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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

headshots...would love input!!!


Okay, so I would love some help in choosing a new headshot...I've narrowed it down to these eight; what do you guys think? I've numbered them, in no particular order, so it's easier to tell me your fave (there I go again...)!

1.

2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
  Any (kind) input is appreciated!!!! Thanks...

Monday, September 29, 2008

mind over matter, Jess; mind over matter.

       I am exhausted.


      Today was a supposed day off...And it was, in the sense that I didn't perform ACL, but still...

     I got up and went to the gym, which was fine.  I haven't been feeling so inspired there lately, but have been forcing myself to go anyway.  Apparently exercise is good for you. Apparently even when it doesn't feel good, it still is good.  I got home and had a few moments before I had to meet my friend Betsy...And so I did some multi-tasking: I read the Bible and went to the bathroom. At the same time.  I hope God didn't mind.  

      I had a lovely afternoon, actually.  Betsy came into town, and we hung out and talked like only two people who really get each other can do.  

     She and her fiance, Todd, were kind enough to come to the benefit that our cast did tonight, raising money for Equity Fights AIDS.  And we raised upwards of $2500, which was really the point, so I am psyched about that.

    Remember what I just said about exercise and how it doesn't always feel so good, but it is good (I know, I know, you just read it--sorry, I am not trying to say you have a bad memory or anything, just trying to segue back to that point...)?  Well, I have to remember that my feelings don't always portray reality, they just do their darnedest to color it.  

    And sometimes I really wish they didn't.

    So what if I don't feel great about my performance; if I left the place feeling stupid and small and not so very talented; so what if a guy told me that he "saw my number tonight" just like that, didn't say it was good, didn't even hint that it might be pleasant to listen to, just thought it was somehow pertinent that I know he saw it cause I would never be able to figure that out on my own, not even once I realized he was in the same building, at the same event, facing the same stage on which I did, in fact, perform "my number" (both of them, actually, if we are getting picky...), right, so thanks for telling me you were there, random guy, and leaving it at that.

   Cause it's not like I am a sensitive artist with a tragically fragile ego at times; it's not like tonight was especially one of those times and a kind word from even a random guy would have gone so so far...Nope, just keep simply letting me know you were there.  And we'll just leave the whole if-you-liked-it-or-not-part in the dark.  Maybe it's better that way.  Cause maybe you just didn't like it.

   And who cares if he did?  He was just a random guy!!!!!

    But, the sad part is that I do.

    Ugh.  

    Don't get me wrong, there were lots of people who had kind things to say.  The bad part was that I had difficulty believing it.  

    Oh well, I am not usually like this; just sometimes.  

    And the point was that we made a bushel of money going towards a cure for aids. You can't beat that.  

    And one more story: During intermission, I walked through the room, going from table to table, trying to collect money for the cause.  Well, there was one table of ladies sitting particularly far away, and I am pretty sure were not there for the benefit.  So, I started with my usual, Sorry to interrupt, ladies, but would you be willing to give any money towards equity fights AIDS?  They looked at me blankly and said, Huh? 

  Well, I said, The reason that we are singing tonight is to raise money for Equity Fights AIDS...  
  For what?! one of these kind ladies asked.
  By this point, I was getting a little flustered, so I said, Well, it's money that we are raising that we are going to send to...AIDS...
   To AIDS?!?! they all gasped.
    Frantically  backtracking, I said, No, ah, sorry, that's not what I meant--we're sending the money to a CURE for AIDS! A cure!

    One of the women, teasing me now, opened up her wallet, and while fishing for some money, said off-handedly, Well AIDS is such a delightful disease, I simply MUST give money...

    We had a good laugh over that one.  
      
    Seriously, it's awesome to play a benefit.  Just not so awesome to feel like you might suck.  But it's just a feeling, it will pass...And really (I am truly not being flippant here), people who suffer from AIDS feel much worse, and helping them was what tonight was all about.   

   Oh and by the way, I am not fishing for compliments here, just being honest, which I try to do on this blog. I understand that I am not devoid of talent, that I have gifts and all that; I just hate feeling like I missed the mark on what I could have done, which leads to doubting everything I've ever done, which leads to a pretty bad place, in general.  

  But I already feel better, having talked it out with Drew and then written it out right here.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

sunday.

     I woke up early this morning to get to church. This was a feat on my part, because I failed to mention yesterday that I accidentally slept until 1:00 pm and had a show at 2:00 pm!!!


   And no, that was most certainly not part of my plan.  

   Anyway, church was wonderful and I always especially love the worship part of it.  In fact, I was sad at first because we only sang one song before they had us all sit down and settle in to listen to the teaching.  But they mentioned that they would do more music later, so I was okay.   

   At one point, the pastor of the church (this was the South side Boston Vineyard, the sister church of the Cambridge Vineyard) nonchalantly mentioned that he was battling stage 4 bone cancer and I had a visceral response of sadness and shock.  There was his wife, very calm and sweet (she actually gave the teaching--all about rest); and himself, working and loving others for a living, and then the casual mention of their kids...And all the while they are daily walking this tightrope, where one seemingly false move could take away their family-as-they-know-it forever.  What grace they have.  This is the kind of grace that people have been calling amazing for centuries; you cannot even begin to wrap your mind around it.  You could die trying.  

   I didn't mean to get this deep, but there you go. It's real life. A part of life that I don't understand, yeah, but no less real.  

   After the second show of the day, five of us got together for a game night.  It was so fun, like we were real friends.  Probably because we are real friends! It's so nice to be with people with whom I can truly just relax, speak my mind, make my jokes.  Oh, and my team won...

   Tomorrow is a day off, but at this point doesn't feel quite so day-off-ish as I had hoped.  See, I am participating in the Equity Fights Aids benefit that some of us in the cast are doing tomorrow.  This means a sound check at 4 (that I just found out about) and a show at 8 (but I did know about that, at least).  I am doing two songs, both original (well three if you count the opening number, but I am just doing a bit--it's a whole group sort of thing).  One is funny, one is not (hopefully, anyway).  

   I hope it goes well.  I can already tell I'll be nervous, but a good kind of nervous...

    Okay, time for bed. Really.  

Saturday, September 27, 2008

plans.

         If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.      

      Well, I don't know if I heard this or read this recently, but it sort of stuck in my mind...

       And here's the imperative thing to realize, I think: His laughter is never at our expense. It's never rude or mocking; never derisive or humiliating. Uh-uh,  I think that his laughter sounds a lot like hope, bubbling up from this deep, fathomless place from within the heart of God; and somehow it is that place that makes any good at all come out of this place; this world with all of the cubicles of hours that outline our days and differentiate the time to work from the time to play, and the chance encounters with rude cops or beautiful souls who remind us that a lot of people are worth becoming our friends, though there are still some that are not, and in the midst of it all there is the mostly far-away, but every once in a while sweetly close sound of golden, gulping laughter and it is the reminder that God has very good things planned for us, indeed.  

   And He is laughing because they are so very much better than we had planned for ourselves.

    The hard part for us, then, is being brave enough to laugh with him--"at the days to come," like that matriarch of matriarchs does in Proverbs 31--or even at the days behind us, those days that will somehow, by a brilliant stroke of an even more brilliant hand, be made to fit into a plan that works, that even becomes beautiful.  

