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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

roadtrip

This past Monday meant a day off.


And a road trip.

Me and three very fun people took off to visit Portland, Maine. Three out of four of us had never seen the tip-top of our country before; I had been there only once and was more than happy to get some of that coastal Maine beauty back into my soul.

Oh, and getting all of our luggage and us into the car was sort of like solving a Rubik's cube. And believe me when I say that I was not the one to solve the puzzle.

Thank you, David and Kevin, for making the car look like this.
And whoever said that leg room is essential? I can tell you now that it is not.

However, the lack of it just might lead one to pick up a vice that they have never before tried...
No wait. Scratch that. I have a vague memory of chewing on a candy cigarette once or twice as a kid. So I guess that wasn't the first time I had tried it after all.

And my parents can breathe a sigh of relief since that picture was not what it looked like.:)

On the way to Portland we stopped in Kennebunkport and although we did not see the summer home of George Bush Senior, we did see this lovely and eclectic sign that seemed to go on forever.
And we had a fantastic sea food lunch at a little rustic restaurant overlooking some fisherman's boats lined up and looking like ducks in a row.
Then we got to Portland and explored this lighthouse.
I love the idea of a lighthouse. A large beacon, leading one to safety, to solid ground. With a light that pierces the darkness, the swell of the waves, the heavy curtain of rain and wind, it remains steadfast. And David and I might have tip-toed through somebody's personal backyard to get a little closer to it. We might have run and giggled like a couple of children cutting school as we cut a path behind their swing set into the woods leading right up to the lighthouse.

Although, I wouldn't exactly know how it feels to cut school since, being home schooled, it would have been nearly impossible not to be found out missing by my parents before I even got so far as the mailbox.
Add to the fact that the only other student was my brother, thereby negating the safety in numbers rule?

Attempting it would have been too much like a kamikaze mission for my taste.

But I can imagine the feeling of ill gained freedom and adventure and think that it could be just a little bit close to the feeling one gets when they trespass private property in order to get a good close look at a light house.

Not that I have done either...wink, wink.

Then we found a look-out point for German U-boats. Which is where we discovered one of the skinniest and blackest hallways that went further than my eyesight could follow.

Actually, couldn't you see this being the logo for the latest horror flick?
And I did try to make myself walk down that hallway. It was terrifying, to tell the truth. I got maybe a few feet in, my friends watching me from the start of the hallway, when I saw some shift in shadow in the blackness and screamed as I turned to run out.

David snapped a picture right as this happened, as luck would have it. Kevin looks like a bad, overacting extra from some scary scene in a movie.
Poor Mindy said she just about broke her neck snapping it back so hard when she heard me scream. But afterward, once we realized there was no imminent danger, we had a good long laugh.

And of course when we saw the timely pic, we collapsed into laughter all over again.

Especially at Kevin's face.

After that little scare, we explored a little further into the same look-out structure. The day was darkening into night and we noticed this ominous graffiti that said,

Blessed Death

And yeah, it really scared us. We all sort of saw it at the same time and then David said in a low eerie voice,

This is a dark place.

Well, he wasn't just talking about how our shadows were lengthening behind us and if we were living in a movie, the score would have gotten really minor right about then.

Suffice it to say, we abruptly turned around and started walking quickly to the car, happy to leave that dark place behind.

And back to lighter moments...

Here you can see the lighthouse in the distance, but what you cannot see is the beautiful and turbulent water beating against the rocks that are between the four of us and the lighthouse.
Also, what you cannot see is the sense of calm and storybook charm that you walk into when you find yourself in Maine (except of course, when it says blessed death an abandoned look out, but it rarely does, so you don't really need to be worried about that). It's a special place. There are no neon lights to blot out the stars, not an abundance of billboards to remind you of what you do not have, of what you do not need. It is uncomplicated in its beauty. The abundant evidence of the way nature just makes sense--how the water stops where it needs to, giving way to outcroppings of rocks and cliffs; how the moon works in tandem with the tide and the evergreen trees thickly cover the hills that rise and then dip into valleys--I find comfort in all of this. There is something about it that hints of a plan.

And God knows I need a plan.

Or at least to know that Somebody has one.

And that maybe, just maybe, whoever thought of the science of the earth, the astronomy of the heavens; whoever decided that people were, in general, a very good idea; whoever realized that words just weren't enough and that melodies and harmonies could make them soar and translate into stories that we all needed to hear; well I like to think about all of that powerful thinking and creativity dreaming up a plan for me.

A plan for you.

A plan for us all.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

baby stellan

Praying for Baby Stellan.
There is a blog that I have been reading for quite some time. The author of this blog is a humorous and talented lady who chronicles faith, family, and photography, among other things.
One of her favorite aspects of life to write about, however, is mothering. She is a mama, just like yours and just like mine. And right now her youngest son, little five month old Stellan, is very very sick in the PICU.

Her blog has many readers and in Stellan's honor people from Africa to Paris and throughout the States have been sending in pictures of his name to Stellan's Name Gallery.

So, the cast of A Chorus Line was kind of enough to show their hope for Stellan's heart to start working properly by posing for this picture. I sent it off to his name gallery tonight, and I am praying for him.

If you want to join in, feel free...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

the first time

I remember when it finally happened. I guess the first time always sort of sticks with you, you know? You anticipate it, hope that it's deep, that there's some intangible, unbreakable connection, and that afterward, you both feel safe.


Protected.

Loved.

And you want it to be with someone special; heck, it should be with someone special. It's what you deserve, it's what he deserves.

The first time it happened for us was on our honeymoon. I guess after vowing before God and others to always love each other, always share a last name, always remember how the other likes their sandwich (Drew takes turkey, cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, sweet peppers, onions, and mayo lightly spread on a role...but I might be wrong about the onions...), it felt safe enough to try it.

So maybe I wasn't totally surprised when it happened. I mean, I wasn't born yesterday, as the saying goes; I knew something of marriage before I tried it out for myself. I knew the expectations, I knew the demand for closeness. For intimacy.

But still, it was Drew. Which is why, when we were ready to dog ear our respective books, turn off the lights, and call it a night, I was a little taken aback by his sudden move.

And no, I'm not talking about that kind of a move!

As if.

