, and it is always a positive that keeps me moving forward.  As we celebrate Mexican Independence on October 16th, remember the amazing aspects that come with Independence, and remember how lucky we are, no matter WHERE we are.

P.S.  Just in case, the film I referenced of course dog related, however, there is one that still teaches us to learn, but for cats  :)






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When I Said I Do.

Designer carriage, designer leash, designer shoes, too good to go near the garbage bin where the rest of the dog bags are – you know the type.

Quiet, reserved, afraid of a little action between the puppy and an veteran canine, 10 minutes, I give her ten minutes and then her nerves might get cause her departure.

Open, laughing, anything goes, rough and tumble is fine, and the more the merrier, probably needing exhaustion to get a million things that need to be done, just like me.

There is a psychology to being within a dog park, and with the event of simply people watching, you can write a book.  Ever need inspiration, head to your nearest park.  With the amazing makeover of Alexander Pushkin Park, and THANK GOODNESS IT IS OPEN, the dog park within Pushkin, amazing thing have been happening.

Despite the food poison scare where many dogs were affected in Parque Mexico, truly, Parque Mexico is a haven for dogs, the walk from Roma is amazing, the park in Parque Mexico is huge, bordered by bushes, and just – I loved when it opened.  It was perfect.  Almost.  When something beyond food poisoning (and thank goodness that is over!) breaks down the quality of a park, I think attention is needed.

Let’s move to Alexander Pushkin for a minute.  Half the size of Parque Mexico, near Doctores, taking half the time to walk that the dogs usually get to Parque Mexico, how could that be better even with a new facelift?

Cooperation.  Two other familiar faces are always part of every day now as we replace garbage bags, pick up litter within the park, empty garbage to the disposal outside of the dog park, we rake the sand and push sand back into the central part of the dog park, we move mounds of sand to other parts to remove the excess water sitting there, we provide replacement bags into a recycled plastic bottle that another tied to a tree so everyone has access to a bag, we have a supply of bags we bring every time we bring our dogs to the park to make sure there is always clean area and removal of bags, we do this as a community.  What the dog park has lost in size, is growing in the heartfelt cooperation to maintain this dog park that our dogs love even more than Parque Mexico.  At one time there can be almost 15 dogs in one medium sized dog park, and yet, because everyone rolls up their sleeves and makes it an oasis, it works.  

The magic is, none of us, who do not really know each other, abuse the appreciation of using the park.  How many times have I seen people turn up their noes at the piling garbage at the edge of Parque Mexico and walk away?  See the ruts and puddles laying in the middle of the park and doing nothing? – that is a potential to cause a revoultion of working together.  If there is one thing I have learned in the past month?  Doing by example has been contagious and improved morale in our corner of Alvaro Obregon.  So much so, that the feeling of obligation is transcended (now that is a word) to every newcomer, they are there to let their canines have an amazing time, and a silent request is expected of all, do something little to leave this better when you leave.  Every visit I see flaws I have and I learn more about how to be a better person, from a …dog park?  Yes.

IF we, as canine owners, and lovers, begin the same actions in Parque Mexico, a transformation will occur.  While not sandy, the puddles will disappear, the gravel will be spread ut, bags will appear to supplement the overspilling garbage cans, the community will begin to own their park and take pride in coming, pitching in, and growing as a community rather than just an upturned nose and wishing things could be improved.  There is alot of energy in wishing, and not moving & shaking – and can you see the parallel here to life?  Life compared to a dog park?  :)

As I sit here and listen to a long ago album of Clint Black, titled, Nothin’ But the Taillights, I remember the summer concert at the Starlake Amplitheatre, (call it what you want now, – First Niagara Pavilion – are you kidding me?  – it will always be that for obvious reasons) – and remember how amazing it was to have summer concert nights from the craziness of working at the PA Turnpike, as a clerk at Bilo’s and landscaping.  I was lucky to have amazing friends to celebrate titles on Clint Black’s album like “The Shoes You’re Wearing” and “Something That We Do” – all metaphors STILL today for what you can make your life.  Me first is still a huge factor and does little to build community, yet if we take the friendships, the past, the opportunities to make it US FIRST, big things happen, from taking in the subject of dog parks, working in clubs to make a difference, and using music to reach your inner ability to help others, there is always potential to make your life even grander – and those around you, along with your canines.

