Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December 31 - Resolutions

This time last year, I was in Cardiff, Wales, being an uber geek with my best friend. Today, I am drinking tea and watching Doctor Who at my mom's house, and I'll see my best friend later in the day. Some things don't change and I sometimes thank goodness that they don't. 

I'm not much of one for resolutions. I've already laid out my career goals for 2015, and I'm looking forward to getting started on them. But in addition to my career goals, I think I want to make sure to put in the effort required to maintain my existing relationships and to build new ones. I want to put in the effort required to stay physically and mentally healthy, because without my health, I won't be able to achieve my other goals. And I want to be able to keep doing the things I'm doing. I want to keep being authentic. Most of all, I want to keep creating and being a positive influence on the world around me. Not just in the coming year, but just sort of in general. So nothing big. 

I hope that wherever you are, you have a safe and happy new year, and that at least some of your dreams come true in the coming year. And when they do, enjoy them. And then keep on dreaming. 

Happy New Year! And thank you for coming with me on this two-year-long blogging every day adventure. I'll be back sometime. Just not tomorrow. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

December 30 - Review

I feel like I should do a sort of Year In Review post, though it also feels a little silly to do so since I've posted every day this year so really, it's all here already. But here we go anyway. 

I was in about seven plays and one film. 
I completed season 1 of Just a Fling. 
I read probably ten-fifteen books. 
I moved 800 miles away from home. 
I got a new job. 
I made twenty or thirty new friends. 
I learned that I am stronger than even I thought I was. 
I learned that I am more capable than I thought I was. 
I learned that the people who are most important to you stay in your life, regardless of geography. 
I purged a lot of my stuff and learned that I really don't miss it. 
I learned how to play the ukulele. 
I got a second tattoo. 
I saw one of my favorite musicians play two shows in one day. 
I spent time in three countries on two continents. 
I learned how to live with other people. Kind of. 
I learned how to be more giving. 
I learned to not place so much importance on stuff and ownership. 
I identified some societal "norms" to which I no longer want to subscribe. 
I walked I don't even know how many miles and lost about eight pounds. 

All in all, I'd say it was a pretty good year. Big changes. Lots of growth. Yes, I was stressed out and cried a lot for a couple of months leading up to my move, but the net result has been very positive so far, and tears can be good for you every now and again. 

So I won't be documenting 2015 quite as thoroughly, but I'm excited to see what it has in store. I'm excited to get working on my goals, and I'm excited to see what unexpected challenges and opportunities might come my way. 

Now if only it was a smidge warmer outside so I wasn't so afraid to leave the comfort of a nice, warm bed. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

December 29 - Transitive Property

So, if Person A is in my karass, and Person B is in my karass, does that mean that Person A is also in Person B's karass? 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

December 28 - 2015

I feel a little bit bad that my posts the past few days have been crappy. There is a lot going on in my head; I've just not really been motivated to write about it. I'm thinking about what's next for me and what I've accomplished and the things I haven't done and goals and challenges that I could lay out for myself. And I'm thinking about all of this while I'm in my hometown, 800 miles away from the life I'm trying to build. I'm anxious to get back to building my life, but I am so treasuring my time in Chicago with my family and friends and points familiar. Chicago feels small and slow and spread out, but warm and welcoming and home-y. New York feels big and fast and strange, but exciting and full of potential. And all of this swirling around in my brain when I'm far away from being able to do much about it just has me feeling weird. 

One thing that I was thinking about today, though, was this blog. I've proven that I can blog every day. Challenge met, achievement unlocked. And I now find myself in a place where I wonder if these daily posts are sapping creative energy from other outlets. Would I be writing more songs or plays or whatever if I wasn't focusing my writing energy on blogging every day? Because I have ideas for things I want to write, but having this daily brain dump, I just haven't taken the time to write the other stuff. Maybe I need to put a cork in this creative outlet so that the other ones can open up. 

I'm not going to abandon this blog completely. I've had it too long to give it up. But I think I am going to take the pressure off of myself to write on a specific schedule. If I have something to say, I'll post. If I don't, I won't. My blog every day experiment is going to end on December 31. So let's see what other things I can create in 2015 when I'm not worried about blogging every day. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

December 27 - New York

As I spent the day with my nieces (seeing them for the third time in four days which was heavenly), and I am now waiting for my friends to come meet me at out designated meeting spot, New York feels a million miles away in my distant past. It is going to be weird to go back there in a week and start again to look for projects and things with which to fill my time. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

December 26 - Haiku

Day after Christmas
New friends, good food, Doctor Who
Happy Boxing Day

Thursday, December 25, 2014

December 25 - Christmas

I hope that whatever your belief system, you had a lovely day today, full of laughter and family and things that bring you joy. 

Of course, I hope that for most days, so on top of that, for today, I'm going to say Merry Christmas. Mine was lovely; how was yours?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

December 24 - Holidays

Today, I did some holiday type things - I baked cookies, I wrapped one last gift, I listened to Christmas music. And it was actually quite nice. 