I am talking about the move he made to wipe away the quickly falling and silent tears rolling down his cheeks. It's happening, I thought. We're married now, husband and wife, and I can just feel us getting closer with every tear he is shedding in front of me, I marveled.

He's so beautifully vulnerable, so tender and trusting, I proudly thought of my husband--one who was so clearly unlike all those other husbands who have a hard time opening up. Cause the proof was in those tears he had now given himself over to completely. All in front of me, his safe wife, his best friend.

I moved to pull him closer to me and found that he didn't resist. I started to ask him what was wrong, all the while anticipating some sweet answer about how overwhelmed he was to be married to such a special person; how lucky he was to have found me and won me.

Or perhaps--even better!--God had done something deep in his heart; perhaps he was about to get all spiritual with me and together we would lay prostrate as we dedicate and consecrate and...well, any other word that ends in ate, but whatever would come of this spiritual awakening would be so good, I knew that.

Basically, I was ready.
This. Was. Big.

I comforted him and waited for him to tell me what was making him so upset. He cried and finally started saying something, but it sounded more like Chewbacca's dead than anything that really made sense to me, so knowing I had misheard him, I asked him to tell me again.

In a voice broken with tears and raw with emotion, he said, Chewbacca's dead.

Oh. So I didn't misunderstand.

I raised my eyebrows and asked in a voice that I hoped sounded serious, Like, Chewbacca from Star Wars, Drew?

Yes, he gravely confirmed. And then, motioning to the Star Wars book he was reading, he told me something about a planet that had to be blown up in a galaxy far far away and how Chewbacca martyred himself, effectively saving the lives of Luke, Leia, Han Solo, and the gang.

And of course, he was crying throughout.

I comforted him as best as I could, drawing from my own storied heartbreaks as I remembered when dear Matthew died in Anne of Green Gables, leaving Anne-with-an-'E' virtually friendless in the world; or in Angela's Ashes when Frank McCourt's baby brother and sister unfairly left this world way too soon. I mean sure, these were humans I was thinking about, but who am to judge? If the death of a fictitious, sacrificial alien was breaking Drew's heart, then I was grateful to be trusted with the information.

So no, it wasn't about me. Wasn't about God. But you know what? The first time Drew-As-My-Husband good and cried with me told me something about him; it gave me an even better glimpse into that good, kind, beating heart of his that had made me love him in the first place.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The city officials are human after all

I am actually blogging from my iPhone and thus, will be writing just a snippet.

Do you know how every city has those big white trucks with orange flashing lights attached to the top? They aren't cops, but well, they are something. Something official. The city trucks in Newark generally drive around with one purpose: to make sure that the postage stamp sized lawn in front of our house is not too long. And if it is, well then they are only too happy to give us a warning with an impending fine attached if the warning is not heeded.

I imagine they do other things, but that has been my only experience with them.


Or had been my only experience with them, I should say.

So while my mom and I were walking her dog yesterday, one of those trucks passed by--presumably on their way to inspect the lawns of Hartford. This particular official must inspect some of the seedier neighborhoods because his truck was equipped with a megaphone. I suppose actually getting out of his car to slap that warning on the lawn offender's front door could pose too much of a threat (people with unkempt lawns tend to be very dangerous, you know), so he simply and safely yells at them by megaphone while keeping the windows up and doors locked.

Or something like that.

But as I said, we were minding our business with Strider when we heard this loudly amplified, almost robotic sounding voice rise above the din of traffic to say,

THAT IS A BEAUTIFUL DOG.

In surprise, we turned around just in time to catch the official white truck whiz by and we both started laughing.

Now if only I could keep Strider on my front lawn, maybe then the officials would be so taken by him that they wouldn't notice the length of my grass.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

hopyards and hooligans. okay, so no hooligans in this post but I liked the way it sounded with hopyards.

We decided to take this little scalawag...
...Out for a nice long hike today. We settled upon Devil's Hopyard State Park in nearby East Haddam and don't let the name fool you: we saw absolutely no sign of the devil.

And if I knew what, exactly, a hopyard is I could tell you if we saw any sign of one. But honestly, I have no idea. We could have been walking on a hopyard the whole time, Strider could have even relieved himself on the hopyard, and we wouldn't have known it.

Hopefully Strider did not relieve himself on a hopyard--especially the devil's own personal hopyard. I wouldn't want to make an enemy of him by messing up his hopyard, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, I can tell you that we saw this.
And walked over a nice covered bridge.
There were also plenty of fallen logs like the one my mom is sitting on comfortably here.
Some were right on the trail, too, and Strider was quite a little champion as he scrambled over each one. He'd get his two front paws over the hump and then scratch and heave and push with his back paws until his little rump would disappear over the tree.

It was then that my mom decided that maybe he didn't need quite so much help getting up into the passenger seat of her car anymore. That was Strider's problem; now that we saw he could do it, we expected him to do it every time.

Let that be a lesson for us all. You might not want to divulge an ability to someone who has a say in your life unless you're ready to be expected to do it all the time. I still let Drew think that I have absolutely no idea how to change the kitty litter.

And it works like a charm.

Ahem.

Please excuse the state of my hair. On impulse, and at the five minute call before my show the other night, I grabbed a pair of scissors and just snipped away at my bangs...
As you can see, not every impulse should be followed. Especially when it involves scissors and a five minute call till show time.

As we were driving out of the park, we were quite relieved to have an almost full tank of gas since this was the only station we saw for a while.
Yeah, good luck if you run out of gas on your way out of Devil's Hopyard State Park.

And we were lucky enough to drive by Lake Hayward on our way back to Hartford.
Gorgeous. Blue. Tranquil.

I really love New England, folks.

there's 3 of us in this double occupancy room

So thankfully I didn't have to find that cardboard box with secure wireless. Whatever was wrong last night seems to be fixed today and I am grateful that I remain in the warmth of a hotel room to blog.


And you might be wondering what this is.
Perhaps the touring cast of A Chorus Line is incubating an alien. Perhaps, we are cloning a round of cut dancers for those days when all the covers AND swings are on and so we are down a few dancers to be cut in the opening scene.

Or perhaps my mom is here with me this week.

Maybe it's because she was born at 5 1/2 months and then kept in an incubator for months afterwards, but my mom likes to read like that. Under her sheets and blankets, with a small flashlight providing her just enough light to make out the words in her book.

