Wedding Belles

We’re sitting at her kitchen table in the house she’s grown up in, Laura and I.  It’s the morning of her wedding, she’s been up since 3 AM, and we’re waiting for the hairdresser to come.  Laura’s already double-checked everything in her mental to-do list, her mom’s already left to set up the reception hall, and it’s just me and her in the kitchen.  (And her dad and brother getting her dress ready to bring later).

“I just don’t really know what to do right now, you know?” Laura says.  “It’s like, once the hairdresser comes, we’re just going to go for the rest of the day.  But this waiting…”

“Yeah.  I know what you mean.”

The summer so far has been waiting.  Waiting to move forward with China, waiting for the wedding day to come.  Waiting to feel like a functioning adult.  In the moments before something big happens, I feel helpless.  What can you do? I usually twitch, looking around for something to make me seem useful.  

Not today, though.  On Laura’s wedding day, we sat still for that moment in her childhood home, breathing in the silent air.  I take it for granted how much the bride must do for the wedding.  Not only was Laura thinking about packing up for the honeymoon, but also to move out of her childhood home into an apartment with Ryan once they got settled and de-stressed from the wedding itself.  Her house hummed and we sat, enjoying the wait.

Laura’s right, though: once the hairdressers came in, we really just went.  I left to get my own hair done by my mom, pack up my things (a maid of honor MUST be prepared for any and all emergencies!) and make up a CD to play my and Laura’s special song (“Once Upon a Dream” from Sleeping Beauty).  

Memories from the day come in snapshots.  Mom gives me a backrub so I can turn my head decently enough for the photos.  Mom’s winding my hair into a downright citadel of curls as I tear up, thinking that Laura’s doing the same just a few miles away.  I’m cramming a sandwich into my mouth as Laura comes in to show off her hair.  We’re driving to Hastings.  We stop to look at the waterfall–another calm before the storm.  

Then suddenly I’m tying her shoes and her mother’s zipping up her dress.  I’m putting her veil on.  Somehow, none of it sinks in.  Not yet.  It’s playing dress-up, that’s all.  My mind will process nothing more.  Then I’m dressing, thinking of Laura revealing her dress to Ryan in the garden for the first time.  Then, I and the other bridesmaids are grabbing flowers and heading out to get pictures taken.  We’re told to smile like a princess as Amira, the flower girl, smiles wide.  Ryan stumbles on the steps as we pose with sass. Then it’s all over and we have to go back to the rooms to prepare to walk in.  We’re standing in our heels, trying not to look at the clock too much.  Then we’re standing at the back of the church, about to walk in.  

Suddenly, I’m at the front, stupidly nervous about fluffing Laura’s train (something I didn’t pester her about earlier, assuming she had enough to think about).  What if I didn’t fluff enough and it looked bad?  What if it was too much and everyone saw up her dress?  What if I did it at the wrong time and everyone thought I was really dumb or something?  What if I ruined the entire wedding?

Then, the doors opened, Laura walked down the aisle, and none of the stupid questions mattered.  

Stunning.  My friend Laura, the one I used to eat entire pies with, the one I’d stay up until 6 AM writing comics with the one who goads me to do the silliest things, the one who said it would take an awful lot to tear us apart, the one who’s stuck with me, even when I’ve been horribly unpleasant to be around.  Laura.  Getting married.

Time paused for a moment as she walked down the aisle, her dad practically glowing from carrying her on his arm.  She gave him a hug.  My breath caught.  Then, he took off her veil, gave her to Ryan, and they went to the front.

I had the best (well, 2nd-best) view.  I knew what Laura’s face would be like–we’ve known each other for a long time.  I don’t know Ryan as well.  But to see the excitement and pure joy lighting up his face as he looked at no one but his now-wife was really comforting for me.  Because no matter what happens in their married life, I’m glad to know that I got to see the Ryan that would do anything for her.

Then time sped up again and suddenly we were taking more pictures.  Then we were preparing to enter the reception hall.  We were supposed to do a special entrance (surprise!) but I had Davey, who is an excellent dancer.  So I got dipped.  Then Laura and Ryan had their first dance.  They cut the cake.  We ate.  

