Thursday, July 31, 2008

a lot of meds

      So, at one point today I was honestly thinking about calling out of the show.  But, then I ate a peach and decided I could do it and that was that.  I don't know how much of it was the peach and how much of it was the shower I took soon after, but I just realized that I didn't necessarily have to call out.  I mean, I knew it might not be as fun as usual, but I could do it. And now, with this annoying sinus infection, my friends here have really stepped up. 

     Let me see, Gabby has shared with me her NyQuil, nasal spray (she was like, we're basically family--just stick it up your nose and snort), and gave me one of her z-packs.  And this wasn't just any z-pack, her mom gets a lot of medicine right over the border in Mexico, where it is stronger and cheaper, so I guess this is the good stuff.  Kevin gave me something homeopathic that dissolves on your tongue and tastes a little like a battery.  In fact, it is dissolving on my tongue right now...Emily has offered me an assortment of herbs that she keeps handy.  Erika has given me her wellness pills that taste like olives and go down three at a time. Yum.  Colt has asked if he can do anything.  John has asked me if he can get me anything.  John's fiance, Michael, was planning on buying me medicine and dropping it off before I told him that I really was gonna be fine, that Gabby had the hook up, anyway.  So, basically I am traveling with a full pharmacy minus one teeny little actual PHD in pharmaceuticals among the lot of them (but how much does that really matter?  Kidding, Jason Jazz!).  Anyway, let's just say I have taken a lot (on top of the vitamin E tablets and multi-vitamin I already take regularly), but more than that, am grateful for my friends and their generosity.  Which reminds me, I need to take three more of those olive-tasting wellness things...

       What else can I say?  Oh, I had to make this appearance tonight at this event sponsored by a local radio station called Ladies Night Out.  It was a package deal of cocktails and appetizers as well as getting to meet three of the ladies of ACL before they saw the show (which is where I came in).  My ears were all plugged up, so I had to really strain to hear them as I made small talk with the different women.  They were kind and interested and I gave them autographs and and was happy to meet them.  Come to think of it, though, there was a man in there--not sure how he slipped into Ladies Night Out, but whatever.  I am sure he was happy to be there. 

       So, I have been seeing pretty much the inside of my hotel room and the theater this week.  Tomorrow, I am hoping to change that.  See, I love Portland and I really want to walk around and see this town.  I have truly good memories of being here last time with my dear friend Betsy who did Will Rogers Follies with me.  So, I am planning on seeing the world again tomorrow.  Here's to hoping it happens.  


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

uh-oh, sicko

            I am sick.  Last night, I had a hard time sleeping cause I couldn't breathe through my nose.  It was just totally stuffed up.  My poor roommate kept waking up because of my loud sniffing, I think.  Anyway, I woke up with a sore throat, clogged ears, more of the stuffy nose, and a head that hurt.  I guess I could have called out of the show tonight, and let one of my three understudies go on, but that just isn't my style.  I really don't like calling out of things.  So, I did the show and it was a doozy, my friends.  

            And not a good doozy, I think.  I mean, I don't think the audience could tell that I was not quite as in it as I could have been, but I could certainly tell.  And Colt, who plays my husband in the show, could tell.  He was sweet, though--he kept asking if I was alright and if he could do anything.  Anyway, halfway through the show, I had a little break and so was able to catch up on the comments on this blog.  Well, there was a new one in response to one of my older posts, and it was a little rude, I gotta say.  And here I was sick, trying to push through a really energetic and demanding show, and that comment just felt like the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.  Anyway, it hurt my feelings a little, so I called Jenna and let her do what she does so well--act as a loyal advocate of anyone in our family and make anyone who crosses our path shiver in their boots with fear.  

     I took some nyquil, a z-pack, and something homeopathic.  I also have some nasal spray that I have been told by Gabby to take (she might want to get some sleep tonight).  And with that, I am going to bid you all a good night--or day, depending on when you happen to read this.

this life

     One of my fears--especially on tour, for some reason--is getting that scary phone call.  You know, the one that relays the very worst.  Usually, I am fine because I don't let my mind go there.  I also realize that there is some sort of incomprehensible grace that comes when you are in the moment of tragedy; but imagining that moment is not the same--there's just no grace for it.  However, when one of my family calls and has anxiety or sadness in their voice, my chest immediately tightens and I dread what I am about to hear.

    Last time I was on tour, there was a space of about 10 minutes in which I missed three different calls from various family members--one from Josh, one from Jase, and one from mom.  Well, I figured this probably was not good, and so I listened to the voice mail with growing apprehension.  Mom cryptically told me to call home--and there is something about the sound of anxiety in my mom's voice that makes me terrified.  Josh left the same kind of message, and same from Jase.  Finally, I got a hold of Josh and he told me that I didn't need to worry (yeah right! like that was gonna happen), but pop was in the hospital...Thank God, it turned out that he had a kidney stone--yes, extremely painful, I know, but nothing permanent. He was fine.

   Anyway, today I awoke to my sister, Jenna, calling me.  I answered the phone groggily and she was like, Jess--you wanna hear something really sad? I immediately woke up and asked her if everything was okay, thinking that maybe something was really wrong.  She was like, I'm fine--everything's fine--it's just that Bennigan's is going out of business. Oh.  My mood brightened, because it was just a restaurant that was ending--not the life of anybody in my family.  We did, however, discuss how sad it would be to no longer enjoy the pretzel role that comes with the turkey o'toole, or the kilkenny country chicken salad.  Or the brownie bottom pie.  Or the deliciously soft melt-in-your-mouth-roll with the honey butter.  Oh--I guess I am really sad about Bennigan's closing down...

   After that phone call, Drew called me.  His voice was broken up and again, I found myself fearing the worst.  What's wrong, baby? I asked.  Well, he told me some really sad news.  A friend of his from high school called him today to let him know that his ex-girlfriend, who he had been in a relationship with for 4 years, had died.  Libby was only 26 when she died from ovarian cancer.  Drew was really upset, understandably so.  I keep thinking about her family, about how unfair and senseless it is for someone so young to leave this earth.  I have been praying for the people who love her; for God to bind up their broken hearts, to be present in all their pain and grief.  I don't understand this world, it hurts so much just to be here sometimes.  But, I know that there is a God who transcends this world and all its senselessness.  And I know that Libby is truly living with Him, experiencing a joy and health and hope that dims what we have now in comparison.  I just can't imagine the pain that those she left behind have no choice but to walk through today. And tomorrow. And the next day.  And I can't imagine navigating this life without God's promises, without his hope and peace--and the knowledge that this fleeting earth and all it's insecurities is just that--fleeting.  

      My prayer is that though I will be sorrowful at times, I will still always be rejoicing, because I know who I have believed, and His grace is sufficient for me.  And this doesn't change.  This is why I can laugh at the days to come and smile at the days behind me.  This is why hope still lifts its head, defiantly; challenging the world and just waiting to have the last word. Because it will.

    And I will know, there's more to life 
   Than the sorrow and the sadness, than the chaos and the madness,
   Than a down-trodden spirit, than harm and those who fear it.  
   And I will hear the sound of hope as it wraps itself around me, 
    I realize every day is new and free. 
    The light is drawing nearer, making every moment dearer.
     And I am becoming one with life, yes I am becoming one with life.   


Monday, July 28, 2008


        Uh-oh, it's ten-thirty in the evening and I just woke up.  After about a five hour nap.  Oops. See, I had to get up at 6:45 this morning, after only sleeping for about three hours last night.  Then, I flew to Portland and could not sleep on the plane.  I just couldn't get comfortable, and believe me when I tell you that I tried about 20 different positions in that seat--with my hood over my head for good measure.   I think I am tired enough to go back to sleep tonight, though. 

     See, sleeping is something that I am pretty darn good at.  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I was born asleep.  I mean, most people would think that it is a pretty momentous occasion to meet the world--first gulp of air, first glimpse of your surroundings, and all that hullabaloo--and so would make sure to witness it. Awake.  But no, I just decided it sounded like a good opportunity to get in one more nap, I guess.  The midwife thought something was terribly wrong, at first.  But, once she woke me up, I was fine--other than being tired and probably not wanting to communicate so much (I am not a morning talker, give me my space first thing, please).  So anyway, sleep has always come pretty naturally to me.  