She chooses to read like that even though the lights are on in the room, like this.
But she remains buried in a cocoon of her own making, like the picture above, so that when I finally turn out the lights it looks like something from the movie Alien.

And it's not just my mom who's visiting this week, either; her puppy, Strider is here, too.
I realize that picture may look a little bit indecent, but believe me--it's better than the other one I took. Just take my word for it.

He is doing great so far. And other than getting himself good and stuck between the driver seat and the shotgun seat during the road trip here yesterday, every thing's gone without a hitch.
He even took a nap with my friend David, right after breakfast. He's become quite a cast favorite here, actually.
And once we wake up Strider, we're going to go try out the hiking here in Connecticut...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

This is Drew

I'm checking in with you on behalf of Jess. Remember when she said she would always choose a cardboard box with wireless over some fancy hotel room with a whole lotta nothing in terms of wireless?

Right.

Well she is currently looking for a good cardboard box In downtown Hartford. If you know of any with wireless, be a pal and let us know...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

sweet

Today I got to eat dinner with two very old friends who I had not seen for quite literally years and years.


Wait. These friends are not very old themselves, they are just from way back when. Just so we're clear.

Anyway, they came to the show and made me as jumpy and nervous as a person who hasn't been doing A Chorus Line for a year already. But hey, that really works for Kristine, so I went with it. They were waiting for me at the stage door afterward, and the three of us beamed together. They said kind things, couldn't believe I was so tall, and we all hugged, respectively.

We sat down to dinner and talked. It was like a floodgate had opened; we patched together our histories, clueing each other into our pasts with our words, laughing and sighing as only women can do.

A few hours later, dinner and dessert having come and gone, a waiter politely approached the table. Stumbling over his words, hesitating to really say it, we finally translated his half-sentences and awkward smiles to mean that they needed our table for their latest rush of patrons.

I tried to explain to him that we literally hadn't seen each other in years--but well, it was the dinner rush and we had sat through the length of two dinners already. It was time to go.

But it had been lovely.

And this is one of the best parts of touring. Reconnecting with friends. It is nothing short of serendipitous.

Friday, March 20, 2009

welcome, spring

Sometimes you are walking along Georgetown's cobblestone streets and you just need to stretch your hamstrings. Like, badly.

And the typical bend-over-and-touch-your-toes stretch just won't do.

So, like this guy, you lay down, make sure your head is touching the dirty ground,
and stretch.
You get the job done, and you get it done well. And if somebody happens to snap a photo of you, you don't notice because you are so busy getting your stretch on.

Ah, the first day of spring. This magnolia tree did herself up right pretty for this commemorative occasion.
And the first day of spring was made exponentially better by one of my best friends, Christine, joining me. We strolled around Georgetown taking in the boutiques and picturesque buildings all shoved together in a row.
And if you are ever in Georgetown you really have to visit Georgetown Cupcake. Every time I have passed by this little shop, there has been a line out the door to the point where you have to commit to patiently waiting before you can even set foot inside of it.
But let me tell you, the cupcakes do not disappoint. At all. I had a chocolate peanut butter concoction which was a safe bet since I pretty much salivate at the mention of any combination of chocolate and peanut butter.

But I wasn't ready for this. The icing was peanut butter flavored and as light and airy as mousse, piled high atop the cupcake--which was just a little concave, enabling one to still be eating the icing while eating the cake.

Brilliant.

And the actual cupcake was moist and delicious with the fantastic surprise of a touch of fudge within. Really, I will always remember that cupcake very fondly.

Oh right--and Christine doesn't go many places these days without her entourage. Meet sweet Madeline. She's really good at waving and grinning. I mean, she puts all of the rest of us to shame in those categories.
In fact, while I was with her today, I just gave up even trying to compete. She had it under control so I resorted to simply not getting in the way of the expert as she did her cute waving and grinning thing.

And rounding out the entourage quite nicely is super fun and inquisitive Noelle.
She had a ton of questions for me--namely, where were Drew, Percy, and Tally? I tried to tell her that they were probably at that moment all sleeping in a bed in Delaware, but since she asked me the same thing again a few minutes later, I am not sure she quite understood.

She also asked what country we were in. With my geographical deficiencies, I totally understood where she was coming from with that one.

Luckily Christine was there to set both of us straight concerning where, exactly, we were.

Georgetown is a sweet place.
And I don't just mean the cupcakes.

ah, thanks for the photo...

Yes, I realize that I am not the woman, not the baby, not the seal, and not the man.


Oh, and I don't personally know the woman, the baby, the seal, or the man.

Though I'd kind of like to get to know the seal--he looks friendly enough.

So why is this picture on my blog, you might wonder?

Well I just wondered the same thing--not about my blog, but about my inbox, cause I just discovered it there, with this message:

Dear Madam,
As requested, please find attached your photo with a seal.
Enjoy your photo.
Kind Regards, Bianca Harwood

Um, thanks?
Needless to say I am going to have to let Miss Harwood know that I never requested a photo of myself with a seal.

But maybe I should, now that I know who to ask.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

it isn't all good

I know a guy who had his heart broken. The girl who had promised to marry him changed her mind and he was left in shambles. That winter he stopped wearing a coat.


This was not a Florida winter where it might get a little less balmy around Christmas, either; this was an east coast, the North side of the country, it gets-cold-all-up-in-here winter.

The snow would be falling around us outside while he remained in jeans and his white tee. And we noticed.

Finally, when one of us gently asked him why he didn't wear his coat anymore, he said--

The cold makes me feel alive in a time when nothing else really does.

This made sense. We let the subject drop and didn't ever tell him to put on a coat. He was fighting through his own darkness, if the cold made him feel better, far be it from us to keep him from it. His close friends would walk with him outside, their bundled defenses against the cold in stark contrast to his thin white tee; but still, they wanted him to know they were close and though they weren't a part of his broken hearted club, per se, they were a part of his life.

Whatever that meant for him, whatever that meant for them.

A person very dear to my heart miscarried. This was a baby she wanted, a baby she already loved. One day she walked with me outside, near where she and her husband had buried the tiny babe.

We talked of the child, we called him by name.

And then we both just wept; there were simply no words. No platitudes to absolve the sadness, the very idea of it offensive. Again, I was not a part of her club, but I saw her there and and decided to stand right next to her.