Maybe part of it is that I'm happy to be back in Chicago. Ridiculously happy to be in Chicago with my family and my friends and some time to spend. Not that I don't love New York. I do, and I've met wonderful people there and done amazing things. But there's something about coming back to your hometown... Go listen to Frank Turner's "Wessex Boy" so I don't have to quote it for you. 

But I'm also wondering if some of the stress and anxiety surrounding the holidays in previous years has to do with how long the season lasts. In some cases, it is two or three months of buying things and menu planning and making lists and checking things off only to find more things to do, and realizing that since you have more time, you can do more stuff until you're right up at the end of things and you feel like you didn't do enough because you're still thinking of more that you could do. 

This year, I was in a show in December, which are up a lot of my time. It meant I really only had that one afternoon in which to do my shopping. And now I'm in Chicago with one morning to do my baking. So I've had to keep things simple. Downsize. Which makes the activities that much more special. I think if you listen to "All I Want for Christmas is You" forty-seven-thousand times, it loses its specialness whereas if you hear it just once, it can be special because it reminds you that this time of year is different. So maybe that's part of my problem with the holiday season. It is so long that it doesn't feel special. But this year, in keeping the season condensed for myself, I am more able to treasure the time spent with my loved ones and the things we get to do together that we don't get to do any other time of year. 

I am excited to go to my family's gathering tonight. I'm excited to hug everyone and see their smiling faces. I'm excited to sing and eat and exchange silly little gifts. I'm excited for Christmas this year. 

And to my friends and family, I love you. Thank you for letting me be part of your holiday season, and thank you for being the highlight of mine. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

December 22 - Short

I'm keeping this short today because all I can think about right now is going to Chicago tomorrow and hugging my family and friends. Tomorrow may also be short 'cuz I'll be driving. Sorry about that. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

December 21 - Processing

It occurred to me when I got home after closing night last night that this is the first I've had a chance to really process everything that has happened to me in the last four months. I left everything, started a new life, got a new job, was cast in three back-to-back shows, made new friends, found a new home. That's a lot. And it requires some processing time, which is sort of what I'm doing today, and it is why I have no plans to leave my apartment today. 

I want to say a very big, very heartfelt thank you to the New York theatre community for welcoming me so completely. In the past three months, I have been so fortunate to work with three amazing directors, two lovely assistant directors, seven incredible producers, twenty-nine phenomenal actors, three brilliant stage managers, and I don't even know how many amazing designers. I've built relationships with people I hope to know for a very long time and who I am excited to work with again in the future. And what's more, they want to work with me, too. I was so scared when I moved to New York that I would not be able to do theatre, that the move to pursue my dream would be in vain. Not only was I allowed to do theatre, I was encouraged and my art embraced. No matter what else happens during my time in New York, I can count this experiment a success, in large part owing to the generosity and faith of the people mentioned above. Thank you to everyone I have worked with in the past four months. Thank you. 

Now I just need to figure out a way to keep the mojo flowing. After a trip home to recharge my batteries. And a day spent inside watching old sci-fi favorites. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

December 20 - Done

And just like that, I'm an actor looking for a project. 

And happy birthday to the cutest human being alive!

Friday, December 19, 2014

December 19 - Beauty Standards

I found myself deeply saddened on the train today, when I saw a woman who had drawn on fuller lips than what she actually has. She made the little peaks on her top lip bigger by drawing little triangles with her lipstick, to give the appearance of a more heart-shaped mouth and it made me really sad. No, this woman had not taken measures as drastic as some do to make herself "more attractive," but she drew on fake lips because somewhere, at some point in her life, someone made her feel so bad about her thin upper lip that she would prefer to walk around looking (in my estimation) clownish. It made me sad for all of the things that women think they have to do to themselves in order to be attractive or to feel good about themselves. 

I know another woman with a great figure who honestly believes she cannot wear a bikini because she doesn't have ultra-flat six-pack abs. I would kill for her figure, but because her tummy is slightly rounded, she thinks it would be socially abhorrent to wear a bikini. 

Why the fuck do we do these things to ourselves? Why do we nitpick and judge and condemn our bodies if they vary from some arbitrary standard of beauty?

One thing I have noticed since I moved to New York is exactly how beautiful diversity is. The man in a purple mini dress and heels was gorgeous. The teenagers in puffy coats with fabulous weaves were gorgeous. The couple in their seventies exploring the city was gorgeous. There are so many people here, with so many faces and so many skin tones and so many wrinkles and so many blemishes and so many personalities and they are all gorgeous. I wish I could tell that to all of them in a way that they would actually hear it because I would love to live in a world where we all embrace our bodies and where we are all allowed to just be ourselves. 

