Monday, June 30, 2008


   Today, I got back to the theater for the second show right at half hour (meaning, half hour until the show starts).  I found a neatly typed piece of paper with two line notes waiting for me in my dressing room.  It said:

     Kristine:                "He put me up against this television set."

                                     "I'm a birdie on the wing."

     It seems I had gotten my articles (a, an, and the) mixed up.  I guess I had said the television set and on a wing, instead.  Well, with those mistakes, I am surprised the audience could even understand what I was saying!  Actually, I do have a little bit of a beef with the first note--I know I have been saying this television set. I repeated it the other way--the wrong way--out loud, and it sounded absolutely foreign on my tongue, like I had never said that before.  Now, I am not above a mistake, but I just don't think I made that mistake.  However, I fully accept responsibility for the latter correction--I very well could have said a instead of the.  To be honest, it's been a very long time since I have even looked at the script.  And to be even more honest, I would have a difficult time looking at it now, because I don't know where it is.  

    When we first started rehearsing for this show, the creative team couldn't stress enough that this show did not only win a bunch of tonys, it also won the pulitzer prize.  Therefore, we could not paraphrase anything.  My character happens to say the words, well, ah and oh a lot.  And, under no circumstances can I flip their order, add to them, or take away one of them.  Apparently, a pulitzer prize is some kind of big deal, or something.  

    Actually, back in Denver,  Ian and I started talking about the PPPP.  We were lucky enough to notice them, I guess.  It all started with Ian talking to me about the sweater he wears for part of his costume.  The, ah, $1000 sweater.  Yeah, I guess it's pretty special.  So I was like, what, is it hand woven by a tribe of pygmies?  And he was like, as a matter of fact, yeah, it is.  Then, when all of us were getting noted for any kind of minute paraphrasing, we started realizing the creative team was getting help.  Turns out these pygmies live in the theater--whatever theater we happen to be in; they follow us, apparently--and not only do they weave our costumes (not for free, mind you), but they also are constantly saying in their high-pitched, pygmy voices: pulitzer prize, pulitzer prize...They say it so often that it has become their mantra. It echoes through the halls, a chatter that is just barely audible. 

   And that is not all.  They also demand to be fed.  We've taken to leaving them some food before we leave, not unlike what some kids do for Santa on Christmas Eve.  The difference is, if a kid forgets to leave Santa a cookie, he doesn't bite the kid in his sleep.  I have found a few little marks on my legs that were unaccounted for.  But, Ian and I finally realized it was those pesky pygmies.  So, now we are very good at feeding them.  Oh, and they are the little tattle-tales who alert the stage managers to any kind of paraphrasing we do.  I am almost positive it was the PPPP (Pulitzer Prize non-Paraphrasing Pygmies) who I have to thank for that note I got today.   

   So, yeah, they can be difficult, but they sure do run a tight ship.  We don't paraphrase, for the most part.  But if we do, we know about it right away and correct it accordingly.  They are demanding little pygmies, that's for sure.  But, they sure do weave a sweater like nobody's business.  

Sunday, June 29, 2008

sorry, this is random

           This is a five-show weekend.  But, I have already done three, so only have two more to go...And then, blessed Monday!  Who knew Mondays would one day be such a haven for me?  

           I just wrote a song that I felt would have a better vibe on the guitar than the piano.  So, I asked my friend, Clyde, if he would be willing to play the song for me and record it (he both plays the guitar and has protools on his Mac).  He was into it, so we got to work on it today, between shows.  He laid out the guitar track, and was maybe gonna put a bass line down tonight, after the show.  Tomorrow, we'll do vocals.  The song is called Bono for President (it is election year, after all--and people think I am not politically-minded...). I am excited about it and when it is finished, I will put it on my myspace site. Plus, he is going to play the song for me at my gig on Thursday night.  

         Oh, and here is something kind of cool--I met Brian Friedman tonight.  He was a choreographer/judge from the first 2 seasons of one of my favorite shows, So You Think You Can Dance.  He has also choreographed for Brittney Spears, Pink, NSync,and Maya, to name a few.  Recently, he has collaborated with Mia Michaels to start something called the Pulse--a different kind of dance/mentoring convention.  And now, he is working on a reality show in London, for Simon Cowell's production company.  Anyway, he came to the show tonight and we all went out afterwards for Nikki (who plays Cassie) and Anthony's (he plays Richie) birthday.  I met him and talked with him for a while and it was chill.  

    This world is very small and I am very tired and have a 1 o'clock matinee tomorrow.  Ugh.  But, I am grateful for this job...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

a small part of the story part 2

        Eventually, Drew and I arrive in New York City.  I can't help but notice that the guy has on a nice, new button-up shirt (later on, he admits that he had bought it with me in mind, hoping I would like it).  I can't help but notice he looks good in it.  I can't help but notice that his eyes are still wide-set and blue, the same kindness in them that I had fallen in love with before.  He is the same, I am the same, but we are different.  And I can feel the difference in the guarded way he looks at me, the space he is careful to leave between us.  

     But, it is difficult not to be close in our interaction.  We've been there before; we know the way all too well.  I find myself talking, teasing, drawing him out.  He is reciprocating and we are both having fun.  I am smiling and laughing, and I can feel him walking a little closer to me, not pulling back if our shoulders happen to brush.  If I am being honest, I like it.  I am liking him, a little.  But really, I tell myself, Who has the time to sit and think all this out?  Sometimes, it's better not to think...

    There's this picture in my parents' house that captures that time (at least, it used to be.  It might not have survived the great Jessica-picture-downsizing from the photograph wall after a certain family member complained of the unbalanced Jessica-to-sibling-ratio of pictures displayed there).  It is of me and Drew smiling, on that day in a small cafe in New York.  A friend spontaneously asked us to pose for a photo, and poor Drew hesitated.  I, however, moved in quickly--putting my cheek right next to his so that we were touching right as the camera flashed.  You can see the awkwardness of the moment in our shoulders, though; it would have been more comfortable to just let them touch, but not knowing how to be with me, Drew barely moved and so there is room between us.  Telling, awkward room between us, with our smiling faces pushed together.  

     Like I said, I am having fun.  And I think Drew is, too.  But, that night he has to go ruin this carefree time with a serious talk.  Oh shoot, I was really enjoying this whole not thinking thing...But, if we have to, I guess.  Drew starts in, Jess, it's really hard for me--you flirting with me and being close to me.  Always quick to point out that I am not the only one at fault, I shoot back with, Well, you are flirting with me, too! Very mature, I realize this. Then he calmly and deliberately says, The difference is, I mean it. 

  Oh. Now, I have to start thinking. Really thinking...Do I mean it?  And honestly, at that moment, I don't know.  I am bereft of any words for him.  So, he continues, Please tell me why we are not together right now. I look at him incredulously as I say, You know why. I mean, I've told you a good amount of times...Or at least once, I've told you once...Right? No, Drew answers, but without any accusation or anger in his voice, as if it was my right to simply break up with him without telling him why; as if most people wouldn't have demanded to know months ago.  

   The thing is, I honestly had thought I had told him.  I certainly told enough other people.  I thought I told him that it scared me how he wasn't perfect and didn't have a full-proof plan for his life.  That the depression he had fallen into (which was surprising, because I know now that Drew is not easily depressed) was too much for me, which I know sounds mean and unfeeling, but I am sorry, it's the truth.  There were little things that bothered me, and rather than tell him about it and risk hurting his feelings--I just looked for the quickest exit.  And breaking-up was what I found. 

  I look at him and quietly say, You really want to know why I broke up with you? I mean, really? Every little thing?  Yeah, he says, please, he adds. I take a deep breath and talk for a long time.  I am not afraid of hurting him; I have already done that to a greater degree than my honesty now could ever do.  He is not defensive, but just listens.  And finally, when I am done, when I have racked my brain for every thing--little or big--that bothered me and laid it out for him to understand in no uncertain terms, he says a mere, Okay. Um, Okay?  Is that it, I think?  But it's not it.  He goes on to say, I can see how those things could scare you or bother you.  But, I also need you to understand that you are never going to find somebody who is perfect.  Having said that, I need you to know that I am willing to work on everything.  I am not done. I want to change, mature, realize my potential, figure out where I am going in life...

    Oh, I think.  He asks me if I am starting to like him again, because it feels a little that way.  I say I am, a little.  But then I get very serious and say, I am a very dangerous person.  I will hurt you.  I could change my mind again. I could decide tomorrow that I don't like you at all.  I need you to know this.  He gets the sounds of a smile in his voice as he says, You are a dangerous person (I am not sure, but he may have been picturing me as a ninja, or something--a truly dangerous person)? Jess, I of all people, know this.  You've hurt me more than anybody else.  But, you have also made me happier than anybody else.  And sure, it's true that you could change your mind tomorrow--but do you always want to be that way? Do you always want to have a fickle heart?  It could be nice to someday decide something is worth sticking with.  

   Well, I had to admit that sounded logical.  I didn't always want to be fickle--that actually is not so nice and very hard when it comes to planning ahead.  We didn't really settle on anything that night, other than the truth finally being told.  And maybe that he loved me and I liked him again. A little.  

   I get home from New York a few weeks later, and I know that I miss him.  I want to spend time with him, maybe even start dating him again.  So, I call him and ask if he wants to see a movie with me that night.  