I recently found out the sad news that one of my favorite people on this tour is not coming back to finish out the last six months with us. I was crushed. The possibility of him not finishing the next six months with us had never crossed my mind; we had talked about Japan and the wonder that would be. I just assumed it would happen. With all of us together.

He told me right before the show started and I cried. To me, it is a very sad thing. Later, when all of the others found out his news, too, a person came up to me and said,

I know why you were crying the other night, I talked to [name] too.

Oh, so you know he isn't coming back? Isn't that so sad? I asked.

She looked me right in the eye and said in a maddeningly pragmatic manner, It's the business. It's just how things work.

I got a little passionate and responded, I don't care. It sucks and I am emotionally upset and I will miss my friend. I said this slowly and deliberately, for some reason it was important that each word was clearly understood.

I could have used a kind word, something that told me that even if she wasn't necessarily upset by the news, she had seen me crying and wanted to let me know that my sadness made her sad.

It would have been nice. Much nicer than being talked out of it...

I guess my point is that sometimes we just need to sit next to each other in our pain. Wait together for the first streak of dawn to fight through the present darkness but, in the meantime, acknowledge that it's real. That it hurts. That our bruised hearts are validated. Sometimes we just need to walk quietly next to the friend who needs to feel the biting cold. We need to cry with the friend who will never know one of her babies--not here, anyway, not now.

I think that is basically what this proverb means--

Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day,
or is like vinegar poured on soda,
is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.

Because sometimes silence, or tears, or just plain agreement works much better than any kind of happy song we could try to sing.
Now maybe if you wanna sing the blues, or some sad ballad--well now, that's a different story...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

every little step

Today our producer, John Breglio, gave us a private screening of the documentary film, Every Little Step.


Honestly, I didn't quite know what to expect. I know that they had been working on it for a while, starting with having cameras in the audition room, catching all the moments--good and bad--of the actors trying to get a spot on the line for the Broadway revival of A Chorus Line. They zeroed in especially on a few of them, making you really feel for them when they get the job. Or don't.

I especially did because I've been there--in both places.

And the thing is, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I was captivated the entire time. Not bored one second, and intrigued throughout.

The aspect of the documentary that I love is that the film gives the opportunity for all people from every walk of life to be a fly on the wall at a Broadway audition. I don't know that you can fully understand what kind of nerve it takes to walk into a small box of a room, stand in front of a table with 4 people, all of whose faces are arranged in mild disinterest sitting behind it, and just sing for your life. Convince them that even though they already saw ten women who are just as talented as you, there is something special about you.

And oh yeah, even though it is 10 am, will you please belt your face off?

And how about doing the jazz combination that you have already done twenty times today and that has made your quads feel more like quivering piles of meat than actual muscles that can keep you standing and lunging and then standing again--well, can you do that one more time?

And by one more time, of course they mean five.

Auditioning is just as much a part of my job as performing, and it is very very hard.

And the truth is that most of the time you get a resounding chorus of No's but that one Yes makes wading through all those No's absolutely and one hundred percent worth it.

This documentary also gives you a feel for the origin of A Chorus Line. It shows footage from the original show back in the 70's; you also hear the reels from the taping session in which the dancers share their lives--what eventually brought them to the stage, at times in a heartbreaking manner--that Michael Bennett did way back when. And there, you hear the fodder for all of the real life stories that now make up A Chorus Line, sometimes even word for word.

When Michael Bennett says to a small group of dancers in 1975, I want to know about your lives; I think we are all pretty interesting. I am not sure what will come of this, but whatever it is, it will be called A Chorus Line, I got chills.

Watching it made me so proud to be a part of this show. It's just plain exciting. It also made me feel truly grateful because honestly, there are other actresses who could play my role and play it well but somehow, I convinced them that I was special.

Wow.

So really--go see this. You'll love it, I think. It opens in L.A. and NYC on April 27th, but then will get released to all major theaters after that. It's a great piece of history as well as a glimpse into behind the scenes on Broadway.

Sort of like in Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood when Mr. Rogers would take you to the bowling alley to see what happens after the bowling ball rolls out of sight and the pins get knocked over--only way way better.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

no snakes, thanks to St. Patty! and other thoughts

There is an awful lot of green here in DC.


I did my best to join in the festivities by wearing my white t-shirt that says in bold, green block letters:

Little Green Tee

Honestly, it wasn't very hard to do since it is one of my favorites and I basically wear it every week anyway.

Oh, I also made a big contribution to this day by marrying a man who was born on St. Patrick's Day. And he's Irish. Not like should-be-in-Billy-Elliot-right-now Irish or anything, but still, more Irish than any of us in the Latshaw clan.

I mean, we have the Italian thing down for sure, but we just aren't Irish. Nothing personal.

But I figured wearing my shirt, combined with marrying Drew makes me festive today.

So don't ever say I don't support...
-------------------------------------------------------------

As an actress, it can be very tempting to rely on the audience for feedback. And I don't mean hanging around the front of the theater directly after the show as the audience is pouring out, hoping to get recognized and applauded up close and personal--no, I mean gauging their response during the actual show.

Being painfully aware of their presence while you are the one in the spotlight.
Or wonderfully aware of it, as the case may be.

Hanging on their applause. Their laughter. Their silence.

I know we aren't supposed to go for the laughs. But let me tell you, making an audience laugh can give you such a high--so you can imagine how easy it is to get to the place where you do, in fact, go for the laugh.

Especially if you have found something that works. A certain way you say something, a certain look you make--well, if it works, then why not do it again? And if that works? Then maybe you have a bit...you know, some shtick that cracks people up, and that is gold.

But the thing is you cannot rely too heavily upon the audience's reaction. Because it changes. You might not change a single thing about your performance, but on Wednesday night you could get hoots and hollers and on Thursday night you get a big fat silence. Or you know, polite applause. Or something that never ceases to amaze me--just the person sound asleep in the front row where they can clearly be seen and clearly do not realize it. And if you are anywhere near me if I am one day sitting in the front row of a live performance (I don't care if it is the JCC putting on Fiddler on the Roof or if it's the opening of the latest Broadway show) and I happen to fall asleep, for the love of all that is good, wake me up.

Please.

But anyway, you could really go crazy deciding whether or not you are good enough by the audience's praise or lack thereof. And you might just end up changing your mind a lot.