    What else can I tell you?  It's Monday, meaning I did not have be Kristine Urich tonight.  I have written two songs in the last few days--both make me happy; one's a funny one, one is serious.  I am reading a new Donald Miller book (he's the author of Blue Like Jazz, and I love him), which is very appropriate because he lives in this great town of Portland and one of my goals here is to find him and meet him.  I mean, he says in his bio that if I am ever in Portland to look him up cause he'd like to meet me.  Sure, maybe he meant that generally, but I am going to take it personally.  It's gonna be a little hard to try to spot him, because I don't know what he looks like.  I guess I'll just look for someone who is really funny, smart, spiritual, unconventional, grew up without a father, and lives in Portland.  Well, that should narrow it down, right?  I am reading his book, To Own a Dragon, which my friend John says sounds stupid because who owns a dragon now a days?  Well, I think he may have misunderstood, because it isn't some sort of manual for dragon-owners that lays out the steps of when and what to feed it, how often to exercise it, and which dragons are both hypoallergenic and make adorable pets for your spoiled child.  It's actually quite good, and you don't have to own a dragon to appreciate it.  Besides, with our current economy, who can afford a dragon?  Even with my per diem, it would be tough.  And I don't think my kitties would appreciate it I brought a dragon home, not to mention the neighbors.  

      I guess the only other thing I could mention is that for dinner I had a very large burger and a very small cupcake.  Oh, wait--maybe that was lunch.  Well, whatever it was, it was delicious.  I have also recently taught my friends one of my favorite games, do-do-dee-do-do-do.  If you don't know this game, then you should find someone who can teach it to you--it is quite fun.  Anyway, there are a few of the guys on this tour who have fallen in love with the game and always want to play it--at dinner, at the airport, in a limo--you name it, they want to start throwing down a beat and throwing out a word.  And I am happy to join them every time.  

   Oh, and it's shark week on the discovery channel all week.  Unfortunately for me, I missed Best Five Eaten Alive tonight because of my nap.  You snooze, you lose--quite literally for me, this time.  



Saturday, July 26, 2008


Okay, so my family has been somewhat, ah, preoccupied with sharks for as long as I can remember.  And not just any shark, mind you--great white sharks, to be specific.  I am pretty sure that my brother Jason was the one to start the whole obsession, but I think it's safe to say all of us have jumped on the bandwagon.   Jase has always been totally into sharks.  I mean, not in a creepy way, like he actually enjoys when they attacked or anything like that, but there was always something about them that he found mesmerizing.  Maybe it has something to do with their being some of the only animals left over from the cretaceous period (I don't think I made that up; I think they share that honor with crocs and alligators; they all have those same beady little eyes--terrifying).  Maybe it's the fact that they cannot be kept alive in captivity.  Maybe it's that they can eat you, or if given half a chance, they will eat you.  But anyway, they are fascinating.  

    Every summer, my family has gone to Bethany Beach and quite enjoyed ourselves in the surf.  However, my brothers, sister, and I are no dummies; we have always made sure that there is at least one person further out in the water than we are.  We affectionately refer to this person as shark bait.  That way, if there is a shark nearby, it would go for the decoy (shark bait), and give us time to get to the safety of shore.  That's the plan, anyway.  While I am on this topic, let me share a little gem of a shark joke that my oldest brother, Josh, came up with while we were in the water a few summers ago.  Picture all of us floating along, jumping the waves, keeping our boogie boards close while making sure that Shark Bait is still out there, and Josh starts in, Hey guys--what do you call your friend while he is getting eaten by a shark?  Um, terribly unlucky and in horrible pain?  we guess.  Nope, he says with a smile--Your chum!  Horrible, I know--but what can I say? Josh has a way with puns.  

    Alright, so here's another scenario--and this one just happened--tell me if you think this is weird.  So, a group of us from the cast have just ridden our bikes over the golden gate bridge and are now taking the ferry across the bay back to San Francisco.   One of the guys starts in on this story and says, You wanna hear something horrible I just heard? So, this father took his family out on a boat to see the walruses.  He was there with his kids and they were all excited to see them, when just when they glimpse them, a great white shark surfaces and literally eats one of the walruses in front of them!  Everyone was like, Ew, gross!  How terrible! and I finally piped up with, ...Actually...? I think that would be pretty amazing to see...I mean, I guess it'd be better if it happened to a walrus that had no family and maybe had already lived a full life, but still--to witness a shark eating a walrus?!?! That'd be a once in a lifetime thing!  After noticing their looks of shock and disgust at what I said, I was like, What--is that weird?  And they were like, YES.  Oh...

    Anyway, my friends have been making fun of me because I keep telling them that there are sharks here--tons of them.  They are like, it's too cold here for sharks--there are NO sharks here.  We finally found a little mural of a shark and they made me take a picture with the faux shark--and made it clear that this was the only shark I was gonna find here.  Well, I wasn't convinced.  So, I had to call in the big guns; Jase found me an article that stated in bold black and white that "many great white sharks have been spotted under the golden gate bridge..."  What'd I do with that article, you wonder?  Something that any sensible, mature adult should do--I posted it on my friends facebook wall.  I mean, I'm not one to quickly say I told you so, but still. Also, I talked to some locals on the bus here who told me that there are lots of great whites right around here--and get this!--that their breeding ground is nearby!!!!!  Whoa.  So, I did what I had to--I let all of my doubting friends know the truth.  What are friends for, right?

  So, during the show tonight, my friend, Jay, had a present for me. A shark pez dispenser.  Perfect.  

Friday, July 25, 2008

new dancing shoes

     Okay, so this is gonna be a quick post.  And the picture is because I wanted to show you the new shoes that I wore to an Argentinian tango club tonight (and because I know Jenna likes to see my new shoes).  Why, you ask, would one dance in heels for her job--and then choose to wear 4 inch stiletto heels to dance afterwards, pro bono?  Well, a couple of reasons, actually.  First, I got them today and was excited to try them out on the town and second, you just can't do the tango in flats.  Period.  

    Anyway, we ended up going to this club because the bassist in our pit, Sasha, told us about how he plays the upright bass for the club.  So, a few of us decided to go and see what it was like.  

   We walked in, and I was immediately struck by the beauty of all the dancers.  They were all ages, shapes, and sizes but they were alike in their smoothness and grace on the dance floor.  And all of the women had these gorgeous heels on...At first, I just sat there and talked to my friends.  I don't know how to tango--and everyone else on the floor did, so I figured I would just watch.  Three different men came over to me and asked me to dance, but I told them thanks for the offer, but I really don't know how to tango.  That was until Glen got a hold of me.  He was another kind gentleman--probably somewhere in his 40's--who came over to me and asked me to dance.  I gave my same spiel, but he wouldn't take no for an answer (not in a scary way, though).  Turns out Glen is a tango instructor and he told me that if I could walk, I could tango.  So, I got up with him and we started dancing. It was slow, and my eyes were glued to his feet (lots of couples were whirling around us with closed eyes, but not me), but we were dancing.  He said I had good instincts (I hope so, since I do dance professionally!).  Anyway, we did two dances--and I seriously had a blast.  He grabbed me later that night and danced with me once more, this time a little more complexly (but still baby steps compared to most of the other couples).  Oh, and I can honestly say it was the first time I had ever danced to the amazing sounds of the upright bass, guitar, and accordian...Fantastic, right?

    When we were leaving, a man stopped me and asked who makes my shoes.  Well, I think it is hilarious when one of my department store buys is misunderstood to be a new hot seller from some designer and I was tempted to say Madame Aldo.  But, seeing his earnestness, I just said, Uh, I got them at Aldo...He told me that he loved them; actually, what he said was, I love the shoes. The legs aren't bad, either, but I love the shoes. Well, thanks.  After I told him that I loved what I saw tonight and was inspired to learn how to tango, he said, Well, I suppose you could learn how to dance here, but to learn how to tango, you have to go to Buenos Aires.  Okay, I said, Put that on the list, too...I mean, sure--I'll go to Buenos Aires and learn how to tango; that sounds great!

    Well, my feet hurt, but the night was worth it.  And really, I do want to learn how to tango--in fact, I think a group of us from the cast are going to start taking lessons. They will almost certainly not be in Buenos Aires, but I bet we could learn to tango--at least a little--here in the states.  

Thursday, July 24, 2008

sorry, no puppy pics today...

