Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Two inspiring things to share:
Jon Lester returning to the mound yesterday for the Red Sox after being diagnosed with cancer in his rookie season last year...

and this story from The Boston Globe
for full article go to http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2007/07/22 haitian_american_finds_her_inner_juliet/?page=full

Haitian-American finds her inner Juliet
By Ric Kahn, Globe Staff | July 22, 2007
Late next month, Kerlyne Cenafils is expected to join 719 other freshmen starting classes at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester. She will arrive as a woman changed, having been transformed by the fire walk of her final year at the Codman Academy Charter Public School in Dorchester: intense course load, senior social action project, hospital internship, women's basketball, the college-selection grind -- and, especially, the crucible of a demanding stage performance as the female lead in Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet."
Come this Friday night, Cenafils, 18, will be in the assistant director's chair as her former Codman schoolmates collaborate with their educational partners from the Huntington Theatre Company in putting on another of the Bard of Avon's plays, "A Midsummer Night's Dream," at the Calderwood Pavilion in the South End.
For Cenafils, it was her rendezvous with Shakespeare during last summer's Huntington-Codman creation of "Romeo and Juliet" that became a defining moment in the life of one young Haitian-American woman going forward into the unknown.
Even now, Cenafils is loath to wax wordy about herself. But her metamorphosis was revealed on her college application, when Cenafils was asked to describe an experience that encapsulated an aspect of her identity. She wrote:
I stare out the window as the #28 bus shifts over city street bumps and hazardous potholes. The lines "Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo," run through my head while I try to picture Juliet's sincerity as she reaches out to Romeo and yearns for his love and comfort. I bounce my right leg up and down against the shimmering concrete bus floor to the iambic pentameter of Juliet's lines, "Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love and I'll no longer be a Capulet." My attention is drawn to the constant motion of passengers around me. As I watch them, I wonder, what do they think of me? Who do they think I am and where do they think I am going? They'll probably think right away from my looks that I am a Haitian-American female. I think of all the negative stereotypes people hold against people of my nationality. How many times in my life have I heard Haitians being labeled as poor, uneducated, or destined to be unsuccessful? Too many. Maybe they think I'm like so many of the kids I know, wasting their summers working meaningless jobs, smoking, or selling drugs. I laugh when I think about it. We're riding through Mattapan, my home; one of Boston's most challenged communities. I don't think anyone knows that I'm on my way to the Boston Center for the Arts Calderwood Pavilion. I don't think anyone knows that tonight I will star as Juliet.
Growing up, friends say, Cenafils took the barbs from outsiders to heart, and let them slap around her self-esteem.
The ignoramuses told her that she lived in "Murder-pan," wore low-rent Payless sneakers instead of pricey name brands, and belonged to an ethnic group that was destitute, slated for dead-end jobs, and reeked of HBO -- Haitian Body Odor.
Those snubs, and the abrasive shorthand, "Oh, you're Haitian," sometimes pushed Cenafils to tears, says her longtime friend, Euphrate Louis, 19.
Meanwhile, pressures from her own community to rise above the lot of older immigrants sometimes made it feel like the weight of the Haitian diaspora was on her slender shoulders, friends say, further battering her sense of self.
In the spring of 2006, as summer approached, I decided that I wanted to do something that would really challenge me to overcome my fears -- particularly my fears of failure of being great, strong, and true to myself. It was with this goal that I auditioned for and accepted the role of Juliet in a Huntington Theatre Summer Acting Production. I had devoted my summer to this amazing project and now it was performance day. My director, Lynne Johnson, had helped me to push myself beyond my limits as an actor. She taught me how to make my lines sound natural and even romantic. I had entered the summer thinking that speaking powerfully and with strength of a character would be the most difficult thing. However, I came to realize that what was hardest was allowing myself to feel lovable and to be kissed on stage. Lynne helped me to both feel powerful and feel loved.
Cenafils had arrived at the audition looking for any bit part. She left with the challenge of slipping into the complex soul of Juliet.
Johnson saw an innocence in Cenafils, and was convinced that the teen could do it.
"Part of her charm is that she doesn't realize how beautiful she is," Johnson, the Huntington's associate director of education, says of Cenafils. The Huntington-Codman connection is in its seventh year.
Early on, says Johnson, Cenafils was stiff and uncomfortable during her interactions with Romeo. But it was through more than body language that Cenafils displayed her feelings that she was not worthy of giving her affections to another, complaining to Johnson that she wasn't romantic or enticing.
Johnson says she pulled Cenafils aside and told her, "Do you understand how beautiful you are, how attractive and loving a person you are? You're incredible."
During rehearsals, Johnson saw the changes in Cenafils, as she more easily melted into Romeo's arms, looked lovingly into his eyes, and tenderly received his kisses.
After her dramatic showing at the Calderwood, the audience responded with a standing ovation as Cenafils beamed with pride on stage.
Through acting in the play as Juliet, I was able to be heard and fight through the challenge of not being able to fully love and appreciate myself in addition to always doubting myself. This self doubt and lack of self love were [caused by] the stereotypes made against Haitians. I finally allowed myself to be loved and my director, Lynne Johnson, contributed to this remarkable outcome by teaching me how to bring these qualities out through my words and actions. I push the yellow tape as the bus approaches my stop on Tremont Street. I step off the bus and approach the theater. I push open the big glass doors. I am Juliet.
Offstage, friends say, they also saw the differences in Cenafils, post-Juliet.
She felt confident enough to forge a relationship with her first real boyfriend. She added a sense of playfulness to her intense public mien, teaching other budding thespians how to balance when to be silly and when to be serious. And when confronted by anti-Haitian remarks, says Louis, Cenafils was apt to brush them aside by saying, "I'm Haitian. Look what I've got going for myself." Now, when Cenafils rides the 28 bus out of Mattapan, she does so with a mental shield around her, she says, impervious to whatever psychic slings her fellow travelers may be aiming at her.
"I care less about what people think about me," she says.
Cenafils says she feels secure knowing she is a young Haitian woman striving for pure excellence over guilt-driven ambition, as she follows the road to becoming a doctor or lawyer or forensic scientist, hoping not just to make money, but to make a difference in this world.
"I want to be great," she says.

Lots of positive thoughts for the family of Brandon Mitchell, who died Saturday night in Worland, Wyoming. You were a great man Brandon. I loved talking to you about books and the Worland ways and feeling like a wallflower sometimes. I loved your house. I love Meghan and Eli and I'm thinking about you both. Brandon, I know that your spirit is big enough that you are going to love and hold and help Meghan to go on and to show Eli the kind of man his dad was-- even from up there somewhere. You are in a good place I trust. You will be missed by all who ever passed even a moment with you.

Also, positive thoughts for my mom, who's in the hospital with an appendectomy. A speedy and easy recovery so you can come play in California as planned!!

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