Right, so it can all be quite confusing.

Which is why I try to take it all in stride...Um, try being the operative word.
---------------------------------------------------------------

And remember this post?

Well, I am a very curious person. It's in my nature to ask questions, to find out how people feel about something; what they think about this or that.

And when it is pertaining to me?

Come on.

Anyway, like I had previously mentioned, I replied to the person who had written a message that felt (to me, anyway) judgemental. Especially since there was no dialogue precipitating it, no hey how are you? to sort of let me speak my heart to her before she decided what kind of person I am.

I waited for a while and got nothing in response which frustrated me since, if she really wanted to help me find my way back to God, as she put it, then why wouldn't she show me she cared for me?

So, I sent her a short message:

Hey--I was just wondering if you had received my response to your message. I hadn't heard from you...Hope things are well for you and your family! --Jessica

And in what had to be close to about five minutes after the time I sent it, I received this:

Yes I did. We are very blessed. Hope all is well with you.

In my prayers, So-and-So

Oh.

So I guess she doesn't care to talk to me. And again, I got a little bit sad about it because if she had felt compelled by some sort of compassion to write to me in the first place wouldn't that same compassion make her a). rejoice that, whether she believes me or not, I do at least think I have a relationship with God? or b). want to keep talking to me so that she can shed some further light on me, or at the very least be friendly towards another soul?

I just really don't understand people sometimes.
But I guess that isn't necessarily my job.

Monday, March 16, 2009

look hon, I cleaned!

I am not home very much.

In fact, one of the last few times I was home for a visit one of our neighbors saw me and, in a surprised manner, announced, Oh--so you didn't move away, then!

Nope. Or at least not in a permanent, I'm-mad-at-Drew kind of way.

But since I am away so often as to make the neighbors assume that I just up and left for good, I don't get to help much in the way of domestic support.

Let's face it, as amazing as Skype is, you still can't use it to wash some dirty dishes in Delaware when you are, in fact, in Florida. Or California. Or Japan.

Maybe someday.
I mean at one point people thought walking on the moon and squeezing cheese out of a canister sounded preposterous also.

I am pretty sure that the human race has as of yet still not accomplished those two feats simultaneously, but we'll keep dreaming big. Besides, even both those things on their own is nothing short of incredible.

Especially the cheese. But I digress.

So while home I decided to give Drew a hand and clean up the kitchen. Now this was a true sacrifice on my part since Drew seems to eat salsa on about 99% of his meals. Oh, and I hate salsa. So pretty much every dish in the sink had some variation of salsa encrusted onto it.

Gross.

It literally turned my stomach.

But I started composing some lyrics in my head and got to work on the dishes, trying my best to ignore the salsa displayed before me in differing forms of decay. I soaked and scrubbed and rinsed and loaded. One final step to go, I grabbed the dish washing detergent, poured some in the appropriate area in the dishwasher, turned the knobs to smart wash--because really, who wants to wash in a way that isn't smart? why do they even have other options?--and slammed the door shut.

Happy to basically be finished my task, I went over to my piano and got lost in the world of song writing.

Until I happened to glance over my shoulder and see this.

Oops. Yeah, I guess I poured too much detergent.

The nice thing is that the floors are now pretty spic and span, too, and I wasn't even going to do the floors.

----------------------------------------------------

I got home and heard something different, something that reminded me of a nature store, something tinkling. Drew was so excited to show me...
Yes, it is one of those tacky fountains complete with stones and tiered, flowing water that costs about $15 on sale at Happy Harry's Drug Store. See, we might very well have two of the snobbiest cats in the world when it comes to their preferred drinking water. They like fresh, flowing water--specifically from a faucet.

They detest the water in their bowls and barely touch the stuff.

Like most parents, we ascribed to the when they get thirsty enough, they'll drink it theory, but Drew saw this fountain and knew the cats would love it.

He was right. Gone is their old-fashioned water bowl with the paw prints on the side and stale, stagnant water within. Now they are delighted to drink from their freshly pumped and free flowing fountain. And bat at the water after their thirst has been quenched. And who knows? Maybe even heat those stones up for a rejuvenating hot stone massage.

I wouldn't put it past them.

They. Are. Spoiled.
And speaking of our cats, one frequently gets stepped on and really, can you blame us?

Poor Taliesin even has stripes that look like the wood grain pattern. I guess it's good for that moment right before the pounce, though.

And the heated stones would come in handy after getting stepped on, too.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

sunday and no heels to speak of

     Today I took a personal day.


     Why, you may wonder? Well, it's ah, personal.

     Actually, it's not so personal--but I do like the sound of a personal day. Like it's just a day that is devoted to one's personhood; that it's another step towards that illusive goal of well being.

     And, you don't really have to tell your boss why. That's nice too.

     But, I took it because Drew's probably descended from leprechauns or something since his birthday is St. Patrick's Day which means it is this Tuesday.  
     Why did I take it Sunday when his actual birthday is Tuesday? would be the next logical question, I realize. Well, to put it simply, I put in for a personal day on Tuesday but someone else in the show already had it so I settled for Sunday.

     The nice thing is that I got to surprise Drew by showing up last night. Even though I got the advice that I should never surprise anybody after sharing my plan with a certain someone who may or may not have been hurt in the past, I knew that Drew was safe to surprise.

   I knew the only female he could possibly be sharing our bed with was our black cat, Percy.
   And when I have, in fact, come home to find them sharing a bed in the past, it has not bothered me in the least...

   So last night I crept into our house, said my hello to our two kitties--which involved holding, petting, kissing, and mild squeezing--and I sat next to Drew and woke him up.

   This is no easy task, even when he isn't coming off a night when he has worked instead of slept with a full day of tasks following right into the day after. I gently shook him and watched as one eye slowly peaked open.

   It closed right back up, so I waited.

   Then both eyes popped open with a start as he said in a voice that sounded like it could use some exercise, YOU'RE HOME!
  And with that we were off to a good start.    

Friday, March 13, 2009

what are the odds?

   The other night, just following the very welcome and final black-out on stage, I am informed that I have visitors waiting for me at the stage door.


   Not being able to think of anybody I even know in DC, I am naturally curious.