    Well, it seems the Latshaw curse of dry skin has bested me once again in the form of a split on the bottom of my foot.  If any of you have ever had your skin just crack for no apparent reason, than you know how painful it can be.  Not stop-your-life-so-you-can-heal-painful, mind you, but just enough-to-make-every-step-and-especially-if-it-happens-to-be-a-dance-step-painful.  Another thing about having a split on the bottom of your foot, is that it really doesn't look that bad.  I mean, you show people and they are like, Huh. But, it hurts like the dickens.  Some fellow dancers have taken super-glue and just glued the darn thing shut, which sounds like a pretty good idea.  But, I don't even have a band-aid, so you can be pretty sure that I don't have super glue.  I'm an artist, people; I'm not McGuyver.  

    Anyway, I may or may not have booked a show in Vietnam today.  See, I don't have direct access to a piano here in San Francisco, so I've been hauling it over to Guitar Center and just living in the piano section, practicing my heart out and trying for the life of me to block out all the, ah, generous noises around me.  So, I was in the electric piano section today, trying to do my own thing, while this man was laying down some funky beats on a keyboard directly behind me.  I tried in vain to keep playing my music, but he was just too darn loud.  Well, if you can't beat them, join them, right?  So, I just started playing along--finding the key and improvising along the way.  This lasted a little bit before I decided to try the contemporary keyboard section in hopes for a little more privacy and a little less funky beats.  I found a keyboard that looked good and got to it.  Before too long, funky beat man was standing right next to me, very obviously staring over my shoulder while I played.  What did I do, you may ask?  Only proceed to play the most impressive of my repertory...But, after a while, it got kind of annoying because he just wouldn't go away.  So finally I was like, Hi...And he started telling me that he really liked the way I played, etc, etc.

   Well, it turns out this guy (his name is Kannan) is a singer-songwriter in Vietnam.  He asked for my info (I gave him my email and myspace stuff) because he wants me to play with him.  In Vietnam.  I guess you really never know who you will meet.  And who knows if it's for real, but still--it's certainly interesting.  Oh, and if you've never been to a guitar center--you really should go.  The place is this amazing mecca of creativity and timelessness.  At least, when I go there I feel like making music and I never have any idea where all the time has gone when I finally leave.  

   Tomorrow, I am getting up early--9 am (I know Jonathan, you think that is hilarious that I call that early--but it is for me!).  I have convinced my friend, Gabby, to take a modern class with me in the morning.  Hopefully the split on my foot won't interfere too much... 

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

what to do?

   Okay, this post has nothing whatsoever to do with this picture, but I love this picture of Baby so much, that I wanted to post it.  I would have put it in yesterday's post, but I had already posted my limit for pics, so I am posting it now.  And since it is my blog, I can do that.  Now, on to the topic at hand...  

     Lately, I have been living in cities.  And so, I have been noticing a problem that seems to be almost unconquerable (I said almost so you don't need to remind me of the Bible verses that call us more than conquerers--they are my inspiration for the almost).  It seems that everywhere I go, I am faced with homeless people.  Some are obviously crazy.  There is one woman who hangs around outside our theater, for instance, and she is very preoccupied with finding her lip gloss.  Now, I don't know if her lips are chapped, or it is purely a vain thing, but she is hard core after some lip gloss.  The weather is cold here (as Mark Twain said, I've never spent a colder winter than summer in San Francisco--happy, Josh?), and she generally wears shorts and a t-shirt and a sweat band across her ankle (don't ask me why--maybe she has a sweaty ankle?).  Anyway, one day this woman just announced to the world, You can stick your finger up my *** and call me Shirley, but I NEED MY LIP GLOSS.  We were like, Uh, no thanks...Shirley...
    But seriously, Shirley is not alone.  Maybe in her quest for lip-gloss, sure, but not in her apparent homeless state.  I see so many people that make me so sad--even guilty--every day.  These are people who are veterans, people without certain limbs, people who have run away from a terrible situation, people who have lost their marbles, but bottom line, they are all people, right?  
   Anyway, yesterday while we were at the Fisherman's Wharf there was a guy huddled on the side of the street with a crusty old blanket for warmth.  Of course he asked us for money, and of course I felt terrible as we walked by with our full stomachs and shiny credit cards.  He had also said he was hungry, so I looked around for any dinner I could get him.  The best I could find was a corn dog at a roadside stand, so after buying this for him, I ran back to where he was and told him I had some dinner for him.  He looked at me and said, Well, do you have any money for me?  All you have is a hot dog? I said no, I didn't have any money for him, that this was all that I had for him.  He didn't look grateful at all.  He just took it nonchalantly and tossed a half-hearted thanks my way before he took a bite.   I walked away feeling empty and stupid. I knew that the corn dog wasn't going to solve his problems.  I knew that he would still be homeless and dirty and poor, but still--I thought some compassion could somehow change the situation.  

    Anyway, when I got to the theater tonight, I told my good friend about it.  Now, he feels very differently about homeless people than I do.  He has no compassion towards them and says that they have all made choices to get where they are.  He thinks that us giving them something for nothing only perpetuates the problem; that people who do not work for their keep become even lazier and lose all ambition to be productive citizens.  Now, before you judge him, please realize that he had a very tumultuous childhood, and actually spent some time as a kid homeless with his mom.  He saw her pull herself up out of a difficult situation; he saw her overcome homelessness and work very very hard.  My friend does not, however, think that the homeless should be ignored; he thinks that we need to develop programs that teach them to be productive.  Basically, it's like that Native American proverb, Give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.
    Anyway, I guess all the homelessness makes me feel very sad and a little confused.  I wanted to get that man some food because I wanted to show him compassion in a real way.  I didn't want to simply say God bless you and leave him hungry and in need, like the parable goes.  It would scare me if I started walking by the under privileged and didn't feel a thing.  But I can also see my friend's point.  What do you guys think?  What do you do when you see people in need?  I understand it is a case by case situation, but still--any wisdom or thoughts you have on the matter would be great to hear.  

Monday, July 21, 2008

some pics...and text...

     Okay, first of all--this, my friends, is Alcatraz.  Awesome, right?  It's a jail that was built to house the very worst convicts in our country.  It's on a tiny, rocky island in the middle of the San Francisco bay harbor and, although none of my friends believed me today when I insisted on it,  there are sharks just circling it.  I can feel it. It is usually wrapped in fog like a shroud, only heightening its notoriety.  I am fascinated by it, and I can only hope to actually tour the building before I leave next week.  I guess it's really hard to get tickets, though; but, I am gonna try.  Oh, and one more thing--does the title of Alcatraz for a remote jail remind you of anything? Maybe Azkaban?  Yeah, I thought so, too.  Oh, and I realize that Alcatraz came first.
   Next, this is a picture of Sterling, one of the vineyards that we toured today.  Yep, me and some friends rented a limo and toured Napa Valley.  It was amazing to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge, leave San Francisco, and look behind to see the haze and fog that covers the city almost all the time.  But, in Napa Valley, the sun was shining and the sky was blue.  I didn't even need a scarf.  We had wine tastings, and though I do not enjoy the taste of most wines, I tasted almost all of them, which I thought was admirable of me.  There was even one desert wine that I thought was pretty palatable.  Anyway, the vineyard was so beautiful, and so different than anything where I live.

   Then we happened upon a whole bunch of sea lions hanging out near Pier 39.  They were hilarious.  They made all sorts of funny noises and it was especially humorous to see them interact with each other.  One unfortunate sea lion, in particular, kept trying to heave his massive body onto the dock, only to be rebuffed again and again by sea lions that had already parked themselves on the dock.  

  And the last pictures are of these two tiny puppies that Jase and I happened upon a while back on our hike.  They were seriously some of the most adorable little animals I had ever seen, I and just wanted to share them with you.  I honestly wanted to take them home with me, and I think you can see why.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I never got to say good-bye...

       The summer I turned 16, I was home a lot.  Now, I know most kids would get annoyed at this and maybe even roll their eyes like it was just a total drag, but not me.  See, I loved my home.  We have 21 acres, a stream, lots of trees, and plenty of space to explore, build forts, and look for animals. I say that in the present tense, because I realize a part of me will always consider it to be home.  When I played the leading role of Beatrix--a girl who was well-acquainted with nature and animals--in the ballet, Peter Rabbit, the choreographer came to my house. When he saw all of the land, the wildness of the forests, and the rolling hills, he looked at me and said, Why, you are Beatrix Potter!  Anyway, all of this to say that there is something about nature that has always intrigued me and made me so happy.  

    So, that summer me and my sister-in-law, Rebekah (who wasn't my sister-in-law yet), went down to the stream a lot.  And we happened to discover a certain snake.  This guy would always be sunning himself on a large rock on the close side of the stream.  We would run down the hill, and then start to walk stealthily when we got close to the water, so as not to spook our friend, the snake.  We started seeing him very consistently, and enjoyed it immensely.  