I love that Clint Black’s album way, way back, while mirroring marriage in his Sing, When I Said I Do, has deeper implications as well if what we can do for a better change, such is life. Our dogs seem to realize this, so when we begin to do the same, we will truly begin to appreciate what life hands us every single day, and in between, we will find time to enjoy Killin’ Time... :) 




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“Do not go gentle into that good night.”

 “Explain to me what the point of living is if you aren’t willing to fight for the truths in your heart, to risk not getting hurt.”

2016 – August marks the start of my 6th year at ASF.  FIVE solid YEARS right now, and six at the end of this year.

In reading an amazing book titled This Raging Light, following an episode of one of the most intense fevers I can remember having, literally, a whole life flashed with events that have happened over the last year, then more than that.  Hard to explain but well, as is usual, and usually my posts can be off the beaten track, I will try.

Head colds, are they horrible or what? Maybe next to sore throats, which is what I started to get as a reward for this past weekend.  I resolved myself to do the salt gargling, mouth wash marathoning, constant teeth brushing, decongestant taking, and would work my other needs around the fight against a potential cold.

Saturday was a milestone, Dane, the dog we saved and had a pin in his leg, had it removed, let me tell you, NEW DOG. A good Saturday, thought not the one I planned.  Later, went to Home Depot, Sunday, biked to Home Depot, and not so bad, but whole weekend aware of a looking flu I was putting up a defense to.

Monday, head to work, aware that my defenses were weakening, not decongestant the vitamin of choice, tissue paper stuffed in tons of places, Halls my candy, and hoping I can make it through a Monday without going nuts from my runny nose.

Monday made it through, and my priority was seeing Amaya, to the vet over her not eating and being stomach sick the last few days.  I hiked it to Costco, grabbed dog and cat food, made it home by tax before 4:30, the canine pack out and Amaya and I were to the vet.

You notice things you do not notice when things are slowed to a halt, and I did notice this waiting in the doctor’s office, how incredibly lucky I have been with the amazing afghan trio and how amazing their temperament is when i remember as puppies I thought I was going to go crazy.  It’s amazing how things can flash by and you not even realize it, and how more meaningful life it when you do realize those things , you normally take for granted.  After a positive prognosis and a shot for her stomach, we headed back and for the first time, took her out on a “date” we hung out in a restaurant that allowed dogs inside and had an awesome dinner, and well Amaya is just awesome, period.  

Soup, green tea, and of course a brownie, finally home for the evening, and then just whoom, head cold turned into a “I need to get into bed NOW!” flu, – took a final decongestant, and I think for the next three hours I know I tossed and turned, and burned, it felt like my skin was on fire, the feeling when you just have the flu, period.  During that time, I dreamt too, still can remember dreams that involved my Dad reaching out to me, talking to me, and just – when I woke, I was soaking wet from the sweat, flu – but felt as if I had been in 20 rounds with a first class boxer, and just resurfaced – surviving (this is not the ideal way to close a Monday evening).

In bed, I opened This Raging Light, and just began to continue reading, and just – not sure it was the story or the memories sparked from the novel, and a combination of the fever I just broke out of – but a ton of worthy moments occurred:

  1. I realized how incredibly lucky I had been to learn, share, and take in all things that were my Dad, for many long years, almost 10 I went without even knowing my Dad, then out of the blue, on graduation, there he was, I can’t begin to tell you how surreal that memory was.
  2. How sudden the moment was that my Dad was taken away from me, and how lucky I was to be surrounded by a family that still – is unlike any family I could have ever wanted to wished to be a part of.
  3. The strange journey from a Community College in Butler, PA, to Edinboro in Edinboro, PA, back to Slippery Rock in PA, to Pittsburgh, PA, to working at U.S. Investigative Services in Grove City, PA, to outside of Solomon’s Island in MD, to Evans City, to taking care of horses and teaching students to ride, take care of horses, to teaching English in a variety of schools, moving to an amazing Delaware and really coming into my own with an amazing group of students and colleagues, and – truly moving everything I thought I knew to Mexico and using all the amazing experiences in my life to help enhance an even more amazing group of students and colleagues that would change my life – forever.
  4. The reality check that having the time to simply have these reflections, be able to look back, means as much as slowing down the treadmill I used to be on to keep going and doing, and never valuing those experiences later on, and when i have now been able to, realizing how incredibly lucky I’ve been, to have the students, now young men and women, the colleagues, (younger AND older men and women like myself) and family, to take a dream, reshape it, and make it reality.  I know I am the richest person in the world because of the amazing people that believe in dreams, that that can be made into reality.
  5. I have been lucky enough to grow up with individuals I see today who have done amazing things, AMAZING.  A single mother that has seen her daughter now go on to a major college, and realizing I saw her all through high school and college to see her daughter, to this day, be amazing.  Seeing friends that sat behind me in home room in high school now designing and creating projects in major engineering firms all over the world.  Seeing former students, STUDENTS, with children of their own and making an amazing home and life for their children.  Students I have now that every day, show sparks of greatness that make me stand back and say, HOW LUCKY AM I?

