Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Currituck County: Traveling, Parenting, Performing, Oh My!

The Foreman House in Elizabeth City, NC

This week I am in Currituck County, NC.  It is much colder than normal due to the lovely Polar Vortex that has decided to descend on the United States.  If you are in Buffalo, NY, you have my warm thoughts and good wishes.  If I could send all of you hot chocolate, I would.

I am staying at the Foreman House Bed and Breakfast, and it is the highlight of my trip.  Mel and Andy who run the B&B are wonderful.  Breakfast is plentiful and delicious - yeah, I'm looking at you apple pancakes - and the rooms are gorgeous and spacious.  If you find yourself in Elizabeth City, NC, you could do much much worse than staying here overnight.  I highly recommend it, and am already planning to bring the mister back here for a long, romantic weekend this coming summer.

First night I was here, Mel and Andy had a cocktail party with 'light' refreshments that were a whole dinner.  I normally have one glass of wine every few months, I had four in the last two days.

My daughter was in the Diary of Anne Frank last weekend as Anne Frank.  I missed the last show since I had to drive out here.

My son was in the Diary of Anne Frank last weekend as Mr. Kraler.  Did I mention I missed the last show?

My in-laws were at my house until Wednesday this week hanging out with my family, going to dinner, museums, and wandering around Durham.  They left on Wednesday morning, I left on Sunday afternoon.  They all seemed to have had a good time.  Wish I could have been there.

Antonio Rocha, a friend of mine I always enjoy seeing, is at my house for the entire week.  Apparently, he made dinner for my family last night...good thing, since I'm not there.  I left Sunday afternoon, he arrived Sunday evening.  He's leaving on Friday morning.  I'm returning on Friday evening.  

My son is putting together his first art portfolio for a big meeting with universities who are looking for visual arts students.  It is going to be attended by universities from all over the country.  He needs to get plastic protectors, a binder, labels for his work and who knows what else.  I asked my husband, "Does he have that stuff?"  My husband's response?  "I don't know."  

I'm three and a half hours from being able to deal with this any other way than on the phone or Skype.  Have I seen any of these pics?  No.  Have I seen the way the portfolio is laid out?  No.  Do I know if he's labeled anything?  No.  Am I going to know any of this?  No.  He leaves Friday morning for Washington DC, I don't get back until Friday afternoon.  

I kind of feel like driving the three hours home to put my hands on a few things, and then driving back here tomorrow morning for an 8:45 show, which means I'd have to be on the road at about 4:45am to be certain I'd make it to the first show on time.  Yeah, not happening.

Where, you might ask, is Currituck County?  Up by the border between Virginia and North Carolina.

What, you might ask, am I doing in Currituck County when all of those things are going on at my house?  I'll tell you.  Telling stories.  What else?

I have been doing three to four sets a day.  I've worked with Kindergarten through second grade where the administrators were shocked the kids sat so well, and still had so much fun.

I told with a ninth grade group who was fascinated by the idea that I was storyteller, and was much more comfortable with the idea that I was an author.  They loved the stories.

I told with a group of eleventh graders who lamented they couldn't follow me around the rest of the time  I was in the area, and hear all of the stories.  When I asked if they had questions they asked the exact same question that the little kids perpetually ask.  "Can we hear another story?"

I told with groups of sixth graders, fifth, fourth and third and in every set I had wonderful chances to engage with kids as we laughed, played, and taught each other.  

I bought great Christmas gifts at the Jenkins Art Gallery located in the Arts Center in downtown Elizabeth City.  

The Arts Center in Elizabeth City, NC

I stopped into a small, local pharmacy right next to the Arts Center, where the two elderly ladies who run the place greeted every single person who came in by name, and discussed the 'business of the area'.

"Hello, Charles, honey.  How you been?"
"Fine, just fine."
"Did they steal very much, whoever t'was who broke into the church?"
"Well, tell you the truth, we haven't noticed there was much missing."
"Well, I spect they just broke in there to get warm."

They launched into a great conversation about the local food bank, and how they really needed to get them more turkeys for Thanksgiving.

I wanted to get a chair and sit in the back of that store all afternoon and just listen!

I am having wonderful performances!  I am exhausted at the end of each day.  I have adventures as I wander about and  listen in on people's conversations.  I still want to manage what's going on in my home. 

Oh, and in the midst of this I have several non-fiction kind of important writing activities I have to attend neglected blog is one of those!

Being a traveling storyteller is very cool.  Being a traveling storyteller is very hard.  Being a traveling storyteller is very rewarding.  Being a traveling storyteller is a privilege.  Being a traveling storyteller sucks when you can't do everything you want to do.  I'm not superwoman.

Whenever I start thinking I'm going to rip my dreads out by the roots, I try to remember that what I do is important.  

It helps when I get letters like the one I received last week from the drama teacher at Baker Demonstration School in Evanston, Il.

Balancing the traveling, exhaustion, writing, telling, parenting by phone, and maintaining a marriage is important if you are going to do this work.  Don't let anybody tell you it is either easy or completely glamorous.  

Make no mistake.  Being a professional storyteller is hard work!

Happy Surviving!


  1. So well put, Donna. I love being a traveling storyteller. I hate being a traveling storyteller. I'm newly married, as of this past May, and my husband has had as many days with me near as he does with me traveling. And yet, in the midst of those times when I think "what am I doing?", I have a student who has heard me tell for 10 years, come to an evening program, now as a 10th graders, and recite stories I told the first time she ever heard me, or an 8th grade kid remember the stories I told her school in 3rd grade, or the parents that keep cycling around to the storytelling center more excited than the kids, or the.....Oops, I forgot, I LOVE being a traveling storyteller....and to my honey, thanks for being at home waiting to hear these stories. :)

    1. Preach! Congratulations again on your marriage. Being on the road is hard on married folks! The other day I had a kid tell me I looked like a fairy godmother. What other profession can you have where you are likely to encounter that kind of compliment? There is beauty and majesty in what we do. There are also sacrifices. We take the bad with the better and we keep on keeping on!