    I think maybe when I told God my plans, they went something like this:
  • planned to be a mermaid when I grew up, realized I wasn't a great swimmer (let alone the issue of breathing underwater) , so...
  • planned to become a veterinarian, realized that involved a lot of science, so...
  • planned to become a ballerina, realized that meant just ballet, all the time, with no room for any of my other loves, so...
  • planned to be a wife, and a good one at that, am doing that (hopefully!), so...
  • planned to have a slew of children in my 20's, realized that I wanted to perform now and have the babies later, so...
  • planned to be on Broadway, had to start somewhere, though, so worked at a dinner theater in Delaware, which led to where I am now...
  • planned to make music, still planning on making music, hopefully never stopping this plan...
  • planned to have long, curly blond hair (this was when perms were still a viable option)
  • planned to live in PA all my life...
   See, I have had tons of plans!!!
   
   And well, God probably laughed a little or maybe even a lot when I told Him about them, because he knew he had something better planned for me (which is not to say that plan is not perfect for somebody else. If you want a perm, I will not judge you!).  Here I am, married, for sure, but no kids yet.  Dancing, uh-huh, but also singing and acting in a broadway show. Getting paid to do what is truly a joy for me...I am not a mermaid, and oh, not a single blond, curly hair is on my head, and I am okay with this. Really.  Perms dry out your hair, I am pretty sure, anyway. 

    But I still make plans.  

  It is only human nature to do so--especially if you happen to be a bit of a go-getter.  And please God, may these plans be close to your will...But if not, well then I know you've got something better in mind.  And it's okay, I don't mind when you laugh, because I know it's the sound of something good coming my way (eventually).   

Friday, September 26, 2008

not-so-nice policeman...but a very nice tea

     Maybe it was the ice cream that gave me a sick stomach.  Well, the ice cream that followed the tea sandwiches. That followed the almond cookie. And the chocolate covered strawberry. And the scone with the lemon curd. And the tiramisu. And the cream puff. And the endless chai tea.  Oh, and the glass of their sweetest champagne...

   Where did I experience this decadent deliciousness, you may wonder?  Only while having tea at the Taj Hotel, here at Boston's finest:
       Emily invited me to be her guest at this tea--and she was the guest of the director of PR for the Taj, Karen, who had attended our opening night party here in Boston. Anyway, it was a lovely time, complete with a true-blue harpist playing sweet melodies to soften the sounds of our fine china, though goodness knows we tried to be gentle with it. 

     It was so very nice, so beautiful and peaceful. 

      Which helped to offset the totally poor excuse for a policeman that I had the misfortune of coming across on the way to the Taj.

     See, I don't know if you realize it, but apparently God was debating another flood today--at least, that's what it seemed like here in Boston.  It was raining, really really hard.  I had about 5 and a half miles to go, so I tried to hail a taxi, but they were all full (apparently everyone else had that idea, too).

   Anyway, I was walking in the pouring rain and driving winds, trying to find the subway station, but couldn't.  As luck would have it, I found a policeman, on-duty and walking towards his parked car.  I shouted through the elements, Excuse me, Sir? At my simple, innocent request that policeman didn't stop, didn't even grace me with a glance, but proceeded to quick-time it as he yelled over his shoulder, I'm going to my car!!! 

   Well yes, I could see that he was rushing to the warmth and dryness of his parked and waiting car (the car was on the sidewalk, mind you--so he didn't need to hurry to move it or anything; it wasn't blocking anyone in), but I had a very quick question for him, so I decided to double my effort and I followed him, umbrella in hand.  I just have a question...I yelled as he nimbly jumped into his car, and was about to slam the door shut to the wailing storm that was our backdrop and oh yeah, also to me, the citizen that he had sworn to serve and protect and all that.  

    This policeman still didn't look at me, certainly didn't consider that I might be in a plight that he could kindly fix and simply said in an irritated voice, Make it quick!  Well, this guy was batting a thousand with me, and though I'd really have liked to call him out on his rudeness or not be beholden to him for an answer to my question, the truth of the matter was that I was freezing, wet, cold, and unable to find the subway station.  I needed him.  UGH!!!  How I hated that I needed him, but I did.

    In the kindest voice I could muster, I said,  I just need to find the subway station...With a quick roll of his eyes and with the most condescending, exasperated tone of voice, he unfurled his arm in the direction of the station, and said, It's right there! as if I had asked him where my own head was or something.  

   I said thank you, and hoped to never need his version of "help" again.  

   I cannot think of any word that I can write on this blog that is fitting for him.  Use your imagination... Feel free to get creative, please.  He was a real piece of work, that's for sure.
    
    Luckily, I had that beautiful tea waiting for me at the other end of that encounter...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

People Magazine has got nothin' on me!

   Okay, I could tell you that I--along with my friend Denis (pronounced de-nee, he's french Canadian--went and taught a master class at the Boston Arts Conservatory today, but I'll talk about that later.


    I could tell you that the show was good tonight, that the audience laughed and was moved and all that.

   I could tell you that I went to a Farmer's Market and felt so healthy and pro-small business as I picked out produce, fresh made bread, and recently-jarred jam from the local farmers...

    Or I could keep first things first and tell you that while a group of us were hanging out at this small bar in the theater district here, the Intermission Tavern, Paris Hilton walked through the door.  She was accompanied by one of the guys from Good Charlotte and a few other blondies, but it was definitely her.  Wearing some tall heels and looking like she hasn't eaten her lunch for days, she walked right by us.  And sounding a little dumbfounded, we were like, Um, that really is Paris Hilton...

   And here's the best part: the bouncer was sitting outside doing his job when Paris and her retinue strolled up to the door.  Not impressed, he asked for some ID.  Paris looked at him and said, Are you serious?  When he obviously was, she said, Oh, well I am not planning on drinking...Again, the bouncer was not to be deterred and simply said, It's a f#@#ing bar, now show me some ID. And this guy was from Boston through and through, so he didn't even say the "r" on the end of the word bar, which made it even better, somehow.  

   When we were leaving, we stopped by to talk with the bouncer.  He told us that Paris Hilton annoyed him everyday of his life and he wasn't gonna let this opportunity pass now that it was his turn.  Funny guy.  It's nice to see that at the Intermission Tavern, at least, everybody is treated the same.  No special favors there.  You show your ID, you pay your bill, just like the next person, heiress or not, I guess.  

   Anyway, yes I did go and teach a master class.  It was actually amazingly rewarding.  We taught a large group of juniors and seniors at the Boston Arts Conservatory, as I already said, and their enthusiasm and hard work were wonderful to behold.  Being driven there and back in a fancy black Escalade by Martin, our driver was not so bad either...

   Afterwards, we had a question and answer session, and there was one young man in particular who really wanted us to tell him that you didn't have to sing to be on Broadway.  His first question was just that, Do you have to sing to dance in a Broadway show? I was straight forward as I told him yes.  You might not have to sing amazingly, especially if you just want to do ensemble, but everyone has to be able to hold a harmony and yada, yada, yada. 

   Later on, he raised his hand again--only to ask the same question, rephrased just a little.  I was like, Well, yeah, you really do have to sing to be in a Broadway show. But, if you feel like you aren't any good at it, you can take lessons and get better--I have plenty of friends who have done this. 

  Poor guy, he just really wanted me to tell him that he didn't have to sing to be in a Broadway show.  