    Sure, he says, What did you have in mind?  
   Catch Me If You Can, I reply.      


Friday, June 27, 2008

costumes are not designed for comfort, I am pretty sure

        It is really unfortunate how much time I spend being just plain uncomfortable in my profession.  Because, I hate to be uncomfortable.  I mean, I realize I am not alone in this feeling, but still, I try to live in comfort--as much as my sense of fashion and my job allow me.  In my current show, I have to wear fishnet tights.  You think, not so bad--all those little holes must be a nice natural cooling system, not unlike what Jess gets to enjoy on a daily basis in her house.  Well, sure.  Maybe.  But, actually, the material is a little itchy, and very tight (thus, the word, tights, I suppose).  I also have to dance--really dance--we're not talking about step-touching or a shimmy every once in a while; no, turns leaps, kicks, lunges, the whole shabang--in 3 inch heels.  I know most of you have never done ballet, but ballet was not designed for 3 inch heels.  Maybe if you have played basketball, you can imagine playing the game just as competitively as always, but with little poles stuck under your sneakers; maybe then you can understand how not natural it is to do a split in the air and land in heels.  Maybe.  

      Then, I get to wear a leotard just about every day of my life.  Ok, most leotards are not that bad, providing that they do not have sleeves (I hate to dance in sleeves--so much so that I have actually slipped out of a modern class midway through and cut the sleeves off of my leotard.  I swear I danced better when I got back into that studio. Really), and are not too tight around the neck.  Well, my leotard has no sleeves, thankfully, but it has a halter neck (which means that it has a strap that comes around the back of my neck, very tightly).  As if that tight strap were not enough, I have to wear a bra that of course has to be a halter, too--meaning that I have not one, but two tight straps suffocating the back of my neck.  And there is a great mystery in our show, one which many audience members have inquired after--that is, wherever do we hide  our microphone transmitters? Well, I am gonna let you in on a little secret that, if asked, you didn't hear from me: the ladies put it in their bra, the men put it in the crotch of their dance belts.  Well sure, the men have it pretty bad--but so do I! It is so very uncomfortable and heavy--that mic in my bra--making that horrible strap around the back of my neck even tighter, making a headache even more inevitable, making me adjust my costume on stage even when I've been told not to because goodness, it hurts! So yeah, note me.  But, I am going to move those straps on stage every once in a while.  Sorry.  

   The one saving grace that I have is my hair.  It is very short--too short to put in any painful configuration that pulls on my scalp.  Too short to curl.  Too short to straighten with a flat-iron.  It is absolutely comfortable.  

   Oh, and now I realize that I could walk around in mu-mu's and crocks, but I do need to present myself stylishly.  You never know who you are going to meet in this business, and I enjoy fashion for fashion's sake.  I know what a pair of heels can do for a pair of legs.  I like a good pair of skinny jeans.  So, after the show, sometimes I am still wearing heels--yes, this time of my own choosing, but still, it's tough.  It's fun to be a girl, but not always comfy.  Which is why when I get home, I go straight to my room, kick off my shoes and put on something very soft, very loose, with some kind of elastic waist.  Oh, and knee socks, to top if off.  

   And sometimes I dream about doing A Chorus Line wearing something very soft, very loose, elastic-waisted, coupled with knee socks, and maybe a pair of sneakers.  Wow, that would be amazing.  Not a tight strap in sight.  Maybe someday.   

Oh, and for any of you who are interested, I finally set up a myspace music page.  I have four songs uploaded on it, and will be adding more when I can.  You can find me at


Thursday, June 26, 2008


             So, this is the "before the workout" picture of us with Jackie.  I am in the back row, with short dark hair (the girl with short, dark hair, that is--there are a bunch of boys that fit that description, too), for those of you who haven't seen me in a while.  Notice we are all grinning like little idiots, completely innocent of the pain that is about to transpire...To answer some questions from the last post, I don't think that I saw any of the trainers, though if I had, I am not sure I would have recognized them because I have only seen Workout once or twice.  We did not run down the Santa Monica stairs--the Skysport gym is located on the top of a building in downtown L.A., so we used the utility stairs of the building.  

           Jackie was nice, but very direct and not shy about correcting us.  At one point we were doing a side plank (also known as the mermaid in pilates), but adding a tricky twist with our upper elbow down to floor and back up to work the obliques and laterals.  Well, she came up to me and was like, If you are going to modify the position like that, then you'd better make sure you go all the way to the ground with that elbow every time...I didn't even know I was modifying it!  I had not kept my feet stacked on top of each other--letting them be a little more side-to-side, instead, which was an apparent modification.  Oops.  You better believe that I made sure my elbow touched the ground--and the next time we did the exercise I did not modify.  My feet were thoroughly stacked.  
         Let's see, we did 120 push-ups in total--2 sets of 60.  These were made even more difficult because we did them immediately after we had just about burnt our upper body out with a resistance band.  Ugh.  We worked our shoulders, our back, our triceps, our biceps, our core, our glutes, our quads, our hamstrings...and if you think of any other muscle group, just throw that in to the mix also.  

      One thing I really liked about the hour workout was that everything we did can be done anywhere; you don't need to belong to an expensive gym to accomplish it.  Simply buy a resistance band, and voila! you can work it out.  Anywhere.  Any time.  I learned some new things that I am definitely going to incorporate into my exercise routine.  Also, during a quick Q&A in which one of the guys asked how to get rid of back fat (not to be confused with fatback, which I'm pretty is actually eaten in the South...), Jackie had a pretty interesting answer.    

      According to her research, we are all born with a certain amount of fat cells that we keep throughout our lives.  Depending on our diet and amount of exercise, these fat cells either shrink or expand.  So, if you want to get rid of what you consider to be a problem area, the solution is to work out all the muscles around the area--shrinking those fat cells.  She said you never need more than 20 minutes of cardio--to be done at challenging intervals, like 2 min running, 2 min fast walk, 1 min normal walk, 4xs--at a time.  Cardio is important for your heart health, but the best and quickest way to change body and target those trouble spots is by consistent weight or resistance training.  She told the back fat guy to work out his pecs, shoulders, biceps, triceps, and upper back--and the back fat would shrink away.  Literally, the fat cells would shrink.  Pretty awesome, huh? Also, she said that if we are doing all of our weight training, push-ups, cardio correctly (toning the core muscles throughout), then crunches become a waste of time (for those of you who hate to get down and crunch, there's some incentive to hold your core muscles!).

      She is also a huge promoter of a healthy diet, cutting back on sugar and saturated fats, etc.  However, she told us that if we are exercising a good amount, you can almost eat whatever you want.  To a certain degree...

      Oh and Jenna, I did not give her that special gift.  

oh shoot, it's morning and I haven't slept yet

  It is super late--or early, depending on how you look at it.  The sky is beginning to grow lighter and I am just going to bed.  My dear friend, Dustin, came to see the show tonight and we ended up having lots to catch up on afterwards (thus, the late night).  We bonded during our time in Korea, performing the American hit involving creative arts high school students, Fame! the Musical, and have been friends ever since.  We would be quite the pair walking around Seoul; I am 5'8, and he is 6'8, so we stood out as two tall Americans.  People would look at us in awe and sometimes even come up to us to practice their English and marvel at our heights.  Dustin would sometimes gesture to both of us and say very seriously, Very famous American actors.  The store-keeper, or waitress, or whoever happened to be there would nod their head seriously, look at us through wide eyes, and say Aaaaaaah. Aaaaaaaah, indeed.  

  Today I went to the exclusive A Chorus Line boot camp with Jackie Warner at her elite club, Skysport.  I gotta say, it was very hard work.  She told us she wasn't going to work our legs out too much, because we had to do a show later that day and the show itself works our legs out.  Yeah, well I would hate to see what she considers "working our legs out," because she then proceeded to have us go up and down 11 flights of stairs 4 times.  And every time we ascended, we had to go two at a time.  As we were flying down these stairs--and then laboriously climbing them--we were all like, Good thing she's going easy on our quads!

  Anyway, it was awesome. I am tired.  The sky is officially light now.  I am going to try to sleep before that persistent sun starts shining like it does every day...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

a small part of the story part 1

     It is the very beginning of 2002; the calendar is still mostly unmarked, full of numbered white boxes representing days that haven't happened yet.  I had received a scholarship to study at the Martha Graham School for Contemporary Dance's winter session (yeah, I realize that's a mouthful), and was gearing up to go to New York City later in the day.  It is a Sunday, placing me at church, and it has just begun to snow outside.  Drew walks up to me and we begin to talk. Haltingly, a little awkwardly, we find a rhythm for our conversation.  

     See, it has now been three months since I broke up with him, but after being so special to each other and sharing so much, it is hard to know quite how to relate to one another.  Do we pretend not to know the details of each other's lives and just ask what the other ate for dinner, or how their family is doing?  As if the level of interest stops there?  As if the carefully planned show of polite disinterest is the only thing we feel now?  But who am I kidding, Drew was never very good at pretending he didn't care--not when he told me that he wanted to go to my shows at Uarts simply because he enjoyed watching dance--you know, it's a beautiful art form, Jess, and not when he asked if he could stop by my house because he was hungry and wanted toast (toast, Drew? really? couldn't you think of any other reason to stop by--something that wasn't quite so transparent, at least?).  I never doubted that I was special to him--not during the whole three months when we were broken up and his poor heart was hurting and my brother and all his friends who wanted to see his eyes not look so sad anymore told him to give up on me. That it'd be better that way, he'd see.  

