Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December 31 - Wow

So I did it. I think I missed three days of blogging this year, but I posted multiple times on other days enough to make up for that. I'm not saying they were all good posts, but they were posts. They got me writing again. Kind of. 

Speaking of which, we saw Once in London last night and it was brilliant. It made me angry with myself for not keeping up with my music, or for allowing myself to be afraid of singing in public for so long. I identified with Guy very much more than Girl, but Girl would be fun to play. And as Bill pointed out, I did get to play a female Hamlet. Maybe one day, they'll flip the gender roles and I can play the one ready to give up on herself who finds someone who believes in her. I've actually been the Girl part in some of my real life relationships - bringing the guy's dreams and talents back into focus. Sometimes I wish I could find someone who would do that for me. 

But anyway. I'm sitting in a Starbucks in Cardiff, Wales, largely for the wi-fi, so I'm not going to get too reflective on my year. But I will reiterate what I said yesterday, that I need to focus on a more direct path to get my career where I want it to be. No more aiming for side-doors and missing. It's time to shoot for the moon. 

Wish me luck!

And have a very safe and happy new year. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

December 30 - Promise

In 2014, I promise to up my game in an effort to get my artistic career on the right track. I want to perform in the West End. I need to get it together to make that happen. 

Promise?

Promise. 

December 30 - An Ending

I know this is going to be an unpopular opinion, but I thought the Doctor Who Christmas special wherein the regeneration happened was terrible. There are spoilers below, so if you haven't seen it, you might want to stop now.

Okay, yet again, the Doctor and his companion are not together at the start of the episode. Why the fuck not? If she's the companion, why doesn't she actually travel with the Doctor? Why doesn't Moffatt want the companions to actually be anywhere near the Doctor?

They come together not because he needs her help or wants her around, but because she needs someone to play the part of her boyfriend at Christmas dinner. But the Doctor doesn't do Christmas - this is well established. And she needs him to leave a planet surrounded by every villain the Doctor has ever faced so he can pretend to be her boyfriend. And he goes. What the fuck?

The whole nudity thing was completely unnecessary time-filler.

So then there's this big thing about signal being heard through the entire universe and for some reason, the Doctor has befriended the head of a Cyberman which can translate the signal and identify the planet...that the TARDIS can't. What's wrong with the TARDIS that it can't identify the signal or the planet?

And then we meet another woman who has some rather forced sexual tension with the Doctor while Clara is exposed to the Silents. Why are the Silents there? Why are they not killing the people in the temple mainframe? But this temple mainframe thing can put the Doctor onto the surface of the sort-of-unidentified planet (or mis-identified planet), but he's not allowed to take technology with him and they see through his holographic clothing to see his TARDIS key, but they can't see through his wig? Which, again, completely unnecessary time-filler to have him be actually bald but wearing a wig.

So he gets his TARDIS back on the surface of the planet and finds the crack in the wall, because we haven't been saturated with enough throw-backs to rather dull things that happened in the last few years, and the signal coming through the crack is the question, "Doctor Who?" which the Time Lords are asking because they want to be able to identify that they have found the Doctor and can therefore return to this universe. Oh, and the Doctor also seems to have forgotten everything that happened in the 50th anniversary special episode, as he protests the possibility of the existence of Gallifrey and other Time Lords existing. But the Doctor is now in the position of either saying his name, which will allow Time Lords to return and the Time War to resume, or he can leave the planet, which means all of the baddies surrounding it will burn the planet and the seemingly dozen people who live there in the town called Christmas where you can't lie. So what does the Doctor do?

Nothing.

He does nothing. He takes no action. He sends Clara away via the Rose Tyler fake-out, and then proceeds to give up and grow old in this town called Christmas. Because apparently, if he just dies there of natural causes, the possibility of burning up the planet is taken away? And why don't the baddies, who hate the Doctor anyway (as evidenced by the fact that they keep trying to break into Christmas town to kill him) just burn the planet as some point anyway? His method of "protecting" the planet is disabling the tech that comes to kill him. (And seriously, who equips a wooden Cyberman with a flame thrower? Did nobody see that potential conflict of "technology?") He's not actually scaring the baddies away. If they all banded together to burn the planet in the 300 or so years the Doctor is doing nothing, the whole thing could be taken care of in a matter of seconds.

But then poor Clara has to return, and be sent away again, and return again, so she can tell the crack in the wall that he is, in fact the Doctor and that's all they need to know, so they send him some extra regeneration energy (which is, apparently also now a nuclear weapon of sorts), and he decimates the surface of the planet himself, thereby somehow magically saving everyone and taking his own sweet time regenerating into Peter Capaldi. Who did have a really fun line at the end.

So basically, we got sixty minutes of plot holes, forced sentimentally that ultimately failed, the Doctor doing nothing but talking about how he's lost hope and is going to die, and one funny line from Peter Capaldi.

Thank goodness for Peter Capaldi.

And can we get someone other than Stephen Moffatt to write the big, important episodes from here on out so they have, you know, something going on?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

December 29 - Expectations vs Reality

It has to be weird to be famous. It has to be weird to finish doing a show and walk out of the stage door to find a hundred people crushing one another into the barricades, crawling over one another to try to get an autograph or a photograph. It has to be weird to try to balance the need to thank them for their support of your art, because without an audience, an enthusiastic audience who will sometimes pay ridiculous amounts of money to see you perform, you wouldn't get to perform, with your own need to go home and sleep after an exhausting performance. I've not experienced that first-hand, but I can empathize. It has to be a bit overwhelming.

And on the one hand, I am a little disgusted with myself that I was one of the hundreds last night, pushing forward, trying desperately to get a photograph or an autograph or to be able to say exactly the right words to let him know what amazing work he does that he would actually stop, look me in the eye, and say, "Thank you." For the record, I didn't try desperately enough, or I didn't say the right words because there was no eye contact, no good photograph, no autograph. I do remember what his face looked like while he was signing programs for the people in front of me - absolutely gorgeous - and I remember the smiles he gave to other people as he posed for pictures and thanked them for their kind words. His energy is a positive one, a gorgeous and brilliant one, as lovely off stage as on if you can imagine that. So while I am disappointed that I didn't get a memento, I'm glad I went.

And on the other hand, I'm relieved that there was no eye contact, no recognition of my existence as a person. Because even more than wanting a photo or a word, I hope to work with David Tennant someday and think it might make for an awkward first day of rehearsal if I were to show up and we had the shared memory of me making an ass out of myself. It would be hard to make it an even playing ground, and hard for me to show that I can keep up, artistically. And I know that I could. So for now, I will be content with the fact that I saw my idol do what he does best, he was brilliant at it, and if I ever do get to meet him in rehearsal someday, I can calmly tell the story of how I saw him in Richard II and he was lovely.

That's something, right?

Saturday, December 28, 2013

December 28 - Exciting

As travel days go, today was a beast. But I am, right now, waiting for the theatre to open so I can watch David Tennant in Richard II. And I'm really freaking nervous about it. No idea why, unless you take into account the fact that I will be watching my artistic idol do what he does best. I'm sure I'll have more to say about it later, but I wanted to get something down really quick as I'm not sure when I'll have internet again. 

I get to see David Tennant in Richard II. It's not quite real yet.

Friday, December 27, 2013

December 27 - Update

I think I'm in love with Ireland. 

The weather is a little crazy and gross, and in all truth, I'd probably go batty living in a very rural area. But I'm having a lovely time and I've just barely been here 24 hours. 

We asked for a pub recommendation last night, somewhere with food that was open because a lot of places are closed on St. Stephen's Day. We took a cab to the Windsor, and the cabbie was lovely, so we didn't mind too much when the Windsor was closed. We walked down a block or so and found a pub that was open. I think there were only four women in the place (including the bartender and I), but I was completely comfortable. We had a pint and watched the Manchester City/Liverpool game. Exactly what one should do in Ireland, right?

Then it was off to find food, and we found a nice little completely empty Indian restaurant with really good food. And after a bit of a walk in the rain, we found another pub. I mostly wanted to absorb some Irish atmosphere, and we found it in spades. 

Again, there were many more men than women in the place, and the women were dressed up much nicer than the men. We're talking sequins, fur, and bling. While the men were in sweaters or button down shirts and jeans. After a little while, one guy standing near us came over to apologize for his friend's flatulence (it was rank), and chatted with us for a while. He talked to Bill more than to me, and I'm not sure if it was because he thought Bill was cuter or because he thought we were a couple and didn't want to step on anyone's toes. But he welcomed us to Dundalk, bought us a round, and left before we could return the favor. We finished our drinks and took a cab back to the hotel. 

All in all, a lovely evening after a long day of traveling. And today we're off to a wedding. It's already going to be hard to leave. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

December 26 - Flight

I've flown overseas several times before. What I've sort of learned about going from the US to Europe is that flights leave in the evening, you sleep on the plane, and when you wake up, you've landed the following morning. It helps deal with jet lag. 

The flight I took to Dublin worked a little differently, though. I don't think they wanted us to sleep. The first drink service happened about an hour and a half into the flight. Dinner was another hour or so after that. Then at about the four hour mark, they made an announcement and came down the aisles in case anyone wanted to buy SkyMall type crap. Then, with maybe two hours to go in the flight, they finally turned off the lights. Only to turn them back on about 45 minutes later for breakfast service. Needless to say, between that schedule and a screaming baby, there was not much sleep to be had. 