   Two of the students saw me in the hall and started breaking out in Sing (my number with Al) right then and there.  They were like, Oh my goodness, I have your song on my ip0d!!!! Can I give you a hug?!?! It was super sweet.  It actually kind of reminded me that what I am doing is so special, part of a dream realized...

   Okay, I am so tired. My eyes are closing...I bid you all a good night!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

abbreviations gone wild

   You may be using too many abbreviations in your everyday vernacular if you find yourself on the phone with your husband, having a conversation like this:


Drew: Tally* is already curled up on my chest, purring...

*Tally is our cat--but you already figured that out, considering he purrs, right?

Me: (having literally just run into the wall)...ouch...
Drew: Babe, you can't say that.
Me: Say what?
Drew: Say, "gotch,"
Me: Um...gotch?
Drew: Yeah, when I told you about Tally, you said "gotch," you know, you abbreviated "gotcha" to just "gotch" and well, you just can't shorten everything!
Me: (starting to laugh now...but instead of saying watch me! I decide to explain...) I know that sounds like something I might do, but I really didn't; I ran into a wall and said "ouch" under my breath...
Drew: (recognizing that sadly, running into a wall is something I do fairly often) Oh. Good. I thought for a second your abbreviations had gotten out of control...

     So that conversation taught me two things:
                            1). I do abbreviate words a lot; but mostly with my sister Jenna cause we both think it's so funny, but I guess I do it with Drew, too.
                            2). I do really run into things much more often than is normal. People are under the impression that because I am a dancer I do not run into things like walls and tables and sometimes even trees; this is just not true. 
and ok, so there's 3). I actually think it is really funny to annoy Drew with my abbreviations and so try to talk to him about wearing flips, getting comf, if he needs to wash any unds (okay, so I got that one from Darby's mom, I admit), or if something is my B (this particular gem annoys my brother Jason to no end; he says that to shorten a one-syllable word like bad really makes no sense at all. Fuel to the fire, Jase!) or not as much as possible...

     But here's the thing: I have noticed that Drew has adopted the word comf as his own, and uses it like it's in the dictionary with all the others.  Just tonight he told me that he had gotten back from work and was about to get comf (comfortable, in case you didn't realize); it just rolled off his tongue nice and easy.  

     So I guess not all abbreviations are annoying after all. But I do have some standards, at least; I do not (as of yet) say gotch.

    But maybe I will...[cue menacing and evil laughter] Maybe. I. Will. 

singing. really, truly, singing.

    Tonight I was singing on stage (duh, I am in a musical, after all!) and I had a bit of an epiphany


    See, I really truly love singing.  I have ever since I can remember. As a little girl, I used to go outside and make up songs and sing them to our animals (most of them were about Jesus, and I firmly believed I was helping to save those animal's souls....luckily, I hadn't heard any of that animals-have-no-souls-theology yet)  And then my parents started playing two soundtracks in particular, Les Miserables and Jesus Christ Superstar, rotating them in our cd players, and I found myself singing along with Cosette, Eponine, Fantine (but not the Lovely Ladies--my mom made sure to fast-forward through that...most of the time, anyway), and Mary Magdalene.  And here's the thing, I found that I could actually sing, matching my voice to theirs until you could barely differentiate between the two.  And I loved it.

   So I basically sang my heart out whenever I got the chance.  

    And all the while, I was dancing, dancing, dancing.  I was singing in church, sure--even writing music; but when it came to performances on a stage, I was dancing.  But in college, one of my favorite classes was voice, and so I made sure to take it every semester. Along with private lessons.  Because, remember? I love to sing!

   It wasn't until I graduated from college that I thought about doing musical theater.  It seemed perfect (and still does): I get to dance and sing, and even tell a story while I am at it (and I am a sucker for all three).  

   But when I started singing for auditions, the whole issue of fear came up.  Dancing was no biggie since I had been doing dance auditions since I was 8 years old, but singing had always been something that I just shared freely, happily; not something that I had to have a number for, and was made to do it before a panel of bored, tired, and pessimistic people.  

   And let me tell you, one of my absolute favorite voice teachers ever told me something that I will never forget: singing is 10% talent and 90% mental.  So, if you are afraid when you do it, then it's not gonna go so well...

   So basically, my epiphany was this: I am just going to sing like the whole world is a great, expectant audience.  And I am not gonna change that demeanor, whether I am at an EPA in NYC and there is just one bored person in front of me who will say, Thanks, Jessica. Next! in about 16 bars, or I am singing for Drew.  Life is too short to be afraid, too short to waist a moment in thinking that the worst might happen.  

  Because what if the best happens?  And I would never know that "best" unless I risked experiencing a "worst.".  I mean, really, a lot of "worsts" are worth wading through to get to that "best." As my friend John says, miracles happen, so they might as well happen to you.  But sometimes you gotta put yourself in the right place for a miracle.  Sometimes you gotta make yourself available for that miracle to come along.  Like, when I knew I wanted to do Broadway shows, I didn't just wait for Broadway to come find me in Newark, DE, discover that I have some talent, and ask me to be in a show.  No. I went to auditions. A lot.  I got turned down. A lot. And then, I got my "best," so to speak.

  So I guess what I am saying is that I think singing is somehow connected to my next "best," my next miracle.  And I am just done with being afraid to do it, namely at auditions.  I think I would rather just be like that little girl I was long ago--singing to the animals with all my heart, believing that they loved and needed what I had to share with them because I didn't know any better.

  Yeah, I think I will just sing like that.  

   And maybe at auditions, to really get in the spirit of it, I will imagine that each person behind the table (which is such a position of power at an audition, let me tell you) is an animal.  An animal who needs to hear about Jesus... 

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hi, my name is Jessica and I am an American. No, I AM!!!

        I know that I've mentioned this before, but I just had to share this little memento that once again proves my carefully developed theory, that, when broken down is basically: Everybody Thinks I'm Russian. Or at least, not American (and please don't ask me how I created this theory; there are simply so many numbers and scientific equations involved that, were I to divulge it, this blog would become a homing device for scientists around the world and I just don't think I am ready for that. Yet. But just give me time...). 


     Before the show on Sunday night, I went and did an appearance at a swanky dinner at this hotel, hosted by Broadway Across America.  I guess it was this package that included a full meal, tickets to see our show, and of course, the chance to meet some cast members (which is where I come in).  So I walk into the dining room, the PR person introduces me to everybody, and I am left to mingle from table to table, introducing myself and being generally pleasant.  I get to this one table that consists of a husband, his wife, and their daughter, and we have a conversation that goes like this:

Me: Hi, I am Jessica, it's so nice to meet you...
Wife: Hello...(with a sidelong glance to her husband)...You ask her...
Husband: No...You ask her...
This goes on for a few moments before I gently interject with, Is there something you would like to ask me (I know. Amazing that I gathered that, I must be psychic or something.)?
Husband: Where are you from?
Me: Ah, Delaware.
Husband: No, what country...?
Me: Ah, America.
Husband (in total surprise): Really?! You are not Russian, then?
Wife: He was sure you were Russian!
Husband: When you walked into the room, I thought to myself, "now, there is a Russian woman." And you are not even European? 
Me: Nope, just American...But the truth is that you are not far off at all, considering how many other people think I am Russian; really, you must be onto something. Now, have you seen A Chorus Line before...?

If I had a dollar for every time somebody thought I was Russian...Or even just NOT American...