Then the rest of the night was a blur of dancing, laughter and singing loudly to songs I sort of knew.  I polka’d with mom, did the Charleston when no one was on the floor.  I waltzed with Laura, did the Lindy-hop with Davey, hopped around with Kari, wiggled and twirled with Laura and contemplated how to best attack the cupcakes when no one was looking.  When taking pictures, my smile was starting to feel like a grimace.  But there, in the service, on the dance floor, waving Laura and Ryan goodbye for their honeymoon, it was genuine.  

I used to fear that Laura getting married would mean the end of things for our friendship.  Things wouldn’t be the same.  I wouldn’t get to spend time with her, or would have to clear it first.  But then I realized that it doesn’t have to be that way.  True, things will change.  They should!  Marriage means that the rules are different: friends can’t just pop in and steal couple time away anymore.  Things will be different.  But it’s not a bad different.  Laura and I will still bellow Disney songs to each other and text each other when we see weird funny things.  Her name will change.  But that’s a good different, too.  

I don’t know when it will sink in that Laura’s is actually-factually married to Ryan.  I still feel like we just went to a really really nice party and that Ryan and Laura are still engaged.  True, my hair is still in the curl citadel, but it doesn’t signify much right now.  

All I know is that Laura and Ryan are very happy.  And that’s enough for me.


Training without training wheels

My grandpa and I looked down from the top of the Giant’s Ridge “Bunny Hill,” which I’d thought was shaped like a bunny until I realized that it was just a really short, steep hill for kids.  I’d never been skiing before and tottered in the uncertainty of slipping and sliding forward in the snow.  

Grandpa was going to teach me how to ski.

I waited at the top of the hill for the skiing knowledge to seep in.  The hill looked steeper and steeper the longer I stared at it, the slick snow warping and twisting until it sort of did resemble a bunny.  There wasn’t a dignified way out of it.  I had to go down.

“Okay, Hannah, are you ready?” my grandpa asked.

I didn’t really get a chance to respond.  Instead, I felt the heavy shove against my back as my grandpa pushed me down the bunny hill.  I didn’t know how to steer, stop or really do anything except scream.  All I remember from the trip down is a blur of white, panic, then begging grandma to come get me once I got to the bottom.  Grandma came, we went shopping, and it was a long time before I wanted to ski again.

My family likes to joke about that day.  It is pretty funny.  Especially since I know that my grandpa was just so excited to have another skiing buddy.  But I think grandpa might have been onto something, too.

I’m not usually known as the brave one.  More often than not, I go with what makes sense and is readily available to me, which means that I’m not the leader, and when left to my own devices, can shrink back from a challenge.  When I know something hard’s coming, I do my best to prepare so much that it ought to come mechanically.  So, if I was by myself on that bunny hill, I would not have gone down, guaranteed.

But from working in the Puppet Wagon for over a week now, I’m starting to see the logic of learning by doing.  We weren’t given a lot of formal training: we learned how to drive a trailer briefly, then sat down and wrote a script before even seeing previous shows.  Then, we performed.  

And it was hard.

I tell people that everything that could have gone wrong that first week did, and there were times when I’d think of how great it would be for the summer to be over.  The wind was against us, and it nearly shifted the curtain open.  The sound system didn’t work.  A puppeteer had to go home for one of the performances, leaving me and the remaining one to frantically cut parts and panic as kids waited.   There were even the dissenters in the crowd telling us that NO they were not having fun and NO they didn’t want to sing a song.

But then we get to this week, where I don’t even have to think when the wind picks up and instead stuff the corners into the crease.  Or when the sound doesn’t work, I’m okay with yelling.  Stephanie and I have gotten very good at making things up on the spot, which is something that would have been unheard of on our first day.  We can think on our own now, and it’s a wonderful feeling when someone’s not telling you what you need to do.  You just do it.  Our training was in the shark-tank.  But, boy, do we know how to swim now.

I’m sorry to my grandpa that it took me this long to figure it out, but I’m glad I eventually got there.  I can safely say that that first push is sometimes all it takes to get going.  And, on the way down, that’s when you figure out what it takes not to fall.  


Playing pretend

“I’m sooo strong!”

“Oh, really?  Flex your muscles for me.  Go ‘Grrrrrr’!”


“Wow, you ARE really strong.  Are you a dinosaur?”

“No, dinosaurs don’t exist anymore.”

