Tuesday, July 11, 2017

All That Matters Now (Finding Neverland)

I've been a MASSIVE Peter Pan fan since I can remember. Disney, Mary Martin version, I loved this story. I actually have several memories of watching both of those versions. Once while my cousins spent the night, we watched it and kept jumping off the couch, trying to fly. I also clearly remember my sister asking our mother if the reason Wendy, Michael, and John couldn't fly anymore was because they washed the fairy dust off after their Saturday night bath.

True story.


Well, back in 2004, there was a little movie called Finding Neverland starring my favorite actress, Kate Winslet. I was really looking forward to seeing it when I came home from college for Christmas vacation. Well, things were a little busy that month I was home.

Reason? My grandmother died on the morning that finals started.

I was close to my grandmothers, and I'd lost them both within a year of each other (one on New Year's Day, the other on finals week). I was pretty wrecked, and it took me many years to fully move on from losing them both. In 2013, I visited my grandma Winnie's grave in Kansas when I drove through, and without expecting to, I started sobbing uncontrollably.

Anyway, back to Finding Neverland.

The morning of my grandmother's funeral, I sang a song during the service, and we said our goodbyes. After my family left (they were all from out of town), my then-best friend, Sam, called me. She was going to break her own rule and see a Kate Winslet movie (She doesn't like Kate. I should've known our friendship was doomed). She took me to see Finding Neverland, one of the saddest fairy stories known to man.

If you don't know, it's about JM Barrie's friendship with Sylvia Llewellyn-Davies and her sons. This friendship is the entire basis of what we now love as Peter Pan. *Spoilers* At the end of the film, Sylvia (Winslet) succumbs to a long illness and "Goes off to Neverland."


At that scene, I looked over and saw Sam sobbing more than I'd seen her cry in the eight years I'd known her. We were the only ones in the theater and she demanded to know why I wasn't crying, because I was the one who loved Kate Winslet.

"I spent all morning crying over my grandmother's real death. I'm not about to cry over Kate Winslet's fake one. I don't care how brilliant she was."

I've since rewatched the movie and have cried, but then a few years ago I learned they'd turned it into a musical. On a whim, I found the soundtrack on YouTube, and fell in love with one song in particular. "All That Matters Now," sung by Laura Michelle Kelly, who played Sylvia.

We're talking chills. Near sobbing. I need this sheet music so I can learn it and find something to audition for.

I just wanted to bring this song and Kelly's talent to your attention. It's pretty awesome.


It's coming to Omaha at the Orpheum this year, and I want to try to save money to go see it. It'd be absolutely amazing.


  • What's your favorite fairy tale?
  • Do you have a favorite musical?
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Monday, July 3, 2017

Everything I Needed to Learn About Life...

I didn't learn from High School.

Seriously. High school was the worst! Nothing in it prepared me for anything, except maybe Driver's Ed. That was extremely useful.

Never once have I needed to use algebra to figure out life's problems (I do realize if you go into engineering or medicine or something sciencey and technical, math is important. But I'm a writer).

I know more about English history than American history because of National History Day and PBS. My American History teacher bailed on us halfway through the year, and our sub (who tried to fail me and my History Day partner for working on our project AND doing class stuff at the same time) only showed War movies: All Quiet on the Western Front, Schindler's List, Pearl Harbor. Because no one took artistic license with those at all...


I even took a class that was supposed to prepare us for life outside of high school and still learned nothing of value, which is what I'm here to talk about.

In this class, Senior Survival, we learned to do taxes (though I still think those forms are impossible to understand, and thank God for the internet and easy walk-through filing), tie a tie (No husband, no boyfriend, no son to do this for. My dad's pretty much got that project nailed), and there was even part of the curriculum that said we had to go to someone who had our desired job and interview them.

Do you know how many novelists were in Council Bluffs, Iowa in 2004? Me either. And the internet was almost useless when trying to figure this out at the time. When I went to my teacher to get assistance, want to know what she said?

"No one really makes money writing books. You work at HyVee. Interview someone from there."

So, insulted, I did what any budding young writer did: I made up a writer, answered my own questions based on other interviews, and submitted my paper.

And I got an A.


When you go through high school, there are so many other students that teachers probably won't see your potential, even if you're tap dancing on their face (Don't actually do that. That is a felony).

All of these shows on TV about finding someone who recognizes who you are and what you want to do in life are absolute nonsense.

People's opinions of you don't matter. Sure, it might give us warm fuzzies (I still fondly think of former voice teacher who told me I could really have a singing career if I really wanted one), but what truly matters is if you can see potential in yourself and you just go for it.


Don't be afraid to step out on a limb. Know your value. Know what you want to bring to the world. If someone expects you to do one thing, but you know in your heart of hearts that it's not what you want, no one is forcing you to be that person.

  • What do you think they should teach in high school?
  • Did you have a "Watch me Shine" moment back then?
  • How about a "Told you so!" moment?

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