Nonetheless, I am in Ireland now. It is beautiful. I'll be glad to get where we're going so I can actually enjoy it for a bit, but so far, it is lovely. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

December 25 - Happy Happy

Merry Christmas, whether or not you celebrate it. I hope today is safe and happy for you. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a plane to catch. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

December 24 - Cookies

I baked two batches of cookies this morning and they are fantastic. My friends remarked the other night that I could probably sell my cookies or open a shop or something, but I don't know if you can do that sort of thing if the recipes are not yours. Even if I veganize a non-vegan cookie recipe, I would feel weird about making money off of those cookies. Like the recipe is someone else's intellectual property, so it's not right for me to profit therefrom. Ah, the joys of being a creative type who is concerned with protecting her own intellectual property. 

I have absolutely no problem with baking said cookies from the recipes created by others and giving them away, though. And oh my goodness, do I make delicious cookies. I relish sharing them with others. So kind of a win-win, yes?

December 23/24 - Eve

I missed yesterday. I think that is the third day I've missed this year, and I apologize for that. 

But today is the eve of my trip overseas that I have been looking forward to for months. I'll be going places I've never been before and places I've already seen. And it is going to be amazing. I've already decided - it is going to be amazing. 

Oh, and there's another big Eve a lot of people are celebrating today, too. Hope yours is happy. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

December 22 - Fantasy

I fnd myself dreaming about sitting on a beach, or near a beach, under a giant umbrella, with a book and a fruity cocktail. I think I might have to try that next year. 

I was sitting in the Apple Store today because my phone hasn't been charging. I figured it was the cable, but wanted to take it in to the store on the off chance it was something else, thinking that would be the best place to diagnose the problem. It was the first I'd really been in a store during the holiday season this year. Grocery stores don't count. But I found myself surrounded by people wearing holiday colors and buying gifts and being super nice to each other and I nearly lost it. The holidays are historically not my favorite time of year, and something about being immediately surrounded by it like that...I nearly started crying in the store. Fortunately, I got back to my car first, but I cried the whole way to the grocery store. And during the two phone calls from family members that came later in the day. My complete holiday meltdown happened today. 

I'm kind of glad that I made it to the 22nd before I hit the "I just can't" part of the holidays. In an odd way, that feels like progress. I think it is due, in part, to the fact that I've not really participated in the holiday stuff yet this year. I'm doing my Christmas shopping overseas. I sent out cards, but they were mostly silly. I've not listened to Christmas music or decorated my apartment. And I think that is just about the right speed for me. Then I can enjoy my time with my family just as lovely time with my family. But today...

It isn't one thing that bothers me. It is a mixture of things that have built up over time. Which means I'm not sure how to fix it. I'm not sure how to get rid of the feeling that I am letting my whole family down by not getting into the holiday spirit. My upcoming trip is helping keep my mind elsewhere. Which is why I am now thinking that next year, maybe I need to go somewhere tropical for Christmas and bring back gifts for my family to give them on another date. Or something. 

I made it to the 22nd before my meltdown this year. Maybe next year, I can make it to the 23rd. Wish me luck!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

December 21 - Haiku

Schedule full of stuff
Days still creep along like snails
Time is relative

Friday, December 20, 2013

December 20 -Veganized

I found this recipe online for lemon-lime basil shortbread cookies. I don't have the link in front of me, but if you Google that, I'm pretty sure you'll find it. Anyway, it sounded amazing and the only non-vegan ingredient is butter, so I figured I could pretty easily veganize them. 

Yesterday, I did a straight one-for-one Earth Balance margarine for butter substitution and these cookies are amazing. Seriously amazing. But it occurred to me, since the biscuits I make are super buttery when I make them with coconut oil, that these shortbread cookies might be better served if I made them with half butter, half coconut oil. So I tried again. 

Now, I've not eaten any of these cookies yet, but I did start chanting, "Oh my god, you're beautiful," when I took them out of the oven. And my apartment smells amazing. I'll keep you posted on the end result, but suffice it to say, I make some pretty amazing cookies. And maybe one of these days, I'll know enough about it to write my own recipes. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

December 19 - Words to Remember

It is amazing how the smallest things can make a person feel loved, appreciated, and important. And even more amazing how the omission of those things can make a person feel worthless. 

Remember the small things. They make a big difference. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

December 18 - Review

I have now officially tried Chipotle's sofritas. I applaud them for adding another vegan option to their menu - the vegan community is all over this one. And I have to say, it's pretty tasty. Spicy, so not for the feint of stomach. But tasty. 

I guess that's not much of a review. It's not an earth-shattering development in fast food; it is tofu and spices. But it is nice to have another option. I'd recommend it. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

December 17 - Snow

I have a lot on my mind today, but not all of it is suitable for the interweb just yet, so I find myself staring out the windows at the snow, which just keeps coming down in Chicago. This time last year, we'd not really had snow. There was the threat of snow, but it didn't really happen until January. Which I remember, because I had the great big walking boot on my left foot, helping my broken ankle heal. Christmas morning last year was the first day I was allowed to not wear the boot, for just one hour. I used that time to walk up and down my hallway and take a shower before going out to my dad's for the day's festivities. I so love not having to wear that boot anymore.

But this year, we're getting snow galore. And thanks to the blustery conditions in Chicago, even when it's not snowing, it looks like it is because what is there is getting blown around. It's kind of pretty, I will admit, even though I still don't like having to go out in it. And I'm really hoping it doesn't snow the day I get on a plane to head overseas. I really want to get there. I can already tell it is going to be hard to come home from that trip.

I have some thoughts, too, on the role of actors as it pertains to the promotion of their own work. But I think I'll save that for another day. Today is sort of about watching the snow fall peacefully, until I have to go out in it and I can be justifiably grumpy about it.

Monday, December 16, 2013

December 16 - Controversy

I have an opinion to express today, which may be somewhat controversial, but I think it needs to be said. 

I do not believe that breakfast foods are the pinnacle of the food world. 

This is not to say that I don't appreciate breakfast. I eat breakfast just about every day. But I'm not one of those people who orders pancakes at a diner every chance I get. Even before I was vegan, I wasn't all about scrambled eggs and bacon for every meal. And I think I have finally figured out why. 

My parents raised me eating fairly healthy food. We always had brown rice instead of white. Whole wheat bread. There was always fruit in my school lunches and yes, I always ate it. The closest thing we ever got to a sugary breakfast cereal was Honey Nut Cheerios. Or a boatlaod of honey added to Dad's Wheat Chex. And when my dad made pancakes as a special treat on the occasional Saturday morning, he made buckwheat pancakes and I loved them. 

I don't know if you've ever had buckwheat pancakes. They tend to be thinner, not as fluffy as buttermilk pancakes, but they have a lot more flavor. Surprisingly, it's a hearty, wheaty, sometimes almost nutty flavor. They are amazing with butter and syrup, or shaped into Mickey Mouse heads with blueberries for the eyes and mouth. And unlike buttermilk pancakes, they are filling. You can really only have two, maybe three, before you are stuffed. The only time I really had buttermilk pancakes as a kid was at my town's annual Fourth of July pancake breakfast, and my dad would remark every year that they mixed the batter too much and that's why the pancakes were always rubbery. 

So growing up, I got to choose between these awesome buckwheat pancakes that my dad made, or the rubbery, flavorless buttermilk pancakes I'd eat once a year in the Village Green. No contest - my dad's pancakes won, hands down. So to this day, I prefer buckwheat pancakes. They're even better when my dad makes them. But when you go out to a breakfast place, they never have buckwheat pancakes. Only those pale pillows I associate with hot July mornings spent eating rubber with plastic utensils. So I don't order them. They don't appeal to me. 

It's funny to think how the smallest things our parents do shape who we are. My dad was sharing his childhood (and a delicious special treat breakfast) with us when he insisted on making buckwheat pancakes. And it turned me into the kind of person who just will not settle for the sub-par pancakes served at most diners. And I am one hundred percent okay with that. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

December 15 - Yum

There is always that time right before a trip when I debate making good food to have in my apartment and not buying any more food so it won't go bad while I'm gone. Today, I made food anyway and my apartment is warm and cozy and smells lovely because of it. 

Making good food is always the better option. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

December 14 - Important

Sometimes, being a cat pillow is the most important thing I can do with a day. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

December 13 - What I Would Give...

There is a lyric in a Frank Turner song called Substitute that goes, "But oh, what I would give not to stumble but to really fall in love." It's really very sweet. If you want to hear the whole song (which I can tell you right now that yes, you want to hear the whole song), click here. I'll wait.

I've been thinking about that line a lot lately, and mostly what I think is yes. I would like that. It has been a really long time since I met someone who took my breath away when I first saw him. It has been a long time since I was consumed with the desire to make another person happy like that. It has been a long time since I sat and daydreamed about the next time I would see my guy and how brilliant his hands felt touching my face. And I'm not talking about celebrity crushes - those are a whole different beast. I'm talking about a man who I actually know in person who makes my heart beat a little faster, the thought of whom brings a smile to my face at random moments throughout the day, who I know is also thinking about me and smiling to himself. It's been a long time.

And this is also not to say that I haven't had crushes, or that I haven't stumbled upon crushes. Those people who you get to know better over time and gradually come to love more and more. That has happened, too. I'm talking about that moment of, "Wow. I need to know that guy." I'm talking about really falling, as Frank puts it.

