Guys and Dolls

When you see a guy reach for stars in the sky
You can bet that he’s doing it for some doll…
Call it sad, call it funny, but it’s better than even money
That the guy’s only doing it for some doll!

When you see a dame change the shape of her frame
You can bet that she’s reducing it for some guy…
Call it dumb, call it clever, but you can give odds forever
That the doll’s only doing it for some guy!

Frank Loesser, “Guys and Dolls” from “Guys and Dolls

I wanted to write that the reason I haven’t blogged for so long is because it’s been a crazy whirlwind, but as I sit here and think back over the events of the past year, there’s only been two events worth writing about – in chronological order: the first event is that I made manager (which I am not going into right now); the second (which is of significantly more importance) is that Terence and I got married!

Deborah & Terence - Wedding

The first question that everyone keeps asking us is, “How’s married life?” We both tend to pause, look at each other, then say, “It doesn’t seem much different.” There are new things, like living in a new apartment, working out a non-conflicting schedule of regular familial visits and a whole lot more household chores to do, but in the scheme of all that life is, it hardly matters. Whilst the wedding is – was – a big deal, it was only in the sense that it was a public affirmation of our commitment to each other.

But as this blog isn’t so much about my personal life as it is about my never-ending quest, the relevant question here is “How does getting married affect your Broadway dreams?”

Interesting question. Last year was a real mental struggle for me. I had the mental capabilities of a dandelion and my thoughts drifted this way and that way depending on how the wind blew that day. There were times when I felt that I was being torn in pieces: torn between the desire to “settle down” (oh how old and grown up I feel when I write that) and the desire to throw caution to the winds and just take off to see what fortune would bring; and the agony that I could never throw caution to the winds, not just because the ability to do so has been hammered out of me, but also because, well, I couldn’t imagine a life without Terence anymore; the growing anxiety that I’m running out of time because life is over (in the sense that your individual dreams become further subservient to not just “us” the couple, but “the kids” who take over in utter and absolute supremacy) once you have children, right?

(Oh and by the way, that is the second question we’ve been getting: “So when are you going to have kids?” The answer is: “Babies are not on the agenda right now, we have quite enough on our plates at the moment, thank you.”)

Since there are books on everything today, yes we got some and yes we are reading them. I’m at odds with myself because I normally put any sort of book on relationships in the derogatory “self-help” bucket which gets made fun of on sitcoms but I’ve found that apart from a few chapters which I’ve found to be completely commonsensical and obvious (e.g. “You need to have a financial plan together” and “Toilets are not self-cleaning”), there are some which are quite thought-provoking.

During the [eighteenth- and nineteenth-century] Enlightenment, things began to shift. The meaning of life came to be seen as the fruit of the freedom of the individual to choose the life that most fulfills him or her personally. Instead of finding meaning through self-denial, through giving up one’s freedoms, and binding oneself to the duties of marriage and family, marriage was redefined as finding emotional and sexual fulfillment and self-actualization.
… marriage was seen as a contract between two parties for mutual individual growth and satisfaction…In short, the Enlightenment privatized marriage, taking it out of the public sphere, and redefined its purpose as individual gratification…Slowly but surely, this newer understanding of the meaning of marriage has displaced the older ones in Western culture…Marriage used to be a public institution for the common good, and now it is a private arrangement for the satisfaction of the individuals. Marriage used to be about us, but now it is about me…this newer view of marriage actually puts a crushing burden of expectation on marriage and on spouses in a way that more traditional understandings never did.

Timonthy Keller, “The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God” (pp.28-29)

Ouch. What a brutal (and accurate) diatribe on the current world view of marriage. I felt much better a few pages on when I read the short but uplifting summary of marriage as two flawed people coming together to create a space of stability, love, and consolation—a “haven in a heartless world” (pp. 35), which made me think of our vows:

Deborah & Terence on their wedding day

I vow to honour and cherish you; laugh with you and cry with you; comfort you in times of distress; encourage you in the pursuit of your dreams; grow with you in mind and spirit; and embrace all that life brings us, from now and for all time.

I am so incredibly blessed to have a wonderful husband who is (and has always been) so supportive of my (crazy/unrealistic/non-bill-paying) dreams that whenever I pause to breathe, I can hardly believe he is real. I didn’t have the words to describe just what it means to have that kind of steadfast faith and constant encouragement behind me, so I borrowed (and tweaked) some.

Without you, the ground thaws
The rain falls, the grass grows
Without you, the seeds root
The flowers bloom, the children play

The stars gleam, the poets dream, the eagles fly
Without you
The earth turns, the sun burns
But I, I…

I can’t win, I can’t reign
I will never be the same
Without you
Without you

I am lost, I am vain
I will never win this game
Without you

Without you, the breeze warms
The girls smile, the cloud moves
Without you, the tides change
The boys run, the oceans crash

The crowds roar, the days soar, the babies cry
Without you
The moon glows, the river flows
But I, I…

I won’t run, I won’t fly, I will never make it by
Without you
Without you

I can’t rest, I can’t fight, all I need is you and I
Without you
Without you

I won’t soar, I won’t climb, if you’re not here I’m paralyzed
Without you
I can’t look, I’m so blind, I’d lose my heart, I’d lose my mind
Without you

Without you, the hand gropes
The ear hears, the pulse beats
Without you, the eyes gaze
The legs walk, the lungs breathe

The mind churns, the heart yearns, the tears dry
Without you
Life goes on, but I’m gone
‘Cause I die
Without you

Jonathan Larson, “Without You” from “RENT”; David Guetta feat. Usher, “Without You”. Arrangement by Deborah Lau.

All in all, getting married does not mean the end of the quest – quite the opposite in fact. By myself, I’m prone to bursts of energetic activity and excitement at the beginning then pushing projects to the backburner whenever life comes along and interrupts. I have so many doubts and fears. I get stuck on tiny details that don’t matter. And even taking the smallest step feels like the most impossible thing in the world.

But now, we’ll face it all together.

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I'm just a girl with a piano. I'm on a quest to go from audit files to Broadway. Currently, I'm working on an as-yet untitled musical exploring identity, family, and love for second generation immigrants. In my spare time, I serve as the Secretary/Communications Director for the NYC-based Composers Collective.

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One Response to “Guys and Dolls”

  1. joemach says:

    Why do you need to run off to New York to follow your dream? Your dream is to write a Broadway Musical (unless I misread something).

    So make it easy on yourself and quit tearing your Heart out over what you desire so much; stay right where you are and keep working at your day job. But by night, write the most awesome Broadway Musical that the world has ever known. What about? How about a 26 year old girl who lives in Australia who works for an accounting firm who dreams of bringing her creative ideas to Broadway.

    Or something like that …

    Who knows?



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