The kids press up against the black metal tire cover on the wagon, patting my shoulder to tell me something else they know: their age, how to count to 10, what ‘carnivore’ means.  One girl has a necklace with a butterfly on it that she made herself.  She sways back and forth with her hands flapping like a butterfly and tells me that she loves Sparky, the dog puppet we brought back.

“We’ll be sure to tell him.  He loves you, too.”

“You don’t need to tell him.  I know you put him on your hand and you make him talk.”

“What?” I try to act shocked.  “He’s real, you silly goose!  He’s just sleeping, that’s all.”

She nods, but I can tell she’s not convinced.  She, along with the other kids thirst for knowledge, and are more than eager to learn and share it with everyone else.  It brightens my day to see this.  But at the same time, the facts are already diminishing the magic of a hand inside a doll.  She tells me she saw a hand one time when a puppeteer held the puppet up too high.  I wonder what will be next for her: staying up late enough to see her parents filling the stockings on Christmas, finding out that eating carrots won’t help you think like a rabbit, seeing her mother’s fingers underneath her pillow when she loses a tooth.  A kid is more observant than we give them credit for.

Kids inherit the magic their parents pass down: the ability to take a swath of fabric and make a friend out of them, or to create a game out of an empty box.  They still know how to pick up a stick and pretend it’s a sword or wand.  But I know that it can’t last forever, and a part of me wonders when the curiosity to figure out what’s REALLY going on kicks in.  It’s a little sad for me, seeing the doors of imagination close.  Because then, a cloud is just a cloud, and the rain falling on the roof isn’t a collection of tiny tap-dancers.

I want to play in the land of Make Believe, but it gets harder the more defined our world gets.  Every day, I try to close my eyes and imagine, not what I’ll see when I open them again, but what I don’t see, and what I could if I wanted to see it.  I want the world to be magical.  So when I close my eyes, I paint the impossible.  Because through that, anything becomes possible.  Through reality, we see the un-reality of the world, and even if it can’t be written down the same way in a science textbook, it speaks to us for reasons we can’t articulate.  The un-real becomes very much real.  And because of that, we dream once again.

I climb into the wagon, the show being about three minutes from starting.  The kids are chanting “puppets, puppets, puppets” to get the show started.  Stephanie tries to explain that we can’t yet.  The kids ask the puppeteers to hurry up.  I think again of the girl who saw the hand inside the puppet.  She shouldn’t disbelieve, not yet.  So I pull out my mic and start snoring into it.  The crowd of kids hush.

“Do you hear that?” Stephanie asks.  “They’re snoring!  The puppets are snoring!  We’ll have to wake them up, okay?”

As they do the dance to wake up the puppets, I feel good.  Even if the magic won’t last forever, it’s nice to know that, for twenty minutes, a crowd of kids can suspend their disbelief, close their eyes, and see the impossible when they open them again.

Fight or Flight

I never know what to do with the phrase “fight or flight.”  “Flight” always sounds a little weak.  I’d rather be the one who saves everyone in a Buffy the Vampire Slayer-worthy display of physical prowess than the guy running screaming out the door.

But then there’s “fight,” which sounds so blindly aggressive.  It’s like if someone said that the sky was falling and then subsequently pulled out a slingshot and started shooting at clouds.  It just doesn’t work and frankly tends to complicate situations.

Then there’s the shame I personally feel every time I say “well, it depends on the situation,” because it always feels like a cop-out, even if it’s 100% true.  Someone wants to know if I’m a good person.  “Well, it depends on the situation.”  How about if I’m a competent worker?  Or friendly?  “Depends on the situation” doesn’t quite communicate the sum of me that gets increasingly important the less time people spend on introductions.

Like those questionnaires, asking if I’m a leader or a follower.  If I’m being honest, it can be stressful being a leader.  So, I like to follow.  Then again, it can be annoying being told what to do all the time, so I like to lead.  But if I answer these questionnaires with a series of “depends on the situation” or middle-ground responses, then I either look like I’m being lazy with the questionnaire, or that I’m just a soggy piece of toast draped over more dynamic entities.

They never stop asking: in stressful situations, do I fight, or do I flight?

Seems like a basic question, but it’s not.  Because what the question seems to be asking me is based off of my merit as a functioning person.  “Flight” isn’t the response of wimpy people: sometimes it’s a person being smart enough to notice the reality of a situation they’re in and get out before it gets bad.  “Fight” isn’t necessarily the knee-jerk reaction to take arms, but rather the potential to stand up for something really difficult when the time comes.  It could be spun either way, and that bugs me.