I think part of the reason this is on my mind is because it is the holiday season, which is particularly annoying for single people. And part of it is because I went on a non-date a week or so ago that had all of the trappings of a date, but I really don't think either of us honestly thought it was a date. We've not chatted about whether or not it was, but I presume he didn't think it was. But he picked me up. We were dressed fancy. We had dinner and saw a show. We had a drink after the show. The conversation was very "getting to know you," but not in a dull way. He dropped me off at home. We ended the evening with one of those awkward-ish car hugs. Sounds like a date minus the kiss, yes? Even though I'm pretty sure it wasn't. But it got me thinking about how few actual dates I've been on in my life, and how if "dating" these days was more like this, I might be able to get behind the whole idea more. The "dating" I've done in recent years has involved meeting someone somewhere, buying my own drinks, finding an excuse to not invite him home afterward, and never hearing from him again. Or finding an excuse to not go home with him and getting bombarded with texts and phone calls until I have to say I'm just not that interested. It's exhausting. But if "dating" was spending time with someone whose company I enjoyed who was actually putting in some effort to make sure I was enjoying myself, too...I could be down with that.

I think part of this goes back, too, to the fact that we're all so afraid to let the people we like know that we like them that we play it cool all the time which, in a dating scenario, can come across as disinterest.

Which may be why I'd really like to really fall in love with someone who has really fallen in love with me. Someone who is willing to take the risk and let me know he likes me to avoid appearing disinterested. Someone with whom I have no choice but to let him know I like him, too. Quite a bit. How does one go about finding such a person?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

December 12 - Failure

Failure is not a good word, but it is a word I would like to not be afraid of anymore. I know I probably consider myself a failure in ways other people would not even think of and I know those are likely unhealthy thoughts. But I think that there is something to be learned from failure. There are all those super-inspirational quotes about success being about falling down seven times and standing up eight, or the Winston Churchill quote I have taped to my computer monitor at work that reads, "Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." That one kept circling around and around in my brain last night as I was failing at falling asleep, because in many ways, I feel like I'm in the middle of a failure spiral.

It was bound to happen. I had been doing pretty well for a really long time, there. And yes, I am talking mostly about my professional (semi-professional) acting career. I had a streak of nearly three years when I was constantly working on projects. The longest bit of down time I had when I was auditioning, trying to get the next show, was about a month. Well, it has been almost three weeks since my last show ended, and rehearsals for the next show in which I have been cast don't start until March and I'm starting to get antsy. I've been on quite a few auditions, and was auditioning even before the last show ended, but they seem to only be producing more and more "Thank you for sharing your work, but we can't find a role for you in this show," emails.

Side note: I do actually like and appreciate the fact that theatre companies send those emails now. Back in the day when more audition submissions were handled by mailing in a headshot and waiting for a phone call, there was just sort of an unwritten rule that if you didn't hear anything within a week, you probably weren't cast. With things becoming more electronically based now, it's easy to send the mass "thank you but no thank you email" so we all know for sure we're not cast. I like that. I like being able to stop worrying about whether or not I'll have to shift things around to make callbacks. I like knowing one way or another. So to all of the theatre companies out there sending definite rejection emails, this may sound odd, but I very sincerely thank you. It makes moving on to the next audition much easier.

I think this slump started, though, when I thought I had done really well at a certain callback, but then was not cast. I had put a lot of stock in being given the opportunity to audition for that company, so it was disappointing to not be able to actually work with them. I still think it is going to be an amazing show and I wish them the best with it. But I think that sort of rattled my confidence. Following shortly on the heels of that one, I got about five or six flat out rejections in a row. Not even called in for callbacks. Some of the auditions, I knew I wouldn't. Some of the auditions, I knew I did a great job, but I was really just wrong for the show. Some of the auditions, I thought I had done really well. And all of those assessments were probably true. Being an actor is tricky business, though, and sometimes you might absolutely nail the audition, but they need someone who looks just a little bit older/younger/blonder/brunetter instead, or there is only one female role in a cast of twelve and it was already promised to an ensemble member. And that's how it goes.

So I find myself in that mindset of, "Do I need different monologues? Do I need a different audition dress? What would happen if I spent the next month working out like crazy to get Madonna arms - would I be cast then?" And these thoughts start to eat away at me, the same way that other negative self-image issues like "Nobody will ever love me if I have a muffin top" or "My nose is too small for me to be taken seriously" do. And I try to comfort myself with thoughts like, "At least I'm on their radar now." The problem being, I know I'm good. I know I'm a talented actor. I have been told time and time again by fellow actors that I am the sort of actor who helps them up their game, which I take to be just about the highest compliment one performer can give another. And I know that given the opportunity and a little direction, I could rock any of the roles I've auditioned for in the past six months. I know I am talented and dedicated and a hard worker and I know I could give it my all and I know I would change my hair or learn a new skill or whatever was asked of me to make my performance amazing. But the director was looking for something else. Likely something I will never be, no matter how hard I try, and that is why they cast someone who was not me. It was completely out of my control. And yet, I want to be able to control it.

So it turns into a failure spiral. I start to doubt what I've got and who I am and what I can do. Which means I then go into the next audition playing it safe. Which is not what the director is looking for. So I am not cast. So I doubt what I've got and who I am and what I can do...

You see where this is going.

And such is the life of an actor. This is what we do. This, quite possibly more than any other reason, is why pursuing a career in the arts is difficult. When I am on stage, I am asking the director/producer/auditor/casting director/etc to judge every little teeny tiny thing about me from my appearance to my voice to the way I carry myself to whether or not I seem like a fun person to work with, so when they say no, it is an extraordinarily personal rejection. It is not only a failure to book the job, it is a failure to present oneself as capable. Granted, some of these rejections hurt worse than others, but they all still hurt in their own little ways. And the more of them you get without any sort of relief in between, the more they build up and make you question yourself. But we have to put on the brave face, smile, pull out the monologues, review our notes, and head into the next audition knowing we can nail it. Even when we know there is no possible way for us to nail it.

I would like to become more comfortable with my failures and these strings of rejections. I would like to know in my heart of hearts that just because I am not working on something right at this very moment, that doesn't mean I will never work again. Hell, I have a show on the books for next spring, so I know I'll work again. I just need to be comfortable with the down time between projects. Like some people spend their lives bouncing from relationship to relationship without taking the time for self-reflection in between, maybe I need to take this time off of bouncing from project to project to work on my skills as an auditioner. Just like those people who are afraid to be single, though, I'm afraid to not be working.

I need to work on that.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

December 11 - Happy Birthday!

So I have this friend named Bill. We've been best friends for I don't even know how long. Seven years? Eight? Something like that. And sometimes all I can say is "Thank God for Bill."

He comes from a really great family. They are some of the most generous, kind people I have had had the privilege of meeting. How many friends do you have where their parents buy you a souvenir when they go on vacation? Their house is always warm and welcoming, though not so much so that visitors feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable. As an introvert, I'm comfortable in their house because it moves at just the right speed.

And coming from this family, Bill himself is a wonderful human being. Sure, he has the mouth of a sailor and drinks like a fish (sometimes, though not as often since he works eight million jobs now), but he is just a genuinely good person. He cares for his family and friends. He participates in their lives and takes an interest even in the seemingly mundane. He supports our crazy habits and while he may grumble about hating people, we all know he secretly loves gatherings.

One of the funniest things about Bill, in my mind, is that he is always surprised to find out that people like him or trust him or have faith in him. I think in his mind, he's still the high school or college kid who just likes to have fun with his friends on the weekend. And he does like that. But he works in special education and he's really freaking good at it. He connects with these kids who may or may not actually connect with other people at all. He treats them like people, instead of writing them off as a diagnosis like so many others are wont to do. He helps make sure they get to live the fullest lives they can live, and he also calls them out on their crap when they need to be called out. It is not at all surprising to me that people like him and trust him with their kids. Had I children, I would absolutely trust them with Uncle Bill.

And on a personal level, Bill is my best guy friend. Every time I think I'm terrible at relationships, I have to remember that even though ours is not a romantic one, it is one of the longest-lasting, best, most important relationships in my life and I don't suck at it. We like enough of the same things that we can geek out together, but we are also different enough that we have opportunities to learn from each other. We've traveled all over the place together and I don't get sick of him. Sure we don't talk about FEELINGS too much, but I know I always can talk to him if I need to and he'll be there, beer in hand, to help me feel better. Or cupcake in hand, as the situation warrants.

Today is Bill's birthday. He's not big on celebrating his birthday, but I, for one, would like to celebrate him. Here's to another journey around the sun, my friend. Thank you for the laughs. Thank you for encouraging and participating in my lunacy. Thank you for making sure I leave my house regularly. Thank you for putting up with my crap. Thank you for learning about baseball (and then becoming a monster sports fan) when you knew that was something important to me. Thank you for sharing your "hard core" sci-fi with me and helping me become a sci-fi junkie. Thank you for the Comic Cons and the road trips. Thank you for "overneath," "anywhen," and "...and that's why they call it an outfit." Thank you for all the darts and table fries. Thank you for just letting me be me. And most of all, thank you for being you. Happy birthday, friend.

And ladies? He's single. Woo hoo!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

December 10 - Self Reflection

MindBodyGreen posted a list of 25 Questions to Ask Yourself Before the End of the Year yesterday, and I thought I might take a stab at answering them. This is going to be a long one, for which I apologize in advance. So here we go:

1. What am I most proud of this year?
Wow, stumped already on the first one. I feel like I should talk about some little thing that I did that helped someone else, like when I sent cookies to a friend after his mother passed away, but the thing I keep coming back to on this is Hamlet: The Series. I played frickin' Hamlet. I was Hamlet. I learned lots of lines and put lots of meaning behind them. And from what I've seen in the rough cuts of the first two episodes, even though I doubt the production as a whole will win any Oscars or anything (or Webbys? What is the award for online media performances?), I am proud of the work I did on that project. For one glorious summer, I was Hamlet. Not a lot of women can say that, but I can.

