The Designated Daughter

by Rick on October 18, 2019

The Designated Daughter comes to San Francisco. Get your tickets to one of the San Francisco shows here.

Here are some things people said about the New York show:

All About Solo:  The show’s strength lies in the line it walks between laugh‐out‑loud humor and a deep current of pain.  A funny line was delivered at the end of such terrible news that it was hard to know whether to laugh or suppress it. And that is, I think, precisely Ms. Podesta’s point. It takes a special writer to call forth laughter from the audience even in the face of death and illness and bad luck so horrendous it leaves an eerie quiet.

…Striking moments of poetry abound, as Ms. Podesta describes that her mother’s “hummingbird heart” keeps on beating. At another point, a powerful one‑liner lingers in the air: “I still can’t sit with her without being bored.” Joyful moments of transcendence rise up out of the pain.
…The ending of the play is truly arresting. The lights dim, and Ms. Podesta addresses the audience directly, in a dramatic, empathetic gesture. The effect is that we, too, are less alone.

Elyn Zimmerman: Making sense of the emotional and psychological rollercoaster that the death of someone close immerses us in is no easy task. And to write about it as perceptively, humorously (at times), and tenderly as Victoria did is an amazing accomplishment. Even more amazing was how sincere and evocative her performance was, and how professional.

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The Designated Daughter

by Rick on September 7, 2019

My mother in law, Marie, lived with us in our house for the last nine months of her life. It was a profound experience. It seems she needed to have a lot of conversations with her daughter, Victoria, before she died, but sometimes I was the audience. We both liked coffee, William Sonoma chocolate croissants and getting up early.

One of our breakfast conversations went like this: Read More…

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Is Your Child Falling Behind?

by Rick on August 23, 2019

Commenting on Diagnosis Can Blind Us to Leadership Opportunities, Iseult wrote about Feargal who did not speak until he was 4 1/2:

He obviously understood everything that went on around him; his hearing was checked and found to be fine. This was many years ago, before people jumped to look for a “spectrum” to tag onto a child. In the family, he was the fastidious one. He was the household alarm clock, and made tea and toast on for the family when they arose. He dressed in a bow tie for his first day of school. At the age of four-and-a-half, Feargal began to speak in full, correct, sentences. In retrospect, his parents took the view that as he always liked things to be ‘just so,’ he had decided not to speak until he knew he had mastered it. His parents never stressed him, or pushed him, they were confident he would come to himself in his own time

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Mary, the physical education teacher, sent Nina to my office for disrespectful behavior. The level of teacher frustration and the repeated offenses caused me to call the parents and ask them to come in so we could all talk.
When she heard that her parents were coming, Nina reacted as if this were the worst possible punishment I could give her. “Please, please, please, don’t talk to her,” Nina pleaded.

“You can’t seem to stop being disrespectful, and we have to get to the bottom of this,” I said. “I have to involve your parents.”

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You wouldn’t understand. You’re white
Just because I’m white doesn’t mean I don’t understand.

The two people who spoke these words were fourteen, 27 years ago. They were eighth graders at my school in Oakland, California, when the Rodney King verdict came down.

I was going through old documents, yesterday, and saw my article that the Montclarion had published in May of 1992. When I read the article again, I got a small burst of hope. Yes, the racism that has laced our country from its inception is still with us, and yet when I zoom out and look at where we have come since 1992, I see a road, and I see millions of people walking it. Read More…