There are few things that you think of when you feel like you are facing death from flu, except I WANT TO SURVIVE, and MORE KLEENEX, and KILL ME NOW, yet, when you still realize how lucky you are to be suffering from a kill me now flu, due to the colleagues, students, family, friends that have made life truly a LIFE – well you’ve got something there.  Whether it was the after effects of the fever, or just all the right quotes and characters in place from Estelle Laure’s This Raging Light, one thing is constant, the same groups of individuals that allow you to wake up each day and be thankful for moving you forward.

Again, coincidence that this amazing quote, for the title of this blog, so strongly presented at the 2016 graduation to one well esteemed Debra Ramon, appears again a few months later in a book that is powerful?  I believe less in coincidence and more in the events that resurface, stare you in the face and are telling you something  :)   All we have to do is listen, and the rest falls into place.

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Frame tale, Realer Than Real

Taming of the ShrewA frame tale, a story within a story, I love it.  Often Shakespeare does this among countless other strategies that draw you in, and I certainly did not see all the magical ways Shakespeare reinvented life scenarios, and humor, combined with the bitter truth that love often offers and Stratford Festival’s Taming of the Shrew was no exception.

The Lunario certainly is a magical place – and this evening seated at a table of young women from France, it didn’t get any better than this.  With that flair in the background, and setting the scene for a great evening, and as you witnessed the crowd settling in at the Stratford Festival, you thought you might see a disturbance, and yes, you do – a man in the audience began to hassle or be hassled.  The the slight disturbance becomes a ranting about how the Shaw house is actually serving to the wrong crowd, the audience member with two theatre workers stumble on stage, the actor preparing for the play are aghast, all in in disarray and there you are, wondering WHAT the HECK is happening?  The actors preparing for Taming of the Shrew  plot (after the unruly audience member is knocked out) to revolve a scenario to convince the out cold audience member that he is actually a lord, convince him that he is not insane, and a man dresses up as a woman to be convincingly his wife, (sound familiar?)  The play hasn’t even started due to this unruly audience member, and the cast members, are putting on another play before the real play starts – this all was quite awesome – and just went to lengths to show how intricate not only Shakespeare can be, but also members of the Stratford Festival.

Once the intricate and magical music played by the musicians proceeds past the first mini drama that unfolded on stage, the second main drama, The  Taming of the Shrew begins, leaving you with still the talented threads of music that made the very first aspect of this production, even before the unruly audience member and his tale, and mockery, began.

This was highly acclaimed on so many points, one strength is just not possible, there were numerous reasons.  The participation that the audience was sought out for, perfect every time, from the glances, to pulling a boot of of one of the actors, to the looks that accentuated the sarcastic moments, you are involved no matter where you are sitting in the house.

The INCREDIBLE tension that Deborah Hay brings to the stage, almost gives you a migraine seeing the tension she works through and is able to maintain, BRILLIANT. if there ever was a Cate, it is and was Deborah Hay – from the expressions she pushes out in anger, to he most amazing soliloquy bringing a summation of the play, you are praying to someone in thanks for her being on the stage.  She is able to turn a theme of hate, anger, and pain into one of beauty with a tension in the beginning, you ask, no way, how will this happen?  it does and then some.

Ben Carlson.  Whoa.  I mean, not only playing the audience -rowdy Christopher Sly, (I did not KNOW that was HIM!) – and of course, a Petruchio that makes you follow him that much more closely, here is the second frame tale.  In real life? – Ben Carlson and Deborah Hay are MARRIED.  Can you imagine playing this role on real life, as warring War of the Roses husband and wife,and going home and discussing this ?  I can’t – AMAZING.  I love they are couple on and off stage, and you wonder, do they sleep soundly after this energy thrown at each other in harms way on stage.  I think YES – with a resounding YES!