  Anyway, I mention to Drew that I have to drive to the city later in the day and now it is snowing and now I really don't want to do it.  Very nonchalantly, he offers to drive me.  Really? You would drive me to New York?  You have the time, there's nothing else you have to do? I ask. Carefully, so as not to reveal an eagerness that might scare me away, he answers, Sure. I enjoy driving and I have a friend I'd like to see in the city anyway. It would be no problem. Well, great.  Drew is a friend and a good driver and I now don't have to go to the city alone.  We head out, and pretty soon are on the turnpike.  

  I am feeling really comfortable with Drew now--but maybe something else, maybe something more.  I like sitting next to him very much and so do what had, at one point, been only natural: I reach over to take his hand.  But, I remember that we are not together, that I broke up with him, that I wanted this not togetherness, so I stop my hand in mid-air and quickly pull it back to my own lap where it belongs.  I can only hope he didn't notice.  He breaks the silence with, Why did you do that?  I play stupid and ask, do what?  Just now, he says, you pointed at my crotch. Why did you point at my crotch?  Now I am facing a dilemma--do I let him think I am a freak who randomly points at crotches, or do I tell him the truth that may be even worse; the truth that may let him hope for something that five minutes ago I didn't think would ever happen?  What to do, what to do?  He obviously won't let me evade the question, so I simply say, I was reaching to hold your hand. To which he says a quiet oh.  And then we sit in silence until one of us welcomes the other's inane and completely unrelated comment like a long-lost friend.  



Tuesday, June 24, 2008

another day off. Nice.

   Oh my goodness, today was so good.  Jase and I had so much fun going to the Santa Monica Creek state park.  It's the kind of place where you can look and look and still not see enough.  And if the mountains, endless blue expanse of sky, rock formations that dwarf even the tallest among us (and jase and I were both there--so yeah, even we were dwarfed), and lakes were not enough, there was even the ruins of an old adobe to explore.  Today was another hot one, and so when we stumbled upon Rock Lake, we just had to go in--clothes and all. We did take our shoes off, though.  Oh, and guess who else had to go in?  Just about the cutest puppies you could find--a little golden retriever who was fluffy with fur and had a chubby little snout, and also a tiny little black chihuahua and something (jase and I guessed rabbit...?) mix.  Their names were Bambi and Baby, respectively. Their owners dipped them into the water, and then just left them to roam freely.  They curled up and slept on a rock, warmed by the sun and completely oblivious to just how achingly cute they were.  I went up to them and started petting them, and yes, pretending they were mine.  A little boy walked up at that moment, and I moved over in deference to him (and because I wasn't sure he wasn't one of their owners).  So I asked him,  Are these little puppies yours?  He quickly shook his head no, so I followed up with another question, Do you kinda wish they were?  Then he smiled real big as he nodded his assent and I let him know I felt the exact same way about the situation.  Even Jason, who is not an animal owner, or as he says, enslaver, admitted that they were adorable.  I told him to get one, but he said that small dogs have weak hearts and aren't up to traveling as much as he and his family do.  Well, that is very practical and very smart and very mature and blah blah blah, but those puppies were so cute and weak heart or not, would make just about any situation better, I think. 

      At one point, we hiked by a rather frantic man who asked if either of us was a ranger.  Well, he must have been desperate to imagine that either of us was a ranger (I mean, last I checked rangers still wear some sort of state-issued uniform, right? And I am pretty sure terry-cloth shorts, a black beater, and purple and grey nike high-tops is not it).  When we said no, he asked if we had seen one nearby.  Jase let him know that there was one--at the entrance of the park.  3 miles back.  Far, far, away--even for a desperate man.  We asked him if he needed help and he told us his friend was in trouble.  Being nosy--and compassionate, but let's face it, nosy too--I asked him what kind of trouble.  He ignored my question (shoot. I really wanted to know), so Jase asked if he could make a phone call for him.  The man said yes, but only after he had talked with a ranger.  Uh, ok.  Then the man started this pathetic little slow jog--presumably to get to that ranger that was somewhere on the other side of that jog--but not anywhere close and from the looks of his pace, not anytime soon.  As we moved on, Jason and I kept our eyes peeled for somebody with a leg trapped by a boulder or bit by a rattle snake or even too dehydrated to move and was simply collapsed, but nothing.   We couldn't find one person in trouble.  I still don't understand why that man didn't let Jason make a phone call for him.  What kind of trouble could his friend be in that would warrant a slow, sweaty jog to a ranger, but not a phone call? Beats me.  

      Tonight, I also played another open-mic, this time at Cafe Muse on Santa Monica Blvd in Hollywood.  It was a cute place--a lot of singer song-writers were there, some good, some needing work, some great.  I played two songs, and really enjoyed playing.  The only thing that was unfortunate was that I had my back to the crowd and was wearing jeans that really could have used a belt.  Nothing too crucial was visible--maybe just underwear.  Maybe.  Gabby, my faithful companion at open-mics was with me, along with my other housemate, Wu.  After I played, a very nice person came up to me and asked me to play at a house show she was gonna have.  I explained that it would have to be in the next two weeks, because after that I would be in San Fran.  But then, the owner of the place came up and asked if the two of us would like to play a show together there--on July 3rd.  I explained that I wouldn't be able to to get there until 10:30, maybe a little earlier if I literally flew out of the Ahmanson theatre.  Well, she was fine with that--the other girl will take the first part, and I will take the 2nd.  So, I booked my first gig here in L.A. I get to play more than two songs, and don't need to share the night with people who might try very hard but was not given a great ability to sing or play an instrument, per se, bless their hearts.  It is small, not a huge deal, but I am psyched.  You gotta start somewhere, right?  

   One more thing--Jase and I stopped in at a pet store and I fell a little in love with a Bengal kitten.  I held him for a long time; he was all silvery stripes and big green eyes and soft, soft fur.  He looked wild and beautiful and my kitties at home, that my friend Michele is so kind to watch for the summer, almost got a new baby brother.  Almost...When I told Drew about this little buddy, he was like, You held a Bengal tiger?  And you want it?!  Well, no.  And yes, actually.  No, it wasn't a tiger--it was a domesticated bengal--the size of a house cat, but a descendant of an Asian Jungle Cat (amazing, I know).  And yes, I do want it.  

  Ok, that's all for now.  Back to work tomorrow.  And for now, Drew and decided to hold off on the Bengal kitten...but maybe not forever, right Drew? Right?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

a monkey, among other things

     I love Sunday nights.  I love the anticipation of a day off--sometimes even more than the day off itself, if that makes any sense.  I love staying up late and knowing that I do not have to work tomorrow at all.  I mean, let's be honest, I stay up late every other night of the week also, but not with that sweet knowledge of a day to myself looming ahead.  

    And you know what made this sunday even better?  Well, I only had one show today (instead of my usual two).  I finished working at 3:05 this afternoon and do not have to work again until 7:00 on Tuesday evening.  Woo-hoo, let the games begin!  So, what did this crazy girl do as soon as she had her own version of the weekend?  Went right on over to church.  

   I finally got to go to Mosaic, a pretty cool church here in L.A. that I have been hearing so much about from Jason and Darby.  Jase picked me up and we went to their service downtown, at the Mayan Theatre (Jenna, you would fit right it).  The theatre was beautiful, with all this ancient Mayan-looking architecture.  Actually, it kind of reminded me of the Revenge of the Mummy ride at Universal Studios (minus the actual mummy, of course).  When we walked in, there were two disc jockeys making some beats right in front of us.  There were fog machines and all sorts of colored lights, giving the place a kind of rock-show vibe.  And it was hot.  Not sexy-hot, but why-doesn't-Los-Angeles-believe-in-air-conditioning? hot.  It was ok, though; considering where I am living, I am used to it.  The music was good--no songs that I knew, but still I enjoyed worshipping.  However, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Irwin McMannus speak.  He is doing this series called Practical Wisdom, and so he opened it to a question and answer session.  I kept wracking my brain for a question to ask, but really couldn't think of anything.  One thing that did stand out to me, though, was his encouragement for us to live in such a way that we take risks.  He said that if we don't do this now, while we are still young, it is only going to get more difficult as we enter the next phases of life.  With greater risk comes greater potential for fulfillment, greater reliance on a God who can plan my life a whole lot better than I ever could.  

      After the service, Jase and I went to Santa Monica and got some steak.  Nobody ever words it like that, do they?  That makes it sound like a sit-down steak dinner is on parr with grabbing hot dogs from a street vendor, or something.  Well, we sat down to a nice steak dinner.  Unfortunately, I tried to squeeze a particularly slippery lemon and watched it fly out of my hand and land under the table of a couple deep in conversation to my left.  Jase and I laughed later as we saw the couple get up, see the lemon under their feet and look around the restaurant--as if they were gonna find a lemon tree growing over the head.  