2. How can I become a better _____________?
I am choosing to fill in the blank with "actor," because I am kind of trying to focus on my career at the moment. The easy answers are to take more classes and be in more shows because I learn a tremendous amount by doing. But I think there are other areas I need to focus on, too, like going into every audition with gusto. Making bold choices all of the time. Not ever playing it safe. I know there are times when I feel like I'm working really hard, but I secretly know I could be doing more to affect my scene partner. I need to take note of those moments and then do more to affect my scene partners. And maybe I should take some voice lessons so the prospect of singing in front of people (without my guitar to act as a buffer) won't terrify me anymore.

3. Where am I feeling stuck?
A bit in my career; a bit in my love life. I love Chicago and all of the opportunities it affords non-union actors. I have been fortunate enough to audition for some of the slightly bigger/better-known theatres in Chicago recently, but I have not made the most of those opportunities. I'm not sure how to transition from a storefront theatre career to a mainstage theatre career, if that makes any sense, unless I am able to capitalize on some of those opportunities. Or make my own opportunities.

On the love life front, I think I may have just plain given up looking and resigned myself to the fact that I will always be single and will never have my own biological child. I am attracted to the wrong men or the wrong men are attracted to me, and at this point, I'm not even sure it's a matter of me being "too picky." If the problems with potential relationships are that he is involved in a love triangle already and I don't want to make it a rhombus, or that neither of us has the motivation to put in the effort, then those relationships were likely not meant to happen. I don't think wanting an available guy who wants to be with me is me being "too picky."

4. Where do I need to allow myself grace?
I need to allow myself to look how I look. I think I'm making progress - I do see "pretty" staring back at me in the mirror on a fairly regular basis now. But I still find myself wondering if I didn't get that role because I'm not rail thin, or if whatever boy might choose me over some other girl if my ass didn't have it's own gravitational field. Those moments are becoming fewer, though, and I'm getting more and more comfortable in my own skin. But it's a work in progress.

5. Am I passionate about my career?
Yes. My artistic one, yes.

6. What lessons have I learned?
There was something earlier this year about learning to ask for help when I need it, and/or to allow people to do nice things for me, even if it makes me feel uncomfortable or indebted to them. People like to do nice things for other people, and sometimes they even like to do nice things for me. The nice thing I can do back is to let them. And show my gratitude when they do.

7. What did I my finances look like?
I think this one is phrased badly, and it's not something I want to go into in great depth on the interwebs, but let's just say, I did not starve this year.

8. How did I spend my free time?
Free time?

I watched a lot of British television. I read some books. I read a lot of plays. I chatted with friends. I, you know, lived.

9. How well did I take care of my body, mind, and soul?
I think I did pretty well this year. I started paying attention to the "I have a lot to do tomorrow that will require energy and focus, so I should go to bed now" thing. And aside from the cold brewing in my throat at the moment, I didn't get really sick this year. I'm learning my patterns of when I get worn out and what I need to do to recover from that, and in some cases, I'm staging a preemptive strike. And I continue to eat good food, sometimes even in appropriate portion sizes now. So yeah, I think I did a pretty good job of this this year.

10. How have I been open-minded?
Honestly, I'm not even sure what this means, exactly. I am, I think, an open-minded person by nature. I tend to make an effort to hear what people have to say before figuring out if they are someone I want to invest my time and energy in or not, as opposed to making snap judgments based on appearance alone. I read articles written by people who have opinions different from mine. I like to learn things. I met a whole new group of wonderful women this summer in a place I would not have thought to find them, and I think it all goes back to remembering that we are all just people and really, we all just want to be liked.

11. When did I feel most creatively inspired?
When I already had too much to do. Creativity begets creativity, which may be why I want to always be working.

12. What projects have I completed?
I understudied The Night of the Iguana, though I never went on. I blogged every day (almost). I played frickin' Hamlet. I played Claire in Fuddy Meers. I vlogged every day in August. It's not quite done yet, but I have a really good start on a YouTube series I am hoping to premiere later this month.

13. How have I procrastinated?
I know exactly how I have procrastinated, but it is not something I am talking about on the internet.

14. In what ways can I re-structure my time?
At the moment, I can't, really. I have to have the day job. When rehearsals happen, I have to be there. I have some control over the down time, when I have down time, and I would like to get back into a routine of cooking for the week on weekends so I can be sure to always have good, filling, healthy food to eat. But this is one that is always in flux, depending on what project I'm working on.

15. How have I allowed fear of failure hold me back?
I think I have psyched myself out of doing well at certain auditions because I place too much pressure on myself, too much value on being cast in a certain show, so I freeze up and don't perform my best. I have to remember that the times in my acting classes when I have been most brilliant have been when I have fucked up or just not cared about doing the right thing or being safe (emotionally. I'm always worried about physical safety on stage).

16. Where has self-doubt taken over?
Every time I get one of those emails saying, "Thank you for coming in, but we don't have a role to offer you in this production." Every time I walk out of an audition knowing I won't be called back. Every time I think someone is flirting with me only to find out his heart belongs to someone else. Every time something horrible comes out of me while on stage. When my acting teacher told me that anger was my safe place in class work. The thing about self-doubt, though, is that I don't think it is necessarily bad. It is an opportunity to examine yourself further. Think logically about what is causing the doubt and whether or not there is any validity to the fears. If there is, they can be addressed. If there isn't, the doubt goes away. So I don't think a healthy life is one that never includes doubt. I think it is one that knows how to use doubt to grow.

17. When have I felt the most alive?
On stage, or while performing.

18. How have I taught others to respect me?
My being my best self. God, that sounds cliche, doesn't it? But, for example, I went to a callback audition, and I could see there was a man there who sized me up as being...not of his level. We were supposed to read together and as we did, I could see is estimation of me change 180 degrees. We walked out of the audition room and chatted further, goofed off, he treated me like an equal. I recently took another acting class with people I didn't know, and by going in there, working hard, staying true to my preparation and wants, I demonstrated that I know what I'm doing and I earned their respect. Which leads me to believe that I am enough. If I am the best me I can be, I am enough.

19. How can I improve my relationships?
I think most of my relationships are pretty good, save the complete absence of a romantic one. And if I knew how to fix that, I would be in one.

I do have one major relationship in my life that is somewhat strained, but I am sort of afraid that the only way to really fix it is through counseling and I'm not sure that that is an option.

20. Have I been unfair to anyone?
I'm sure I have. Even if it was just a customer on the phone, or a customer service person I yelled at in frustration. I'm sure I have. I'm usually pretty good about apologizing to those people, though, when I know I'm being unfair.

21. Who do I need to forgive?
Myself, probably. And the person in the strained relationship mentioned in question 19.

22. Where is it time to let go?
I think I need to let go of the romantic relationship that wasn't from this year. I need to let it not bother me that he has likely moved on to someone else by now, and I need to know that even if things were different, it is probably best for me to move on.

23. What old habits would I like to release?
I'm a terrible sleeper. It takes me forever to fall asleep, and I often have a hard time staying asleep. But many years ago, I would force myself  to stay up long enough to watch South Park when it aired at midnight on a local television station and sometimes the act of forcing myself to stay up that late meant I was too tired to watch the whole program and I would fall asleep watching it. After a while, it became Pavlovian - watching South Park would put me to sleep. Then it became a matter of I couldn't fall asleep without South Park on. I've been working to get away from that, because I don't think it's good for me to only be able to fall asleep with the television on. I need to teach myself how to sleep in a quiet room.

24. What new habits would I like to cultivate?
I'd like to like exercising more. Or at least get in the habit of doing it more often. But going back to that time-structuring question, it can be hard to build a solid workout schedule when suddenly, you're in rehearsal five nights a week until 10:30pm. And no, I will not be waking up at 4am to workout before work. I just won't.

25. How can I be kind to myself?
I can forgive myself for all of those little, very human faults and foibles that I have and love myself anyway. And travel more.

Ugh. I feel all hippy-dippy after doing that. I can't say I'm a fan of most of those questions, and by the end there, some of those answers were (I'm sure) the answers I know are supposed to be right whether or not they're true. I am kind to myself, when I take a day to give myself a manicure and facial, or when I allow myself to read with a cat napping on my lap all day. And I engage in self-reflection a lot. A LOT. All the time. Being an actor makes me examine myself all of the time, so it's not like these are things I'm not aware of other times of the year.

Anyway.

What kind of self-reflection do you do at this time of year, if any?

Monday, December 09, 2013

December 9 - Dreams

Today is a day about dreams.

There is nothing particularly special or significant about today that means it should be set aside for dreaming, but it is a day about dreams. Day dreams. Night dreams. Big fat hairy life goal dreams that make your heart pump a little harder. Dreams that fill you with hope. Dreams that make it difficult to sit still and focus on the immediate tasks at hand.

Today, I am dreaming about how I want my upcoming trip to go (even though I know it likely won't).

Today, I am dreaming about things I would like to happen in 2014 (even though they likely won't).

Today, I am dreaming about things that could be, would be, or should be if just one little thing was different (even though it likely never will be).

Today, I am dreaming of things that I would do if I could do them and what it would take to make the coulds become cans (even though they will likely stay can'ts).

Today is not the day to think about the can'ts, won'ts, and never wills. Today is a day about dreaming. Today is a day about imaginations running wild. Today is a day about a heart full of hope and excitement.

Today is a day about dreams.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

December 8 - Snow

I like snow when I don't have to go out in it. 