   And then tonight, I was taking the elevator down from my apartment before my walk to work, when this man starts a conversation with me.  What did he ask?  What country are you from? Again, I had to tell him that I am just American. Like him.  I told Drew that I am going to work on a Russian accent just so that I can have some fun with people... I think I might go by Svetlana, and when asked if I speak much English I will say nyet. 

Yes, this could be a lot of fun. 

Monday, September 22, 2008

Peak's Island, Maine

   Today, Drew and I drove all the way up to Maine, the state that is at the top of our country (ahem, ahem, that's right--that's yours truly, spouting off geography like it ain't no thing at all), and ended up in Portland.  From there, we took the ferry over to Peak's Island, a place that looks exactly how you would think a coastal island off of Maine should look.  Rocky shores, lighthouses peering over the precipice, rich green lawns, and plenty of fishermen...and other hardy types. 
 
It's beautiful.   

We rented bikes from a bike shop that, I kid you not, had a simple honor system to go with it's unlocked gate and varying bikes scattered across the yard.  We just stuck some money in a box, grabbed two bikes, and were off.  I got this lovely little green number that came with a grandmotherly basket, and I rocked it:
Our first stop was a shore, where Drew managed to figure out the timer on our camera:
Then we found a murder hole.  Yep, you read that right.  Don't worry, we didn't actually murder anybody in it; it's a little hide-out that was built on coasts during WWII so that our army could have a safe place to sit while scanning the shore for U-boats.  Awesome, right?  Well, I looked and looked, but found nothing that resembled enemy boats off the Maine shore, so we can all sleep well tonight.
  Then, we went off the trail a little...en route to this: 
It's called Battery Steele, where the US used to store our munitions during WWII. And yeah, we read this sign, but took it in stride as we forged ahead...
...into, quite literally, the darkest place I have ever been.  My eyes hurt because they were trying so hard to find some light in a place the was void of it entirely.  The only reason you can see any of this at all was because my camera has a flash.  It was truly spooky.  All along the sides of the hall there were these doorways that led into abandoned rooms and of course Drew insisted we actually go into one.  Then, to lighten the mood, he suggested we sing, of all things!  So, we practiced our version of happy birthday, the song we were planning to sing to my friend Betsy, since today is her birthday.  It was eerie in the darkness, though, I can tell you that.
Finally we got to rock beach, where people try to build the most fantastic sculptures by balancing rocks, and then see how long they last against the elements.
I think Drew's lasted about five minutes, as impressive as it was...

It was a lovely day off.  Oh, and you can't see so well from these pics, but I happened to wear my "busy" lucky-t, some jeans that are on the skinnier side (though not my skinniest), and some high tops.  And I didn't ask a soul for their opinion on my outfit.  Though honestly, while I was on Peak's Island I got the impression that the inhabitants couldn't have cared less what I looked like.  Everybody was just too busy enjoying the day.  Which was as it should be.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

you want me to do what?!?!

     I firmly believe that people were never meant to stand completely still.  Especially when you throw 3 inch heels into the equation.  Yes, people are meant to run, dance, sing, talk, laugh, walk, sit, lay down, climb, swim, be quiet, even...do it all, really, but stand still. Frozen.  Not swaying.  Not fixing your costume. Not yawning. Not cracking your knuckles.  Not folding your arms.  Not shifting your weight.  Not scratching that itch on your nose that only just became unbearable the moment you couldn't move...


   I have this reputation in the cast as somebody who fidgets.  And it's kind of true: I have a very hard time not moving.  Colt, who plays Al in the show, tells me that I move all the time (which can't be altogether true, because I would be much happier if I were moving all the time).  Even Drew, when he saw the show, told me that I did move a lot (only after, of course, he told me how great I was...).  I told him that it is just not natural to stand so still and his reply was that it is not natural to break out in song in the middle of a conversation, but I do that on stage with no problem.  Huh.  

   Back when we were rehearsing on 42nd street, our choreographer Baayork Lee would have us all lay down on the floor and be perfectly still while the pianist played through the song, At the Ballet.  This was to "practice" for when most of us are standing still upstage while our fellow actors are singing that ballad.  Well, inevitably, I would become uncomfortable or develop this insatiable itch that just could not wait, and after moving just slightly, would hear, Don't move, Kristine...in Baayork's sing-song voice.  

   And the cast caught on.  Now certain members will say the same to me, trying their darnedest to replicate that sweet, but firm voice...

   And just tonight, I got one note from our wonderful dance captain. I bet you can all figure it out, but yes, it was that I was swaying too much during What I did for Love. Just beautiful. Diana is singing her heart out, bringing home the precarious yet passionate position every performing artist finds themselves in, and Kristine is doing some sort of hippie-sway in the background.  Maybe I can get permission to use a lighter.  

   Or maybe I can just, for once, stand still.  I mean, I guess it is my job.

    But I still don't think it's natural.  

Saturday, September 20, 2008

[sigh]...waiting...

    I am not so good at waiting.  Ugh. And the hard part is that the only way to get better at something is to do it. A lot.  And I generally don't like things that I am not good at.  So, putting two and two together: I do not like waiting.  


    And I feel like I have to do it all the time.  

    Drew told me the good news that he was coming up here for sure, leaving yesterday early afternoon, so that he would be here after my show.  But, then he told me it would have to be a little later because he was borrowing a car (ours not being in such prime condition right now) and it wasn't available till early tomorrow morning.  The good part of this was that he could leave super early--like 5 am--and be here when I woke up...which was the next best thing to falling asleep next to him.  So, I handled this pretty well.  

    But then I woke up this morning and called him to find out how close he was...And he was still at home. Still. At. Home. in stupid, far away Delaware (sorry, I know Delaware isn't stupid, but when I get upset I sometimes say the word stupid; forgive me, it's my way of acting out).  He had woken up early to go, but had a monstrous headache and needed to get some more sleep so he could drive...Well, that is perfectly understandable, but I was so disappointed to hear that I would now have to wait some more...And I was a grump on the phone with him, which is not okay, but sometimes I get that way when I have to wait!

   So it's now six o'clock and I am here, still waiting.     
 
   I really should be better at this, considering all the waiting that is involved with my job alone:
  • waiting to sign in at an EPA (equity principal audition) or ECC (equity chorus call)
  • waiting to actually go in and sing or dance, once you have been signed in
  • waiting to hear if you got a callback
  • waiting to hear if you got the job
  • waiting to start your rehearsals
  • waiting for your scene in the show
  • waiting for Monday, your day off
  • waiting to go home again
  • waiting for visits from your loved ones
     God, give me patience...

Friday, September 19, 2008

thanks for the input, really.

      If you think something is really truly ugly, do you say so?


      I mean, if you were a friend of somebody who just bought, say, a new pair of high top sneakers, that happen to be camel brown with bright pink accents, would you tell them if you thought they were hideous? 

      Because, I wouldn't.  

    Maybe that is just the way I was raised or something, but if I don't like something that somebody obviously does like, then I keep my own counsel.  And even if they ask me if I like it? Well, I try to say something--anything--that is encouraging to them.  Like, You definitely look great in it.  Or, You can certainly pull that off. And, You're so beautiful, you look great in everything!*

*uh-oh, now if I happen to say any one of those phrases to any of you, you will know that I secretly think you look awful!  