   I get outside and find a very pleasant looking middle-aged husband and wife expectantly standing there. Still can't place them, but that does not rule out the possibility of them being related to me in some way.  The truth is that I do have relatives that I would not even recognize were I to pass them on the street. Sad, but true. 

   I smile at them and distractedly wonder if I should feign recognition.  

   Thankfully, I am not in limbo very long since the gentleman jumped right in.  

   Hi Jessica, I'm Bill--your last name is Latshaw, right?

   Yes, I respond, grateful that he isn't a 2nd cousin of some sort that I should know.  

   And you're from Pennsylvania? he continues.

   Yeah, I am, I agree again.

   And your father is the Reverend Latshaw? he asks, effectively hitting it out of the park with that one. 

   Yeah...he is!

   *cue violins and dramatic music as I am anticipating some sort of reunion here.

    This man, this Bill, that I am convinced I must know, asks me one more question, having laid out all the evidence carefully and methodically and now going in for the verdict.  

    And you're from Land...

    (Yes, I think, Yes I am...)

   ...sdowne--You're from Landsowne, PA?

   *cue the abrupt scratch and stop of the dramatic music as the violin strings are held still.
  
    Oh, I thought you were going to say Landenberg, because that's where I am from, not Landsdowne, I break it to him.

   Really? He says. So you are not the Jessica Latshaw whose father is a minister from Landsdowne, PA? She sings too...

   Sorry, no, it's not me, I assure him. But she may very well be related to me.

   And considering how little I know of some of my more distant relatives, that probably is true.

   But really, what are the odds?

a lot

   Last night the internet was down, so Ian and I each made a phone call to the front desk. After about the 4th or 5th ring, the call connected with a gravelly voice saying, Security.


  Oh--can you please connect me to the front desk? I asked, thinking I must have dialed the wrong number.

  Speaking, he answered, almost before I could get my request out.

  Oh. I guess that's one way to kill two birds with one stone.

  I told him our internet was down, hoping that since he was trained in both security and manning the front desk, this multi-faceted-tool of a man would know just what to do.

  I'll put in a request to maintenance and they can check on it tomorrow.

  Okay, I say, while thinking, So much for the multi-faceted-tool of a man getting things done around here.

  Or at least the things I want done.

  And so Ian and I were forced to simply talk last night, which wasn't so bad considering he is a very interesting individual with opinions on most matters. We did, however, agree that we would choose to live in a cardboard box with a fantastic internet connection over a fancy hotel with a single blue ethernet cable that does not even work.  

  Hopefully we will never actually be tested on this choice. 
------------------------------------------------------

  So yesterday was a day that had been looming in my mind for a while, since it was full of commitments. It started with actually waking up to an alarm, which is usually just reserved for matinee days or early flights. 

 * Now, for all of you so easily confused because I have mentioned manatees on this site before, please note that I said I wake up to an alarm on matinee days. Though, to be fair, your confusion could be warranted since the day I visited the manatees had me waking up to an alarm as well...

  But I went and taught a master class in the morning at Results Gym. It was filled mostly with men, which was surprising since the last one I taught was all women. 

  These people came from all different backgrounds; some had dance training, some had none but a ton of enthusiasm to make up for it. It was a joy to teach them, truly. 

  What was not a joy, was that since Fox news was taping the whole thing, I had to get wired into a mic. I was wearing my jazz pants that tend to be a little loose around the waist band which was exactly where they clipped the huge dinosaur of a mic pack onto me.  I kept being afraid that it would fall down, taking my pants--and therefore my dignity--with it and course the whole thing would be kindly documented by Fox news.  

  It didn't happen. I did end up holding it up--along with my pants--a lot, though, which probably looked pretty awkward but I assure you looked much much better than the alternative. 

 Fox news also interviewed me. At the onset of the interview I had to say my name, who I play in ACL, and what I was doing there. As soon as they started taping, of course my face started itching and so I reached up to scratch it...

  Um, apparently they don't want to interview people who look like they have horrible skin rashes.

  I don't know why.

  The Fox news lady was like, Ah, don't do that. And so they started again. Luckily I had only said about two sentences so it wasn't that much of an annoyance.

  But note to self: do not scratch anything when being interviewed on the news.  

  I think this is a good rule of thumb.   

   The rest of the interview went smoothly, and the master class was a joy. 
----------------------------------------------------------

   Then I went to play a benefit concert for Habitat for Humanity and it was such a special time.  The man who hosted it is the owner of Results Gym here in DC and his house is amazing.

   Seriously.

   You walk in on this glass floor that makes one question whether they should be walking there at all, but since there is no other way in, you continue with trepidation. There is a koi pond underneath the glass with a waterfall as a backsplash. There is a heated pool on one of his many outdoor porches and an old fashioned elevator, complete with a super-hero costume inside, to lift the guests who don't feel like taking the stairs.  

  I don't think I have ever been inside a house like that before. 

  Oh, and there was a gorgeous grand piano in the spacious living room, which is what I got to play.

  And let me tell you, I certainly didn't mind it at all.

   Clyde, another cast member who writes music, and I were both asked to play two of our original songs. He went first on his guitar, and I went next on the piano. The audience was so attentive---they were poised and listening like we were telling them a secret that they didn't want to miss.  

  It was a fantastic experience; the only thing that made me sad is that we had to leave as soon as we played since we needed to get to the theater for work.  The bright side of that, however, was that a police escort had been arranged to take us to the stage door, so as to make sure we wouldn't get stuck in DC traffic.

  He had his lights flashing, we were going through red lights, and cars were moving out of our way--all to get some actors to the National Theater on time.

  It was fantastic, and a little bit funny, I must say. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

self portait

    I just realized that my computer has a camera...I am not gonna lie, I just spent the last half hour snapping pictures.
    Of myself. 
   By myself. 
   In a hotel room in DC...Pitiful, I know. Or maybe vain. 
  
   Probably both.  

   Anyway.

  Here I am, thinking very deeply. I am probably pondering the meaning of life, or trying to recall that Shakespeare sonnet I memorized years ago... 

  That is if I had memorized a Shakespeare sonnet years ago. Or ever.  

   And this is Broadway cheese, plain and simple, minus a gold hat and tails. Big smiles like this remind me of how, as a little girl, my pop always called me Wrinkle Nose when my face would split in a big grin. 
   There are some contenders that would say my pop called my sister Jenna Wrinkle Nose, but I maintain it started with me and became a repeat performance by the time my sister came along. 