Every single character in this production can be talked about for paragraphs and pages, the legendary Peter Hutt, mesmerising Sarah Afful, Brad Rudy as Curtis, EVERY SINGLE ACTOR had hilarious moments of involving the audience 100%  and the story of dueling competitions for Bianca, and two stories within this main story, frame, frame frame – stories that rely on each other and yet it is all as clear as day thanks to the quality of every single dominant and supporting actor and musician, every single one.  The laughter that rises to the top from everyone around us was evident of all this.

When I walked out of the Lunario and the cool wind, the starts above, another amazing night, I realized I had a fame tale of my own.  Coming to Mexico was a dream in itself, from songs to movies, of course I had rumors of what Mexico was, and having that idea blown apart, and pleasantly, I still have not gotten over the story within a story that Mexico has added to my life.  Many expect just coming to Mexico will change you, it certainly does alot in that process yet seeing the values and freedom Mexico gives you to dream and fulfill those dreams, you realize, Mexico can’t make it wonderful for you, but you need to have the desire and dreams of projects, plans, and creativity to take the encouragement that Mexico gives you, and run with the opportunity to do crazy great things.  IF YOU HAVE THE Initiative to take the good with the bad in life, you will see the beauty Mexico offers for you to fulfill many a dream.  

Being able to actually converse a bit in French, be surrounded by amazing individuals from France, be in Mexico and experience Spanish and a host of other languages at any one time, it certainly is not the Mexico that was painted to me growing up, and I am thankful for that.  It makes Mexico even more magical when you realize the true Mexico all around you.  More on this in the next post, but being a part of a magical wedding last week, being asked to help translate scripts from German and Latin to English and opportunities to just BE in Mexico I never imagined – there certainly has been quite a frame tale that intertwines with the intricate, deep, and hysterical scenarios you find in Taming of the Shrew.

I once, when I was in college remember seeing a version of Taming of the Shrew in Pittsburgh, with Mary Robb Jackson, in 1988, an amazingly cool slanted stage that came towards the audience, a news anchor was in this production and this has to be in the 90’s.  It never left me.  This version of Taming of the Shrew  will stick to me just as long, the combination of personal and amazing wrapped up into what Shakespeare can bring to so many is indeed timeless and this production was as well.  

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“Libraries” = Creating+Preservation + Creativity+Risk Taking+ Discarding the Box

As a 2016-2017 school year approaches, there is MUCH to look back on and use as a springboard to what is to come.  Of course, as you well know, it is QUITE easy to miss these past activities and let them be just that, the past.  OR, you can become a new person and allow those moments, those experiences, to shape you in ways that not just push you into the future, but PROPEL you into rooms you never knew existed.

Back in October of 2015 (yes I actually remember this) – a colleague sent me an article titled – Reinventing the Library.  Going back to March 0f 2015, an even better article on what gets kids reading was another complement to an idea.

Looking back is an amazing tool and this is why in a few examples:

We were amazingly asked as a student magazine, Repentino., to cover an experience using the Google cardboard/Google Expeditions experience at our school.  I have purposely been waiting to develop and release those articles for several reasons and also realized sometimes ideas need to percolate before releasing them.  It was an amazing experience to have CTE come to a student organization, such at Repentino., to have responsibility of taking adventures and covering them, and really processing them.  Truly, the processing became students being involved in a project-based task and processing, linking, and brainstorming how this could end up going larger, into the public forum.  I LOVED that this occurred in our Upper School Library.  As articles developed, other events began to appear.

Summer school. Wow.  I volunteered at first and thought after,ugh.  WHY? WHY WHY WHY?  My summer, needs to be summer school free!  – and yet.   I had the unique opportunity to grow in ways I never expected, ever.  Sure all groups of people are headed in all directions and I wanted to be counted as part of that.  Then after the final week, I realized I HAD BEEN traveling in directions I never expected and didn’t realize!  One of the Math courses combined the use of Aurasama to recognize individual created POSTERS, (I thought of this being a QR code- with no QR code and total images being recognized, it was Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 5.26.30 AMCRAZY GREAT!) – and then later seeing students work through the challenges of Wintercroft masks that used math every single step of the way.  THIS WAS JUST ONE CLASS!