     See, I recently acquired some new kicks--the high tops described above, in case you didn't get that--and was told by more than one person in the cast that they are ugly.  Well, I can think of a number of things that I would certainly toss on the pile of things I consider to be ugly that these nay-sayers wear often, but do I mention my opinion to them? No, not a peep.  

    And that's not all.  I had just bought these lovely, light grey skinny jeans and was trying them on when a friend happened to walk in.  Excitedly, I asked him if he liked my newest purchase and posed for him to see. His response: Ew, they're hideous. Nobody should wear skinny jeans, they don't flatter anybody.  He did admit that I didn't look absolutely terrible, but he remained strong in his opposition of the skinny jeans, in general.  I reminded him that skinny jeans are in, whether he likes it or not; that he could learn a thing or two about what was in, rather than simply wearing his normal jeans day after day, to which he replied: I wear normal jeans because I AM normal. 

    Well, I said, I wear skinny jeans because I am...skinny.  

    Just one more example: Drew had just bought me a new t-shirt from the Lucky store for my birthday and I was excitedly wearing it.  It's super cute--reddish, pink with this paisley heart-thing on the front.  Anyway, I asked my friend if she liked my new birthday t-shirt and after summarily giving it a glance, she said, No. It's too busy. 

   Oh, okay. 

     I guess one good thing is that I can really believe what these guys tell me, cause they certainly don't sugar-coat their opinions.  And at the end of the day, that's just what it is: their opinion.  So, I will continue to wear my high tops, my busy t-shirts, and my skinny jeans.  

   But maybe I should stop asking my friend's opinions on things.  

    And speaking of people telling me their opinions, I have recently been told by a few people--one who is a friend of a friend who saw me in the show and told her, who then told me, and if you follow this you deserve mad props--that I look like Leisha Hailey in this commercial.

    What do you guys think?  Do you agree?  And actually, I do kind of agree--so don't be afraid to voice your opinion; it really won't hurt my feelings.  I am used to it;-)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

church. Kind of.

     Tonight was one of those performances where we are left to wonder on stage if maybe the audience is just cardboard cut-outs; like maybe they are shooting one of those Verizon commercials in our theater during our show and so that is why every one of their faces is stone-faced and silent as the grave.  


   Or (said the tiny, terrible voice from a very bad place) maybe we just suck.  

   Nope, in an effort of self-preservation, I am going to have to go with the cardboard cut-out theory.  

   Another contributing factor to the quietness of the house has been that we haven't been selling here as well, for some reason.  When there are less people in the house, they tend to have less enthusiasm, making it harder for us to know if they really like it or not.  

   I am not sure if audiences realize this, but their presence and participation--or obvious lack thereof!--make a huge difference in a show.  If they are with us, enjoying us, feeling for us, "getting us," then we feel it and it electrifies the show; their effort is symbiotic and literally acts as a jolt of energy, giving life to our text, our movement, our song.  

  Tonight, the audience was nowhere to be heard or felt--though, I could see them, so I knew they were there.  At the very end of the show, when the lights were fading out, there was a sad silence...My friend John broke the silence by saying in a tone of disgusted disbelief quite loudly, to anyone who would hear: They're NOT even clapping!   And well, they weren't. Which is probably why we needed some uplifting, a little cool water for a dried out soul.  A time of circle-sitting connectedness, where the deep thinkers can let their thoughts go adrift and land kindly on a friendly soul.  A time where there is no judgment, but lots of helping love as people try to point out to others where they are and in the next breath where they hope to be.  

   It was time for a little church.  

  Or a shabbat, or whatever you want to call it.  Though really, it was a Thursday night and sadly none of us are Jewish.  But just like the last time, the idea was to get together, share our thoughts about our spiritual journeys, our inspiration, our faith for today and all the looming tomorrows.  And honestly, it enlarged my soul.  

   I heard many truly uplifting prayers, meditations, thoughts, and recitations.  I shared something I had written here, The Better Story and could feel myself relax and my spirit settle in as I was simply myself, sharing a part of my inner thoughts with friends.  

   It was so special, this night.  My dear friend Emily, who has been putting these shabbats together, said something so valuable to me, a gift in words that I hold so dear.  She told me that meeting me, becoming friends with me, has helped her break down the walls against Christians that she had been carrying around; that she had never met a person who was so committed to their path of faith, yet so non-judgmental towards others in the same moment.  Another sweet friend, Kevin, also echoed that sentiment, saying that he had never met a Christian like me.  

  This is not at all to brag, or say that I have the corner on something special.  Goodness knows that life is often humbling, that I stumble more than I stand and stay content with my thoughts when I should be speaking...I also have learned so much from my friends here,  and will continue to do so, I am sure.   And I thanked them--for not judging me, or calling me a prude, or allowing our differences to cause a division between us.  They give me grace, they truly do.  

  And no real special allowances for me either, Christian or not.  In fact, one friend calls just about everyone a B***CH, and he means it in a totally friendly, un-abusive way.  However, some of them have amended this for me, and now affectionately refer to me as a wholesome b***ch. Thanks for that, guys;-) 

    So tonight was a mix.  A little soul-sucking from an audience that seemed to have better things to do than appreciate some hard-working actors, let alone laugh at just one or two of their antics, and then a little church-like activity and sharing.  And I gotta say the church won out in the end; I hardly remember the soul-sucking and I am now getting to bed feeling peaceful and full of grace.  

   And it's a nice feeling to sleep on, I think.   

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

another miracle

    So, I did a little redecorating--what do you think?  I felt like it was time for a change...


    Here is something you probably don't know about me: I love to paint.  At least, I loved painting my house.  I love the idea of straight lines and the paint staying within the perimeter of those lines; of something bland being made interesting by a vibrant color; of taking my time and making it perfect; of buying the tiniest brush I could find at Shinn's, the paint store, so that I could get the corners just right; of the smell of paint; of wearing my huge, painted-all-over overalls; of making so many trips to Shinn's that I started to feel like Norm when he walked into Cheers and everybody knew his name; to discovering that Benjamin Moore is the absolute best paint there is and feeling like a bit of a paint snob because I secretly feel sorry for someone when I discover that they are painting and did not use Benjamin Moore...

   Anyway, I figured since I can't really paint my writing space--it being virtual, and all--I could just change things around and get the same result that a good paint job does.   

   But, that's not actually what I was going to write about tonight.  

    Do you believe in miracles?  In inexplicable promptings, that once you obey, you are absolutely grateful that you did?  There are moments when I simply cannot deny the presence of a higher power in my life, leading me, showing me a better way, providing wondrous phenomena that bring alternatives to certain sadness. 

   Or embarrassment.  Which would have surely happened tonight, had I not listened to this prompting.  But, let me tell you what I mean.

   We were already at places, getting some last minute stretches in next to a dark stage that sat empty before a waiting audience.  I was ready, mostly.  Except, drat! I had to go to the bathroom.  Nothing too serious, probably just nerves.  Normally, I ignore this feeling, considering we are about to walk on stage.  And so that is what I did, ignored it--for a good minute.  But I did have to pee, and sometimes dancing with that...pressure...is just no fun--plus I just felt compelled to go, like something was telling me that I really needed to do this before the show started, so I ran up to the stage manager and asked her if I had time to go to the bathroom.  She said, you have three minutes--you can go if you use the one up here, on the side of the stage. Hurry! 