   And one of the best parts of the night had to be when I shook the hand of a little monkey on the 3rd Street Promenade.  Really, to just hear about it does no justice.  There is a grumpy man who has somehow gotten a hold of an incredibly cute monkey who is dressed in a cowboy hat, a flowered shirt, and a vest with pockets (the monkey, not the man).  He is trained to shake your hand when you give him a dollar.  And only if you give him a dollar--somebody tried to get a handshake from him after just handing him a quarter, but the monkey took the change and turned briskly right around.  Smart monkey, he doesn't come cheap.  I walk up to the monkey with a dollar in hand and the monkey took my dollar, stuffed it into his already stuffed pocket, tipped his hat to me, and then grabbed my hand and shook it.  I laughed so hard!  There's nothing like the feel a little leathery and slightly furry hand--complete with slender fingers--wrapping around mine and giving it a little tug.  I loved it.  

   It was a lovely Sunday.  A little show, a little church, a little steak, and a little monkey.  It doesn't get much better than that, I think.   

oh, the joys of a natural cooling system

    So, I realize that those of you on the east coast have experienced your own heat wave recently, but I would bet that most of you have AC to temper it.  Well, I am staying at a gorgeous house that was advertised as having a "natural cooling system."  Now by natural, I think what the owner meant was something more like, if you keep the door open you just might get an occasional breeze fluttering through the house, thanks to the Santa Ana winds.  Oh, and keep the doors open long enough and you will also get some bugs. Biting you.  Riding those Santa Ana winds right onto your skin.  So not only will you still be hot, you will now be itchy.  I wonder why she didn't post that on Craig's List?  

   We were a little skeptical about the natural cooling system, but we were assured that the mornings and evenings are cool here in L.A.--and during the afternoon, we can go in the pool. Really, you don't need AC.  Well, guess what?  It has been unprecedentedly HOT here lately. Actually, it has been over 100 degrees these last few days.  And the living room, which is where I sleep, has a wall-sized window that does not open.  Yes, a window that won't open.  Just brilliant.  My two housemates each have a bedroom that is adjacent to a porch---so they can open their respective doors and let the cool night air fill their room.  Conversely, my room has been baking all day long thanks to that brain-child of a window leaving me with no way to ventilate it or allow fresh air in.  It has pretty much become an incubator and really, if I were an egg I would have hatched by now.   

  The last few nights have been almost unbearable.  Last night, at 2 am I walked into Gabby's room and she was like, hot?  I told her yes very emphatically and she told me to come sleep in her bed.  I had warned her that I am a terrible bedfellow--I sleep like I am wrestling and alligator--but she was like, I have a sister who I have slept with a lot.  Don't worry. Turns out, I did try to spoon her a few times, with my leg draped over her for good measure...But, she was a good sport about it.  I don't remember a thing because I was finally a little cooler and so finally sleeping (I wouldn't spoon her while awake, I am pretty sure).   

  My landlord came in today and I asked her if there was anything she could think of to cool off my room at all.  She assured me she would work on it while I was out today.  I came back to find a new fan pointed in the direction of my bed.  Thanks, Donna.  No actually, it does make a difference since it is a pretty big fan.  So once again I am back in my bed.  Hopefully I last through the night in my own room. We'll see.  I guess the moral of this story is that if you are going to go with a natural cooling system, prepare to be very very hot.  

Saturday, June 21, 2008

My Night at the Vermont

      As requested (thank you for the kind words, Les!), I am going to write a little bit about my time spent at the Vermont's open mic night this past Monday.  First of all, let me say that it was certainly a more refined crowd than I had met at the Rainbow the previous week.  Also, there was a piano already there, which saved me the trouble of lugging around Darby's keyboard (but thanks, darb, for letting me borrow it!).  Again, Gabby played the role of my stage mom and was kind enough to go with me.  Unfortunately, we got in a little late so I was pretty far down on the list to play.  

   As soon as we walked in, a gentleman started openly staring at us.  I am pretty good at ignoring this kind of thing, though, so I simply dismissed it.  However, he walked up to us before too long and told us he recognized us from A Chorus Line.  Turns out he loved the show, which is nice.  Actually, he said he started sobbing at the beginning and could not stop until the end.  Wow--that was very passionate of him (and maybe a little distracting to his fellow-audience members, but hey, at least he liked the show).  Anyway, we sat down to enjoy some music.  Now, as opposed to the wooden-attic-motif of the Rainbow, this was an elegant, Italian-looking establishment.  People quietly sipped their wine and many of the patrons were an established part of the musical theatre crowd.  I mean, they certainly knew the difference between their head voice and their chest voice.  It turns out that we were sitting next to one gentleman who had done one of the national tours of A Chorus Line when it was on Broadway the first time around.  Well, we had to introduce ourselves (since A Chorus Line really is one big family).  His friend then pulled some strings for me and got me to play earlier than I should have...It's nice to be seated next to the movers and shakers of the world, let me tell you.  

   There was a great mix of performers--opera, musical theater, gospel, folk, singer-songwriter, pop, boy band-esque--it was all there.  And thank God, no comics...I played two songs and they were received well.  I honestly love to play my music, and am happy to play it for anyone kind enough to listen.  I must say there was one other guy who accompanied himself on the piano.  I am a sucker for anyone who plays and sings, but this guy was especially captivating.  He played some gospel, so the chords were soft and a little bluesy as they moved through the melody.His voice soared as it encouraged all of us to hold on just a little bit longer--and let's be honest, who doesn't need to hear that?  

   Afterwards, I exchanged some information with the sobbing guy--I guess he writes something for t.v.--or aspires to, anyway--and indicated that he wanted it.  I have no card (I know, I know, Jase--I need one!), so wrote my email address on the back of Gabby's card.  Also, a guy came up to me and said some kind words about my voice but was overall a little too close for comfort, if you know what I mean.  Really, saying good-bye should be quite simple; it does not ever need to involve a caress down the back, and I'd rather it didn't thank you very much.  So in all, the Vermont was really a lovely experience with a lot of talent all around.  

   Oh, and I gotta share this one pick-up line with you that I had the pleasure of hearing tonight, it was that good...Gabby and I were driving up to the valet parking lot for a Mexican restaurant at which we were hoping to eat.  Well, I roll down my window only to have the valet tell me it's closed.  Shoot, we really wanted Mexican tonight.  So, I ask him if he knows of any other Mexican restaurants in the area still serving.  He looks at me, leans in a little closer as he gestures to both he and his fellow valet and says, We're Mexican--why don't you eat us?   Oh.  Um, huh.  I told him that I really wasn't into eating humans...

   We never did find a Mexican restaurant to eat in, but since I am in L.A, I am pretty confident I will get my Mexican meal before too long.  

Friday, June 20, 2008

if dry skin is my cross to bear, then I guess I have it easy

      When I was a little girl, I really hated having dry skin.  Not so much because I was vain about it, or even embarrassed; I hated it because it meant after every bath, my mom would coat my body in a layer of slippery, slimy lotion.  Ugh.  I detested the feeling.  I remember just waiting for her to leave the room so that I could run and grab the nearest towel and begin wiping myself down.  I tried to remove all of that lotion, but it would be too late; a lot of it had already soaked in.  Sometimes my mom would come back in and catch me doing this.  She would stop me and tell me that my skin was very very thirsty and if I listened closely enough I could hear it saying, I'm thirsty! I'm thirsty!  in a high-pitched little skin-like voice.  

    Well, as creepy as that sounds, my mom was right about me needing that lotion.  Once, when asking her why God gave me such dry skin--and other kids I knew had perfectly soft skin that felt like a baby seal without so much as a drop of lotion (hi, Christine and Erin...)--my mom had a ready answer:  Well, Jess, if God had given you perfect skin, then you'd be an altogether perfect little girl and there is just nobody perfect on earth--nobody but God.  That did shut me up.  But, it didn't keep me from trying to rub lotion off of me whenever I could.  Somewhere down the line, though, I started loving lotion--probably when I became self-aware enough to realize that soft skin was something that females are supposed to have.  Also, I saw the connection between applying lotion and my skin not itching so much.  So, between my vanity and a desire for comfort, I was hooked on lotion.  But, I was still self-conscious about my skin.  It didn't help that I was made fun of for it a little bit, too.

   One girl who I grew up dancing with at my studio would always make a huge deal about my dry skin (I will call her Lenora).  She would run up to me and give me a great big bear hug (which made me uncomfortable enough to begin with, believe me; Latshaws aren't exactly known for giving bear hugs--or reveling in receiving them, for that matter.  We mostly just suffer through and hope that it is over soon).  She did this without fail pretty much every time she saw me.  And we saw each other a lot.  She would hug me, pause mid-hug for the inevitable feeling of my dry skin, then begin to back away slowly.  As she took tentative steps back, she would start with a loud inhalation of breath then begin to say something along the line of, Wow. You still have just the driest skin I have ever felt...Oh really, Lenora?  I do?  Because I thought maybe by now--in the two days since you last commented on my overly dry skin--you would have met somebody to top me.  Good to know I still have got everybody beat.  Thanks, thanks a lot.  

  Now, what I have failed to mention is that Lenora didn't have it so easy either.  She was very overweight, had thick curly black hair growing on her arms and legs, and last I saw her was growing a beard.  But did I ever examine her mid-hug and then tell her that she was still one of the biggest, hairiest girls I had ever felt...?  Um, no.  I didn't.  Because that would have been rude.   Another group of girls at my studio would ask me if my skin would go snap, crackle, pop during the night and keep me up...Yeah, a pretty lame thing to say looking back on it, but at the time it really embarrassed me. 