I had plans to go out and run errands and take care of things today, but it has been snowing since about ten-thirty this morning. So I've stayed in. Read. Napped. Watched the snow coming in sideways, switching to a more vertical descent later. Watched it accumulate on the cars across the street. I'd like to say it has been peaceful, but there have been people shouting, horns honking, the sound of shovels on concrete. Still, today I don't mind the snow. And I'm hoping that by taking it easy, the impending coup in my sinuses may not be too bad. The down side to staying in being that I did not grocery shop, so I'll have to get creative for dinner. 

Be safe, everyone, if you're out in this. 

Saturday, December 07, 2013

December 7 - Short

While I am by no stretch of the imagination a chef, or even a baker, I am extremely good at following recipes to make delicious things. Bonus when my apartment smells amazing as a result.

I made Chai Spiced Snickerdoodles today, from Isa Does It. Guess how amazing my house smells?

Friday, December 06, 2013

December 6 - War

Last night, my sinuses started getting organized. They had a meeting, aired their demands. It's the same demands every year - more space! Sadly, my face just isn't big enough to accommodate all of the space my sinuses demand without sacrificing essential elements like the eyes or the tongue. The rest of my face argues that the sinuses should learn to function within their limits - hell, they've had enough time to figure out how to do so - but the sinuses always push back with the argument, "We've been working, and working well, within our limitations. But things change, man, and every good working system needs to grow to meet new challenges and rise to the occasion when called upon. And what's this extra pollen and dust and germy crap we have to deal with?" The face tried to appease the sinuses with more vitamin C and herbal tea and more sleep, so some of the energy devoted to the eyes can be re-routed to dealing with the extra pollen and dust and germy crap. But in the end, it always turns into an all out war, with the sinuses staging a coup and then threatening to secede from the rest of the face.

I am hoping this year, with enough preemptive vitamin C and sleep, I might be able to cut the war short before there is too much bloodshed. Because seriously, who wants to spend the holidays abroad with a war going on in their face? Not me. That's who.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

December 5 - Open Letter

Dear Mr. Cumberbatch,

Hi.

Before we get going, I'd just like to say that your work is absolutely lovely. I've not seen everything you've done (I'm on the wrong side of the pond to see you on stage), but the work that I have seen is magnetic. You are certainly up there on the list of actors with whom I would very much like to work one day. I have rather been enjoying your recent press tour, as well, promoting largely a film, but to a lesser degree the third series of Sherlock. I'm looking forward to seeing both projects, but beyond that, you come across as a charming and delightful human being with a delicious vocabulary. Thank you for being a charming, delightful human being with a delicious vocabulary in an industry that does not always promote, celebrate, or condone such things. And if you are not, in fact, a charming, delightful human being, thank you for at least putting forth that persona instead of choosing to be a public twerking nightmare.

Now that the "fangirling" is out of the way, I have a question. Are you tired of every interviewer pointing out how odd your name is? I ask this because I, too, have a rather unique name that has meant I've been meowed at for, well, my entire life. I, personally, get a little bit tired of introducing myself and having people immediately ask, "Is that your real name?" as if I'm lying or trying to pull a fast one on them and my real name is Judy or something more "normal." But I always remind myself that while I've been answering this question for years, my name is something new to them, as is the answer, so of course they are going to ask about it. I find myself wondering if you take a deep breath backstage before you go out for an interview and settle into the "Okay, here we go with the name jokes again" mindset before plastering on a smile. One would also think that you've done enough interviews by now - the vast majority of which are easily found on the internet - that the magazine/publication/show's researchers would see you've already answered those questions, you've already riffed on the puns made about your name, and that there actually is quite a bit more to you than these six syllables. Not to say that your name is not an important part of who you are - I honestly feel like having my specific name has helped shape me - but there are so many other things I could think of to chat with you about over a cup of tea beyond your name. Speaking of which, could I buy you a cup of tea so we can have a chat?

I kid.

Kind of.

May I?

Regardless. Thank you for doing what you do. I hope to meet you on the stage someday.

Best regards,
Kitty

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

December 4 - DIFFERENT

Social anxiety disorder is a very real thing, a disease from which many of my friends suffer, and I think I do, too, from time to time. I don't claim to be an expert on it, but I know it's a real thing. And I know it can be brought on by the oddest triggers.

For example, my eating habits. I love being vegan. I've been vegan for eleven and a half years, so I'm pretty good at it. I'm even getting better at controlling portion sizes so as my aging metabolism slows down, I hopefully won't turn into the GoodYear Blimp. Grocery shopping trips that took hours when I first converted now take just minutes as I can find the non-vegan ingredient on a package in 15 seconds or less. For me, being vegan is not a big deal. And since I'm not running around foisting veganism on anyone else, most of the time, it's not even an issue.

Until it comes time to eat with someone else. Especially for the first time.

My friends who I hang out with all of the time know I'm vegan. Most of them have only known me as a vegan and never saw me eat a cheeseburger back in the days when all I wanted was a boyfriend who would have a burger and a beer with me. They will even sometimes try their hand at making something vegan I can enjoy. But the waters of a new friendship are tricky to navigate, and when you start to feel like you're close enough friends that you could eat together, I always get these terrible pangs of anxiety. Like this person is never going to want to speak to me again when they find out that "grabbing dinner" isn't as easy as popping into a McDonald's and popping back out. If we dine in somewhere, there will inevitably be questions to ask of the server, or alterations made to the menu item I'm ordering. If it's "fast food," I'll likely be having just a salad while they have a three-course meal. There is always going to be some indicator when I dine with others that I am DIFFERENT, with a capital D, and while I know I am different in a lot of ways (and while I know that this DIFFERENT is one I chose), this is the one that will likely cause the most hassle and fuss when other people are involved. This is the biggest DIFFERENT that is visible on my sleeve, and (to some), probably the least likable.

Side note: being different is good. Being so different that you can't be friends with someone who you otherwise enjoy the company of is disappointing. Does that help clarify?

I like letting my DIFFERENT sort of sneak out in little pieces. I figure it is easier to handle that way, and often times, letting it dribble out is actually kind of endearing to new friends. The experience of dining with a vegan can be jarring for someone who is not used to dining with a vegan. I just have to hope that the sparkling conversation distracts my dinner companion from what is (or isn't) on my plate.

December 4 - To Harass or Not to Harass

That's not even a question: do not harass. Ever. It's not cool, it's not fun, it's not a good idea.

That being said, I think our culture has maybe gone a little overboard in what it considers harassment. Yes, it is probably better to err on the side of caution, but it is possible to give a compliment without it constituting harassment. For example:

I happen to be wearing a rather nice dress at work today. I've not worn this dress to work before, but it is supposed to be warm enough outside that a dress with tights or pantyhose is not out of the question and frankly, I'm tired of my work trousers. With the dress, I am wearing tall boots and a cardigan, so it is attractive, but still appropriate for the office. I happen to work in an office of mostly men - there is only one other woman who works here. Now, I know that men are often clueless when it comes to women's appearances - the men I work with never notice when I cut or dye my hair - but I sometimes wonder if on occasion they do notice, but are afraid to say anything for fear it will be construed as sexual harassment in the workplace. For those men, let me offer this little bit of advice.

When a woman is wearing something out of the ordinary that makes her look nice, it is appropriate to say, "You look nice today."

When a woman is wearing something out of the ordinary that makes her look nice, it is not appropriate to whistle and shout, "Damn, gurl, you lookin' supa fine! Bring dat ass on over here so I can smack it."

I know, it's a subtle difference, but one makes a woman feel good and not harassed, whereas the other makes a woman uncomfortable. Does that help?

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

December 3 - Holiday Cookies

So yesterday when I couldn't decide what to blog about, I asked Twitter and SuprMario suggested I write about holiday cookies. My guess is that she wanted a recipe or two, which I am not going to post here. But I do have a lot to say about holiday cookies. Or a little to say that involves a rather long story, so just bear with me.

I will admit that this time of year, "holiday season," is not my favorite time of year. It is actually probably my least favorite time of year, unless January and February are really rotten weather-wise. And I realize that my spouting vitriol at this time of year may be offensive to some, so if you'd like to skip this post, you are welcome to do so. There is a bit of a happy-ish ending, though, if you want to stick it out.

Like most small children, I loved Christmas as a kid. I grew up in a Christian household, so we celebrated Christmas, but I had a lot of Jewish friends growing up, so I knew about Hanukkah, too. I used to love going to either my grandmother's house or my aunt and uncle's house (they had a train around their Christmas tree) and eating warm things and sitting by the fire and opening presents with my whole extended family. In case I haven't mentioned it before, I have a particularly awesome family, and as I got older, I felt especially lucky that I looked forward to spending time with them at the holidays. I didn't dread it like the people on TV (and some of my friends) always seemed to.

But as I got older, holiday traditions started to change. My parents got divorced, and there was discussion about where my brother and I would wake up on Christmas morning - a tradition that stayed in place well after I had moved out on my own and didn't really stop until my brother got married. There was the going to church, but the church I went to changed from year to year (it was the same church my dad had gone to the entire time I grew up, but they changed things internally, and we stopped going to the church my mom went to when I grew up which is where a lot of my local extended family went), and suddenly, I felt really uncomfortable when they started doing Communion on Christmas Eve because I knew what Communion meant to the Catholic Church (we weren't Catholic) and it felt odd to just go up and take Communion without first taking Communion classes or having some big To-Do about my First Communion. I wasn't sure if I was supposed believe in the symbolic act or if I was supposed to believe in transmogrification or what - the whole thing just felt odd to me, but it also felt really uncomfortable to be the only person in the church not taking Communion. Suddenly, I felt sacrilegious on Christmas Eve. And I realize that they probably got tired of singing the same Christmas songs every year, but the music is the best part of the holiday season and they stopped singing some of my favorite carols all together (Away in a Manger, specifically).