   With that last directive motivating me, I ran to the bathroom and got to business.  And this is when I realized how important that little trip turned out to be.  Without getting explicit, and with an attempt at sensitivity towards the male portion of my readers, I can only explain the next occurrence by telling you that in that moment I was absolutely positive that I am a). not pregnant (this is good news) and b). in need of something to, ah, keep the audience from seeing the proof, so to speak, that I am not pregnant (which was not good news).  Uh-oh, it had probably been about two minutes by now, and with one meagre minute to go, I ran back to my stage manager to tell her that the problem is now a little more serious and that I was in need of a few more minutes.  She heard the urgency in my voice and let me go.  Smart lady.  

   I tore out of there like I was running for my life and finally ended up in my dressing room, after pausing only long enough to hear a dresser ask, Do you need help?! I replied with a quick yell over my shoulder, Not to use a tampon, thanks!!! And got the job done. Without her help, thanks.  

   I ran back up to the stage manager, told her that I was back and ready, grabbed hands with Sterling and Jay, and walked on stage to start the show, now that my own little frantic pre-show had finally ended.  I couldn't help but feel overcome by gratitude; for the prompting to go to the bathroom from Someone who knew what was going on, and for the fact that I actually listened.  

   And this is just another small clue that leads me to the overwhelming evidence of miracles. Everyday.  In unexpected places.  And I'll take them, every time.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

you mean--the job comes with friends, too?!?!

     Sure, there are some people out there who make me want to either gift them with a few sessions of much-needed therapy so they can learn to treat others with kindness and respect, or gift myself with a few sessions of therapy that suddenly become much-needed because, well, I have not been treated with kindness or respect since meeting them.  

   But every once in a while you run into someone who redeems humanity for you.

   And therapy is still good--even great--but isn't totally necessary at the moment because you've met someone whose friendship just plain helps.  And as an added bonus, you can take the $100 you were gonna drop on that 50 minute hour of therapy and go buy a new dress.  Or a nice dinner.  Or both.  

   Anyway, I met Betsy in Korea, of all places, three and a half years ago.  We were doing Fame the Musical and it was a first tour for both of us. And if that wasn't enough to bond us together, we are similar heights, which always makes a great foundation for a friendship, if you ask me.  

   We were also both assaulted by an elderly Korean man.  Now that's  the beginning of something beautiful if there ever was one, I think (that is--the fact that we escaped him together, not the assault).  Oh, but wait--here's a pic of me and Betsy, tonight, at the Boston opening of ACL.  She and Todd (her fantastic fiance--they recently got engaged--woo-hoo!) came to see the show and sat right in the front row--it was all I could do to not watch them watching the show all night...
     Oh, but the story about the elderly Korean man and his assault (I can't just mention it like it's a normal occurrence and then not explain, right?!) : a small group of us were leaving our hotel (the Humantouchville, if I remember correctly--and I am hoping something was lost in the translation), I think there were five of us in total.  I was the last to exit and I kind of came through the door dancing.  See, the thing about me is that I will dance just about anywhere, which is an endless source of embarrassment to Drew.  I have explained to him that it doesn't embarrass me, so it shouldn't embarrass him, but he doesn't seem to see it that way.  He has actually resorted to making a huge show of playing the air guitar when I start dancing. He thinks he's evening the score, so to speak; that he will embarrass me and then make me want to stop dancing in order to put an end to the air guitar.  Sort of like when Russia and America had their nukes aimed at each other, keeping the playing field level--except, I wouldn't want either of us to have to be Russia in this scenario and there was no possibility of either my dancing or his air guitar resulting in a huge mushroom cloud...Drew is right about a lot of things, but not this.  Play all the air guitar you want, Drew--I am gonna keep on dancing. Sorry...

   So, I am dancing, minding my own business, perfectly content with keeping it a solo, when this little elderly Korean man just forcefully grabs my arms and tries to start dancing with me.  I am not keen on this surprise pas de deux, but his grasp is surprisingly strong for one so small, and I am having a hard time getting his hands off me.  So I call for help and my friends come back and manage to disengage me from his hold.  But the man then spots Betsy, and starts to grab her and try to dance.  Again, we go to work and get him off her...This man is determined to grab a girl, this much is clear by now, so we do what we can in the situation: we run.  

   The five of us run at break neck speed through the streets of Seoul.  Oh, and I am pretty sure we stood out since we were young Americans, one being 6"8, two of us blond, and all of us white.  Plus, the full-tilt sprint probably didn't help us blend into the crowd an easier, either. Here's the crazy thing, though, the Korean man follows us!  Geez, how long has it been since this guy had someone to dance with? I mean, he really can't just ask a friend for a dance? He has to grab some American girls and force them to dance with him?  Actually, considering that he would be willing to that, I can understand how he doesn't have many women volunteering to dance with him on a regular basis.  

   The whole chase culminats at a traffic light that is being difficult by staying red, forcing us to wait which lets the man close in on us.  As he does, he grabs for the last girl in the group and again, we fight him off as the light turns and allows us to do the only thing that seems to work in our defense: running.  But this time someone yells to run down to the subway, where we can lose him.  This turns out to be a foolproof plan, because we lose him down there and finally slow our pace down to a walk.  And then we just start laughing, especially when we go over the facts...

  Fact: A small, elderly Korean man, who we were now pretty sure was drunk managed to cause 5 young adults to run away in fear.  
  Fact: We are all dancers, able-bodied, fit, athletic, and ranged in height from 5'5 to 6'8.
  Fact: He is one solitary old man, probably drunk, definitely no taller than 5'3.
  Fact: We felt more than a little like the Scooby-doo gang and the whole thing ended up being very exciting in the end, but actually pretty scary when it was happening.
  Fact: I actually felt partially to blame for the fiasco by somehow planting the idea into the man's head by dancing while exiting the building.  

    So, that's the account of the assault from the surprisingly strong little man in Seoul.  I hope he has stopped grabbing young ladies and forcing them to dance with him since then.  I really do.  

   But even more than an ability to run from offensive men through the streets of Seoul, Betsy is a very special person. Her friendship was an unexpected gift that came with my first big job--a gift that I was not even looking for at the time, but realized that it was just what I needed after the fact.  

  It's kind of amazing how you get into this business simply because, at some point, you fell in love with the ability to give something of yourself to an audience; maybe you made them laugh and realized you were funny for the first time and it brought another spot of light into your soul; or maybe you sang a song that cleared something up for somebody, giving truth a bit more of an edge in that epic race between truth and illusion, but however it started, it was a dream that involved not much more than thoughts of an empty stage and all the possible or seemingly impossible ways in which you hoped to fill it someday.  But then, you start stepping on those stages, doing what you'd dreamed of, and you look around and are absolutely struck by the staggering fact of true-blue friendship that has come in the form of the people who stretch next to you before the show; who stand next to you in a united front of doing whatever it takes to uphold that suspension of disbelief that is imperative for a job well done in theater...

  I guess what I mean is that I always knew I would love, love, love this job; I am just kind of surprised at how much I have grown to love, love, love some of the people that come with this job. 

Sunday, September 14, 2008

[gasp] I would NEVER...!!!

     Uh-oh, today was definitely Sunday.  The reason I preface it with uh-oh, is that the cast can definitely get a case of senioritis come Sunday.  You know what I mean by senioritis, right?  When, in high school, you reach the end of your last year and you know you are getting out really soon and so it's hard to take anything told to you in the context of high school seriously anymore...?