   I really don't care so much that I have dry skin.  Except when I am running late and would really like to not take the time to apply lotion.  But other than that, I am ok with it now.  

   And Lenora is now a really good singer.  And she shaves her beard, so you can't see it too much.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A clean little show

                  Last night our producer, John Breglio (yeah, the one who writes our paychecks every week), came to see the show.  Again.  It's his money that is funding our show, so you can only imagine how invested he is in it.  So anyway, we were all very aware of his presence in the audience (center, 4th row, not that any one of us was looking, or anything--but if we had, we would have also noticed that he seemed to be holding a clipboard and taking notes...gulp).  The very nice thing about the show was that we had some sort of dream audience.  I mean, really--they LOVED us.  And I can't help but admit that really makes us love them back (not unlike when you meet someone who just likes you so much and makes a big deal about you; I mean, you start to like them too, right? It's only natural).  

               Well, I will say that we usually do have fun with the show.  There are a couple of different times throughout the evening that the majority of the cast is in some kind of dimly-lit clump on stage.  The focus is somewhere else, leaving us free to fool around just a wee bit.  For instance, my friend Ian usually gives me some kind of maniacal or goofy or sexy (depending on his mood, I can only assume) look when he walks by me while I am in one of those clumps.  Also, another guy, Derek, tends to snort and or blow great puffs of air at the back of my head like a Brahma bull while in that clump.  It's a little maddening because he is directly behind me, making it so that I can do absolutely nothing in retaliation.  I just stand there and take it.  Also, there are some people who will use our clump time to just say anything funny that pops into their head.  And there is a dear member of the cast who will remain nameless who has, on more than one occasion, taken to mooning us while he is offstage and we are still onstage.  And of course we have to keep a straight face while he is jumping up and down offstage with his drawers pulled down.  Yeah, thanks for that.

         But, last night the show was quite tidy and neat.  You could have eaten your dinner off of it, it was that squeaky clean.  There were no goofy looks, no puffs of air, no full-moon shining from the distance.  Now, this may have been because we are truly professional and can turn out a clean show every Wednesday night like it's our job (er, wait--it is our job), or it could have been the presence of John Breglio.  I prefer to think it's a little of both.  Ok, ok--so it's a lot of one.  Fine, it was John Breglio.  But anyway, the show was great and the audience was fantastic and that isn't bad for the middle of the week.  Oh, and our producer was very happy with the show.  So, there's that.

       Also, I got a message on my facebook account this morning with the title of Bravo.  Now, I like the way that sounds no matter who sends it, but in this case the sender's name did sound a little familiar, though I couldn't quite place it.  Anyway, I opened it to find that he had been to the Wednesday evening show and was delighted with the performance.  He said 'Sing' was one of his favorite numbers in the show and that I had been hilarious (his words, not mine).  Then he went on to say it was good to see a member of the Echo Company soaring to such great heights.  He signs his name with Co-Producer of Annapolis right next to it...What a small world.  I had filmed the movie Annapolis a few years back, and of course, he was one of the producers and of course he lives in L.A.  So now we are facebook friends and have written back and forth a few times.  You never know who you are gonna meet, or meet again, for that matter.  

       Oh, and as an addendum--please realize that everyone in my cast truly is professional.  We do have a little fun, but it is generally not at the expense of the show and goes undetected by audience members.  Let me rephrase that: we have TONS of fun, and slyly add our own touch to the show that goes undetected by audience members.  And stage managers.  And er, producers.  


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

ballerina girl.

       Tonight I met a teenage girl outside the stage door.  She wanted to have her picture taken with me.  Without having to ask, I could tell that she was a dancer--a ballerina, to be specific.  She had long, opaque-blonde hair surrounding a pale face, willowy limbs, and was overall very thin and anemic-looking.  Yep, sounds about right--a ballerina.  And when I looked at her, I saw a younger version of me.  I saw the drive and hunger in her eyes to be something brilliant, something technical; something with feet that point for days and legs that lift to a height that isn't normal.  I remember that feeling of standing at the ballet barre and as I turned sideways, almost disappearing. Because that is what a tiny, skinny ballerina does.  I spent so many long moments looking at my reflection in those ever-present mirrors and just willing my butt to be absolutely flat. Because again, that is what a ballerina looks like.  I loved that halfway emaciated look, I think, because it meant dancing beautifully.  It meant being lifted effortlessly in a pas de deux, and floating over a stage that will never be the same because now, you have danced on it.  

      There is a saying among dancers, Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.  It's kind of sad, kind of sick, I know--but I totally understand where it comes from.  I think with my background, there will always be that skinny ballerina somewhere inside. Her hair is all slicked back into a tight bun, she's got ugly feet from years of pointe work, and she doesn't let me forget about the fact that pretty soon I will be wearing a leotard on a stage and do I really need that milkdud?  Most of the time I am pretty good at shutting her up (like this afternoon, when I had the whole box of milkduds, leotard or not), but sometimes I listen, cause sometimes she has a point.   I wouldn't let her hear me say that, though, since she is already pretty judgmental and pretty stuck-up...But, there was a time when she reigned supreme in my  life, about ten years ago.  

    I guess I had an eating disorder, but that makes it sound so psychological, not to mention so cliche for a white, middle-upper-class girl.  See, it was never about control for me.  It was never about fitting into a certain size or getting to a certain number on the scale.  No, it was purely about ballet.  I wanted to be a perfect ballerina; I wanted to be all bone and sinew and tendon while dancing to some long-ago written score.  It started out just because I wanted my partner to be able to lift me easily.  So, I started losing some weight and began getting compliments on my dancing.  And then it became so easy; I would skip dinner because I was at ballet class anyway and then go to bed on an empty stomach every night.  I can remember laying on my stomach, pushing and positioning my pillow underneath me to try to quell the hunger pangs. I still sleep on my stomach because of that time.  In the morning, the number on the scale would be just a little bit lower.   Looking at pictures of me back then, I can see what everyone was talking about when they said I looked too skinny.  It was gross.  Not pretty, not healthy, just real skinny.  But, boy did it feel good.

   I eventually started eating again, though.  To say it quickly, I went through this whole phase of having problems with my hips and then hating ballet and then deciding to go to the University of the Arts as a modern dancer and to show that I was really serious about this, cutting my hair off.  And somewhere during that time, I started eating dinner again and liking the feeling of having food in my stomach when I was trying to sleep.  I stopped weighing myself so religiously, thank God, and so I crept back up to a healthy weight.  It was kind of that simple.  
   And how am I now?  How much say does that old ballerina have in my life? Well, she certainly reminds me to get my exercise.  People think I am a little crazy for going to the gym between shows on double show days.  Like doing A Chorus Line twice in one day is going to give me stronger biceps (you never know when I will have to enter into another arm-wrestling competition; now that I won once, I have a rep to uphold, you know).  But the thing is, I really enjoy exercising--any kind of it, actually.  It makes me feel good.  Oh, and on the other hand, I am not shy when it comes to eating.  If someone is offering a slice of, say, cake, then I will usually not say no.  Unless it's tiramisu. Or anything to do with bananas...

  And you want to hear something exciting?  Well, Jackie Warner, the star of the reality show, Work Out (I think that is what it is called, anyway) is going to be giving our cast a private work-out at her gym next wednesday.  I am psyched.  I will be sure to let you know how it goes.  I have no idea if they are filming it or not, but secretly I hope they do.  

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Could somebody please turn out the light? please?

      I looked a hot mess this morning.  Let me tell you why.  See, in our gorgeous house here in Los Angeles, I am sleeping in the living room--a room that I affectionately refer to as my bedroom.  It does have a bed, and is a room (duh), so I think the term is very direct and quite perfect.  Anyway, there is a huge, almost wall-size window that is directly opposite my bed.  Also, my room is adjacent to the kitchen, which has glass doors leading to the outside patio as well as another wall-size window.  These windows are beautiful and romantic most of the time.  They fail to lose their poetry, however, at about 6:30 am, when the windows are spilling in the sun's blinding light and I am hating it--yes, at that time in the morning, I am a hater.  Of light.  Sorry.  And don't even try with the spiritual metaphors, it's not that deep; I just want to sleep and the sunlight makes it difficult.  One night, I thought that I could dim at least a little bit of the daily morning oasis in my bedroom by rolling out the sliding door that separates my room from the kitchen.  Well, I rolled it out, and guess what?  The whole thing was glass.  Perfect, seemingly invisible glass that doesn't block out a darn thing.  Again, so pretty...but who cares about pretty when sleep is at stake?  

      Well, I am a night person.  I always have been. I love to sleep in; in fact, I was even born asleep.  Yep, I wouldn't even wake up to greet the world.  I figured it was a perfect time to catch a few extra Z's, I guess (Z's? Is that right? Do people really say that? It looks weird, but you know what I mean).  And now with a show most nights, I get a lot of energy in the evening, after the show. So, most nights I get to sleep around 2 am, which means that I will not be getting up with sun.  A lot of mornings, I can just deal with the blazing light and sleep through it.  But, this morning, I was fed up.  It was so blinding, that you could see the light through closed eyelids!  I mean, it is TOO BRIGHT if a God-given eyelid can't even block it out!   For a while, I tried to arrange my sheet over my head, but then within seconds I felt like I used up all the oxygen under the sheet and would have to peek my head out to get some more for another round of breathing.   Then I tried to put the sheet just over my eyes, allowing my nose to stick out to gain much needed fresh air--but that meant no sheet on my body, so no dice.  Finally, I begrudgingly allowed one eye to open slightly, just enough to see where my drawers were, and began rummaging through them for something, anything, that could be of help in this critical matter.   