   And the next--missing Drew? A little shy? A little bashful recalling how the last time we were together I broke out into tears because McDonald's had just stopped selling breakfast and McGriddles are some of my favorite guilty pleasures in the world.  
  
  Apparently they only serve breakfast till 11 on the weekends. And lucky for me it was a Tuesday. So I settled for chicken strips at 10:45 in the morning. 

  A little later, when I was halfway into those dry chicken strips, Drew asked me why I felt the need to lean over him and ask the drive-thru lady why they didn't serve breakfast until 11. He wondered, very appropriately (though I didn't see that at the time), what good could come of that. 

   My response? Tears. I was crying and there were little pieces of chicken flying out of my mouth and Drew earned a lot of credit by not laughing. Or being grossed out. Or telling me to grow up.
  I think the tears really came because I was sad to have to leave again. But eating chicken strips when I had enthusiastically prepared myself for a McGriddle was a huge disappointment.

  And here is the What the heck?! Am I really eating chicken strips for breakfast?! face. 
  Yeah, not cool.
    And then later on in the day, when I sent Drew a text, saying I was sorry for being such a wreck... 
   He just said, no problem. I miss you already.

   And this makes me glad, warm, content. 
  
    But McDonald's really should serve breakfast till 11 all the time. 
    Who has the time or wherewithal to keep track of whether or not it is the weekend?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

the curtain

     Doing the same thing over and over again can lead you to be absurdly excited over the smallest variances. I am so grateful for my job, don't get me wrong, but when something happens differently from my expectations it can be most welcome.


   Not when it compromises the integrity of the show, mind you. 

   Never then.

   But let me give you an example of what I am talking about.

   A moving curtain. 
  Allow me to explain. While playing Detroit, things were...tough, to put it lightly. I had returned from a beautiful vacation in Southern California and instead of just going back to work (which, let's be honest, can be hard enough), I faced being back at work in the frozen and depressed area of the world that we kindly just call Detroit (instead of The-Frozen-And-Depressed-Area-Of-The-World, which might be kind of rude, considering the negative connotations that title could have on the people who actually do live there, let alone who try to entice others to actually visit them there).

     It was opening night and as I was standing on the line I happened to glance over to the right. To my utmost surprise, I saw that one of the wings was moving, seemingly of its own accord, back and forth, back and forth, like the pendulum of a clock. I kept on thinking it would stop, but to my delight, it did not. So whenever an actor on my right was featured, I was so happy since it meant that I could gaze at that moving curtain while making it seem like I was watching the onstage activity, you know, appropriately and all that. 

    That curtain moved with some sort of magic. It made me smile; it made me happy in an inexplicable way.  I told one of my friends in the cast about its brilliance and so he, too, started looking at the mysteriously moving curtain whenever he could. It became our secret, and accordingly, we gave each other knowing and covert glances because of it.  

   And the curtain kept moving throughout our shows there. We often talked about how that curtain was getting us through the shows despite the small houses and the deafeningly quiet response of the audience members who actually managed to afford a ticket, bless their hearts.  It moved side to side and somehow managed to move our hearts to buoyancy; call me crazy, but it's true.

  Until one day when we were at places.  In horror, my friend showed me the ugly clamp that bound that curtain to one place, that made what once was moving now so terribly dull and still.

  Just like every other curtain in our lives.

  We were so sad, we didn't know what to do. At any moment we were going to be called onto stage without the comfort of our curtain shifting its weight back and forth, moving like it was a thing alive. 

   Desperate times call for desperate measures. 
  
   My friend grabbed the clamp and removed it from the curtain entirely. He gave our curtain-friend a small push since it had been a captive for who knows how many hours and might need the go ahead to do its thing.  We hoped for the best and walked out onto the dark stage, ready to hear Zach yell again! right before the lights clue the audience in about us.

  And yes, when we looked to our right the curtain was moving. Just like it should. We both breathed a huge sigh of relief and knew that once again, all was right in our little world. 

  And we still don't know exactly what made that curtain move like it did, but we didn't need to. 

   We just loved the fact that it did.

Monday, March 9, 2009

a penny for your thoughts

   I am thinking so many things right now, thinking like it's my job and I get commission with each new thought.


   I wish I did.

   I am thinking of the comfort I find in the weight of Drew right beside me; the way that he, being heavier than me, causes a compression in the mattress that rolls me in toward him. Closer. And I am grateful for any thing that brings us closer.  When you're spending most nights on level and lonely mattresses, you learn not to be so picky. You learn to roll with it, ah, literally. 

  I am thinking of the quick pounce and sudden weight of a fat cat that just landed beside me on the bed. I love how cats seem to materialize from nowhere. I love how God gave them springs for legs.  

  I am thinking how today, I just barely got to glimpse some of my dearest friends, dearest family. I suppose I should be grateful to have seen them at all, but truly it wasn't enough. 

  I am thinking how performing a musical in a large theater is so very different from playing your own songs in a bar. The former makes me happy to tell somebody else's story, happy to be just a cog in a wheel that is much larger than me. It's especially nice when things don't feel so good within; when I am overwhelmed. Insecure. When I have forgotten that love is much more than a nice ideal, that it isn't really just nice at all--that it is a force, an impetus, a word that clues us in to the mystery of God not being able to look away from us despite our mess, a choice He made long ago when it came to us, when it came to our worth, because, what's that saying?

   God don't make no junk. 

   Although, I am pretty sure Drew might disagree. He might say that junk has a couple of different meanings and that yes, God certainly did make junk and that he is certainly glad for it. And if Drew was meaning what I might think he was meaning then I would say yes, I agree.  

   Ahem.

   But as I was saying, when I don't feel so great about life in general it's a welcome reprieve to just slip into Kristine Urich's story, do some steps without thinking so much, sing a harmony that is now second nature.  It's fun to go head over heels into her quirks, her idiosyncrasies, her life that is wrapped up in about two hours and five minutes.

   Not that I am counting.
  Not most nights, anyway.  

  But playing my own music, well that's just different. It's close to home, intimate, revealing. There is still a level of showmanship, sure; the pressure to entertain, absolutely, but you are coming from a much more base level. It's not so choreographed, which is nice for a change.