   It got to the point where I would be up in my house at the top of the hill (the stream was at the bottom of the hill, if you hadn't surmised this already), and would just get this feeling, this sixth sense, if you will, that the snake was out, in his spot.  Well, I would stop what I was doing, and just go down that hill--starting with a run, ending with a creep, and sure enough, he would be there, just soaking in the sun, being a snake.  It got to be about everyday that I was going down to the stream, and my spidey-sense that the snake would be there would almost always be right.  

  One time, Rebekah and I went down there and we surprised our snake friend during a romantic rendezvous.  At least, he was entwined with another snake, so I would pretty much label that as more than just friends.  Anyway, we were glad for him--everybody needs companionship, right?

   And that's how it went for a long time.  Until one day at the end of the summer, when my plan went absolutely and terribly awry.  It was the same old, same old; I had the sense, I went down to the stream, and there he was.  Only this time, he was on the far side of the stream.  I couldn't watch him that well from where I was, and I loved watching him.  So, thinking to make him move, I picked up a rock with the aim to throw it near him and see him hop into the water--maybe even get him to swim back to his normal spot, by me.  Well, I picked up my rock and threw it.  Wouldn't you know that I was like David throwing that rock at Goliath and hit my poor snake friend squarely on the top of his scaly head?  I mean, I couldn't have hit him there if I had tried a million times for a million dollars!  I was horrified!  I watched my snake friend slither away quietly, and never saw him again.  He was gone.  I can only hope that I didn't kill him; I can only hope that he nursed his wound and then settled down at another stream--justifiably so.  I never got that sense again, either.  Probably because he wasn't there.  

  I guess the moral of the story is always be careful when you throw a rock. And if you happen to have particularly bad aim, then maybe just don't throw one at all.  

Saturday, July 19, 2008

trying to sneak by

     San Francisco is freezing.  Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration, since there are no actual icicles on any buildings, but I can, in all honesty tell you this: I am bundling up in a scarf, jacket, and gloves every day.  Truly.  I am grateful that I still have some winterish clothing with me, because, believe me, I am using all of it.  This is mid-July and I am wearing a thick scarf. That just doesn't seem right.  I had just assumed that any part of California would be warm, at any time.  Uh-uh, nope.  I guess I don't have to remind you what assuming does...

   Oh, so I have been getting around the city by bus.  Every beginning of the week I buy a bus pass for $15.  However, on thursday of this week, I somehow lost my pass.  I was very disappointed and I did not want to buy another week pass when it was already thursday and I had already paid for one.  So, my plan was to stealthily get onto the bus in a clump of other people and quickly flash my other pass that I had already bought (the one for next week, starting the 21st).  The only difference is that this week's pass is purple, whereas next week's pass is gold.  But, most of the drivers barely look up as we walk by, so I was gonna take my chances. Plus, I wasn't stealing since I had paid for the week pass fair and square.  Anyway, the plan was working beautifully.  That is, until I met up with the one bus driver who cares--and is mean, mean, mean.  

   I walk onto the bus right after Emily and Gabby flash their passes, and quickly flash my gold one.  The bus driver stops me mid-stride and is like, You! Get back here. Gulp. Ah, me? I ask, hoping against hope that he meant some other "you."  But he said, Yeah, you--is your pass a different color than theirs? Let me see yours closer. At this point, I can feel my pulse quicken and I know I am caught.  It's a terrible feeling. So, I show him the pass with the dates so horribly obvious in black and then I try to tell him that I did buy a pass for this week, but lost it.  To my utmost surprise, he neither believes me nor cares, and simply says, You need to pay. 
Uh, okay--how much is it? I ask. 1.50, he curtly replies.  I put my two dollars into the machine and simply wait for the change.  It doesn't appear.  I ask the bus driver where my fifty cents is and he smugly says, There is no change--and I could tell he was happy about it.  So, I ask him, Well, where does my fifty cents go? He simply says, To the bank.  Great. Just great.  

   One more day to go while trying to sneak on the bus without the right pass.  I really hate it.  I know I could just pay--but I never have cash and I don't like borrowing money from my roommates.  Honestly, I would be a terrible criminal cause all the cloak and dagger stuff just makes me nervous.  I can't wait till Monday, when I will be a straight shooter again...

Go See The Dark Knight. Now.

   Okay guys, I am going to pull a Jase here, and review a movie. Kinda.  I won't have all his fancy, I-go-to-film-school jargon to pretty it up, maybe, but I will tell you to go see The Dark Knight.  Right now.  That's right--stop whatever you are doing, which I assume is reading this blog (and I appreciate that, believe me), and go buy a ticket at a theater near you for The Dark Knight.  It's an epic movie with a stellar cast.  

   A lot of times the dialogue is lacking for comic-book-turned-feature-film, but not this time; even the cheesier lines worked perfectly.  A couple of things to look out for: 

  • Christian Bale is hot.  Honestly, I have loved him since Newsies--but he plays an awesome tortured soul/lone vigilante/billionaire genius who is Bruce Wayne (and that's not giving anything away; if you live in America, than you know that already).  
  • The actor who plays the mayor of Gotham looks like he is wearing eye-liner.  Or maybe Josh from Bare Minerals did his make-up.  Either way, you'll see what I am talking about.
  • The extras in the movie who play ballerinas from Moscow look more like playboy bunnies than ballerinas.  I have never see a real, working ballerina look like that. Never.
  • Morgan Freeman. Enough Said.  
  • Oh, and also Michael Caine.  Brilliant as Alfred.
  • And you absolutely must see Heath Ledger play the Joker.  He is magic and embodies the crazed, yet brilliant savant the role calls for.  I would not be surprised if he is both nominated and wins the academy award posthumously. His performance was startling. Every time he was on the screen, he owned it in a cavalier, devil-may-care, but totally evil kind of way.  In a very little bit, he was so witty that you almost found yourself rooting for him--or at least wanting him to live so you can hear the next thing that comes out of his mouth.  It's tragic that Heath Ledger really is gone from this earth. May he rest in Peace.

 And I can't remember Jason's exact star scale, but I am gonna say if it's out of five stars, then it gets five stars, and so on.  You know what I mean--just go see it.  

Friday, July 18, 2008

shabbat shalom

        Yesterday was a great, full day.  It all started with me rummaging through my luggage and finding both ballet shoes to take them off to ballet class.  Me and Gabby caught the bus and made it to the San Francisco Dance Center (official school of Alonzo King's famous ballet company, LINES).  We weren't quite sure if we were gonna make it in time, but we got into the class by plies in 5th position of the right side at the barre (that may not mean anything to you, but just believe me when I say that we weren't all that late).  It's been a while since I have taken ballet class, so it was really nice to be in there.  And gosh, ballet is hard work.  Almost nothing makes me sweat--not the gym, not the show--but ballet class does.  Also, doing a show 8 times a week makes your body unbalanced because you are constantly doing choreography only on one side.  In ballet class, though, you do things on both sides, so it just feels balanced and healthy.  

    Afterward, my friend John had organized a make-up tutorial at Bare Minerals for us.  The man applying our make-up had a full beat of face on, let me tell you.  Part of the draw of Bare Minerals is that it goes on so lightly, you barely see it.  Well, somehow this guy, Josh, managed to cake it on--all those little minerals can really add up, I suppose. And the false lashes weren't so subtle, either.  My guy friends were trying to go a little less obvious with the make-up and not look like drag queens exiting the store; when one of them asked to be subtle, Josh was like, When I want to go less dramatic, I use a sensible plum liner. Well, plum is not so harsh as black, I guess.  I can see his point. 

   My friend Emily had this idea of hosting a traveling shabbat, so we had our first one last night.  Sure, none of us were Jewish and it wasn't Friday, but the idea was to come together and share spiritually--since all of us are displaced from our regular spiritual homes, it was all the more meaningful.  The theme was gratitude and letting go of ego, and we were each supposed to come with something to contribute or something to say.  Emily asked me to sing a song to sort of start off the night and set the tone.  I ended up singing something I had written a long time ago--a prayer, of sorts--and then ended with a chorus of Amazing Grace so that everyone could join in and we could be on the same page.  It was really sweet.  There were about eleven of us, and every one of us shared something we were grateful for.  There were more than a few tears shed in the process.  It was an intimate night.  It was also very safe for all of us--there was no judgement and people could share deeply and freely.  Throughout the evening, we wrote a list of 25 things that we were grateful for, as well as writing 10 things that we had faith to come to pass in our lives.  Sure, the wording wasn't exactly faith, I think it was manifesting, but it's the same thing.  It made me excited for the good things God has planned for me....