The Yo-Yo class sounded hysterical on paper, yet, when you saw the interaction, the LOVE of learning something, and then seeing these students perform to music as a show, it was amazing.  Then you would see students taking a new skill, and turning around and teaching each other, on their own – a skill that stemmed from a Yo-You and actually tapped into how students become educators themselves.  Watching the dance classes start with Thriller but seeing the students break out of a shell that could not be cracked through many experiments – it was unexplainable.

Math also utilizing current cuttings of plants we grow here and developing conservation-based  ideas with products we have growing and maintaining here on the roof – which led to students writing grants to help sustain projects tied to this initiative.

From my own experience in Reading and Writing, we started to dig into projects that would go beyond the classroom, that would actually interact with future, potential community projects, and we discovered Jane Goodall’s Institute and began experimenting with reading and writing in the summer school classes, applying what we were learning to our classroom and then beyond through a program called Roots & Shoots.  Add to that students writing articles tied to art out of Reading and Writing, (their work becoming published) and again, paths never conceived before.  I had become the student, the student, the teacher.

As the summer ended, I had completed one graduate course acknowledged by the University of Colorado, at Boulder, acquired 20 Professional Development hours, and walked away with a curriculum, ideas of projects that could change small and large communities, and redefined what the term LEADER meant based on how you inspire projects to affect learners in a social, educational, and personal way.

ALL THE WHILE, a student and I started a path to creating an internship program that would impact communities in Mexico, acquire young teachers that would be part of a growing intern initiative, and eventually turn into an academy where students from all over the world would TRUMPET back to Trump’s claim that to make American great, you need to build walls, need to move away from those living outside of the United States, and as Trump went on putting down anything that was defined as America (in his terms) outside of North America, forgetting America was STILL Central, Latin, South, North and yes, even Greenland, student around me were developing projects that brought students here to acquire the true Mexico, breaking DOWN stereotypes of what Mexico specifically means to others, and what Mexico IS.  Students were developing real-life answers to real life problems that began in streotyping – that started with adults.  This was an amazing summer of possibility that would begin to turn into a reality check – and students were responsible.

All of this in one summer, ONE summer, that has led to so many possibilities, for the future – that if you look where it started, it started with the library s a hub.  A hub for discovering how technology can be used in the community, used among each other for pushing creativity and technology, reaching out to ideas that at first seemed dreams, and realizing, libraries were centers for technology, media maturity and interpretation, discovering how to hone your skills in research, discovery, application, an area to discuss future potentials of hands-on project based learning, oh, and yeah, we also have books.

There are game changers in life, yet some prefer to wear masks and hide themselves from what can be a game-chnager in lives of those around us.  I was lucky enough to be part of so many amazing discoveries this summer, those around me decided we need to grow this to latch onto this and make these discoveries a reality.  Students around us I found, turn the instructor into a student, if you are lucky enough.  In turn, the classroom becomes a laboratory, where students conduct experiments to see how they can impact the largest laboratory of all, the world.  The Library, the Media Center, the creative makerspace, despite a myriad of titles, if you simply consider a library the storehouse of all things literary, you are only truly  teacher, and not an educator, which – believe me, the world needs educators more than teachers.

I am still finding to stay refreshed and amped up all year long, instead of being asked at the beginning of the year to find the curriculum that leads to better test scores as a goal, to be led by students and be a leader due to the dreams, ambitions, contributions and ideas, and potential leadership students have, turning the educator, BACK into student.  This is what a library does, turns the “outside the box” ideas, throws the box away, and creates a product recycled from cardboard, ideas, dreams, and technology, and redefines learning.  It is looking to be a very bright 2016-2017 year  :)







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Roaming Roma…

It was an idea given to me by a former colleague, she asked, why don’t you cover all the new restaurants located in the Northern Roma area and provide a guide.  That is a very cool project, so while I was thinking on how to creatively approach that, I just noticed people walking, talking, in Roma, a volume I had never seen before as individuals from outside Roma, like never before have been making it a small metropolis, like never before.