  And in a bar, you aren't just performing for the masses. People are close, you can see their faces, hear them talking, see what it is they just got with their sampler plate.  Instead of just a sea of faceless audience members, you are now playing for Joe who recently retired from the navy, got a bomber jacket and a pension he now trades for his pints because of it. You are singing for a couple on their first date; he thought a bar with live music was just the place; if the conversation was lulling they could simply listen for a while and try again at a quieter song. Anyway, you see these stories playing out before you and they become a part of the night, a part of what is happening right now and you're happy to score their stories with your music.  

  I really love playing my music for people. I really love musical theater... 

  I really want to do both. 

  One of the guys who worked at the East End told me, Listen, A Chorus Line sounds great and all--but you've got to do your own thing.  

  From his mouth to God's ears.

  Not that I don't love my job, because believe me--I really really do.

   

   

Saturday, March 7, 2009

two shows and lots of fishies

    These days have been jam packed full of sisterly fun.

     And today was no different, with a two-show day and a trip to the aquarium squeezed in between. Not bad for a Saturday, I think.

    Here we are in the Ocean Voyager exhibit. Of course I had to show off my go-go-gadget-arm skills and snap a pic.

   And I sat down for a moment in a very large...oyster? clam? 
  Whatever it was, it gave my feet a much-needed break. After my jaunt on the stage in the ever-present heels and the mile walk to the aquarium, I was ready to take a load off.

   And the...large, shelled, oceanic creature was just the thing.

   Oh. And here is a piranha. Actually, a few of them, but we tried to really zero in on the one who had an unfortunate tumor of some sort that kept him from closing his mouth all the way.
We were torn between laughing and feeling sorry for the little guy. So we did both--and got a picture of his ugly little mug for documentation purposes.
   And this photo is almost completely for my brother Jason. He is so transfixed and fascinated by predators that whenever I see one I inevitably think of him. 

   So here you go, Jase; this gator's for you!
  And this picture of the beluga whale makes me laugh because it looks more like we are suspended in outer space and he is an alien making his way towards me.
  Or maybe my parents' have subjected me to one too many Startrek films.

   Actually, watching any Startrek flick is watching one too many, if you ask me (sorry, mom and pop!).

   And me and Jenna were really grateful that these Japanese Spider Crabs were behind glass. Though even with that guarantee I still felt the need to assume a defensive posture. You know, just in case.
  And look, WHALE SHARKS!!!
   *please insert undocumented parts of the day which include walking what felt like miles to find the MARTA station, my sister and I being stared at quite openly by a creeper who somehow managed to pull out a bottle of gin, take a pull from it, and not brake his stare, doing another show in heels that did not feel like they were made for walking, standing, or even dancing, for that matter, and then meeting Elton John's personal assistant who has seen ACL 50 times and loved watching our cast, or so he said*

   And then after the show, sharing dessert at the Melting Pot.
     Pretty darned delicious.

Friday, March 6, 2009

little five points and miss mary mac, mac, mac

   Today we set out for Little Five Points.  I was there many moons ago with one of my best friends, Christine. 

   And we were there as a smaller part of a collectively larger group, Youth With A Mission. 
   Anyway, our particular mission was to dance basically wherever we could find a level space and something with which we could play our music.  

   So, we headed out to Little Five Points, a communal hang out with local shops, artists, musicians, and yes, drum circles. There was also a small theater called 7 Stages and we, being naive and not knowing exactly how one books a gig, simply went right into the lobby, found the director, and told him that we wanted to perform on one of his 7 stages,.

  That night, if possible.

  I mean, we weren't being too crazy; it's not like we asked to perform on all 7 of his stages or anything like that. 
  
  Surprisingly enough, he auditioned us, and after watching us dance, said we were in. So we became part of a variety act and went on right after a solo modern dancer finished contracting, suspending, releasing, and rolling to nothing but the sounds of the didgeridoo.

  If you are familiar with that sound, than you can only imagine how enthusiastically we applauded once we realized we didn't have to listen to it droning on any longer.  

  Anyway, four of us decided to get on the MARTA and find our way to Little Five Points. 

  We got off at Five Points Station, knowing that it wasn't a very long walk from there to where we wanted to go.  I asked an elderly man for exact directions and he told us to either "jes go straight up yonder and turn lef' at the espressway" or if we were feeling adventurous, I guess, we could "jes foller that man through the park and make a rat at Eucleed."

  After navigating through his delightful southern accent, we made our decision. 
  
  Now we weren't altogether positive that "that man" was going to Little Five Points, but we decided we liked the idea of walking in a park more than on an expressway, so we headed off toward where "that man" had just disappeared. 


   And sure enough, we turned "rat" at Euclid and found ourselves in exactly the right spot.

  There was a good amount of graffiti on the walls, but in this place it didn't seem so intrusive; it blended in with the eclectic atmosphere. Besides, although I don't necessarily think that you can find the term sparkle motion in Webster's Dictionary, I really like the sentiment.
  I also like to support local shops, like to pick up items that you would probably not find at your nearby Gap or Macy's. So, I saw this red hat and decided I would give it a home.
   I also saw this tee and liked the message enough to want to wear it and spread the idea.
  And then we got back to downtown Atlanta and made it to the historic and mouth-wateringly tasty restaurant, Mary Mac's Tea Room. 

  A restaurant that has been around since WWII when all the menfolk were away fighting the good fight and Miss Mac decided to make some money and serve some soul food. 
  This was maybe my favorite part of the meal, I think. The waiter nonchalantly placed a bread basket smack dab in the middle of our table as if we get to eat fresh-out-of-the-oven cinnamon rolls, warm,  melt-in-your-mouth biscuits, and crumbly corn muffins every day of our lives. 

  Although thinking about it, it's probably for the best that we don't.

  We almost started singing when we saw it. But instead we started stuffing ourselves and any notion of that was quickly put to rest since our mouths were quite busy devouring these. 
   The place was really just perfect. Though, what was not perfect was having to put my leotard on shortly after for the show and feeling like one of the beluga whales we're going to see tomorrow at the aquarium ...
  Still, the baked chicken, cornbread dressing, chicken gravy, cranberry sauce, sweet potato souffle, creamed corn, and strawberry shortcake was utterly worth it.