   And I found it.  It wasn't great, but I could make it work (a la Tim Gun-style from Project Runway).  I grabbed a tight, black t-shirt and promptly put the neck hole over the top of my head, leaving the shirt upside down in the process.  I pulled it down so that it was covering my eyes, but my nose was free.  The torso of the shirt was covering my forehead and my hair, looking like some kind of strange turban for a blind person.  I was instantly engulfed in a calming lack of light, and fell back to sleep.   Later on over dinner, my roommate, Gabby, did ask what kind of black headdress I was wearing in bed that morning and after I told her, she calmly stated that I needed a sleep mask.  

  Huh, good idea.      

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Happy father's day, pop

     I have had the pleasure of being raised by a father who loves me.  True, he is unique, funny, and not always predictable, but he has always loved me.  In honor of this day, I thought I would share a few memories...

  •      I was a small girl, only in first grade, with blonde hair that was mostly fastened in pig-tails or pony-tails.  At this time, I was teased every day by a bully named Jeff.  He sat across from me at our table.  He made fun of my Fairfield -Variety-brand jellies that I so proudly wore.  He said I wasn't smart because, at that time, I couldn't read very well.  Anyway,  my pop heard about this.  He decided that the most direct route would be to handle it himself (yeah, I know--every principal's dream, right?).  So, he waited for Jeff one day at recess.  He walked right across the asphalt, right up to the jungle gym, right up to Jeff and said, Don't you ever say another mean word to my daughter, Jessica, again.  You will not ever make fun of her again, do you understand? Well, Jeff understood.  He was also very scared and reported the incident to his parents, who reported the incident to the principal.  Shortly after, my pop was told he was not aloud on school property again--with the exception of dropping off and picking up his kids.  Yeah, the Reverend Bruce Latshaw was banned from Wilmington Christian School.  Kind of ironic.  However, Jeff never made fun of me again.  Thanks, Pop.  
  •           I remember staying up late, me and Jonathan eagerly talking to pop about everything having to do with the spiritual realm.  Of course, the topic kept getting around to demon stories; we would just beg and beg to be told about them.  And then, we would get that delicious thrill of fear and excitement.  And pop would always make sure to tell us that we have authority over them, because of Jesus.  But we would still end up sleeping in my parents room that night, authority and Jesus and all.   
  •          I remember pop eating his own delicious concoction of powdered-sugar-donut-cereal.  Yep, you heard right.  He would take powdered donuts, break them into pieces, put them into a bowl, and pour milk over them.  Then he would proceed to eat the milk-soaked donuts with a spoon.  I grew up thinking this was a normal snack.  It wasn't till I started going over to friend's houses that I realized my pop was the only one who did this.
  •          I remember gathering around the piano at Christmastime.  We had just put the tree up, the smell of hot chocolate is wafting through the air, and we start to sing carols.  I am playing, while the rest of the family is singing.  And boy, does pop sing.  He weaves throughout melody and harmony, depending on his mood.  It is so much fun.  
  •         I remember playing Truth and Dare as a family in our beach house.  We all think it is hysterical when pop chooses the dare over the truth.  Cause now he has to stick his head outside the window and produce a blood-curdling scream.  We lose ourselves to laughter as we listen to him do this; we can only hope that there are many neighbors outside to hear him too.   
  •        My pop at parties is a sight to behold.  My family thinks it's so funny because he always acts like he is not a social butterfly, like he would rather be reading his Bible or something.  But the truth of the matter is that when he walks into a party he is generally the loudest person there and has a smile for everyone.  He draws people into conversation and laughter comes very easily to him.  So, pop, nobody believes you that you don't love parties.  Sorry.  
  •         I remember going on long drives, either to somewhere or on our way home.  Pop is driving and mom is sitting in the front seat right beside him.  And they are talking.  Truly, deeply talking.  They are interested in each other's thoughts and opinions and are captured by their thread of conversation.  So often you see couples who have been married for a while run out of things to say; they lose interest in each other, as if they have heard it all before.  Not so with my pop and mom.  They discuss everything--from matters of the heart, to practical day-to-day things.  I am grateful that they showed me that--it's something to shoot for.   
  •        A friend from my church, Jacob, is simply entering into a time of worship.  He lifts his hands, palms up, in a gesture of surrender to God.  Pop walks by at this time, and what does he do?  He gives Jacob a high-5 with both hands.  Enough said.  

     So, happy Father's day, pop.  I love you; you are truly interesting and I love having you as my father!  

What a Girl Wants

         Sometimes, being a girl is difficult.  Especially when you find yourself in the minority with three older brothers--three very outspoken, very curious older brothers.  Yes, I have a younger sister, for whom I am very grateful, but let's face it--I had to blaze the trail of womanly adolescence in my house.  

        Now, let's get one thing straight: I love being in my family.  I wouldn't trade my history for anything in the world.  But, sometimes I felt like I was acting as a secret agent in my very own house. My mission: to hide the change known as adolescence; to divert any thread of conversation that could possibly lead to the forbidden words (these include bra, period, menstrual cycle (which is way worse than period, by the way), shaving your legs, tampons, pads, you get the point).  I tried desperately to blend with the boys, to not be noticed or stand out as different--but eventually, that was not so easy.  Especially at 13, 14, 15...Ugh. 

   So, as I said, I lived like a secret agent, hiding any and all paraphernalia that could lead to the suspicion that I may be going through puberty (oh yeah--that was another one of those taboo words in my mind, especially when my mom would pronounce it poo-berty. It still makes me cringe just thinking about it...).  It was hard, exhausting work, and I was never off-duty.  Well, except when I went to my friend, Erin's house...

   Growing up, Erin was (and still is) one of my best friends.  Erin lived in a house full of women.  It was her, her mom, and her two sisters.  Erin did not ever have to be a secret agent.  If Erin needed tampons, she literally called it out from her bedroom so that her mom could hear it clear across the house.  Like she wasn't embarrassed, like it was something to be proud of, even.  She had pretty underwear and everything, the kind that people would call panties--with lace and flowers and fun colors.  In my house, with all those boys wandering around, my underwear was strictly utilitarian.  It wasn't even close to panties.  Her house was like a woman's haven; a respite from my dogged and constant watch.  We did our nails, talked freely of bras and make-up, and could even dash from the bathroom to the bedroom in just our underwear. Amazing.  

    But I always had to go home, to the boys (who I loved, don't get me wrong).  And let me tell you, those boys were not shy about me and womanhood (I guess I was the only shy one).  I remember one day my brother, Jase, coming up to me with a serious look on his face.  He pulled me aside because he needed to "talk to me."  Okay...I listen as he continues to say, I was going through your drawers today and found a bra...Well, I never let him finish his point (and to this day I still have no idea why he was a). going through my drawers and b). bringing it up to me).  I kicked him in the shin and ran to my room.   And yeah, I cried.  Darby, who had seen the whole thing from a distance, later asked Jase what he said.  Jason innocently told her what had transpired, and Darby set him straight. She let him know that you don't say that kind of thing to your little sister. You just don't.  Oh, and try staying out of her drawers, too.

     Christine, another dear and close friend of mine, was quite vigilant in defending my secret-agenthood. She was basically part of my special-ops team.  I distinctly remember being at a church function when my oldest brother, Josh, put his hand on my shoulder.  At this point, I was squirming and hoping that he didn't feel the telltale strap that charged me with the crime of womanhood.  Too bad, he did.  And being Josh, had to say something about it: Is that a bra strap I feel? In my total defeat and humiliation, I didn't know what to say.  Christine came to the rescue, though, as she deflected his question with another question (much like Jesus and the pharisees, I gotta say...uh, no offense, Josh): Haven't you ever heard of a slip before? It was pure genius!  A slip can be worn at any age, and does not have a direct link to adolescence, and is therefore not embarrassing.  Plus, because she simply asked him a question, she was not lying--it wasn't her fault if he took it to mean something else entirely.  

       But my brother, Jonathan, takes the cake in interrogations.  I was 13, and had just gotten my period for the first time.  I was floored by it and didn't want to tell anybody, not even my mom...I was so upset that I figured my mom would be, too; that she would be sad I was growing up (when I finally did tell her a couple days later, she surprised me by acting like it was a good thing, a desired thing, even.  Who'd have thought?!?!).  So, anyway, being the secret-agent that I was, I had to come up with my own...devices.  The best thing I could think of was toilet paper.  Asking anybody for anything else would have given away my latest predicament, and I was not ready to do that.  

      So, me and my brothers get in a car to go to a church picnic at Nottingham Park.  I am a good secret-agent, always keeping my tools handy, so I decide to bring my own roll of toilet paper (in a big green shoulder bag) to the park.  I decide to stuff a jacket into the bag, last minute--just in case somebody asks me why I am suddenly carrying a bag with me.  Now I can say it's so I have a jacket, in case I get cold.  It didn't occur to me that it was summertime (no need for a jacket) and that most normal people don't carry jackets around in bags.  They leave them in the car, or lay them in the grass.  However, I get through the whole day without anyone mentioning that bag.  I think my plan worked. 

