Bracing from Buoyancy to Letdown


Last week, I rode a high brought on by the spectacular live performance of Jesus Christ Superstar that aired on NBC’s network on Easter Sunday, starring John Legend, Sara Bareilles, and Brandon Victor Dixon. I had never seen a production of JCS or listened to any of the soundtrack before, so this was an entirely new experience for me. Godspell I was familiar with, but I had never gotten to know JCS, although I knew of it.

All last week, the strains and melody of “Everything’s Alright” were the undercurrent of my days. I even found myself singing the first stanza of the song to a student who was nervous and stressed about a test they had in my class. All week, this musical—this story of Judas, Jesus, and deep, soul-searing humanity—buoyed me up and kept me afloat. The actors’ faces have shown up in my dreams. Their voices have filled my quiet moments, my heart and soul birthing prayers from the lyrics they breathe and belt.

Jesus Christ Superstar has been a Godsend of a soul lift, one that I have needed deeply and dearly. It has been a difficult few months, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I have felt heavy, off-center, not myself. Nothing has felt aligned—not my emotions, my prayers/time with God, my sleep, my libido, my energy, my reactions and responses, nothing. Often, all I want to do after a full day of teaching is hide in my room with my earbuds in and not speak or have to spend spoons on anyone. Of course, unfortunately, this means my family suffers from my lack of presence and being present. For weeks, it’s been this way, this off-centeredness, so to feel the buoyancy of this beautiful musical was nothing short of a miracle. As we head into a new week, though, I find myself fearing.

I fear the letdown. Buoyancy like this doesn’t last as the novelty becomes commonplace. I fear the shine falling off, the powerful lyrics becoming ordinary as I listen to them over and over. I fear that the off-centeredness returning, the heavy tiredness settling on my shoulders and sapping my spoons and energy. It is like the winter weather, which seems to refuse to let go as, morning after morning, now into April, I wake to snow on the ground where previously there was none. Like that unexpected snow, I silently worry that the low places will return, and I’ll crash back to earth again. That sudden stop hurts, like a lot.

This past weekend, as I embarked to the grocery store on my own (a rare thing), I kept my earbuds in as I did my shopping, humming and mouthing lyrics to JCS’s pieces, and there was a freedom there. A soaring amidst the mundane, and I realized how much I have missed it. I’ve missed feeling freedom. Freedom to be me and enjoy what brings me life and joy. Even though I am afraid that it won’t last, for now I will hold onto it. Hold onto that freedom, that soaring, those miracles amidst the mundane. I will keep on singing, sharing, and hoping that this is just the beginning of feeling like myself again.

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TV Show Review: The Paradise, Series 1


paradise_soundtrack_600Upon my husband suggestion, a few days ago, I embarked upon a new show: BBC’s The Paradise. Based upon Emile Zola’s novel The Ladies’ Paradise, it follows a young woman named Denise Lovett who comes to the big city to work in her uncle’s drapery shop. Unfortunately, business is so poor that he cannot offer her a wage. The singular shops along Tollgate Street – the draper (dressmaker), milliner, haberdasher, cobbler – are falling into ruin because of The Paradise, a great new department store which has opened in Tollgate street and is attracting all the customers.

Worried by the fact that her uncle cannot offer her a place, Denise is fortunate enough to spy a shop girl being evicted from the premises that very morning. She applies and is taken on as the newest shopgirl in Ladieswear at The Paradise. Denise Lovett proves more than equal to the task, even under the most imperious Miss Ashley, who rules over the department with an elegantly iron fist. Denise is talented and a visionary when it comes to selling clothing to upscale ladies, marketing, and getting the name of the Paradise into the ears of the populace. The most apt line for series 1, in my opinion, was this small statement: “I don’t want to marry Moray. I want to be him.” The passion for The Paradise has caught Denise as  soon as the story begins.

As we go, we meet the people who are the life and blood of The Paradise – Mr. John Moray, his partner Mr. Dudley, Pauline, Sam, Clara, Miss Audrey, Arthur, Mr. Jonas, and Mr. Lovett in his drapery shop across the street, along with Lord Glendenning (an upper class) and his grasping daughter Lady Katherine,with whom Mr. Moray is entangled from the first we see him.

As with all of BBC’s period dramas, The Paradise is sumptuously costumed and gorgeously set. The realm of Ladieswear and the glittering counters of The Paradise draw even me, a woman who has grown up in the normalcy of the department store. The gowns, gloves, and hats call to the Victorian woman that inhabits my soul, and she rejoices.  I am as of yet unsure how I feel about the end of series 1. It does end on a happy note, but with that sense that it is that burst of sunlight just before the storm clouds roll in.

Series 2 releases in late April so we shall see if my gut holds true.