    Now, for one of the women in the group, we found out it was the anniversary of her sister's death.  She was in the middle of talking about some spiritual experience she had had involving the Dali Lama, the Rabbi in charge of the dialogue between the Christians, the Jews, and the Arabs in the middle east, and some Evangelicals.  Everyone was listening intently, letting her say her piece.  It was at this moment that my leg started cramping up, so I was trying to discreetly stretch it out in the confines of the plush chair I was sitting in.  I was also very tired (it was 2:00 am at this point), so maybe I was not so quick-on-the-draw, if you know what I mean.  Anyway, I was shifting around in the chair, listening to my friend emote during this spiritual moment, when all of the sudden I lose all control and fall our of my chair, rolling onto the ground.  She stops mid-sentence, and everyone looks at me while I start to profusely apologize.  But then we all crack up laughing, because who falls out of their chair during a shabbat?!?!  Me, apparently.  It was actually really funny, and I was happy to provide some comic relief.

   We are definitely going to meet again.  It was a good time.  And maybe next time, I will wear a seatbelt.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Walk Through the Tenderloin District

              When I was still in L.A., somebody by the stage door warned me not to go to the Tenderloin District in San Francisco.  Well, just the name intrigued me...The story behind it is that a long time ago, when the crime was rampant in that part of the city, the criminals would bribe the cops and ward off any arrests with meat, of all things!  I don't know what kind of carnivorous beasts these cops were, but apparently if you just threw some meat their way, then you could continue whatever heinous crime your were involved in (I threw in the word heinous for all you Law and Order: SVU fans out there--hope you liked it).

            I don't know how much meat is used in bribes anymore, but there are still some seemingly unsavory characters there.  And I found myself there today. Alone.  See, I am not good at geography and terrible with directions.  Honestly, if you can't tell me how to get somewhere in one sentence, maybe two if their short ones, then I really don't want to hear it.  I say this because I didn't bother to find out exactly where the Tenderloin District is in this city.  I don't know if I thought that a huge pork chop would warn me of its approach, or something, but anyway, I just figured I just wouldn't run into it.  But, enter today--when I decided to search for a place to play a piano between my shows.  

          Me, John, and Kevin had gone to the gym and afterward, I decided to go back to Glide--the church I had volunteered at yesterday--and see if I could play their piano.  I set off on my walk in what I hoped was the right direction, and noticed that the scenery gradually got more run down the further I went.  I wasn't really scared, but I was becoming hyper-aware with each new homeless and seemingly deranged person who showed up on the scene.  At one point, I looked up and saw a homemade sign that said, God loves the Tenderloin District, which was a clue that I was right smack in the middle of it.  Another clue was that I found myself surrounded by the under-privileged, homeless, mentally unstable, and poor.  

    At one point, I thought of crossing the street, because I was coming up on a huge amount of them all gathered together, but I decided I didn't want to be rude and that I would be just fine. 
However, it did feel like maybe an asylum had just decided to have their recess out on the street; I mean, I had never been around this many unwell people in one place before.   And this was when they started talking to me.  Come here, pretty baby...And, Do you have just a minute for me? and Lord, have mercy! was yelled in my direction as I walked by.  I was doing my own version of Yes, please Lord--have mercy! as I picked up my step just a little.  And in the middle of all this, I saw a welcome sign on an awning that read, Youth With A Mission, San Francisco.  It was just a storefront window, nothing too pretty, but to me, it was a bright and startling light in a dark room.  

   I walked right up to it, but it was locked.  However, now I know where it is--so I want to try to go back.  I have had so many good experiences with YWAM, that I feel like I know them already--or at least, like I know their heart.  And what better place for them to be, then right in the heart of the Tenderloin District?  It encouraged me just seeing their sign and knowing that they were there.  I did find Glide again--but no dice with the piano.  The lady was firm when she said I would be a distraction to the offices that were there.  Oh well.  My plan B was to go to Guitar Center and play one of their electric pianos, which I did.  The downside was that I think I ended up walking at least five miles or more and so my feet really hurt for the second show tonight.  But, there are worse things, I think.  

   So, I went right to where I was warned not to go.  But, I was fine--and I want to go back--both for Glide and YWAM.  And I am kind of disappointed that I didn't see one piece of meat while I was there.  Maybe next time.   

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

everyone should wear a hair net at least once

      After much searching on "the google," as one of the characters in Jason's really funny screenplay that I just read would say, I found a church in San Francisco that allows volunteers to help them serve the hungry.  This church is called Glide United Methodist Church, and serves the hungry three meals a day.  Wow. Actually, they serve more meals to the under privileged than any other organization in the country. 

     So anyway, my friend Emily and I set out to find it today.  We got there around 3:30, were given a short orientation from Shirley, who basically just told us about the church, and then were escorted to their cafeteria.  We were given plastic aprons, plastic gloves, a hair net, and a special paper sailor-looking hat to wear.  I tried to get out of wearing the hair net, since my hair is so short, but the guy who ran the kitchen said one thing: it's the law.  Oh. Well, far it be from me to break the law over such an insignificant issue as my own stupid vanity...There were probably about ten of us volunteers--most were handling the food and scooping it onto trays.  Emily was given the salt and pepper to handle--one packet of each per tray, which she executed like a pro--while I was given the task of actually handing the trays to the patrons.  

     Well, I loved this job.  I got to make eye contact with people, smile at them, and tell them that I hoped they enjoyed their meal.  However, there was one volunteer that had been overlooked, and was simply sleeping in a chair behind us.  She was discovered before too long, and since she looked to be about 200 years old, they decided to give her my job (although I noticed that she didn't hand people the trays; she merely shoved them a little closer to each person, and she certainly did not make eye contact with them, but whatever)--and I was sent to handle the fried chicken.   

   I was sandwiched between two seventeen year-olds that did not seem to want to be there too much.  The girl to my left was from Michigan and in San Fran for a summer art school.  She was here staying with her uncle, who she'd seen only once before--and they were not too close.  Now all the while that we were scooping out our respective food and talking, there was a man who was handling the corn and was pretty frantic and I guess a little slow.  The guy who ran the kitchen would come up to the the Corn Man every once in a while and encourage him to work faster.  So, anyway, I was asking the art student girl where she got the idea to come volunteer and she simply said, my uncle, with a sidelong and annoyed look at Corn Man.  I was like, Oh--the corn guy is your uncle?!?! For some reason, this struck me as hilarious and I laughed out loud.  

   The girl on my right was annoying me because when Corn Man would yell out that we needed to hold up on the assembly line because he needed to wait for more corn, she would just not stop scooping her cous cous.  I was even like, look you need to stop scooping, because there is nowhere to put the trays while we are waiting for the corn. And she was like, I don't stop for anyone. I think she even said some quote like, Time waits for no man, which further annoyed me.  She started stacking the trays--with food--on top of each other, so I finally had to say something.  Again.  I told her she probably shouldn't do that because it could make the food dirty, and she just said, These people are getting a free meal; you think they care if it's dirty? The lady next to her was like, You have a bad attitude. Just because someone is homeless does not mean that we should not care about the quality of their food--stop stacking the trays. Then this girl came back with a rebuttal, They don't even say thank you or god bless or anything...Which was not true, anyway, because when I had the job of handing them the trays (before Grandmother Willow took over), they always thanked me.  But I told the girl, Listen, some of these people may be embarrassed--they may just not want to talk to us, which is fine.  So anyway, I didn't much care for her and it was hard to understand why she was there, but I noticed she stopped stacking the trays. 

      I want to say that it was really fun work, but honestly--I looked at the clock a lot.  Scooping the chicken was mindless work and it made me very grateful for my job.  Also, after two hours of standing behind the steamy, hot chicken, my back and feet were aching and I was getting a little bothered by the heat.  However, I did love serving people.  I liked smiling at people and trying to brighten their day just a little.  I understand their problems are worse than a smile can solve, but still--I was happy to be there and at least show that I care.  I felt good because I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that this was exactly the kind of the thing that Jesus is into.
My friend John wants to come with me (and is a little upset that I didn't tell him I was going--oops)--so I think we are gonna go again later in the week...Maybe I will get to hand them the trays again; that would be nice.   Oh, and as soon as the clock struck 5:30, the art student to my left was like, I'm out, and went and just sat down and watched us try to be just as quick in our assembly line even though we were now down a man.  So for a little bit, I was handling the chicken and the recently abandoned gravy.  

