It’s been a minute since I posted last. We’ve stayed closer to home the last couple of summers and I have been dealing with health issues which make keeping up a blog less inviting as this hasn’t been a personal blog in the sense that I’m not interested in airing “dirty laundry” or “spilling the tea” on my personal story. But now seems like a good time to rethink what this blog is and will be as I move forward. I originally set up the blog to share travel adventures of myself, single mum, and my daughter. Usually this also includes my mum, Grammy. We all three live together and manage to co-habit without too much trauma, tears, or therapy bills. Yes, that’s right, we all live together, by choice. And no, I don’t use my mother as free childcare and we share the bills. We happen to enjoy each other and know how to live together as adults. I may seem strange to some that I didn’t somehow fail at life and went cowering to my mum to lick my wounds and live with her. We decided that we didn’t want to live alone and that sharing a house might be a good thing for all concerned. But that is really an aside to get to the fact that things are changing and we are about to embark on a new journey in life and no one wishes to be left behind.
So, with that said this year’s posts, or at least this academic year’s posts, or starting now and the posts following will take a turn in what they convey within the confines of this blog.
There may be a bit of travel, but mostly I’m going to be chronicling something a bit different. I’ll create a news category and figure out if there are features I can include to make it clear that this is not the normal travelog of the past. Things are happening, have been happening to make a big change for me and my family.
Okay, enough of the suspense. Here it is, with drumroll, please…
We’re heading to the UK for a year!
I have been accepted for a course of study in Shakespeare for the 2020/21 academic year at the University of Birmingham’s Shakespeare Institute. I will be participating in their MA course for Shakespeare and Creativity. Anyone that knows me even a little, knows I like me a bit of Shakespeare. Okay, it’s more than a little, but it doesn’t put me in the category of being like the neighborhood crazy cat lady, or the fella that collects Toby mugs, but Shakespeare stuff instead. I’ve enjoyed the works of Shakespeare since I was in grammar school and participated in an all school production of Twelfth Night. I was hooked. Mostly I worked on costumes as I played a lady-in-waiting to Elizabeth I and did a little dance during the interval so I had I lot of time on my hands. I was in 7th or 8th grade and knew how to sew when the high school costume crew head did not. I spent my afternoons re-aligning eye hooks and reattaching zippers, and cinching in waistbands on Slops (Breeches). It was great fun and another point in Shakespeare’s favor as far as I was concerned. And so a love of words, poetry, and theatre was planted and nurtured along the way.
As a teacher I loved nothing more than to delve into the works of Shakespeare and help students navigate through the text and unpack the language and action of the work being studied. In grad school a took a Teaching Shakespeare course. It was a bit unsatisfying as there was so much reliance on the easy way through/around Shakespeare. Shakespeare has to be watched to be fully enjoyed of remotely understood. For awhile I bought into that. I passed out the Shakespearean Insults and had fun with those, I pulled out the VHS tapes of the play we were reading, and did all the “trick up your sleeve” things that I was taught, but…. But I also felt like they could handle the words, handle being meaning makers with the text.
My last year I taught full-time I had students choose one of four scenes from the play we had studied. They would take a scene and do all the things one would have to do if it were a full production. They would choose the director, choose someone to design costumes, someone for set, someone for stage manager, and so on and create a prompt book and film the scene. It was fantastic. Four groups, four totally different settings and approaches, and rationales that were thoughtful and well developed. I’ve worked with theatre groups with less of a rationale for their productions. Allowing creativity and allowing the words to become their own really helped them become meaning makers which gave them power – power from words of a writer in a different era and yet still speaks profoundly to a modern audience, a modern classroom of students. I love that.
So for years I’ve wanted to explore Shakespeare more deeply but haven’t been able to figure out how or when. It’s been a dream for so long it’s gathered so much dust its hardly felt like one that would ever come to be achieved. Sometimes in life a dream has to be put up high on a shelf out of reach. Okay, let’s face it, more likely than not dreams get lost on the shelf behind the demands of life and the need to pay bills. Sometimes the dream just sits there gathering dust until it disappears completely. Sometimes the dream sits back there looking for all the world as if it will never come to pass, but it still gets looked at from time-to-time and held dear in the secret heart. And then sometimes, for the dream set aside, the dream gets taken down off the shelf, dusted off, re-examined, and finally nurtured into reality. For me, that time is now for one particular dream.
I’m excited and terrified start this part of my journey. I’m not just out of college and I’ve been out of academic circles for more years than I care to name. But it’s time. And my daughter reminds me that it’s my turn to care for me and let her do this for me so we can go do this as a family, as hard as it will be to leave out support systems behind. And so we go. I am so grateful that that my daughter’s father sees value in her coming along for this and is helping to make it happen. I know the sacrifice it will be to only see her a few times during the school year before summer holidays. I know that it won’t be easy missing out on her first year of high school. But I am thankful. And, of course, mum won’t be left at home! So we all go. There will be much to share over the coming weeks. But for now, I hope you can share in our delight as we plan for a year away from our normal routines and lives to step out into the unknown. I hope you will join us in this vicarious manner.