Add to that the fact that once I was living on my own, I had the family gathering, church, my dad's house and my mom's house to visit for the holidays and even though they are all local visits, Christmas was turning into a 24-36 hour ordeal, with suitcases, toiletries, and different bags of gifts for each stop. This meant less time for me to prepare, less time for me to be an introvert, and staying over somewhere on Christmas Eve after going to a party and church always meant that my pajamas were cold. Cold pajamas are not Christmasy. They're just not.

I don't mean to poo-poo these gatherings. I love going to them. My brother and sister-in-law always open their home to the family on Christmas Eve and we have so much fun. It is warm and inviting and we laugh a lot and my sister-in-law always makes an amazing meal, including vegan options for me. And visiting my parents at their houses - my dad always puts out little dishes of candies and nuts like he did when we were kids, my stepmother makes us lunch (including something vegan for me), and my mom always has some delicious treat for us and warm conversation. My family is amazing and I love them and the effort they put into the holidays and the things they do to make sure I am included. I am really bowled over by the love and generosity they show every year. Thank you guys for that.

But it's a lot. And in some ways, I feel like the black sheep of my family. I'm an artist. I'm single. I don't have a lot of money. There have been many years when I feel like the gifts I have given my family are inadequate to show them what they mean to me. And I've also gotten to watch my family grow and change and expand so there are these little sub-families contained within, each coming with its own traditions that are specific to that little sub-family. I get to participate in the bigger picture Christmas, but I don't have my own little family (yet) with whom I've gotten to make my own traditions. I sometimes feel like I just get to ride along with everybody else's traditions - which is lovely. I love being included in them - but I'd like to build some of my own someday.

Which is where the cookies come in. There have been years when I haven't had a lot of money with which to buy gifts for my family. But flour, sugar, applesauce and spices are fairly cheap, so I can always bake them cookies. I get to fill my apartment with the smells of the season - apples, cinnamon, and nutmeg - and enjoy the coziness only a warm oven can provide. I get to pour all of my love for my family into rolling out dough, decorating cookies, and wrapping them into boxes or decorative tins. I can try new recipes or stick to the old favorites. I can make as many cookies as I have time to make. And by giving them holiday cookies every year, whether they eat them or not, I get to have one holiday tradition that is mine. That is my speed. That makes me feel normal.

So that's why I make holiday cookies every year. It is my way of coping with this season, participating in it on my own terms so I don't go absolutely batty. And in all honesty, I make some pretty damn tasty cookies. I'm just sayin'.

Monday, December 02, 2013

December 2 - Misunderstood

You know what you never see? You never see a movie about a lovable Tyrannosaurus Rex and his one mission in life: to find the perfect sandwich. Why is this?

Granted, T-Rex was kind of known for being ginormous and carnivorous, so his perfect sandwich would probably consist of an Anatotitan between two Triceratops-es (Triceratopi? What is the correct plural of Triceratops?), but still. The T-Rex is always the bad guy in dinosaur movies. And if there is one thing that Jurassic Park taught us, it is that not all dinosaurs are evil. But the T-Rex most certainly is. Like it's just this big, bumbling thing that is all teeth and claws and doesn't do anything but rip other living things to shreds. Which may have been a fair assessment except for the fact that Everybody Poops. Which would imply that T-Rex did, too, especially given his diet of mostly meat. And they probably had to breed from time to time as well. So how come we never see a dinosaur movie about the plight of the common T-Rex?

There are those who would argue that as the king of the food chain, and with his rather small brain, the T-Rex didn't do much that would be film-worthy. But they made a film about cockroaches. And they've made movies about lions. And they've made boatloads of films about the current top of the food chain, humans. So you're telling me that not one person in Hollywood has ever had the idea to (or been tasked with coming up with the idea of) tell the story of the everyday life of a fictional T-Rex? He's just hunting for survival; it's nothing personal against the Triceratopopuses. And he needs to procreate. And coming in at the end of the dinosaur era, he'd be facing extinction. Couldn't somebody pretend that the T-Rex was smart and feared that? Or that he really just wanted to be a banker, even though banks didn't really exist back then? So instead of seeing his dreams realized, he comforts himself with Anatotitan sandwiches?

And here I go, making my T-Rex male when I should be more conscious of the T-Rex Bechdel Test. Let's say it's about a female T-Rex who is maybe having a hard time bringing enough food home for her children as all of the other dinosaurs die around her. So maybe she goes vegetarian to try to live longer. Or something.

Hollywood, here is your task: Make the T-Rex sympathetic. And the inventor of the sandwich. With all apologies to the Earl thereof.

This post brought to you by tomfromhr and warmongersmurf.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

December 1 - Wow

So. December already. Wow. 

Today was one of those days when I knew I should be doing things, but lounging with my cat and staying in my pajamas until five pm won out. I don't have much to say, except sometimes a day without people is exactly what you need. Or I need. You know. 

Happy December. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

November 30 - Books

I read a lot, but not in the way that other people would think of as reading a lot. In the past couple of years, I've been reading plays and books that I need to read to do research to be able to play certain characters and whatnot. I read articles on the interweb and things like that. I've not given myself time (nor taken the time) very much in the past couple of years to read books just for the joy of reading books.

Until today.

I took this morning to finish reading the last book in the Hunger Games series, and then I read all of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Which means a pretty full day of reading. And it has been glorious. To meet these characters and see them through to the end of their stories. To turn the pages (albethey electronic pages, but still) and get sucked into the stories. To need to know what is going to happen next, even if I already know (or can guess) what is going to happen next. I miss that. I need to make time for that more often.

It is kind of funny, too, I think that both books I read today are young adult fiction that have been/are being translated into films. The first, I had the characters from the film in my head while reading the book. The second, I didn't because I don't know the actors well enough to visualize them in the roles. I think I liked it better not having someone else's ideas of who these people are in my head when I read it, which means I need to get on reading some more of these books before they are turned into films.

In any case, I read a lot today and I loved it. So stop reading my blog post and go pick up a book. It's good for you.

Friday, November 29, 2013

November 29 - Holidays

I don't think it is going too far out on a limb to say that holidays are about the people you spend them with. The challenge as an introvert, though, is to find that balance between spending time with loved ones and spending time alone so you can face the next bit of time you have to spend with loved ones. 

I saw a lot of my loved ones today. I got a kiss from my niece, hugs from an aunt and uncle, and time at the movies with my friends.  And now I am hole-ing up in my apartment for about 24 hours before the next round of social activities begins. 

Look out, holiday season! I've got a plan this year and I'm ready for ya! Bring it on!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

November 28 - Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

This year, my (not entirely inclusive) list of things for which I am thankful includes:

My mom, for not only tolerating, but supporting, encouraging, and participating in my lunacy. 

My cat, for always being snuggly and putting up with getting over a hundred kisses a day. 

My dad and stepmother, for coming to see my show last week. I know some of the theaters where I perform are difficult for them to get to, but it means the world to me when they come out to support what I am doing with my life. 

My friends, for keeping me busy and reminding me that I have a place in this world and am loved. 

My family, including those who have chosen to marry into it, for showing me what families are supposed to be, and for loving each other dearly. 

My job, because it affords me the luxury of living the life I want to, including an opportunity to see my theatrical idol perform live. 

The directors who have given me the chance to work steadily for the past three years, and my fellow cast mates and crew members from whom I learned volumes about what kind of actor and what kind of person I want to be. 

You.

My health, and the fact that my broken ankle from a year ago healed quickly and well. 

Me. My brain and the way it processes information. My body and all of the amazing things it can do. My sense of spacial awareness and the way it lets me function in the world. 

This time. We live in an amazing time full of awful things and wonderful things and it is an honor to have the chance to watch the world change around me. 

Red pandas. And bunnies. And wombats. And goats. And whales. And dolphins. And mice. And squirrels. And bears. And lions. And birds. And flowers. And trees. And all of the amazing, wonderful, brilliant, diverse forms of life that exist on this planet, giving it color and wonder and joy. Our planet is pretty freakin' cool and I feel lucky to live here. 

So yeah, I guess I am thankful for all the things. Maybe I am the "sunny disposition" sort after all. Crap.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

November 27 - Snow

I'm weird about snow. I know this.

I think we all know by this point, too, that there is very little in the world that I hate more than I hate being cold. Violence and cruelty, maybe, but then being cold. Then ignorance. But I digress. Digest. Yes, it is lunchtime and I'm about to open my crisps.

Anyway. Cold. Snow. My weirdness.

Snow is pretty to look at, and I don't mind it when it comes at the appropriate time of year and I don't have to go out in it unless I choose to. I love a house decorated for the holidays with lights in the bushes that have been covered by snow so you get glowing, multi-colored snow. It makes everything look cozy and nice and brings up memories of hot apple cider consumed with loved ones by a fire. I even, occasionally, like to walk outside while it is snowing, imagining that the snowflakes in my hair make me look magical and not at all like I have really bad dandruff.

The important bit to take away from that paragraph, though is "appropriate time of year." In my mind, just about any time after Halloween (October 31) and before Christmas (December 25) is the perfect time for snow. As soon as Christmas is over, though, the ground had best be bone dry or I'm going to have words with Mother Nature. I'm not sure what it is. Maybe it's that the cozy warm fireplace memories tend to go along with the holidays as opposed to happening on a random Tuesday night in January. Snow in January and February just makes me feel like Mother Nature is being pissy, even though I know it is still technically winter then (in the northern hemisphere, at least). Snow in March or April is a mockery, and snow in May or June is just mean. But snow in November and December is perfectly fine.