    Yeah, well, the last show on a Sunday can sometimes feel a little bit like that.  

   It's just, with this great big beautiful blank canvas of a Monday looming before us, it can sometimes prove just a tad difficult to stay in the present, to stay in the step, touch, shoulder up, walk, walk of the moment.  That's not to say that we aren't all professionals who overcome that temptation, uh [cough], every time; that's just to say the temptation is there.  That's all.  

    I mean, maybe if I wasn't a professional and this wasn't a Broadway tour, I would be tempted to get into what you could call a One's War with a certain someone who may or may not dance next to me on the line.  Sure, it could be fun to try to use every single synchronized step that we do as a launching point for violent contact with that certain someone, the object being to hit that person as many times as possible, within the realm of the choreography, and without any detection from the audience, of course...But hey, we're all professionals in this show, and so I wouldn't know if that would be fun or not.  No sir, not me--that would be beneath me. Um, right?  

    And I can tell you for certain right now that if, say, a certain black out that marks the end of our show before the finale doesn't happen to black out, leaving half the cast to awkwardly continue to act out their joy at "getting the job" when the moment has so obviously passed; and the audience, who moments before were moved--maybe even to tears--by our heartfelt rendition of What I did for Love, now notices the prolonged, forced pantomime, clearly visible by the glaring lights that should no longer be on and start to laugh at the blatant missed cue...Well, the cast wouldn't break out laughing, too.  Nope, not in a million years.  Cause we are professional...And, uh, what audience?  This is an empty theater, it's 1975, and most of us are rocking cable-knit sweaters at this audition...

   So yeah, we might be tempted by senioritis, tempted to laugh on stage, tempted to just plain knock over the person next to you during the One's (but just a little, not enough to actually make him fall or anything), but like I said, we never do anything like that. 

   Cause we're nothing if not professional.  ;-) 

Saturday, September 13, 2008

animal house

     I was reading my brother's latest post on his blog, thelookmachine.com, which sadly narrates the passing of my niece and nephew's latest (and only) pets.  And that got me thinking...


    I was raised in a very full household; full of kids, full of animals, full of friends, sometimes even full of people who weren't exactly invited over, but regardless, it was a full house (Let's just say that I learned the art of hiding in my own house from certain people from our church who would literally walk right in.  Why bother knocking when the door is unlocked?).  But, anyway.  

    At one point there was even a rumor about us that circulated in the surrounding neighborhoods: the "family who lived in the round house on top of that hill had a house full of wild animals that basically had free reign." Now, I don't know if they were including me, my sister, and my brothers in the wild-animals-who-had-free-reign-category, but now that I think about it, maybe we should have been (and I use the term "we" in a very political sense of the word, meaning that I was never wild, of course, but I will include myself in an effort to be politic ;-)).   

   But here's the thing, we did have a lot of animals.  A ton.  Last night, I was having a hard time sleeping, so I decided to try to make a list of all the animals my family had while growing up...The list is not comprehensive, but here's what I came up with:
  • Horses: Shiloh, Misty, Caliente, Cup of Coffee (there were more, but their names escape me)
  • Dogs: Circuit Breaker (who was dognapped), Manna (who met a horrible end with a tumor growing out of her mouth--literally, kids would gasp and adults would quickly look away when she innocently trotted up to give her friendly hello), Aragorn (he was run over at least twice, which actually really calmed him down, but I can't remember how he eventually went to meet his Maker), Shadrach (mysteriously disappeared one day--mom and pop always told us that he knew it was his time to go and didn't want us to see him like that, which was both very clairvoyant and thoughtful of Shadrach, I think), Meshach, Fred (sorry, no Abednego but you were expecting that, weren't you?), Marshall (he was actually a little crazy, it turned out), Caspian (he was called home after being run over by Pastor Neil)
  • Cats: Precious, Luvie, Simpson, Joe Mama (the feral cat who lived in our barn), Curry and Bagera (both were Joe Mama's kittens, and are still living. In fact, Curry waits for my pop every night outside the Barn to walk him home from work and he also eats breakfast besides my pop every morning!  He's kind of like a dog.  Or a person if you think about the breakfast thing, I guess).  
  • Goats: to many to know their names
  • Chickens: same as above, but there was one rooster that lives on in our minds in infamy: Mr. T.  He was a bully and extremely mean--so mean, in fact, that he would chase kids around, just for sport.  He used to terrorize us!  One day my pop got so mad at him for chasing us that he decided to give Mr. T a taste of his own medicine and chased him around.  Well, Mr. T. had a heart attack and died (oops).  Nobody missed him, not even his mother.  This just goes to show that if you chase kids around for sport, you will die alone and not be missed by a single soul.  Now, if you chase kids around with good reason (say they took something that belongs to you, or perhaps you are playing tag and are "it"), then you are fine, with nothing to worry about.  You just need to learn when is appropriate to chase a kid, and when is not, is all; Mr. T. obviously never learned the difference between the two, and so died alone and un-mourned.  
  • Birds: 4 parakeets, 2 of whom were named Mr. and Mrs. Byrd
  • Ferrets: Snackers (the first time I brought her home, I took her out of her cage to show my pop and she bit my finger so hard that I literally dangled her from my hand.  My pop was like, ...Great...Jess...with a noticeable lack of enthusiasm. In fact, thinking back, I wonder how much my pop ever really cared for her; when she died, he simply threw her away--in the dumpster!!! No respect, no Christian burial, no nothing...I can only hope her soul found peace)
  • Iguanas: Solomon Lancaster Cuxe (Jason named him, don't ask. And actually Solomon had the amazing ability to seemingly die and then miraculously come back to life...But I guess eventually, well, the dying-thing took)
  • Axelotels: This was Jonathan's lizard-thing.  I don't remember the name; it was hideous.  He escaped from his cage and his remains were recovered months later [shudder].  I guess we should just be grateful it was his remains that were recovered, and not ours!
  • Frogs: this was one of the worst things I have ever done, against the admonition of my brother, Jonathan, too (he would have said it, so I figured I would beat him to it).  The frog was this big, sturdy, verdant creature I caught at our stream and decided to take him home to live with me.  Well, he hopped into the no-man's land which was affectionately known as my closet and was not seen for a very long time.  Much like the axelotel, his remains were also recovered at some point in time. 
  • Bunnies: I got one for Easter one year.  He didn't live long--I think he was literally scared to death by one of our cats or something.  
  • ducks: a dear family from our church, the Palkovitz's, gave me two ducklings for my birthday one year.  It was awesome...Until our dogs got to them and I found them stretched out on our lawn with their little necks broken...
  • Fish: my parents have many beautiful and exotic Koi. When these Koi were very young, my mom let each grandchild pick one to name.  The only name I remember is the one Ollie chose.  He decided to name his fish after his favorite song at the time, forcing all of us to refer to the koi as Jesus, Lamb of God (in what we could only hope was an un-blasphemous manner) .  Of course the joke was that we never needed to worry about Jesus, Lamb of God, because if he ever died, then he would just come back to life again...
  • More Cats: Taliesin (Tally) and Persephone (Percy).  So I didn't grow up with these buddies, but they are very very special animals to me and Drew and I couldn't make a list of animals without including them...
      The rumor was exaggerated, but my parents were quite lenient in allowing us many pets.  None of them ever had the run of the house, though--that part was absolutely not true.  And though most of these animals are no longer on this earth, I am glad they were apart of my life for a time.  What is that saying?  It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all...Yeah, that's about right.  