   But, now it is late.  Jonathan and I are in the habit of talking before we go to bed.  He knocks on my door, then comes in and sits on my bed.  I am not suspicious; I don't think anyone could have suspected that bag--not with the jacket in it.  But he calmly looks me in the eyes and starts in with the interrogation, Jess, I know you got your period.  I saw you with that bag all day--I even saw you take it into the bathroom.  I know what you had in that bag...I feel like a criminal, the kind that is offered a lawyer, but why bother?  All of the evidence so clearly points to me; the case is in the bag (no pun intended, promise).  The trial is simply a formality. Everybody knows I am guilty, guilty, guilty.  Oh why did I ever think that stupid bag was a good idea?  But then he goes on, I know you talked about your jacket, but I know what was really had in that bag: you were using it to carry tampons!  At this, I brighten, and I begin to see a small crack in the offense.  Maybe, just maybe I have a case.  I jump in,  But, I didn't--I don't even use tampons (I said this with great gusto, because it was actually true--remember, at that point, I was only using toilet paper)!!!!!!  But Jonathan only saw this as further evidence that I had gotten my period, because he said, Ahhh, so you don't use tampons? Then you must use something else--why else would you bring a bag into the bathroom?

    Well, Jonathan is very stubborn.  I was not a liar, so I simply stuck with my feeble defense of, I don't use tampons, I promise. There were NO tampons in that bag!!!  But, he knew.  The bag gave me away.  For once, my secret-agent plan had actually backfired and caused me to be noticed.  And of course one of my brothers was the one to notice.  Oh, and my mom saw to it that I quickly graduated from my toilet paper plan.  This was a very good thing, and that is all I will say about that.

   I love my brothers, but they sure didn't make it so easy for me to grow up in peace.  I remain truly grateful that I never have to go through adolescence again.  Once was enough, thank you very much.  

Friday, June 13, 2008

I don't think I will make a habit of this

          After the show tonight, some friends and I went to a dueling piano bar.  Now, I generally enjoy piano bars because I love to watch people play the piano.  Oh, also I can sometimes be uncomfortable or feel a bit awkward at a bar because it is too loud to talk and I am not much of a drinker, but a piano bar--now there you have something to do (remember? watch someone play the piano...).  Most of the ones I have been to are pretty chill and acoustic.  They play songs like Fire and Rain by James Taylor and Son of a Preacher Man by Dusty Springfield.  Sure, they can get a little rowdy because, let's face it, it's a bar--but for the most part, it's fun music that everybody can sing along to.  

       But Howl at the Moon is another story.  Lots and lots of people are squished up together in a room where the music is thumping so loud that you can't distinguish between your heartbeat and the bass drum.  But, there are live musicians--two pianists, a bassist, an electric guitarist, and a drummer.  Oh, and everyone has a mic.  For me, watching accomplished musicians jamming is a good time.  I could be flipping through the tv, and if I see someone playing something live and well--then I stop and listen.  It arrests me.  Even if it's music I would never buy, I enjoy seeing it played live.  So, here are all these musicians obviously loving their lives on a Thursday evening, wailing on the mics and just doing what they do.  Then they announce they are going to have a dance competition.  Each table can elect one female to go up onstage and just dance.  Maybe it's because I have been watching So You Think You Can Dance like it's my job, lately. Maybe it's because I once went to see Jay Leno live and did not volunteer to enter the dance competition there, and have since regretted it (I really think I could have won the t-shirt, anyway).  Maybe it's because all my friends encouraged me.  But, whatever it was, I had this light-hearted feeling and just went up there.  I mean, I am a dancer after all--how bad could it be?

        Turns out, pretty bad.  Not for me so much, but the other girls were pretty disgusting.  I couldn't help but think that their mothers did not teach them to act this way.  Where was their dignity, their pride, their sense of value?  I was the last to go, and let me tell you--it was a long 20 seconds.  I did a sensible backbend, a nice high kick, and some other cute, dancey things.  It was not the booty-shaking affair the other ladies offered up, though.  My mama taught me better than that. I did not win the competition, which was fine with me.  A gentleman by the name of Byron did come up to me afterwards and say, I could tell you are a beautiful dancer, classically trained; you must be a ballerina.  You were in an altogether different class than the skanky dancers up there before you.  Well, thank you, Byron; I am glad you noticed.  

   I probably won't do it again, but it was interesting.  And I feel sorry for those girls, really sorry.  

  On another note, life has been sweet lately.  I have been writing new music, running outside, reading new books, spending time with God, and enjoying good people.  I also saved the life of a baby bird, I think...At least, he had fallen from his nest onto the sidewalk and his parents were freaking out (I am no expert, but their flying seemed a little more frenetic than is normal for birds).  I remembered that humans are not supposed to touch baby birds (something about the mama bird shunning the baby bird if they smell like a human?  Or am I confusing that with what the Amish do?), so I found a big exotic leaf and managed to get the baby bird to hop onto it.  Then, I placed him back in the grass, under his tree, and near his frantic bird-parents (all without actually touching him, mind you).  At least then he was off the sidewalk and wouldn't be so easily stepped on.  When I ran back that way a little later, he was gone.  So, I like to think I saved his life.  Oh, and when I am not rescuing baby birds and everything else I mentioned, I am doing 8 shows a week.   


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

maybe the quiz gave me the headache

       Tonight, I had a headache throughout the show.  And afterwards (and now, if anyone cares to know).  It wasn't the torment of a migraine, thank God, but it was enough to keep me wanting to take my brain out of my head and pinch it (what? that doesn't sound comforting to you?).  I didn't do that, though--that probably would have been distracting to the audience, not to mention the fact that it could have killed me.  And that would have been sad.  So anyway, I am stuck with this headache.  Advil and some generic brand called No-pain, or something that sounded like a very good idea at the time, hasn't seemed to help much.  My head is just determined to ache, I guess.   

      Oh, but tonight Colt (who plays Al, my on-stage husband) and I were interviewed live on the radio.  I was really quite nervous beforehand, too.  See, I didn't know what to expect.  I don't think I have ever been interviewed before--at least, definitely not on the radio. But I figured there would be questions involved.  And let me tell you something: questions are one of my absolute favorite things.  Asking them, answering them--it doesn't matter, I just love them.  I think it is a Latshaw thing, to be honest.  I always have a question ready, just in case a conversation starts to turn awkward.  Uh-oh, now if I ask you a question you'll think, Jessica must be feeling awkward, here come the questions. But that is not always the case. Just sometimes.  And if a conversation is really bad, well then I jump ship completely and excuse myself for the bathroom (believe me, there are some that not even one of my questions can save. Conversations, that is--not bathrooms.  Actually, let's include bathrooms, too).  

   But, anyway, as long as the questions this guy on the radio (a DJ? is that right?) asks me steer clear of geography and math that involves letters, than I should be fine...Well, the interview begins and we come to find that the DJ loves the show, had been there opening night, and obviously knows his ACL stuff.  Great.  We answer some questions like Why do you think this show has such long legs and still effects people today? And Other than your own number, of course, what is a favorite part of the show? Easy-breezy. No problem.  I even throw around SAT words like symbiotic and collaborative-effort, I'm that smooth.  But then, he starts in on a quiz--literally calls it a quiz.  Gulp.  His first question: How many tony awards did the original Bway show win? Colt and I look at each other blankly and feel like total idiots.  We have no idea--I mean, we know there were a good amount, but...We guess 7.  We were off by 2 (bringing it to a grand total of 9).  Oh well, too bad nobody told us to do our homework.  Too bad we didn't know a pretty important fact about OUR JOB. 

  The next question: Is A Chorus Line the longest running musical? I did know this one--I think.  At least I rattle off an answer confidently enough to negate any arguing and present it as fact as I say, It is the longest running American musical.  Phantom of the Opera has since beaten it, but it is not American.  I think I even ended it with a Go USA (that was for my brother, affectionately known as Joshusa, he's that patriotic, lately). I gotta say, Colt looked very impressed by me when I said that.

  The final question is, A Chorus Line moved from off-Broadway to the Shubert Theater on Broadway in 1975.  How many years did it run at the Shubert?  Colt deftly and generously passes the question on to me (thanks).  Now, I have seen enough game shows to pull out the old, can-you-repeat-the-question? trick.  He repeats it, and a number comes into the forefront of my mind.  I blurt out It closed in...nineteen ninety...And I wait to see if that gets a positive reaction (cause I could always add another number like a 2 or 3 if it isn't, in fact, 1990), and it does get a positive reaction!  I even win 10 points for that one.  But I think it was kind of like Whose Line Is It Anyway? in that nobody really wins and the points don't matter.  But, it mattered to me--I really like to get answers right.  

  Anyway, the interview was a good time.  I enjoy talking--even to strangers (but it certainly did terrify me when I was younger.  And make it an adult stranger? Well, forget it.  I would barely tell them my name, which now that I think about it, is a good thing.  Kids aren't supposed to tell adult strangers their name, right?).   I pretty much liked the whole interview--except the part when the DJ called San Francisco San Franfrisky. I didn't like it because it seemed like too big a digression from the actual word to even be close to a pun.  That, and it made me feel weird.  