That said, I don't mind the snow that fell yesterday, and I won't be bothered if it snows again this weekend. But be prepared for me to get annoyed when snow happens in January, as it likely will in Chicago. I'll tolerate it for the holidays, but much like a Christmas tree left up too long, it will be unwelcome in March.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

November 26 - Comfort

There are a lot of foods I didn't eat until later in life, just because I didn't have access to them. Some of these foods are now my favorite comfort foods. And at this exact moment, as I am baking cumin cinnamon apple chips in my oven, and my entire apartment smells like the warm spices of late fall/early winter, I am so thankful that I live in a house that always has cumin on hand. Because seriously, is there a better smell than this? I don't think so. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

November 25 - Injuries

So the show that closed yesterday was actually a more physical show than one might think by looking at the script. We had a couple of actual fight sequences, and a few smaller physical moments that needed some choreographing. We got to work with an excellent fight choreographer who preached safety above all else (as all good fight choreographers do). Despite this, I find myself in pain today and it took me a little while to figure out why. And here's why.

1) My head hurts. My character had amnesia and would hear things and would smack herself in the head to try to get rid of these random auditory hallucinations. There's a line in the script where her husband says, "Don't hit yourself in the head, honey," so it's one of those things that kind of has to happen. Meaning, for the past couple of weeks, I've been hitting myself in the head a lot. This is likely why my head hurts and the blame for it falls completely on me for getting too into my character.

2) My shins hurt. My character jumps rope at one point in the show and is supposed to mess up at one point. The easiest way for me to mess up without making it look like I'm trying to mess up was to try to do a double jump (i.e. have the rope go under my feet twice during the same single jump in the air) and fail. Which means I ended up fwacking my shins and feet with a very fast-moving jump rope every night. I have jump rope shaped bruises on my shins.

3) My right shin in particular hurts. During one particular struggle with my "son" and "ex-husband" in the show, I honestly just wasn't paying attention to where I was and how much momentum I had yesterday and ended up bashing my shin into the handle of the broiler drawer on the stove on stage. It's not only a lovely shade of purple-brown today, but a little bit bumpy, too. Like when I got kicked in the shin by an overzealous Charleston dancer, only not quite so big.

So I'm a bit of a mess today, and with the snow coming in sideways, it really feels like the sort of day I should have stayed home with a book and some hot tea. And maybe some Advil and an ice pack.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

November 24 - Closing

There are always mixed emotions when a show closes. The little annoyances will now come to and end. But these people who you've shared your life and some really intimate moments with over the past couple of months are going to go back to their lives while you go back to yours. And I think we all secretly know that as much as we want to stay in touch, the next shows we do will eat all of our time and we'll just drift apart. I'm not a fan of that process, but it is a very real part of the theater world. 

So to the cast and crew of the show we closed today, thank you for a couple of wonderful months. I had a blast working with you and getting to know you. I hope our paths cross again, but even if they don't for whatever reason, it has truly been a pleasure working with you and I'll never forget this show. 

Thank you! 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

November 23 - Happy Anniversary

Hello, Doctor,

You probably don't remember this, but the first time I met you, you were a skinny, rat-looking man standing in a doorway with a bride, looking at the creation of the Earth from rocks and dust and gas in the universe. How could I not fall in love with you?

We've been on many adventures, you and I. I am always in the role of observer, but I have treasured every moment we have spent together. And today, on the 50th anniversary of the first day you shared your amazing life with those of us on this tiny planet, I want to say thank you. When I am down, you are there to comfort me. When I am joyous, you are there to share the wonders of the universe with me. When you looked like David Tennant, you showed me what kind of energy and enthusiasm I want to bring to every role I play in my own career as an actor. You make me laugh. You make me weep. You give me hope and fill my imagination with impossible dreams. You taught me there is beauty in everything, and empathy for everyone. You taught me that everyone deserves a chance, everyone deserves to be helped, and that words are the most powerful tools we can use. You taught me that everyone is important, every life is beautiful. You taught me to keep loving, even in the face of tremendous loss. I know I've only known you a few short years (as measured here on the slow path), but I can barely remember a time when I didn't know you, and can't imagine a future time without you.

Thank you for sharing your life with me. Even if you never look like me, and even if you never pop by my place to pick me up for a ride, I take tremendous comfort in knowing you exist. I hope you are still traveling long after I am gone, because the universe needs a man like you.

Happy birthday, Doctor. Happy anniversary, Doctor. Thank you for the brilliance you have brought into my life.

She that thou knowest thine,
Kitty

Friday, November 22, 2013

November 22 - Short

This is going to be short 'cuz I'm out being a person so I'm going to save the things I really want to discuss for later. But I just want to say really quickly that sometimes I feel really lucky, just in general. Right now is one of those times. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

November 21 - Grumptopotomus

Imagine an octopus mixed with a hippo. Who is extraordinarily grumpy. This is the grumptopotomus.

Today, I am the grumptopotomus.

Honestly, I have no idea what that even means, but the word popped into my head because I'm really grumpy today and what's better than a grumpy hippo octopus and sometimes when you're really grumpy you just need to giggle at something completely nonsensical. So I bring you the grumptopotomus. If anyone would like to submit artwork for what the grumptopotomus might look like, I'd love to see it. Remember: grumpy. 'Cuz I can see a hippo with eight legs and a weird octopus face, but it has to be a supremely grumpy weird octopus face. Or an octopus with a hippo head that is (again) extraordinarily grumpy.

And I have now succeeded in making myself laugh so hard I'm crying, which may mean the grumptopotomus is no more. For the time being.

Send me your grumptopotomus art! Let's all have a good giggle about it!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November 20 - Butter

People have talked for years about the phenomenon whereby a physically attractive person can become less attractive if he or she is unkind, or how a non-traditionally physically attractive person can become moreso if they are strong of character. This should not be news to you - I'm sure you've experienced it first hand. We all have. Many of the people I hold most dear would not fall into the Hollywood Leading Man or Leading Lady category, but they are the most beautiful people I know.

I think this goes for sex appeal, too. Take, for instance, current "hearthrob" Benedict Cumberbatch. Let's be honest, he's a little odd-looking. While watching the first season of Sherlock, it bothered me that he didn't seem to have any pores. But he totally won me over in the role, and from doing some (perfectly innocent) interweb searches, I've found I kind of dig the persona he puts out there. I admire his work, and I admire how he handles himself off stage, too. And these things are what have turned him from this weird pore-less man into a sexy guy I'd love to meet and work with.

I bring this up because People Magazine named their Sexiest Man Alive today and I have to say, I thoroughly disagree with the choice. I don't usually pay that much attention, though when Channing Tatum won it, I had to look through my own list of sexy qualifications and got the feeling the IQ qualification might fall a little short, but I was okay with it. He seems decent. This year, they gave the title to someone who is either not very talented or intelligent in real life or doesn't want people to think he is, so he puts on an asshat public persona. In either case, I don't think he's a very good role model. Yes, he is nicely shaped, but remember what I said in the first paragraph? Have you heard the phrase "butter face," as in "she's hot, but her face is nasty?" This guy is a butter mouth. He's nicely shaped, but when he opens his mouth to speak or sing, it kind of makes me ill.

There are many, many, many men I think are sexier than this year's Sexiest Man Alive. But for the sake of similar comparisons, I'll throw this one into the mix. Also a tall, skinny musician with dark hair and lots of tattoos. But he writes songs about how everybody should be writing songs, and how he'll look out for his god daughter as she grows up, and how life is meant to be lived to the fullest. He's funny and historically minded. He likes to learn facts about each city he visits on tour. He likes to learn a new cover song every day. He likes to read books, including autobiographies about people of whom he's not particularly fond just for the sake of learning about someone who is different to him. He loves his friends and loves making music. He's fascinated by English folk songs, and he loves to share his knowledge. On a personal level, I emailed him to thank him for his music and he responded with a very pleasant "thank you" email within about eight hours. By all accounts, he seems to be a decent human being. Not perfect by his own admission, but decent. Funny. Smart. Talented. Hot.

So for as much as I complain about the objectification of women, and as much as I do like to occasionally objectify men as a joke, could we please stop celebrating idiocy? If we're going to adopt anything about geek culture and make it cool, can we adopt the bit where we pay attention to people's personalities and celebrate the smart and funny ones who have some character?

I wish I didn't secretly know that that is asking too much. Go listen to Frank anyway. He's lovely.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

November 19 - Nasty Habits

I was talking to someone over the weekend who said he was thoroughly disgusted by people who choose to chew gum. His argument was that it is akin to a cow chewing his cud.

Now, I will agree that it is perhaps odd to put something in your mouth that you chew and chew and chew but never swallow. It's a lump of mushy stuff that you infuse with your saliva and the bacteria that accumulate in your mouth and then you either stick it to the underside of a table to piss other people off or spit it out into a garbage receptacle where it will remain permanently adhered to the receptacle, never actually being disposed of. Gum chewing is not part of the digestive process, though, and is not semi-regurgitated matter mixed with stomach acid that has come up for a second go-around. And the kicker is, there are actually quite a few benefits to chewing gum. Particularly sugar-free gum. Particularly mint gum. Which happens to be what I chew when I chew gum.

The person who made this bold statement that chewing gum was gross also happens to be a smoker. Did I mention that? Yeah, he is. The person who inhales nicotine and tar that turn his teeth yellow and rot his lungs thought that chewing gum is more disgusting than smoking.