        Afterwards we had a show. It was fantastic tonight.  Maybe the best yet in San Francisco.  The audience was great and responsive and I felt good and connected with my character.  Tomorrow is a two-show day, which I will take any week because it means one show on Sunday and a nice long break till Tuesday...Okay, that's all for now.   

Monday, July 14, 2008

hippies and helmets

        Wow.  I don't know if there's ever been a more hippie party this side of 1965 than the one I went to last night.  I mean, I am in San Francisco, after all.  People here are so chill.  Just about everyone rides a bike, eats organic, and can sit on their hair...Okay, maybe I am exaggerating, but people here are pretty crunchy granola.  Anyway, my friend Emily invited me to a friend of hers from high school's pool party.  Well, he and his wife's pool party.  And their little baby girl, Coral Lilly.  Oh, and all their hippie friends.

     At the door, there is a hand-made sign that says, de-compress: to relax, unwind.  We walk in and are greeted by the sounds of the Rolling Stones, as well as many different men and women wearing many different forms of loose, soft clothing.  There are shoes piled high around the door, and we take the cue and remove ours (this makes me slightly sad because I love wearing my high tops so much, but I get over it really fast).  There's a hammock in the corner of the living room with a long-haired guy passed out in it.  Emily introduces me to her friend, Josh, who is holding his adorable baby girl, Coral Lilly.  We start meeting more people, and I try to compose my face as a lady walks up to me and gives me a warm hug.  See, she is topless.Uh, what kind of party is this, exactly?  Apparently, there is this pervasive feeling of freedom--or maybe breasts being nothing more than some mammary glands (there were a few nursing babies on the grounds, after all)--but anyway, women removed their tops like they were, well, men.  Or European.  

     I walk outside and there are more women just swimming freely--with nothing more than a sensible bathing suit bottom.  And to everybody at this party, it was normal (except maybe me and Emily).  Nobody stared, nobody ogled.  I know this sounds strange, but it wasn't even sexual--I mean, well, definitely not to me...Maybe secretly to the men, it was, but they didn't act like it.  However, it would have been very strange for me if Drew had been there, for sure.  I mean, it already was strange for me, don't get me wrong. I guess I am just glad that Drew was not with me, for once.  But, moving on.

    All of the people here are so kind.  They talk to me with trailing words and most sentences ending in an ellipses; as if to keep it open-ended, as if to say, you can always strike up more of this conversation if you want, but no pressure.  They have easy smiles.  And there is not a touch of make-up on any of the women.  Except, of course, me and Emily who have just come from our matinee and look like overly-painted ladies in painful comparison.  All the women have waist-length hair, except for me.  I feel like I have cut off my crowning glory...Not really, I actually really like my short do, but still.  Oh, and let me amend my earlier statement: All the women have long hair, except me and one other woman.  I later find out she is a lesbian.  Huh.

   Eventually, the numbers begin to dwindle and a couple of the guys take out guitars and some djembes.   And this is when it gets really good.  Some of them have a band called Your Mama's Mama's Mama's band. They begin to play and sing some of their hippie music and encourage us to sing along.  Well, say no more.  I love to sing in groups--I love to free-style and harmonize and it actually is beginning to remind me of kinship group (by this time all the women had put shirts on--oh, and just to be clear--I always had one on) cause I am starting to think about God as I sing.  They are singing about Mother Earth, and I am starting to worship the Creator of our earth.  They look at me and smile and nod encouragement as I start riffing.  It's a good time, folks.  It's around this time that they start passing around some weed.  They do this like they are passing around the dinner rolls.  I decline, and they are like, cool, cool.  It's pretty smelly, but what can I do--just keep singing, I guess.

   Afterwards, they are like, thanks so much for sharing your voice!  You sing like gospel, or something--I love when you belt!  They are very gracious.  I tell them that I love gospel, that I love singing and thank them for allowing me to join in.  Every time someone leaves, they give everybody hugs and sometimes even kisses--including me.  Yeah--a little uncomfortable for someone who isn't so touchy-feely by nature, but I understand their sentiment, so I hug back. And I gotta admit, I am more than a little grateful that everybody's wearing a shirt now. They end the night with more songs--the guitarist is like, just one more, but it ends up being like four or five and they are like Phish in the sense that a song can last about ten to fifteen minutes before the chord progression finally plays itself out.  Emily and I are pretty ready to go, but we are waiting on two of the guests who had volunteered to drive us home.  We finally leave with them, their dog Rufus, and some incense they burn in their truck for the ride home.  

   It was honestly like I was in a different culture for the night.  The people were super kind.  They were different from me, sure, but were quick to welcome and even faster to relax.  What I'd like to know is, mom and pop, did you guys go to parties like this in the 60's? 

   On another note, me and some friends rode bikes across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito today.  It was gorgeous and exhilerating--and pretty cold at times, too.  An unfortunate part for me was the helmet-fitting at the bike rental.  The guy was standing very close, lifting his arms to put the helmet on me, when I was overcome by a horrible odor.  It was only on my head for a moment before I asked him for another helmet because, as I put it, the one he gave me, smelled horrible. He was kind of surprised, but grabbed another one as he said, huh--that one must have missed being washed, or something. However, I knew my mistake as soon as he lifted his arms yet again to fit me for the new helmet.  That same horrible odor came over me again, and I suddenly saw the source clear as day: his arm pits.  He was like, this one smell better (the helmet, not his arm pit)? And I was like, yeah, yeah--this one's perfect. Thanks.  My bad, I guess.  

  So, tomorrow means back to work for me.  Another week gone by and another week about to begin.  Is time flying by for anyone else like it is for me? Oh, and the conflict I had spoke about earlier is over, I guess.  At least, I have done what I can and just have to move on.  My aim is to be kind and loving--and it's good to practice on people who seem to have something against me, I guess. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers--they mean so much to me.  


Sunday, July 13, 2008

conflict. ugh.

       I am exhausted, emotionally and physically.  I can't really get into detail, but I got into some conflict with somebody tonight that has left me feeling drained.  It's a little scary for me to conflict with someone who isn't in my family; with someone who doesn't love me or even like me much, for that matter.  It's scary for me when that person won't believe me when I tell them that my intentions towards them were only good.  It's even scarier when they tell me that, to them, intentions just don't even matter.  Because to me, intentions reveal the heart of a person; to me, intentions probably matter the most.  And even when I tried to tell her what my intentions were towards her, she flat out would not believe me.  She told me that.  And so I had to leave it at that.  

       But, I think this is good for me.  I know that God has put this person in my path for a reason.  And I want to be their friend. I want to be kind.  And not everybody has to like me; really, maybe it's good for me to realize this.  

      After all that, I will say that I do have a lot of good friends who care about me--and I will go so far as to say even like me--in this cast.  Tonight was just a rough one, but that's part of this life, right?  I know that God has good things for me in every cycle of life, which includes the things that may hurt at the time.  Sorry if this post was a little sad--and more than a little vague.  I really am feeling much better about this, though.  And I really am feeling exhausted.   So, I say time to go to bed...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

casual friday

         Today I went to Pier 39.  It's right at Fisherman's Wharf, which is a pretty famous part of San Francisco.  The cool part of Pier 39, other than the fact that is sounds like a trendy furniture store, is that you can see Alcatraz looming ominously across the bay.  Oh, and as if that weren't enough to strike some fear into your heart, this bay is chock-full of sharks.  At least, everybody has told me that whatever I do in San Francisco, don't go in the water--the shark-infested water.  There are stories of prisoners escaping from Alcatraz, only to never be found again...Two words  for you: SHARK BAIT.  

     Basically, Pier 39 reminded me of a boardwalk--maybe more festive, definitely more tourists.  I walked by a stand of the freshest most beautiful fruit I had ever seen.  If that fateful apple that Adam and Eve ate looked anything like these, than well, I can understand their temptation.  Yes, all you theologians--I understand that it was probably more about a rebellion against God's boundaries and the desire to have the knowledge that belonged solely to God, but still--I bet those apples looked and smelled delicious, which was my point.  Anyway, all that to say, I bought a peach.  A nice big, fuzzy peach.  I ate it while watching the water, which was maybe not the best idea in the world because it was a moment that would have been made better by sharing it with someone--namely, Drew.  

