Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Un-canon-y Connections

I haven't written in a long time, over a month.
Excuses: haven'thadtimebeentoobusyotherthingstakepriority, slowinternetconnectionatthespringer,
haven'twantedtowriteunlessitwastherightthing... you know.

But here I go. Consider the editor in my brain sufficiently silenced. Moving on.

At the Springer, part of the daily ritual of Academy is a movement exercise set to music called "Salutations." Academy people assign all kinds of meanings to the exercise, and at the sound of Pachelbel's Canon in D, these meanings and memories flood those of us who have been around for at least part of the last 13 years here.

It wasn't until the end of the first week of Academy that I made the connection between the movement exercise Salutations and the title of my blog, Sallyutations. Originally, I took the name from the Charlotte's Web dialogue, where Charlotte uses the word "Salutations" to describe her "fancy way of saying hello." I want my blog to be just that-- my slightly more formalized, sometimes more thought out way of saying hello. But now I wish I could figure out how to set my writing- your reading- to this meaningful piece of music. I could just imagine it now...

As you open your bookmarked pages (because I KNOW I'm bookmarked on your browser) and you come to Sallyutations, gentle music begins to play. You admire my chic yet classic blog design and wonder how I came to inhabit this balance of style and substance. You discover that I've written another post. "Yes! Wahoo! Hallelujah!" you exclaim to yourself, and you scroll down to enjoy the witty wise words. Just as you finish my last post with tears in your eyes, the music swells and you are struck with a deeper understanding of the world and your place in it. As the Canon ends, you return to your world, changed ever so slightly.

Ok, ok. Just entertain me. Smile and nod.

But the point of all of this is (and yes, I know you've been searching for it-- here it is!) that Ron describes Salutations as a way to acknowlege the present, honor the past, and salute the future. We go through the movement twice-- once to say goodbye to the day and the work that we have done, and once to say thank you to those that have come before us. That if we do our work here well, other people will come after us to embody the spirit of this place.
I don't think my blog is so different than that. It's a way of greeting the world, of drawing nearer to those I love who may be far away, and to saying "If I do this whole life thing well, then maybe people who come after me will appreciate what I've done to help pave their way."

So, sorry. No Pachelbel's Canon for you. You're welcome to imagine the music if you'd like.

Now go bookmark me.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

6 Signs of Sally the Senior

How I know I'm getting old:

1. Brad found a long hair growing under my chin yesterday while we were waiting in the Wal-Mart Pharmacy line. We were behind a man with slicked back white hair and his belt 2'' from his nipples checking out male enhancement drugs and in front of a couple discussing the pros and cons of their metallic blue walkers.

2. In considering job options, the benefits package almost outweighs the salary or job description.

3. This morning, Brad and I spent a few hours shopping for and preparing a veggie lasagna for a friend who's just come through surgery. It was a great Saturday morning. This differs greatly from Saturday mornings of yesteryear which included Scooby Doo, Dunkin Donuts, sleeping in, or Peach Little League.

4. I wake up on Saturdays without an alarm.

5. Seeing the UGA graduates taking pictures at the arch, having brunch with their parents, and walking downtown for one more beer at City Bar now makes me proud. It used to make me jealous and nostalgic at the same time.

6. I can't stay up past midnight.

When I did I grow up so fast?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Anniversary of an Almost Perfect Day

Lots has happened in the last weeks, but I'm not ready to blog about it yet. Still clotting.

This week, though, Brad and I celebrate the one-year anniversary of our engagement. I thought I'd post my story of that day to remember what an almost-perfect day it was.

AN ALMOST PERFECT DAY (written in May 2008)
Imagine this scene with me:
It was a breezy May afternoon in Nashville along the banks of Percy Priest Lake. The air was cool and the sun was warm, the sailboats drifted, and the geese glided. Kids splashed in the water, young men hunted catfish, and ducklings hurriedly paddled to stay behind mom. A picture of serenity, of perfection. Almost.

The situation of my relationship with Brad has never been quite perfect. We fell in love ten years after we really knew each other. We lived in different states. We had different goals for our lives. We had lost touch over those years, and though we were still friendly, we weren't really friends. My most vivid memory of him, which he still denies, is sitting at lunch our junior year, watching Brad suck off the remaining bits of meat from my fried chicken bones. Enchanting.

And then came last Spring. After months of laughing, crying, comforting, and getting through some of the hardest times of our lives by supporting each other, we had built a friendship. One day we realized that our lives would never again be complete without the friendship of the other.

And then came the Summer. One date led to another, led to months, led to thoughts for the future. Such a perfect relationship. Almost. Our time near each other was ending. In August, I moved back to Texas.