Where do they go?  What do they see as so attractive?  For once, I thought I’d just play visitor and see what my own neighborhood would tell me, take me, that I had as of late maybe taken fro granted. So here we go…

Walking out of my door on Cordoba, I found myself walking down Tabasco, past the Buddhist temple full of meditation this early evening, and right onto the doorsteps of


Silvestri on Tabasco

Camino Silvestre, my favorite hummingbird tienda.  As soon as you walk, listen, pause, the continue


Goethe Institutein you are surrounded by the songs of birds, and the massive collection of bird supplies envelopes you.  The staff here is amazing, helpful, and always helps me out with the questions I have and provides the right answers.  As I had used them as my personal reference text today, I left and headed up to Tonala, past the

in, you are surrounded by the songs of birds, and the massive collection of bird supplies envelopes you.  The staff here is amazing, helpful, and always helps me out with the questions I have and provides the right answers.  As I had used them as my personal reference text today, I left and headed up to Tonala, past the Goethe Institute.


IMG_6457 I realized how cool of a place this institution was hosting the documentary film festival and tons of cool and new events from film, literature pop culture, and so more, there is always something happening new here. When you walk along this neighborhood, you really notice the IMG_6459freedom of casually opened windows, amazing architecture, and a solace among the quietness and peacefulness.  It is simply Roma.IMG_6458.jpg

 Heading down to Tonala, and speaking of architecture, you find your nose leading you to one of the


La Puerta Abierta

 best bakeries (and there are four within walking/smelling radius) right in front of you.  La Puerta Abierta offers a wide range of IMG_6461.jpgtasty baked good but also cooking classes for young and old in some of the best recIMG_6465.jpgipes you’d want to have in your own home.  Looking at the selections so late in the day today, you realize, you could always find a home here.  The smell of the Apple Tarts hovers right above you and after that there absolutely is no turning back.  There is always nostalgia also on the streets, in the form of architecture, IMG_6468.jpgor in the form of say, vehicles.  An old Wagoneer took me aback to being around 8 years old on a winder day, being able to get through any snowy road thanks to its tough durability.  IMG_6466.jpgIt seems this Jeep Wagoneer easily endures now through the now snowy temperament of Mexico City !  You also will undoubtedly pass some of the best street stands for Queso, tortillas, and a hundred
items at one of these famous stands.  The Oaxaca cheese? I have this problem with eating it before I get home.  Head ing towards Alvaro Obregon, you notice the bustle of young musicians into IMG_6469.jpgBoicot Cafe, my favorite new find.  A great and artsy establishment, with a back area dedicated to community artists, you feel the excitement of a Friday evening filled with dropping off of intruments, setting up equipment, and a Bohemian experience of music and art blended into one cafe awaits. The Chai Tea there is addictive and that is not the only thing that will keep you up all night thanks to an entertaining venue found in this cafe.Go a little futher, down and left, and then Orizaba come up on you faster than you IMG_6470.jpgexpect.  Walking south, you see the former gym has been replaced by a new upscale version of business, Mint & Tea, the not yet opened employees teasing passers-by with thIMG_6472.jpge preparation of vibrant colors, found normally in glasses and plates of exotic Mexican food,  and being soon available for home decor.  Go a few steps further, and you see on your right a former half-ram-shackled
garage turned into a collective of enticing restaurants of seafood, burritos, and more.  Within roughly three weeks the transformation that occurred on this corner was amazing.  The neighborhood, within four years has transformed itself, and for some reason I notice the transformation here more than past neighborhoods in the United States, not exactly alarming,but just always something to wow you.  As you make your way down Orizaba, you run into the spectacular IMG_6474.jpgPlaza Luis Cabrera.  Spectacular because of its overwhelming ability to calm you, as well as draw you in to the establishments that classically surround this plaza.  Today, the exhibit about the facts of individuals making the Exodos


from their own countries for survival and preservation of their lives.  The statistics stun you, make you stop, and appreciate the such basic surrounding we have and find in our own neighborhood, often those I take for granted on a walk with less observations than on this particular evening. Leaving the park reluctantly, and heading back to Merida, you stroll past one of the best office of Ophthalmology in IMG_6481.jpgMexico City.  Having pretty much the worst eyesight since I can remember as a child, and being able to see perfectly the sunsets, the sunrises, beaches with perfect views, that is pretty much a miracle in itself.  Then being given the information ahead of time of what it going to happen,how, and what to expect in detail, and hearing the newest investigations that are being researched and IMG_6482discussed, Dr. Ramon Naranjo Tackman?  Not difficult how he is easily one of the best in this country and many others.  Go a little further and look up (I often simply forget to look up to see the skyline and the art that can be above you), and you see Roma has impressions of expression and art in every direction. Creativity, of course, can be found in food as you