Kind of like introverts and extroverts.  We’re in a culture that embraces extroverts and tells introverts to “get out more” and make friends or something.  We also have a gross misinterpretation of what an introvert even means.  We think it means that someone is horribly shy, when it really means that one draws strength from solitude, or in situations involving less people.  Extrovert doesn’t mean the really loud person, just the person that draws strength from the company of others.  And, yet again, I find myself in the middle, the grey area.

“Depends on the situation,” if you will.

I can be loud, brash, brave, what have you.  But I can also be awkward, shy, tongue-tied, a loner, and fluttering like a moth in a party setting.  It depends on the situation, but somehow this isn’t okay.

What would we do in a world full of leaders?  We’d have people butting heads all the time, microcosms of war breaking out over something as trivial as “what are we going to do tonight?”  Congress would shut down, every representitive believing that they and only they had the proper knowledge to lead the country out of war, deficit, inequality, and everything else.  The presidential race would be downright impossible.

Then, think about a world full of followers.  Nothing would get done.  Ever.  Not because the people would procrastinate to the point of obscenity, but because they’d be waiting for the voice of decision to come in and say, with full confidence, that THIS is what we’re going to do.  Without that, it’s just crowds of people looking worried and unsure about every situation.  Basically, it would be like never-ending middle school, which I think no one is keen on having.

We live in a world of gray area as vast and precious as the grey matter in the brain.  We don’t know precisely what happens in the in-between places, but that it’s something so wonderfully crucial that to take it away is to deny a piece of ourselves.  It’s downright ignorant to say otherwise, that the world is comprised of “this or that,” as if the Aristotelian black-and-white values applied to the entire world at large.  The world is a map of not-quites: not-quite here, not-quite there, not-quite what anyone else would fully understand until they’ve been there.  This is the world we live in, and we’re not-quite alone in inhabiting it.

So, when we think about “fight or flight,” “introvert or extrovert,” “leader or follower,” I think saying “it depends on the situation” is quite valid.  For instance, I had to direct the puppet wagon today because Steve was a little shaken from an incident with gasoline forced our other puppeteer to go home to take a shower.  Did I stop to ponder if this ran counter to my general sense of self?  No!  I grabbed the map, turned on the ignition, and drove off to the park, telling Steve which parts we had to cut to successfully run a two-person show written for three people.  When I was asked in a debate to answer a relatively straightforward question, did I instantly know the answer and leap forward to dazzle the spectators?  No!  I fumbled over my words, turned to other members for help, and made up for it later with other responses.

What I’m saying is that it would be ridiculous to assume that one response someone has to a given situation applies to all situations all the time.  It’s a crime to say that, because this person believed X at one point, they still do and will continue to do so forever.  People are ever-evolving, ever-shifting life forms that continuously adapt to given environments.  They are a collection of question marks.  They are the exclamation point to their own lives.  Most of all, they are what matters in the gray matter that drives and defines the world we live in.

I would encourage people to take the time to consider the possibility and validity of gray area.  Not everyone can fall into extremes.  In fact, most people do not.  So, we therefore need to think hard about how we want to describe the world we live in.  Because that, above all things, depends on the situation.

I talk with my hands

Rule number one of the Puppet Wagon: don’t let the children hear the panic in your voice.  Rule number two: START PANICKING!

I’ve been told what the first day of teaching is like, and I think I ran that gauntlet today, my first day in the Puppet Wagon.  As I hopped into the City of Lakeville truck and we rode around in circles trying to find the first park, I thought about what at all this experience would contribute to my time teaching college-level students in Hangzhou, China.  I’d always joked with my friends that it was literally the opposite thing that would be useful for that transition, and we’d laugh, knowing that I’d have a good time nontheless.  

I’ve thought about teaching.  Mostly, I’ve thought about all the potential failures of trying to assert authority or communicate lessons.  One of the former teachers I talked to told me “Some of your lessons are going to suck.  That’s just what’s going to happen.  You figure out pretty quickly what works and what doesn’t.”  Little did I know that there would be no better teacher than a pile of puppets.  

“Okay, seriously, where is this park?”

“There!  It’s right there!  Turn right there!”

“What? Where?”

“Oh, sorry, should have said ‘left.'”

