Pauline, day 7

May 20, 2014

Living in two worlds

One of the most interesting discoveries I've made during this process is that I'm identifying with certain aspects of Pauline Johnson's life. Specifically the double life she led.

In interviews (like this one...http://www.cbc.ca/nxnw/featured-story/2014/05/18/pauline-by-city-opera-vancouver/) Charles, Margaret and Rose-Ellen have all spoke to the fact that Pauline was a woman who had her feet planted in two different worlds. In speaking with the cast and the production team they all identify with this part of her on some level.

This has rang very true with me and my current life: being a mother and a working musician. I wear several hats right now: mother, wife, chef, administrator, opera singer, choral singer and housekeeper. During this rehearsal process I have been focused on singer/actress hat and the mom hat has needed to be ignored.

This week my son has had a total of four different people taking care of him, plus his dad.

Because my schedule has been rehearsing at night it was unusual for him for me to not be there for bed time. So he cried a lot. I stressed a little. And he slept eventually, I'm told.

Next week he'll be crying during the days while I rehearse during his nap times.

I can't think about this though unless I am on break...there is already too much to think about with music and staging.

Plus, I admit with guilt, I'm enjoying this freedom. I've not been able to spend this much time on my own in 13 months. I know most moms struggle with this feeling.

Pauline juggled several different parts of her life: the First Nation and the English of her parentage; her stage career and her publications; her public persona and her personal life. I can't imagine how Pauline balanced all of these things.

She moved seamlessly into British society when living in London. (Flint and Feather: Charlotte Grey) Then after moving to Vancouver she became the confidant and listener to many First Nation chiefs, and was able to adopt and re tell their stories dramatically and in publications: Legends of Vancouver.

I know most women straddle two (or more) worlds these days and somehow Pauline did this 100 years ago. So many years before the advent of email or smart phones, before maternity leave and human rights, before MILFS and yummy mommies.

I'm not saying that she had an easy time with her balancing act, I'm just saying that I admire her and her abilities to blend with whichever of her worlds as presented.

I endeavor to do the same.

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Cathleen Gingrich
www.cathleengingrich.com