    Exploring a new city is fun and exciting, but it can be lonely.  I know, poor me: I am touring this amazing country of ours with a Broadway show, waaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!!  I am not complaining, I am just saying that it's hard to experience all of this without my favorite person--or even some of my favorite people.  However, I did get to share part of the day with a palm-reader (before you go thinking that I went and had my palm read, or something equally as shocking, keep reading).  She stopped me on the street, practically begging me to let her read my palm.  After I said no thanks, she asked if she could tell me something.  Um, sure...Turns out I have a very strong aura.  Well, maybe she tells all the girls that--but I told her that I was a Christian and she just reiterated that my aura was very strong and very good.  Well, yeah--no surprise; like I said, I am a Christian.  We talked a little bit; I asked her who she talks to in order to read futures.  She said God and I said I talk to God, too.  She asked one more time to read my palm, promising to tell me good things.  I said no thanks again and went on my way.  It was an interesting exchange.  

   A man on the bus was fixated with my purse.  I recently got a new one--zebra print with red piping, and this man was fascinated by it.  Told me that Princess Diana wore colors like that, but not many people do anymore (except me, apparently).  Asked me where I got it--when I said L.A., he gave a knowing nod as if to say, well, of course it was L.A.  He then told me that he would love to inherit my bag.  Uh, inherit?  Like kill me and take it, you mean?  Yeah, I didn't like the sound of that...Luckily, I got off the bus soon after, with my purse in tow.  I am pretty sure that man will not be inheriting my purse. Ever.  

  Word on the street is that my sister, Jenna, may be coming to visit.  This is if tickets are on the cheaper side.  That would be so fun... 




Friday, July 11, 2008

what a place to call home

        Well, today I booked a one-way flight bound for good old Philly.  Uh-huh, how amazing is that?  I get to come home on September 7th and will be there until I have to go to Boston on the 11th.  We have a few unexpected days off and there's no other place I would rather be than home sweet home.  

        Lately, I have been feeling homesick.  I have never been great with transitions, and after being in L.A. for almost two months--with family close by--San Francisco is a little bit of a shock.  Just ask Drew if you don't believe me, but I am pretty much a creature of habit.  There are things I do everyday and I find comfort in the ritual of it.  In L.A., I had my rhythm.  I knew where I was going, what I was doing, and I spent every Sunday and Monday with Jase--and Darb, Ollie, and Lyric, when they were in town (which was so very very fun!). Plus, I had a piano in my house...So, I am giving myself time to get adjusted before I make any judgements on this city, but still--it's different.  

       So, here are some things I miss about home:

  •         My house and the things/people that you find in it.  Of course, the first person that comes to mind is Drew.  I love living in the same house with him.  Knowing that, even if he isn't here right now, he will walk through the front door very soon, makes both me and our kitties very happy.  I love when we curl up together and eat ice cream and pretzels and watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer (don't judge, now).  Or when we lay in our bed (Tally and Percy are usually laying on Drew) and just talk; we love to play the what-do-you-see-us-doing-in-five-years game, to dream together and just try to imagine how good tomorrow will be. Together.  Another part of my house that I love is my piano.  Really, it's therapy, an artistic outlet, a challenge, and a piece of me all at once.  I miss it so much.  I also miss listening to Drew play, or singing while he plays.  Oh, and of course another fixture of my house that I miss dearly are my two kitties, Taliesin (Tally) and Persephone (Percy).  One is very big and all stripes and orange and thick fur, while the other is very tiny and blue-black as a starless night with a coat that is very sleek but not so thick.  They are litter-mates, which is a fancy way of saying brother and sister (you're impressed that I knew that, admit it).  But more than that, they are a part of my little family.  It's funny, sometimes when my mom comes over, she greets them as her grand-kitties (it's okay Jenna, you can roll your eyes)!

  • My family/friends.  I miss dinners at Jonathan and Rebekah's house.  Honestly, the food is always delicious (Whenever my pop eats there, he almost never leaves without saying to my brother, Jonathan, I don't know how you aren't 300 lbs with cooking this good! And it's kinda true...).  And I love being there with Drew, because he always makes the kids--and us--laugh.  Once, during an amazing lightening storm, Drew ran out onto the lawn at our insistence and executed a show-stopping shimmy while we were all gasping for air between stifling laughter.  Hilarious.  I miss spending time with my brother, Josh.  He is almost always up for an outing, being the social butterfly that he is, and never fails to make me and Drew laugh.  I miss seeing Sunshine at the dance studio and taking her classes.  Her choreography is beautiful--and I love getting to experience that (as well as laughing or rolling our eyes over the latest shenanigans that either students or their parents have recently pulled).  I miss going over to my parents' house so easily.  That will always be a home to me, always.  And I will never doubt how genuinely glad they are to have us over for dinner (and believe me, it has been so helpful, at times--especially when we had neither money nor food...sad, but true).  I miss running with Jenna.  And all of our talks and our laughter and our listening to good music.  She is such a fun and great sister.  She is invaluable.  I miss playing nertz with both Jenna and Laura--they were always better than me, but at least pretended to be challenged by me (and they must be tons better by now...shoot).  I miss FINALLY living close to Christine! What, did we get to enjoy that for about a minute? It had been five years that she was out living the cowgirl's dream in Idaho and I was on the east coast when she and Josh finally came back. And now, this.  Ironic.  At least we have the phone thing down! I miss my annual get-togethers with Erin.  Lately, we'd been hanging out in the bad town of Media, PA.  Yep, just a couple of ne'er do wells in a dangerous land.  All I can say is Media has never been the same since.  I miss glimpsing Elizabeth in church on Sunday--the special times that would come every once in a while when we actually got to talk, really talk.  About life and how hard or how good it was at the moment.  I miss, I miss, I miss...
  • My Church. Yeah, I truly miss my church.  Really, we have a special thing going on in those woods in Landenberg.  God has put together something else, to say the least.  I miss playing and singing with Gate Called Beautiful.  Jonathan, Christian, Jacob, Bill (I know he isn't technically part of the group right now, but hey--neither am I, I guess!), Ian, Drew--those guys love God and make some pretty GREAT music because of it.  They also have practiced their craft and are committed to excellence. I have been grateful to be a part of it.  I hope I will be again.  I miss being actively involved in a community that is following God with everything they have, that won't blink or stop for fear that they will find themselves far away from Him.  I miss seeing all my little nieces and nephews looking all freshly scrubbed and pretty, bright enough to match any new day that you throw at them.  
    And those are just a few of the things I miss from home.  But really, with a home like that, what girl wouldn't be missing it?!?!


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wait, I'm confused--Is this supposed to make us feel good or something?

              After two preview performances here in San Francisco, we finally opened this evening.  Now, this is where the original Broadway revival cast had their out of town try-out only two years ago, so there is some back story here.  Basically,  they got terrible reviews--this city was not kind to them.  In fact, one of their reviews was titled, Dance:10, acting:3 (which is a somewhat clever play on the title of one of the show stopping numbers in the show, Dance: 10, Looks: 3).  So, fast-forward two years and the same production company has another go at the same city, but this time with another cast. 

             Baayork Lee, our choreographer, has been sent out here to clean us up.  Again.  So, at about 30 minutes before curtain, she has the whole cast gather on the stage for a pep talk, of sorts.  I am sure she was aiming at getting us on our game.  I am sure she was trying to rile us up in a good way.  However, that's not what happened.  She looked at us seriously and said, Company, this is a very important city for us.  Reviews in San Francisco are critical.  Tonight's show is extremely important.  I need you to be on in your turns, aware of your spacing, dancing technically, and mindful that you are at an audition.  Keep your intensity up.  You need to be amazing.  

    Oh really?  You want amazing?  Cause we've just done about 70 shows already and what we were aiming for this whole time was passable.  Just fine.  Nothing spectacular.  We didn't know our turns were supposed to be good or anything like that.  And spacing?  Was that actually set? Because we thought all those numbers your gave us was more of a suggestion, but whatever.  And this is a--how did you put it? An audition?!?! Oh, well, if only someone had made that clear.  Sigh.  We would have had a whole different take on the show.  Sigh again.  And now--now you say you want amazing?  Oh, well--gosh, why didn't you say so before?!  Okay, now we'll aim for amazing...And reviews?  Goodness, what's that?  