   Oh, and maybe the generic meds did help.  My head is better now. A little.         

open mic-night at the Rainbow

      So enough about Perez, already, right?

      As probably all of you know, I write music.  It's something that I have done for a long time now, and it's an intrinsic part of who I am.  I don't always have a lot to say in conversation (though some of you may disagree with that), but I can certainly sing a song about it.  I remember talking to my mom after one of my first real breaks-ups.  Here I was, left with a broken heart and a huge phone bill, and my mom said to me, Well, you know you can always write it out on the piano.  If he didn't give you anything else, at least he gave you some inspiration to write some good music. 

    And so that is exactly what I did.  I still sing those songs, actually (and I've added some more since then, too).  They are good; they come from a real place of pain or frustration or bittersweet love and they relate to the world because nobody lives in this place and comes out unscathed.  Anyway, the reason I am talking about my music is because I made a decision that I am going to play as much as I can for as many people as I can while on the road.  I honestly love to play for people--it doesn't make me nervous (most of the time); it gives me life.  So, I started tonight.  I found out that the Rainbow Bar and Grille on Sunset Blvd hosts an open-mic night on Mondays, which happens to be my only night off.  Perfect.  I also found out that the Rainbow is a favorite for bikers and people who should probably be on medication--make that definitely be on medication.  Perfect again.   Why not play some music for them?  

     Darby is gracious enough to lend me her keyboard.  And my housemate, Gabby, is kind enough to be my roadie.  We struggle under the weight of the keyboard and climb three flights of stairs to get it into the attic-like place where the open-mic night is held.  A compassionate surfer-like gentleman who I later hear singing about how he wants somebody to know his details immediately takes the keyboard off our hands (to what I can only assume brought his own immediate regret, since I overheard him saying that it is heavy as f#*#!!!).  Poor guy.  I hand the MC $2 (a dollar a song, I guess--we are allowed to play two) and ensure my spot on the list.  Then, we wait.  

  But, I must say we are entertained.  We listen to the aforementioned surfer, who dances with quick steps as he strums his guitar and sings about love, I think.  We suffer through a horrible comedian.  I mean, really really bad.  We only laugh because we cannot believe how very un-funny somebody who's entire point is to be funny can be.  Really, we are shocked.  But our misguided laughter unfortunately encourages him, so he starts looking to us for more laughter...And we start looking at the clock.  There are more singers--some terrible, some less terrible.  There is a rap duo.  One comedian looks at me and Gabby at one point and point-blank asks us if we got lost--I guess we didn't quite fit in or something.  Whatever. My friend, Emily, shows up with two of her friends.  Another dear friend, John, comes into the place.  At this point we have heard a lot of acts, and I am finally given the go-ahead to start setting up the keyboard.  So, I get to work with the help of Gabby and John, and am not paying too much attention to what is going on in the room. That is, until I see the man behind the microphone. Wearing some sort of...hideous creature mask...and rambling like a madman.  While I am setting up, he accidentally unplugs his mic cord and proceeds to accuse me of unplugging it.  Uh-uh, not on my watch.  So, I kindly intervene that I wasn't anywhere near the jack and couldn't possibly have unplugged it.  To which he replies that there were many haters in this city (me being the foremost hater, I suppose).  My friend, Emily, later said that you could call Jessica Latshaw many things, but hater would never be one of them...Anyway, this man did realize that he had, in fact, unplugged it, and apologizes accordingly.  I accept--since I really am not a hater.   

  Then it's my turn.  And you know what?  I am not nervous--I am truly excited to share.  I feel like people are really listening, too--like I have their attention.  I play 2 songs (gotta get my money's worth, I gotta say) and it is really really fun for me.  An Irish duo called Jezebel had gone on a few acts before me and were quite impressive.  So when they later said kind things about my music, it meant a lot--I guess because they were actually very good.  

   This was small--but it meant something to me.  It was a baby step towards a dream and God knows you have to start somewhere.  It also meant a lot to me that some dear friends came out and supported me (and John held the keyboard for a full 10 minutes--good thing he is built like a greek god, I guess).  So here's to a day of small beginnings and not knowing where it will lead, but hoping for something good.        

Sunday, June 8, 2008

may be sensitive to light, and certain comments, and secrets, and jokes, and most people...

        I am feeling sensitive today.  Overly so, I would say.  I think I miss home; I miss people who know me really well and make it so that I don't have to try--I can just be.  Poor Drew, I wasn't too nice to him on the phone earlier and he doesn't deserve a grumpy wife.  I am feeling easily irritated by others, and getting hurt too easily.  For instance, a good friend of mine in the cast was talking with me when a girl sidled up to him mid-conversation (our conversation, by the way).  She obviously had something to say (to him),  and so he pointedly looked at me and said, Sorry, it's secret time.  Ouch.  It was just a stupid little thing, that if pressed, I am sure he would have said he was joking.  I mean, really not a big deal...Right?  But, I felt that little pang deep inside that reminds me I am always, irrevocably human.  That I cannot escape the awful fact that others have the power to hurt me--sometimes knowingly, sometimes not--but still, they hold too much power, in my opinion.  And sometimes I really hate it.  Because they go trotting on merrily, reveling in their secrets and loving their lives, and I am left feeling hurt and then feeling stupid and embarrassed that I even cared enough for them to hurt me in the first place.  Oh, the joy of having a sensitive heart, and though this may be sexist to say, being a girl.   Ok, let's take the sexist-factor out of it, and for the purpose of being specific, say being this girl.               

              I think I should start a group.  It will be called Overly Sensitive Anonymous, OSA for short (and because acronyms are so professional, not too mention impressive--admit it, you weren't so sure about Overly Sensitive Anonymous, but as soon as you read OSA, you were like yeah, that's a great idea, Jess, and if you weren't like that, please remember how sensitive I am right now and maybe you can just pretend to be like that. For my sake. Please?).  In this group, we will all think very long and hard before we say anything at all--just to make sure that we don't accidentally say something that could, in certain situations or by certain individuals, be taken the wrong way and, God forbid, hurt someone.  We won't judge someone for being hurt or say that they really shouldn't feel hurt--we will understand that they need their feelings to be validated.  Because to them, to us, feelings or perception equal reality.  We will cry together and not allow secrets, because secrets secrets are no fun and secrets secrets hurt someone.  And unfortunately, that someone was me. Earlier tonight.  Or did you forget?  Wait, don't tell me--cause if you did, then that could hurt my feelings. Again.    
            Alright, so maybe that is overboard.  Because here is the thing: I don't like it when I feel this way.  I understand that every little thing that hurts me is not necessarily wrong on the offender's part.  Sometimes, to put it plainly, I am just too darn sensitive.  Sometimes, I need to step back and realize that someone didn't intend to hurt me, or that objectively speaking, the situation really wasn't bad.  I am much better at this now then when I was say, 8 years old (I know, I know, you don't need to applaud too long for my staggering leap of maturity from 8 years old to now).  
            I have a very distinct memory of my whole family being in the living room of a beach house we had rented and my oldest brother, Josh, teasing me.  I was wearing shorts that I suppose, did not have the strongest elastic and had slipped below my waist band.  This gave cause for Josh, in a sing-song voice, to say to me, I see somebody's underpants, I see somebody's underpants...Well, I think I have already mentioned that I was a very modest little girl and the thought of him not only seeing my underpants, but announcing it to the world (which happened to just be my family at that point, but still) horrified me.  I immediately ran upstairs and just cried and cried...
          Looking back, and with my amazing amount of maturity I now have, I realize that Josh really wasn't being mean to me.  In fact, I just recently said that same thing to Ollie, my nephew, and we both laughed.  Again, it was a case of being too sensitive--which is something that I don't want to be.  I don't want people to have to walk on egg-shells or handle me with kid gloves (except maybe Drew can, every once in a while).  I want others to be able to make fun of me--goodness knows, I sure enjoy dishing it out sometimes.  So maybe OSA will be less of a place to enable the Bleeding Hearts of the world, and more of a place to talk some sense into them (into me).  
        But still--can't people at least refrain from telling secrets in front of me?  Come on, that's hurtful at 5 and it's hurtful at 95.  Oh, and you want to hear something funny?  Today, my most sensitive of days, Perez Hilton finally came to see A Chorus Line.  My dear friend, John, pulled some strings and got him an amazing ticket.  I went out to say hi to him by the stage door afterwards (and to get a pic of he and I for Jenna), and politely asked him if he enjoyed himself. To my utter surprise he proceeded to say, I hated it. I hated everything about it.  Nothing happened and there were too many characters, making it so that I didn't care about anyone. There was no intermission, and I was very dehydrated.  And that lady, Carrie (he meant Cassie, but oh well), who was supposed to be this amazing dancer finally did her solo and it was terrible...
        Well, don't hold back your true feelings on my account, Perez Hilton.  Lol.  I did talk to him for a while, but I ended it with, Thanks for seeing the show and sorry that you hated it!  Oh, and apparently if you take a picture of yourself wearing his new clothing line being sold at Hot Topic, then he will post the pic on his site.  So, there's that.  I really don't mind at all that he hates the show, either--honestly, it was rude of him to say it so bluntly, but I think it's funny all the same.  So see--this president of OSA is making a little headway, maybe.  
       Now, if he had told a secret to someone else in front of me, that would be a whole other matter.