Ice Cream Nation

come down Merida and onto the coolest Ice cream preparation using liquid IMG_6485.jpgnitrogen, and there is always a line.  Period. Ice Cream Nation has so much to offer in plain old cups of ice cream filled with amazing concoctions, to the classic milkshake that fills you up as if you just had a full array of selections.  The show is not bad either as the Nitrogen does its work – and you know you’ll be filling that punch card up quickly. Crossing Alvaro Obregon and leaving the sounds of countless cups of ice cream behind, and really looking down the middle walkway IMG_6486.jpgof Alvaro Obregon, you appreciate the mix of efficiency of Ecobici and trees that line Roma, and bring its welcome home feeling to you as you just wander.  To your left is the scent and reliability of the flowers IMG_6487.jpgyou have always frequented for ceremonies at ASF, and a little further the multifaceted corner of tacos, but even beside that, the attraction of Casa Franca, who provides spectacular jazz in evenings above and below, as well as delicious pizzaIMG_6488.jpg and more entrees from the personable owners on the ground floor, who you will occasionally see arrive on his UK. scooter.  Roma itself has so many personalities, this is but one brief (brief taking almost 2 hours) to take it so many accents that present themselves to the average individual in Mexico City.  Priceless, definitely.  Forgettable? Not in the slightest.


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Turning, Spinning, Reeling…Life

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 6.23.27 AMPericles.  I never heard of this Shakespeare play, so as I was literally running with 2 minutes to spare, (yes it was one of those days, walking in Plaza Cabrera, passing by a camera crew, then stopped by a camera crew and asked if my dogs could be used in the photoshoot & subsequent movie, and I was, ” um sure!”, forgetting I had to be at the Lunario for tonight’s Pericles).  Leaving my house at 5:22 for a 6:00 Pm start, boy did I remember….

As I made it into the Lunario at the nick of time, even with a cool background bio on this play, I was anticipating boom or bust. it seems always a gamble to run into a play, never read or seen by Shakespeare, to see on stage.  Yet, I recall my Graduate Degree course where we travelled to Stratford for this Festival, (thank goodness for Rachela Permenter’s influence) and knew the excitement that came from many an unknown Shakespeare play then – most of the time it was amazing – with a few disappointments.

True experiences grip you, shake much emotion out of you, and leave you with a flood of recollections that sometimes leave your mind racing.  Mediocre to average experiences begin to stir possibly a flutter of a recollection of the past, of events/individuals that have influenced you but then keep on passing you by.  For some, these “experiences”are in the form of dramatic productions, I live for the movies, plays, sometimes a musical, the art of the word in a book, music, and of course, an insightful conversation.  For others, it comes in the form of a variety of mediums, be it art, certain trips, objects, today – posts of conversations found in the arena of politics, careers, the future, and past and present history.

I also recall the days when I would take Shakespeare, even back to the days in high school and feel as if “If i can just make it through this class, this jumble of old English, I’ve got it made.”  Then of course at Slippery Rock University, I met Dr. Edward Kopper ,


what seemed like worksheets with word after word after word of symbolism in words that came from the words of Shakespeare, were worksheets that revealed so much I never knew before, coming from those very words that stupefied me, changed everything in how I viewed reading and Shakespeare and I realized how much treasure Shakespeare has hidden between lines, between words, between acts, and why and how elements of his writing were timeless.  This of course opened me to plays, and other forms of writing as well, and a door that have always been unlocked swung wide open.  Those are instructors you will always remember.  

Somehow, even before Slippery Rock University, my very first experience with public theatre, when I attended a one Butler Community College, the transcripts/admissions faculty at the time, older in years, and yet an avid theatre-goer, who could not drive, I found and became her Driving Miss Daisy, actually driving her to Pittsburgh Public Theatre in exchange for the ticket and meal afterwards, I learned so much.  I think now, who had opportunities like that, ever?  Little did I know then, how much it would change me years and years later.