We only had about 15 minutes until the show when we arrived, and a lot more to do than we would have liked.  We hadn’t run through the script with puppets yet, we needed to change the sign, pull-start the generator, test our mikes, decide WHICH puppets we were going to use, and get everything set up.

Rule number one.  Don’t let the panic show.

Last year, the puppeteers used a dog puppet named “Sparky” to get the kids excited about the show.  The show started with the dog peeking out of the window, a puppeteer outside talking to it, and lots and lots of puns and songs.  Then, they would do this routine called “checking the mailbox,” which is a tradition of children writing the puppets messages and sticking them in the mailbox outside the house-shaped wagon.  

This year, we decided to shake things up a bit.  Sparky would be no more.  Instead, it would be “Bernie,” a blue puppet with an oblong head.  We’d introduce a note from Sparky saying he’d found a new puppet family and might come back to visit sometime. So we took the curtain with his name on it, ripped off the letters and let it hang there with the flowers in the background, like a skeleton hanging in the gallows.  A bit brutal, now that I think about it.  

But then we quickly learned rule number three: kids like predictability.  

All of the letters in the mailbox were addressed to Sparky, and the kids were really upset that the dog wasn’t there.  Not only that, but without rehearsal, the first show was full of quick puppet-changes, dead silence, and voices blending together.  At one point, the puppet on my hand almost flew off into the audience.  The cotton was slipping along my skin as my character “Pinky” sang “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” faster and faster.  I had a horrible vision of an empty puppet carcass landing in a child’s lap, but luckily that didn’t happen.

I thought I heard a child yell out “You FAILED!” and was ready to hang my head in shame, but they were only saying “You have MAIL!”  We hastily promised to check it next week, played Hot Potato with them, and drove away.

That’s when the wind started to pick up.  

It wasn’t so bad for the show at North Park.  The kids danced, called out to wake the puppets up and even returned a fallen prop into a puppet’s mouth.  They were excited, so we were excited, thinking that we were getting the hang of it.

We figured that the last park would be a breeze.  It was, I guess.  The wind was blowing the curtain so far back, the kids could have seen everything.  Inside the wagon, all of the puppets are hanging there, lifeless, on a series of hooks in the walls.  Some of their mouths are hanging open, some of them are dangling upside down and some are even missing eyes.  In other words, it really looks like a puppet massacre.  So our #1 priority is to keep kids from seeing that.  

We pressed our forearms into the wood to keep the curtain down, our other hands gesturing wildly as we tapped our mics to see if ANY sound was coming out.  And the kids were still wailing about Sparky being gone.  

“Sparky will be back next week,” we said, desperately hoping to placate the audience.  Already, rule number 2 was blaring in my head, a giant red PANIC PANIC PANIC! banner scrolling in front of my eyes. 

I, with my face mashed against the curtain as my mic failed, as both of my hands were occupied by puppets, as the script blew around the wagon, sputtered out nonsensical words to entertain the children.  A mother came up to the side to tell us that the speakers were off.  We know!, I wanted to yell.  Stephanie was trying to fiddle with the stereo with her one hand that wasn’t attached to a puppet, Steve and I trying to keep the curtain down.  Kids didn’t want to sing, or couldn’t hear when I asked.  

Then it was over, we were playing “Simon Says” with the kids, and we drove back to Maintenance to clean up.

In a weird sort of way, this next step of mine–right into the Puppet Wagon curtain, makes sense.  Because you do learn quite quickly which bits work the best, which ones are doomed to fail, which things you really have no control over and can only go with when they crop up.  And that’s kind of what my life is like right now.  I can predict what next year, or even next week will be like, but it’ll only ever crop up, and I will deal with it as best as possible–making sure not to let the panic show as I do.  Because no one can actually be in control of their lives (at least, the outside forces that work upon them every day).  All we can control is how we respond to them, and whether or not we will let them knock us over.  In a classroom, this might be an unresponsive group of people.  Or, a fire could break out and knock a tank full of Pit Vipers over.  There’s no predicting it.  So you might as well go with what makes sense through the panic.  

And for now, I think that’s puppets.

Puppet Wagons, ho!

Puppets are in all likelihood the creepiest thing you can ever see amassed in a pile in a box.  They look worse than something you’d call dead, since they still smile at you (though some are lacking eyes) and look as though they could give you a hug.  That is, if you want one.