    Really, all sarcasm aside, to be told something that well, obvious, was a little insulting.  We are all professionals and this show is very difficult.  We do not go on stage without bringing everything that we have.  Otherwise, we just wouldn't survive; it's that simple.  We all work so hard to be on--in our dancing, our singing, our acting.  This is why we were hired.  This is what we do.  

    And afterwards, a lot of people felt that we were a little jinxed.  See, we had more technical difficulties tonight than ever before--even when were actually teching the show in Denver.  The lighting was wonky and late at points.  And the sound!  Wow.  Three different actors were trying their very darndest to sing and speak above the orchestra without the help of a microphone. Uh-huh, the board froze or crashed or something in that unfortunate vein, and left three actors very exposed on the stage.  They were pros, though, and soldiered on.  

    On a personal note, I actually had a great show.  I nailed the opening combos.  Al and I had great chemistry in our song.  I felt good in my monologue.  So, that's nice.  However, it was not our best show, technically, that's for sure.  But, that was out of our hands.  Hopefully the reviewers won't be too turned off by the technical difficulties they observed.  Hopefully they will see that we tried to tell an honest story; a story that mirrors our own lives as aspiring performers on a Broadway stage. And hopefully they will see all the years of nothing but hard work that has gotten us here.  And if not? Well, who needs them?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Family Latshaw

    My wonderful brother, Josh,  sent out a bulletin on myspace to all his friends--as well as the friends of his band, Boysetsfire--telling them to check out my music.  Since then, I have been getting some nice feedback and making new friends on myspace.  Here is one of my favorite messages I received:

"Hi, how are you?

We know, you don't know us. We've heard your songs and we like it. Got a very nice voice.  Are you the sister of Josh? The familiy Latshaw seems to be a very musical clan. Ok, we were very proud if you add us for a friendship.  Please, if you listen to our music, tell us the truth about it? You like it or what we can change!!

Hey, sorry for my english...I'm not the best in this. My sister is much better.  But I hope you understand it?!?!

Ok. see (hear) you!
     I listened to his music and wrote him back; it was the least I could do, I think.  Oh, and I "added him for a friendship, " as well.  And actually, I get that response about my family a lot--that we are so musical.  I think we all inspire each other to write more, sing more, play more--stuff like that.  People always ask how it happened that so many of us are musical, and I think part of it is that the one thing my parents made sure to do was give us lessons in whatever musical endeavor to which we aspired.  

     Actually, they gave us lessons in just about everything you can think of!  Between the five of us, we have taken or participated in: ballet, jazz, modern dance, jewish dance, tap, voice, piano, guitar, the recorder, the clarinet, the saxophone, tumbling, creative movement, drama, ice skating, trampolining, swimming, field hockey, football, soccer, tennis, basketball...and that's all I can think of at the moment...But still, my parents paid for these lessons, drove us to and from these lessons (I say that very loosely because my pop was known to forget us more than once or twice), and watched us perform or compete as a product of these lessons.  

   So, I am grateful for that.  And now, all of us kids--including the brothers and sisters-in-law-they are uber creative and inspire me so much--really support each other in whatever we are pursuing.  I am just so darn proud of every one of my siblings, I can hardly stand it.  It just about killed me that my younger sister, Jenna, actually sang a song publicly (a duet with Rebekah, our sister-in-law) for the first time and I was not there to see it.  I heard it was beautiful; and I am proud of her for taking that step.  

  And my parents wrote music together at one point; back when they were more hippy than anything else.  If you happen to see my pop anytime soon, ask him to sing you his hit, Freak on the Corner. You won't regret it. 


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

road trip for the christian and the pagan

      Today, my friend, Emily, and I drove up to San Francisco from Los Angeles. Technically, I guess the drive could only take about six hours, but we wanted to take the scenic route via the Pacific Coastal Highway, so we took a good eight hours or so to get here.   But really, I'd rather see the ocean than the highway any day, so the few extra hours were worth it.  

    The drive was lovely.  The ocean was on our left, the mountains on our right, and we were just humble travelers, grateful for the amount of beauty that is still so present in this world.  I hear so many people talking about the hole in the ozone layer that gets bigger with every puff out of an aerosol can of hairspray, global warming, the loss of the do-do bird (which really is terrible--that bird was on this earth for a reason, right? So, there's gotta be some kind of imbalance now that it's not here...), and we should be talking about this stuff.  They are very real and present wrongs that humans have committed, and there are things like recycling and shopping for earth-friendly wares that we should be trying to do, that I should be trying to do...But, sometimes people just act like this earth is going to hell in a hand basket and we might as well just bomb the whole thing and stop having children cause it's so very bad...One of my dear friends, for instance, has recently told me that he thinks the time of the humans is coming to an end; basically, that we are going the way of that poor do-do bird.  He thinks life as we know it will be handed to the aliens, I guess, cause we have just not been good enough stewards with what we've been given (though, I'd like to meet these amazing, earth-friendly, recycling, never-stepped-foot-in-walmart, and only-wears-American-Apparel aliens who deserve what we have.  If they came here, I bet that they'd at least shop at K Mart, they'd be drawn to the light with all those blue-light specials--like a moth to the flame, so to speak).  He says that every civilization that has been on top has tumbled eventually and it's only a matter of time for us.  

       Well, I don't like the idea of being a ticking bomb and that kind of thinking is depressing.  And I guess today's drive made me grateful because I saw first-hand that not every bit of America has been paved to park our mercedes' or turned into a strip mall.  We have majestic and breath-taking beauty that is alive and well.  We need to protect it for sure, but we don't need to just will ourselves to defeat and let these amazing aliens take over.  Because, frankly, I am not so sure they are amazing.  I think they could be even worse than us, and I personally don't like the idea of being experimented on by them.  I don't care if they are holding a smart water in a recyclable bottle in one tapered hand, I don't want that other spindly hand touching me. Ew.  

    So, yeah, America  is beautiful.  It is green.  It's mountains are still majestic and it's oceans awe-inspiring.  We need to do what is right and keep it that way, maybe even make some of the places that are not so green anymore a little more green again; maybe even try to not shop at wal-mart so much (I know their prices are cheap, but they really are a corporate villain, guys).  

    I'm gonna end with a question: What is something small and easy (or big and very difficult if you happen to be awesome, which you very well may be) that you do to help this earth?

Monday, July 7, 2008

I haven't drawn colored dots since...

     Ooooh, I just discovered I can use different colors as I write.  Wow. This could be fun...Or annoying...

    Actually, that brought back a memory (uh-oh, you think, not another memory! It's funny; I have received many compliments on my memory since starting this blog--I don't know what that says about me, but thanks for the props, guys!).  Right, so back to the memory. I was in 2nd grade.  We had some sort of art time where we got to just draw whatever we wanted; you know, go crazy in a seven-year-old's kind of way.  Well, I had a bunch of markers at my disposal, so many vibrant colors to choose from, when the thought struck me like an epiphany, Why choose just one color?  So, I grabbed as many markers as my hands would hold, un-capped all of them, and started dotting ferociously.  It was wonderful, the blank paper was slowly turning into a kaleidoscope of bright, happy spots.  And all the while I was anticipating giving the finished product as a gift to my teacher.  I was happily thinking, Mrs. Dosa is just gonna love this when I give it to her, I can't wait!

   And just as my masterpiece was almost finished, Mrs. Dosa happened to glance down at my desk.  I couldn't help but hear her say, It looks like a rainbow exploded all over the page...Well, I knew rainbows were good, but explosions were generally bad.  And the explosion of a rainbow sounded especially bad, especially messy.  So, when I heard her say that, my heart sank.  I was embarrassed, really embarrassed that I drew something so stupid.  It was especially disappointing because it now stood out to me as something so very opposite to the great idea I had seen it as just five minutes before.  Needless to say, I did not end up giving my artwork as a gift to Mrs. Dosa; I quietly threw it away.  

  Today I went to a service at Mosaic, a church in downtown Los Angeles.  The pastor, Erwin MacMannus (if you want the proper spelling of his name, you can go to Jason's site at
), encouraged us to love other people.  Simple enough, right?  But, what really stood out to me as something that I may have forgotten somewhere along the way is how I need to be actively trying to bring out the best in other people.  To encourage them, listen to them, care about them, be kind to them...I know Mrs. Dosa wasn't trying to discourage me, but she certainly wasn't encouraging me, either.  I guess I want to try to be a positive force in the lives of the people around me.  And I have plenty of people to practice this on, God has certainly made sure of that.  

  So, here's to a new goal that I hope I will remember tomorrow. And the next day.