And over those months, many miles were traveled, many prayers were spoken, many reassurances were made. We learned to communicate, we learned to disagree, we learned that our lives were both individually and collectively important. But it was never quite perfect, and it certainly wasn't easy. But we plowed through.

Those months bring us to our opening scene on that breezy, lakeside day. Now this day was not perfect, either. I was still hobbling from a recently sprained ankle. We were in Nashville to find me a place to live in my not-so-perfect transition from Austin. But we were determined to enjoy this beautiful lake in the middle of the city. And so we walked-- I hobbled-- past the catfish hunters and the kid splashers. We watched the ducks and the ducklings and the drifting sailboat and settled onto a big rock to rest my ankle and enjoy the day. I wanted this day to be perfect, as my life was about to get really hectic. I wanted the serenity and the peace of just being with my Brad.

Sitting on the big rock, I reached for Brad's hand and fussed when he kept it balled in a fist. I started to bury my hand into his, and in one perfect movement, Brad slid down to one knee and opened that hand. With a perfect sentence heard through my simultaneous laughter and tears, Brad asked me to marry him. The perfect diamond ring sparkled in the perfect May sun, shimmering. Laughing and crying, I promised my life to him and accepted his perfect proposal. It was all so perfect and everything I always wanted-- the weather, the lake, the rock, the proposal. So perfect. Almost. Brad tried to put that perfect ring on my right hand, not my left! I told him he had the wrong hand, and he responded, "Well, I don't know how to do this! I've never done this before!"
And we laughed and hugged and cried and kissed.

And in that moment of Brad sliding the ring on the wrong hand, I realized. All of this time, I've wanted the perfect situation for our relationship. I wanted to be in the same city. I wanted to have known Brad for the past ten years. I wanted to be able to share our lives by living in the same city immediately. I wanted Brad to know which hand to put the ring on. But that's just not us. We've never had the perfect situation. And I believe that because of our non-perfection, we have achieved a friendship and love that has been tested and that will last.

Our perfection comes in the struggle, in the figuring out. In the adventure.

And I can't wait to seek that perfection, sprained ankle or not, ring on the right or left, for the rest of my life.

I love Brad Baker, and I'm going to marry him.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


This weekend, Brad, Jackson, and I had lunch with a few friends at the Cantina in downtown Columbus. We sat outside to enjoy the beautiful day and allowed Jackson, our now nearly 5-month old pup, to sit beside our table and snack on a few coveted ice cubes. Most of these friends had not met Jackson yet, and Brad and I shared stories of finding him in a Nashville shelter, his antics around the house, his recent trip to the dog park, and meeting his Uncle Buddy at Dad's house in Columbus. I shared how protective I feel of Jackson and how much I love our little doggy (which I admitted to be a little extreme at times), and I made this comment:

"I didn't think I was going to be one of those doggy moms, but I guess I am."

My friend Jens responded, "Well I guess you didn't consult your peers on that."

"Because my friends would have been able to tell me pre-pup that I would be one of those doggy moms?" I asked.

With a hint of the Kool-Aid Man's emphasis, Jens answered, "Oh yeah."

I didn't take Jens's comment as a criticism or an insult, but I was surprised with the certainty of his statement. He knew, without a doubt, what kind of doggy mom I would be-- a fact that had apparently not been nearly as clear to me initially.

I think there's something really interesting about this-- what our friends know about us that we can't always see ourselves. I consider myself a fairly reflective, self-aware person, but a good dose of friendtervention (or, friend intervention) may provide me with new levels of understanding of myself, my life, or my decisons. Now, I don't really know how a friendtervention might work... I'm certainly not keen on walking up to buddies and saying, "What do you think about my tendencies as a doggy mom... really?" That seems a little self-centered, even to the actor in me. But I do wonder about my responsibility as a friendtervention participant in others' lives. How often do I really speak what I believe instead of avoiding a hearty conversation? Why do I sometimes choose a surface-level reponse instead of sharing a more meaningful dialogue with friends and family?

I'm not suggesting that friendterventions are always the right/best/smartest choice, but I do think a healthy dose of non-surface reality in conversations can go a long way in deepening relationships and encouraging honesty. I don't know if my behavior as one of those doggy moms would have changed if I had consulted Jens pre-Jackson adoption, but at least I would have been prepared for occasional extreme bouts of puppy love.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


There's not much more I love in this world than birthdays.

I love planning parties, inviting people, having friends over to our house, cooking, giving gifts, surprises, and of course, cake.