Friday, September 12, 2008

half of my sandwich...

   While walking home from the Intermission Cafe (such a cute place--their appetizers are called rehearsals and their entrees are called main stage--ha!), I passed a little group of homeless panhandlers asking for money.  I said sorry, but no and took a few steps past them before I remembered that I was carrying home half my ham and cheese sandwich that I was saving for tomorrow.  I looked down at my nice little meal and realized that I should give it away.  So maybe Jesus didn't exactly say "if someone asks you for money, give them the other half of your ham and cheese sandwich" but I figured the sentiment was the same.  


   I walked back and asked, Since you're hungry, would you like the other half of my sandwich?
To which one of them, the lady in the wheel chair, retorted, What kind?
I never got a chance to answer her, though, because she asked me mid-grab and by the time she was finished with her question I could see my sandwich was firmly in her hand, the transaction having been completed.  She'd know soon enough, anyway.  

   Hopefully she liked the second half of my ham and cheese sandwich.  I know I sure liked the first half.  I find it a little ironic that she got picky when being offered food--specifically after having told me that she was hungry.  

   It reminded me of when I was little and my mom would be making dinner and I would wander into the kitchen to ask her what, exactly, she was cooking, usually hoping for pancakes or even spaghetti.  Well, if it happened to be the dreaded tuna-fish casserole (and that was the answer more than a little, at least that is how I remember it), I would make it clear that I was unhappy with her dinner.  She would then tell me that there were real hungry people out there, starving people, homeless people, even, who would eat whatever was offered them, gratefully, no questions asked.

  But now I know that isn't always the truth.  Sometimes homeless and hungry people are picky too.  Sometimes they ask questions.  I am not sure what the moral of the story is, but I just thought it was interesting.  

Thursday, September 11, 2008

there's a reason why this isn't a children's theater show, folks

       Maybe it isn't the very best idea to sell 2100 seats of a 3000 seat theater that is currently hosting A Chorus Line to students.  Not graduate students, not college students, not even high school students--no, elementary and middle school students.  You know, in the history of good ideas, maybe that one isn't on the top. Or near the top. Or on the list.  


        But perhaps I am being too harsh.  Perhaps it isn't such a big deal that this pulitzer prize winning script--something that deals with mature subjects and yes, finds the humor in them, but in a smart way, a thinking way--was brought down to scale; a scale that marginalizes what it means to talk about being a homosexual, making it into some sort of cartoon that is laughed at because that is what we do when either we don't understand something (and I am thinking that a lot of the kids fell into this category), or we do and it makes us feel uncomfortable.   

     I can remember when, as a first grader, my teacher Mrs. Smith read us a book called Suzie's Babies.  I still remember her attempt to somberly tell us about the technical terms of the reproductive organs of these hamsters (Suzie was a hamster, in case you didn't realize or in case you care. Oh, and just so we're clear, hamsters and humans share technical terms of reproductive organs).  Sure, we had heard these words before, but only in secret, from our parents, and had been warned again and again not to mention them in public places and certainly not ever around grandparents.  Hearing those private and adult words like that, read from the head of the class by Mrs. Smith who handed out fudge to us on a weekly basis, sent a good amount of us into gales of laughter, myself included.  We got in trouble, but I don't think we should have.  I think that a first grader didn't need to be reminded of those words then and there in front of all our peers and I think our laughter was much more natural than Mrs. Smith reading the book aloud to us in the first place.  I guess my point is that the kids' reaction to our show was only normal, all things considered; but I do wonder if it was smart of the parents or teachers of the kids to subject them to such adult content.  I am just saying.   

   Also, there is a certain amount of maturity that is necessary to be able to process some of the themes in my show, and most elementary students--nee, all--do not yet possess it.  There is a  certain amount of growing up that is necessary before you can see something on stage and realize that it isn't something you should go out and emulate...And elementary students--well, you get my point.  

   And here is the kicker: at the climax of the show, when we are walking back up to "the line," to find out who gets the job, there is a slow underscoring of the song "One." What do these students decide to do?  A slow, off-beat clap to the music.  Suddenly, an audience that is not supposed to even be at this audition in the first place is not just there, but is present in an awful surround sound, fighting with the orchestra and our own attempt at theater and dominating the scene.  Oh, those claps were terrible, just terrible.  And I will never forget them.

  So, I would say to probably leave your kids at home for this show, as a general rule.  But if you absolutely insist on bringing your young kid that you are deluded into thinking is mature enough to handle it, then please, try not to bring 2100 of his friends.  That's all I ask.  

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

home. for a little bit.

   There is a saying on the road--Drink your water, get your rest, and save your coin.  


   Since I have started my brief stint back home, I have been pretty good at doing all three.  Except maybe getting my rest, but I toss that up to the red-eye I took home on Sunday night.  It is not in me to understand how somebody can be sitting practically straight up (yes, I do know about those glorious two inches one is allowed to recline when you are not either taking off or landing, but really, two inches is two inches, people!), legs cramped and curled in front of them, with their head fallen to the side and still sleeping like a baby.  In fact, it makes me so jealous.  

   I should have been able to sleep.  I exerted plenty of energy doing two shows, I did not consume any caffeine or even sugar; heck, I even took a couple swigs from my bottle of prescription cough syrup that is laced with codeine, but I still didn't sleep a wink.  Halfway through the plane trip, I gave up on sleeping and decided to eat the two chocolate cookies I had stuffed in my purse in case thing got desperate.  But then, to add to my fantasies of a bed on which I could actually fully stretch out on, I started being tantalized by the thought of cool, clear water.  My mouth suddenly felt so dry and my tongue was starting to stick to the roof of my mouth.  It was then that I decided to do something that I had sworn not to: I paged the stewardess and offered her my two dollars for some water.  Water, folks!  Something that you can almost always get for free--something that my body is made up of at a ridiculously high percentage.  Desperate times call for desperate measures, I guess.  So, even though I was still exhausted and miserable because sleep continued to allude me, at least I was no longer thirsty. 

   The nice thing is that I landed over an hour earlier than scheduled.  Happily, I called Drew at 5:15 am and told him the good news.  He hadn't left yet, but would right away.  Also, he had to break some news to me:

   Jess, since you got home earlier than I expected, I didn't have time to clean the kitchen. Or take out the trash. Or clean the car...

   Hmmm.  I had been gone for almost six months, but since I arrived home an hour ahead of schedule, Drew didn't get the chance to complete all of his chores.  I guess he needed six months and one hour. That made me laugh...We did them together later on, which was probably more fun than doing them by himself anyway.  

    I also got to see my kittens--who are now full-fledged cats!  From the looks of it, they were very well taken care of by Michele, and even our tiny little Percy-girl is now sporting a round belly.  Tally has been sleeping on my side of the bed, which means that I am sleeping diagonally towards Drew, to leave room for him.   I love those kitties so much; they really are apart of our family!

   It has been beautiful seeing my family and friends--little Judah is even talking in full sentences now; and thank God he remembers me!  Drew and I are about to go and get me a new ipod to replace the one that recently went AWOL, as well as some new audition music.  I am enjoying feeling like a normal person who lives with her husband...

  I leave early tomorrow morning for Boston, but I get to come back in three weeks for a wedding, so this good-bye should be a good one--or at least, as good as they come.