Friday, May 02, 2014

stories, snow queens, and marines: the power of family love

I came a little late to the Frozen party.

I don't do trends well. To me they're like roller coasters. With roller coasters, I want either to be smack in front of everyone else with my hands in the air and my hair flying like crazy, or I want to bounce along in the back watching everyone else act like idiots. 

When it comes to trends, I want to be ahead of the curve (alone) or bringing up the rear (alone - I suppose that is my trend).  If something seems uber cool and everyone is talking about it and singing it and creating personal parody videos of it, I tend to ignore it. At least until the the hubbub dies down. 

And that's why I finally sat down to watch Frozen... last weekend.

I liked it. It was good, but it didn't "wow" me like I expected. I think I actually dozed off during part of it.

That probably has less to do with the movie itself, and more to do with the fact that it was Friday night and I was tired from a crazy week of work/rehearsals and sleepy from a stomach full of crappy glutenous pizza.  

I'll watch it again when I'm more alert. But even while semi-comatose from wheat, I did manage to pick up on a couple of things I especially liked. 

One was that the movie broke the stereotypes we have come to expect in movies. You know, "girl has tragic situation, girl meets guy, girl falls in love immediately with guy, guy saves girl from tragic situation, guy takes girl away from family, the end." Blech.

And the second was that, while true love does save the day, the "true love" that saved everyone was Family love. 

Family love - even between family members who fight or are estranged - is a tenacious kind of love. No one can get under your skin like your family. No one can send you off your rocker or infuriate you faster. When you're not hugging them or ignoring them, you're wanting to wring their necks. 

But no one can redeem you, tolerate you, tickle you, comfort you, humor you, or rescue you like family, either. 

I work with a great group of people. Our project supports the Marine Corps, and several members of our team are former Leathernecks. Marines (and warfighters in general, can't ignore my Army/Navy/Air Force peeps) have a certain reputation. They're tough. They're ruthless. They're proud. They're determined. 

They are all those things. But they're also family. As family, they take care of their own. No man/woman left behind, that kind of thing. But that's not always as serious as you might imagine. As family, they also tease each other relentlessly and give each other nicknames like Cupcake and Marshmallow. Sometimes they even act a little goofy.

This weekend, I'm taking part in a live staged reading with 14 other local authors in a show called Listen To Your Mother. We all get to stand on stage and read our stories to an audience, together weaving a rich tapestry of how we see motherhood. We have become a family of our own, this little cast of 15. Which seems appropriate, because the essence of family starts with mother. 

I'm not very good at self promotion, so I really haven't talked much about my writing sideline at work. I don't get paid to do my personal writing and promoting at the office. Besides, inviting my co-workers to an after-hours event where I am standing on stage reading my own work and being vulnerable could backfire. After all, I have to work with these people! 

So Monday, one of my colleagues - a former Marine - asked me how my weekend was. I was exhausted - I had spent Sunday morning leading two different worship services at two different church campuses and Sunday afternoon rehearsing for two different shows. I didn't mention all of that, only that it was good but I was tired. 

"Well, I guess you are tired, since you had a really busy Sunday," he replied. 

I guess I looked surprised, because he followed that up with, "We're friends on Facebook, remember? I keep up with you and I know you had a crazy day yesterday. By the way, I'm coming to your reading next Sunday."

I protested. "You don't have to do that, you know." (I know, I'm an idiot at self-promotion. I'm also second-guessing my choice to friend co-workers on Facebook...) 

He got very serious. "Yes, I do. I want to. We're family, and family supports each other. Besides, I enjoy good theater and good stories" He looked at another colleague, also a former Marine. "And you and your wife need to join me. It'll be a great show and we need to support Cindi." 

I'm not sure the other guy was buying it. Still, it made me feel good to know that this dude, this former Leatherneck, was buying a ticket to a show called "Listen To Your Mother" because he wanted to support me and wanted to hear some good stories. I assured him he wouldn't be disappointed.

So lesson: don't fall for the stereotypical idea of a Marine. They can enjoy a good show and a good story as much as the next person, even if it's a love story. Even if it's a musical. Even if it's a cartoon. 

I caught this video today on Facebook (Thanks, Natalie.)  This was recorded by Bill Nuche, an active Marine living in Texas. The video is no longer on his Facebook page, thanks to one of his NCOs. But the video is out there for everyone to see now. And unlike some viral videos, this one will totally challenge your ideas of those big tough a good way. 

These guys enjoy a good show. They sing along with a good song, even one sung by a woman. And when the woman accepts who she is, becomes comfortable in her own skin and lets her hair down - literally and figuratively - they go nuts. 

These are the Marines I know. Loveable. Funny. Respectful. Outrageous. Fearless. 


I can't wait for our show on Sunday. 

To take the stage with my fellow writers. 

To read aloud our stories of love and heartbreak, of birth and loss, of hope and power. 

To receive the responses from the audience, the kind that start "I know exactly what you's like you read my mind!" 

To proudly perform with and for my family, whether they be related by blood or by craft or by work.

And to ride smack in the middle of this crazy roller coaster, surrounded by family and love. 

Now there's a trend I'll happily follow. 

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