Now, I think we all know the dangers of smoking. And I think it is safe to say that most smokers don't give a rat's ass. In Europe, they put giant labels on cigarette packages with pictures of diseased lungs or that say, "Smoking Kills" and people keep smoking them anyway. For some, I'm sure it's turned into a "collect them all!" game with the warning labels. But from the very basest, very simplest, most mundane perspective, smoking makes you smell bad. We can tell you've been smoking because of the foul odor that accompanies you when you walk back inside. The stench that lingers in the air. And maybe that stench isn't the bit that is going to give me cancer, but I still have to smell it, the same as I have to smell my coworkers cooking their Lean Cuisine lunches in the kitchen. It is a distinctive, unpleasant smell that follows you everywhere, no matter how much perfume or cologne or body spray you try to use to cover it up. It just smells bad. You smell bad. And heaven forbid you try dating a smoker and feel the urge to kiss them...now you get to lick the tar and nicotine out of the inside of their mouth. Sounds like fun, yes?

I'll admit it - I've kissed smokers. And I'll also admit that regardless of technique, I'm tired of it. I'm tired of doing things like brushing my teeth, eating mints, chewing minty gum, or putting on lip balm to make the experience more pleasant for my kissing partner if he's just going to light up and taste like an ashtray to me.

I don't know that I've had much on my "dealbreakers" list before, if anything, but let's put this on there. No smokers. I'm done with it. I'm done with overlooking that "character flaw" when it comes to interviewing life partners (I'll overlook it for friends and casual acquaintances, but not for life partners). But I'll offer a deal to any smokers out there who were considering applying for the position - I'll give up chewing gum if you'll give up smoking. Deal?

Monday, November 18, 2013

November 18 - Melted

Every now and again, when my cat is sleeping on my lap or next to me on my bed, he'll let me hold his hand. It is during those moments that I know if I am ever so lucky as to become a parent, I will be a good one. In those moments, I melt. In those moments, I know I would do anything to keep him safe. In those moments, my only thought is that I hope he knows how much he is loved. I know some people think a pet or companion animal is just a pet, but my cat is my family. And I'm so lucky he came to spend his life with me. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

November 17 - Pleasant

So, there are a few things that I will admit I'm good at. And it makes me antsy when I feel like I'm stuck in a situation where I am afraid I'm not going to be able to be good at one of the things I'm good at. But I then get to be extraordinarily happy when one of those situations turns out better than I expected. 

Today was one of those days. I was afraid I was going to let myself down, but in the end, I did not. This is also one of those days when I know I'm doing the right things because even when I think I can't, I can. 

Yay vague blog!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

November 16 - Haiku

Saturday evening
Prepping for the sophomore show
Please, Caffeine, kick in

Friday, November 15, 2013

November 15 - Opening Night

I'm not exactly sure why opening night has more buzz about it than any other performance during the run of a show except maybe closing night. Is it because this is the first time people get to see it? Our first exposure to the rhythm of the show with an audience? Even with preview audiences, opening night feels different. Or is it because we've been waiting and working so long for the final product to be revealed and now it finally is? 

I'll admit it, I make a big deal about opening night. I'm more about opening night gifts for my cast mates than closing night gifts. Not that gifts are essential, but I like thanking everyone for their hard work. But why on opening night specifically?

This question occurred to me as I wondered if it would be okay for me to wear a Doctor Who t-shirt and beaten up hoodie to opening night tonight. I remember back in the day, I used to dress up a bit. Especially in college because we had a reception for patrons of the theater after opening and we wanted to assure them they were investing in something worthwhile. But now...a lot of the people I know don't bother anymore. Should I?

Not to mention the fact that every performance is as important as every other performance. Just because I've done the show a half-dozen times already doesn't mean the audience members there tonight have seen it yet. They deserve my all at the thirtieth performance just as the first audience does. 

I dunno. No matter how much I try to talk myself out of it, there is still something magical about opening night. I'm excited to take tonight's audience on this journey with me. I'm excited to feel my cast mates' energy as they feed on the energy of the audience. I hope people laugh. I hope they enjoy the show. 

Happy opening!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

November 14 - Ugh

In typical Kitty fashion, I seem to be getting sick just in time for opening night. I know why it happens, and I know why it happens with such alarming regularity. I just wish I could figure out a way to make it stop happening.

See, by the time we get to tech week, my schedule has gone kablooie and I always end up spending a week not really sleeping. Wake up, go to work, run home, (hopefully) eat dinner before going to the theatre, rehearse until 10 or 11pm (or later), go home, try to sleep, wake up, go to work... I say "try to sleep," because I am often unsuccessful. I'm usually kind of buzzed after a performance, and as one who has problems falling asleep anyway, it makes it that much harder to quiet my brain down enough to get some sleep before I have to get up and do it all again. So by opening night, after a week of not sleeping well and sometimes not eating well, my body says, "Fuck this," and fills itself up with spare phlegm in an attempt to force me to slow down and take care of myself for a day. My skin usually likes to join in the rebellion, too, and starts sprouting volcanoes on my chin. Good fun.

And it is for this reason that I did just about every show I did in college on DayQuil. My dear friend DayQuil, helping me through theatrical performances since 1998. I'd like to avoid taking something before the show tomorrow, but I think the only way to do that may be to take a sick day.

We'll see how I feel in the morning.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

November 13 - Control

I don't like to think of myself as a control freak. In fact, in many ways, I think I am extremely flexible and I like giving up control for some things to other people because I don't want to be pestered with all of that responsibility. I do like deluding myself into believing that I have some sort of control over my future as an artist.

I say I delude myself because I honestly don't know if I'm a fatalist or not. And also because nobody knows what the future holds for artists. It is a very insecure world and sometimes the best and only thing you can do is hold on for dear life to the things you love the most. Moments come, too, when I am reminded of how little control I have over my artistic career, like when as one of the principal characters in a play I am not mentioned in a review, or when I am not cast in a show because I'm too pale next to the lead guy or whatever. These are things I cannot control, as much as I wish I could. I cannot. I have to be okay with that.

But one of the things that helps me be okay with that is knowing that I can always create. I can always imagine. With a camera and a day, I can make a silly YouTube video that makes other people smile. With paper and pen, I can write a book for my nieces. With a guitar and a thought, I can write a song to pass the time. I can always create. And a rejection from one project does not negate, cheapen, or lessen the importance of the other projects. I create because it is what I do. If other people choose to participate in my creations, fantastic. If they don't, I still create because it is what I do. It is the one part of my artistic future I can control, so I hold onto it for dear life.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

November 12 - Deadline

My deadline has come and gone. What I was waiting so desperately for may still make it's way into my life, but the deadline has passed. I'm breathing easier (which is good, if disappointing). I can be a person again instead of a bundle of nerves. 

Which is funny to me. I've been waiting for this deadline so long and with baited breath and even though what I was waiting for hasn't come, I'm perfectly fine with not waiting for it anymore. It's like the butterflies were switched off as soon as the deadline passed. 

Here's hoping I still get some word, and that the word is good. But I'm glad to not be a nervous wreck anymore. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

November 11 - Spoilers

I remember when Terminator 2 came out, one of my friends got to see the film before he saw any trailers or ads for it, so he didn't know that Arnold was the good guy this time around. I apologize for spoiling that bit just now for any of you who haven't seen Terminator 2 yet but seriously, the movie is how old? And you've not seen it yet? I'm guessing you don't plan to. And besides, the blog post is titled "Spoilers." I consider that fair warning.

Anyway, my friend got to see Terminator 2 not knowing that Arnold was the good guy, so he got to experience the terror of "oh god, he's back" right alongside the characters in the film. I thought to myself, "What a lovely way to see a movie - the same way the characters do, with no foreknowledge of what is coming." And ever since then, I've had this ongoing internal battle over whether to watch trailers and advertisements and whatnot beforehand.

On the one hand, it's fun to see what's in store. It's fun to get a glimpse of Middle Earth before the next Hobbit movie comes out. It's cool to see what your favorite actors look like dressed as characters you grew up with. And trailers are a very useful marketing tool - if we didn't see the trailer for some film we'd never heard of, how would we know if we wanted to spent thirteen dollars to see it in 3D or if the eleven dollar 2D version will suffice?

But a large portion of the joy of watching something new, or reading something new, is allowing the story to take you on this unexpected journey. Being surprised by plot twists or character introductions. Building the world of the story piece by piece. If you know what all of the pieces are going in, you spend more time waiting for the next reveal than enjoying what is happening in front of you right now. At least, that is my experience with spoilers. And the real kicker here is that sometimes, the stunts they show in trailers are from footage left on the cutting room floor, so you can spend an entire film waiting for one specific moment you loved from the trailer that never actually happens in the film. And you leave frustrated and disappointed by what was otherwise a lovely movie.

So the 50th anniversary Doctor Who episode is "airing" around the world on November 23rd. Which means the interweb is inundated at the moment with trailers and sneak peeks and photos from the set and whatnot. And I am trying my hardest to not look at any of it. I don't want to know the plot before I show up to the theater that afternoon. I don't want to know how the three versions of the Doctor will interact. In many ways, I think it's bad enough that I know three versions of the Doctor will be in the episode and I don't want to spoil it any further by knowing anything else about it before I see it. I want to be surprised. I want to experience the episode in the moment. I want to watch the plot unfold before my eyes, not spend the whole episode waiting for a specific explosion or line or plot point. I honestly don't want to know until I get there.

So what do you think of spoilers and trailers and inside looks and sneak peeks? Do they enhance your viewing experience or ruin it? I know why they exist; I'm not debating that. I just sometimes wish they were easier to avoid under certain circumstances.