This Friday is Brad's 29th birthday, and though many friends will be out of town for a retreat, I am really looking forward to sharing this celebration with people we care about (on Saturday around 6-- all are welcome!).

Growing up, birthdays were always a big deal in our family. In the kitchen, mom hung old, paper letters strung together by yarn that spelled "Happy Birthday". Every year we knew they were coming, but every year, I rushed to the kitchen on the morning of my birthday to see if they had appeared again. Mom insisted on baking a cake of our choice (chocolate on chocolate, thank you very much), customizing the dinner menu to the birthday kid's choice, and planning a special day to celebrate.

One of my favorite birthday memories stems from my 10th birthday: my birthday party that year was a dance in our basement with a 'real' DJ (one of my dad's college students who played some tapes over our stereo system). Being in 5th grade, the girls masked our deep desires to dance with an outer disgust at the idea of dancing. To solve this problem, mom made little slips of paper with pairs of things-- salt and pepper, ketchup and mustard, etc.-- and split the pairs among two different hats. Each girl drew a slip of paper, each boy drew from the other hat. Our job was to find our pair and dance with the assigned boy. I, of course, took matters in my own hands. I quickly learned that I could use my birthday-girl power to force other girls to give me their slip of paper, ensuring that I was dancing with ketchup, not pepper. I wonder if Andy Berli ever questioned why he kept drawing my pair over and over.
Also that year, screen printing on cakes was all the rage. My mom had my 4th grade, snaggletoothed school picture screenprinted on a sheet cake. I thought I was really something special until friends started estimating just how many pieces of cake my forehead took up.

I just don't understand those families that don't celebrate birthdays. It's the one day of the year that we allow ourselves to celebrate those who are most important in our lives. Birthdays are a big deal!

So, on Friday, please remember to wish Brad a happy birthday. He deserves one. He's the best man I know, and we should all show him thanks for being born!

Happy Birthday, BB!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The play's the thing.

When I was little, people often told me I was born as a thirty year old. Now that I'm almost thirty, I'm realizing how important it is to be young. These last few years, I've truly begun to understand the necessity of play in my life. I think that's why I continue to return to the arts again and again-- for their foundation in play.

When I was in graduate school, I wrote lit review after lit review about the cognitive, creative, and social effects of socio-dramatic play in non-arts classrooms (non-grad school translation: how essential imagination and extended periods of creativity are for learning in core subject areas). I built a thesis project around interactive play and cancer education. I co-taught session after session of professional development workshops with teachers who were trying to learn how to play in their classrooms again. Looking back, it's been the play-- the light-hearted, belly laughing, challenging kind of interaction with students, teachers, audiences, whomever-- that has kept me wanting more.

Today, I had the priveledge of working with my friend Becca in leading workshops for high schoolers in order to prepare them to see Macbeth later this week, produced by Rose of Athens Theatre. The workshops weren't particularly unique to things Becca and I had both taught before, but man! We had so much fun, and so did those high schoolers. Not only did we laugh, create secret handshakes, and die dramatic deaths, but I'm convinced that we also taught a difficult story to students and got them excited about seeing the show.

I wonder... did the 15th and 16th century audiences have pep rallies before performances? Because if they did, we did them justice today.

In this time of recentering and focusing in my life, Becca helped provide for me today something that I know for sure: I love to play. When work feels like play, it's not work.

The play's the thing.

Monday, March 23, 2009

No Excuses.

It's been almost 3 weeks since I wrote a blog. It's been a busy 3 weeks: I moved from Nashville to Athens, legally and officially became Sally Baker, almost finished unpacking and organizing the house, hosted several house guests, began training the pup, actually spent time with my husband, built and planted a flower bed in front of our house, started season 4 of The West Wing (possibly the best show ever made... 24 comes awfully close), started the job search, began doing some work for Rose of Athens Theatre here in Athens, lost 2 pounds, and missed my Nashville friends terribly.

But no excuses. I had time to write and I just didn't.

I'm continually intimidated by writing... wanting to pen something meaningful and poignant without being contracted by Hallmark for their Touching Hearts, Touching Lives line of greeting cards.

So, what's the topic of choice for this entry? If you know, please clue me in-- I am not sure myself.

I'll just say this-- though the current state of my life and my work often feels a little directionless... scattered... unfocused, I am blessed to wake up with Brad each day, spend some time thinking/praying/meditating on the real purpose for my life, slow down long enough to reflect on the experiences that have come before, and trust that my energy is not wasted.

It's also really nice to wake up at 9:00am each morning. I don't think I've ever done that in the history of me.

Perhaps the next weeks (and the next blog entries) will be blessed with a clearer direction. I certainly hope so, for all of our sake.