Present – The Adventures of Pericles.  Already you might have guessed.  An unknown production that already has opened the floodgates – this is a powerful production.  As Pericles opened, the set resembled the proclamation of one as a narrator, coming to the stage, announcing a take that all must truly experience.  Little did I realize the symbolism  of the bride that would sit with me through the whole memory of this production.  What I did realize was that to read Shakespeare you see unrealistic events that in real life, hardly ever happen by chance as they happen the way Shakespeare pens them, in order for one brother to meet up with one sister, on the same shore, BY CHANCE, now someone, really? How possibly could this happen where it “works out” so well?  Of course, that this the aspect that seems hard to find a takeaway, the Hollywood part of a movie, the drama we will never quite find in the frequency Shakespeare presents it.  Yet, there is that element of takeaway you can’t deny.

The hits keep coming.  One also has to wonder how many detrimental, negative aspects have to happen, as if in a modern-life Job, to also feel as if it is possible in real life.  Yet, I can attest, they might not come in rapid succession as Shakespeare presents, but yet life does indeed roll out the trials, does hand out the tribulations, that most characters see in three hours, and often just when you feel you are rising the next trial, the next conflict, another stronger than the one before comes to attack. True life disguised as a picnic and revealed as the most perfect meal covered with ants.

The magic of this element, of life being presented in so much trial, so much tribulation, and yet to be dealt with in the most human ways that are apparent, and sometimes more valiant than others will deal with – it sinks into you.  No matter the number of storms Pericles faced, the number of deceitful and envious actions taken against him knowingly and unknowingly, the number of disappointments that broke his will, the perseverance towards something he did not know, the end result was absolutely astounding and could not go without notice to anyone as a spectator.  

Now true, much of this is in the pen of Shakespeare in this amazing Tempest-like tale and yet, MUCH more is in the heart and control of the actors and actresses involved.  The level of emotion that was brought forward to the stage, along with this impounding sense of doom, surprise, rise to glory, and return to a life-can-go-on possibility, could never, ever go on without the power of this cast.  Seeing the tears in their eyes and the amount of anguish that was brought to the stage, not only from the main characters but also from the supporting cast, it would be 100% impossible to pick out a specific actor/actress for achieving this, because for one of the first times, I never witnessed so much emotion that was channeled, reined in, bridled, then let go in the right places, the right moments, an in the right way.  

You take the tale of Odysseus, wrap it into the elements of The Fall of Troy, and end with the tale of a 12th Night finish with the most powerful enzymes you know of, and you come close to what this production does for its audience.  Out of a three year experience with all things Lunario, by far, this (hard to believe!) is the most powerful, influential, and moving production I have ever seen due to the acting, the emotion, the expertise, and of course, the content.  To have the experience and benefit of receiving this message, as well as imagining what it would be like to be in the audience at Stratford, as when those realizations hitting you so many years ago for the first time, that trip to Stratford, this experience with Pericles, priceless and no explanation can draw it out of you on how it makes you feel. 

In a larger frame, there are so many individuals that do not realize how lucky they are to go through something difficult, that opportunity there is there to make something better of themselves through that experience, and to what end they will walk away learning more about themself.  I will pout myself at number one on that list, and that is a whole other post.  The complaining, the gnashing, the biting life presents, that is real life.  That continues to exist from day-to-day. I often succumb to allowing myself to soak some of that in, and affect me, the actual complaining others do, seems often to soak into me and I allow it to affect me and then I come away with that very unattractive disposition.  It changes me, bogs me down, and creates an individual I often do not even recognize.  When away from that element, I slowly transform into someone else, and feel better as well, inside and out.  I build up my resistance to expecting that element, often seeing someone else complain and being able to put myself outside of that characteristic shocks me into realize I do not want to become like that, at all.  Whatever it takes, it is vital to surround yourself with the most positive of influences to avoid falling into that trap of change that threatens everything that surrounds you in life. This ultimately results in depression, lethargy, apathy, and a personality hat becomes unattractive to friends and everyone around you.

All of this from this very production of Pericles?  Absolutely.  When done right, thanks to the tools of an acting set, Shakespeare’s true message comes out loud and clear.  True as well, this particular production seems to be shared with other writers, and not solely Shakespeare.  However, even more so the reinforcing of what occurs when you combine talents and possibilities with like individuals.  Would I see this production again tonight, the last showing of Pericles?  Absolutely, it was THAT good.  Consider it, and consider the thoughts as you watch Pericles battle and brave what seems like unearthly trial after trial – you will find your impossible horizon of success as well.  Just give it time and find that chance to rise about every wave that comes your way, even when they come so close to drowning you.


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