I and my fellow puppeteers reached into the box, Steven immediately trying on different voices.  We quickly established that the puppet with the bow was going to be Mexican, and that we would incorporate the Grandma character no matter what it took.  And the rest of the puppets, well, they just sprawled all over the counter like a sack of potatoes no one wanted to claim.  

Then, we sat in front of the computer to write the script.  Three seconds in, we realized that none of us actually knew what we were doing.  

“Wouldn’t it be funny if there was this guy swimming around pretending to be Jaws?”

“Five year olds.  Remember?”

“Duhhh-dun!  Duh-Dun!”

“Five year olds.”

That’s going to be the challenge for all of us, really: making sure it’s humor than five year olds will love.  I’ve only ever seen one show done by the Lakeville Puppet Wagon, which was cute, though not all-instructive in terms of any kind of guideline.  Our first script is about going to the beach.  There will be sandcastle-competitions.  There might be swimming lessons.  Who knows?  We might add Jaws just to fill some time.  

All I know is that I might be grossly unprepared to slap on some silly voices.  I used to read “Artemis Fowl” to my dad and make voices for each of the characters, but since being in speech, have since lost the spark for silliness.  It’s coming back, but in very ill-timed ways, like giving our cat a Jeff Bridges style narration, or my sister a nurse voice for when she realizes she has been trying to find a dead person’s pulse (something that has only happened in my imagination, I think).

So this is what the Career Center hasn’t told us about, I thought as I tried to think of which puppet I wouldn’t mind trying to embody for an entire week.  Well, it beats sitting in rush-hour for a job I hate.

Plus, there’s always China to consider.

I’m oscillating between several different worlds right now.  One, the student eager to engulf as many lessons as possible with the time she has.  Another, the driftless girl who decided that this summer would be the last chance to be a puppeteer before it got weird.  Another, the girl preparing to be a teacher for what was, until recently, her peers.  They say you wear many hats.  Maybe if I recruit some puppets into the mix, I can wear as many as I like.

Not two hours before staring at the box of lifeless puppets, I was in Bloomington talking to a former teacher at Zhejiang Sci-Tech University, whose house was filled to the brim with tapestries, paintings, teapot sets, rug cozies as prizes, newspaper clippings and ANYTHING from her time in China.  She told me about how much the students would love me and how she might be a little more than envious of me for going there because she misses the food.  

“Within a day, you’ll know you’re in a completely different place.  You’ll love it there.”

The more she talked about “there,” the more I realized that “there” was exactly where I wanted to be.  True, there are mundane things like “don’t drink the tap water” and “don’t serve anything in fours” (the Chinese word for 4 四, sounds very similar to the word for death 死), but even the mundane things got my heart racing.  We talked about classroom ettiquette, lesson-planning, being in China, traveling, packing, eating, making friends…really just about anything I could have wanted to know.  

“Don’t worry.  They’ll take care of you, I promise.”

Not only that, she told me with strong fervor to do EVERYTHING.  She said the school sometimes does outings and wants foreign teachers to tag along.  True, it’s a tactic to show how worldly the school is, but she said that it’s also a great way to get out there and do some things you might not have been able to otherwise.

Uh, I’m in.

Eventually, she had to kick me out of her house after three hours just so I could make it  to Puppet Wagon orientation on-time.  I’m sure we could have talked about China for six hours.  My head buzzing with all things China (except the corner of brain niggling me to somehow incorporate the first four lines of Chaucer’s “General Prologue” to demonstrate how much English has changed), I was a little more bubbly than usual when meeting the puppeteers for the first time.  We sat around the table in City Hall, eating our Kit-Kats and listening to Patty tell us about what it’s like to drive a trailer.  It’s a good age-range: Stephanie, a graduating senior in high school; Steven, a college kid studying Japanese and Creative Writing (and violin, seriously, we’re going to get along famously), and me, the college graduate playing the dancing monkey for five year olds before jetting off to China to teach college kids.  We’re rag-tag, but I think that gives us moxie.  

But, with a ludicrously short script about sandcastles, we might need to do more than that.

There’s time.  I’ll figure out how I fit into my many hats, and learn that everyone can switch roles depending on where they are at a particular moment.  Lessons come together.  Puppets grow on you….so long as you don’t think about it too much.  And close the lid on the box before turning the lights out.