Day #3: Sweats at Work
Working for a state-funded university presents some series challenges, but I always knew that I wanted a job that would allow me to wear sweatpants. My uncomfortable summers at Ravinia moving minivan seats in a sundress informed me at an early age that dressing up every day isn’t for me. It’s come in especially handy this week while I’ve been commuting from an unrealistically far distance while I dog-sit for Mom. Getting up at 4 has zero perks, but when you change from PJ pants to socially acceptable PJ pants, it’s a little easier to swallow.
Chicago is a beautiful city. I love living there and calling it my home.
I’ve always said that I was meant to be a country girl, and my first week back in Gillette, Wyoming has pretty much sealed the deal. Drive-through liquor stores, rodeo, and the Camelot Pet Castle. What more could a girl want?!? But seriously, this place is strange, and beautiful, and random. It is simultaneously depressed and thriving, much like every other small American town.
Oh, you want to know what I’m doing here?
I would agree that Gillette, WY is not the ideal vacation destination, and I couldn’t be farther from on vacation. I’ve returned to my roots and am spending three weeks as part of the amazing staff of PAW (Performing Arts Workshop). I was extremely glad to leave children’s musical theatre when I did, and then almost immediately missed it. This job is hard, and not always as rewarding as one might hope, but you don’t always see the impact that you make as a dance teacher at a small community theatre.
The rehearsal room is intense, but the lives that some of these kids lead is far more so. Stories trickle down about kids who don’t have permanent residences, or kids who are resented and ignored by their parents. Our job is to create a relentless, realistic, professional atmosphere, not to provide recreational song and dance or all-day babysitting. Some of the kids are toughened by their home lives and thrive, and some fall apart in this program. But we tendu on, and, somehow, pull off a fully-produced musical in three weeks. THAT is a reward in and of itself.
Each day of the program is hard and presents both the kids and staff with new challenges to face, and then you leave the theatre each day greeted by this:
Yeah, if you saw that every day you’d want to move to Wyoming too…