I know that world is a long way off. But in the meantime, please know that you are gorgeous just as you are. And you know what? I am, too. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

December 18 - Thoughts on the Past

The thing is, everybody thinks, in retrospect, that they weren't cool in high school. Or most people do, anyway. Because looking back on something that happened so long ago with older, wiser eyes, none of us was cool in high school by today's standards. Even with geek chic being in, those of us who were really geeks back in high school suffered because geekdom was not cool back then. Dungeons and Dragons was not mainstream. Only those on the fringe of things knew what Doctor Who was. Indie bands were actually indie. The world was very different when we were in high school, and we were very different people.

I was legitimately not cool in high school. Not in anyone's estimation. There may have been a moment or two when I thought I was verging on coolness, but I quickly found out it was all in my head. I was the epitome of not cool in high school. And it had nothing to do with my having braces or glasses or bad skin. It was who I was. I was on the outskirts of things. I was unknown. I was invisible. If I may, I would like to present a few examples to illustrate my point.

  • My high school did a lot for "holiday week," including assembling a troupe of kids who would travel around to the local elementary schools and put on little shows for them. I remembered seeing these performances when I was in elementary school and making a mental note that I would like to do that when I became a high school student. Flash forward to my senior year of high school. I found out that to become part of this performing troupe, one had to fill out and submit an application. I got an application, filled it out, and showed it to a couple of my friends before handing it in, just to get another set of eyes on it. My friends all agreed that it was hysterically funny and encouraged me to turn it it. So I did. And when the list was posted saying who would be part of the traveling troupe, my name was not on it. One of my friends who had read my application was part of the troupe. She told me that she asked the people in charge of putting the group together, very casually, if they had had an opportunity to read mine because she thought it was funny. They apparently replied that they had read mine and it was one of the funniest in the bunch, but as they had not seen me perform before, they were unsure of my performance abilities and didn't think it would be fair to give me an audition and nobody else, so they decided it would be best to not have me be part of the troupe. 
  • My very first date in high school, I asked a guy to the Turnabout (read: Sadie Hawkins) dance. The only Homecoming dance I went to, I was asked by that same guy the following year. It was our second date.
  • Then there was the whole story of my senior prom.
  • I spent an entire Spanish class sitting in a file cabinet in the back of the room while my bookbag was on the floor in the front row next to my empty desk right smack dab in front of the teacher, and she never once inquired as to where I was. I made eye contact with her the following period, too, and she never asked where I was during class.
  • I auditioned for exactly one play in high school, and some of my fellow students who saw my audition said it was really good. I was not called back for the play or cast in it, but the kid who auditioned just before me who read the stage directions out loud was. I get it - they needed more boys than girls - but still.
  • Not to mention the fact that I've already been to one high school reunion and I think there were two people there who recognized me. I had a lovely time talking to one of them, but in a room full of two hundred or so people, to only even be recognized or acknowledged by 1% of them is a little sad.
  • I had a couple of good moments in high school, though they largely had to do with kids from my sister high school with whom I was in the smart kids program. Like when we went to Spain. That was pretty awesome. Until the boy I had a crush on in Spain told me, "You're a great girl, you could just use a little more self-confidence" before he started hooking up with someone else.
  • I spent just about my entire high school career wishing that I wouldn't wake up in the morning. Or that if I did have to wake up, some horrible physical malady would have overcome me in the night, making it impossible for me to go to school that day. I was miserable. I felt very alone. I felt not only unloved but actively ignored. And I guess I am still somewhat resentful that this portion of my formative years was so horrible.

So with the reunion coming up, it's not a matter of feeling old. It's not that I'm worried that I haven't done anything with myself. I have become a truly amazing, truly wonderful person since leaving high school. I've traveled the world. I've starred in plays and films. I had my own band. I moved to New York and got cast in three plays within my first eighteen days here. I found a group of friends in Chicago who are brilliant and supportive and generous. I've made good connections here in New York, too. I have become the sort of person who other people like being around (for the most part). I am a productive member of society and a talented artist. My hesitation in going to the reunion is wondering whether or not it is worth it to go out of my way to show these people who didn't give a shit about me back then that I'm worth giving a shit about now. It feels like a lot of effort to try to maybe gain the approval of a bunch of people who are more likely in my granfalloon than my karass. It could be gratifying to get their approval or get their attention, but do I really need it? I'm trying to get away from seeking the approval of those I know will never give it. Is going to this reunion going to be a step backward in that process?

There is still time for me to think about all of this before the reunion happens. And it sounds like there is a lot of work for me to do in letting go of this resentment of my past, too.

Happy holidays, kids.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

December 17 - Stumped

Discussions have started surrounding my next high school reunion. I'm not even sure where to begin. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

December 16 - Career Goals

I read an article yesterday on talking about how important it is to set real, specific, achievable goals, and how much more likely a person is to achieve those goals if one writes them down. The article was talking in terms of career goals for artists, though it could apply to others as well, and I think it was very well timed for me as we all know I'm starting to freak out a little bit about the third of my three plays coming to an end and I don't have another one lined up yet. But the author talks about taking some time to enjoy the holiday season, enjoy family and friends, stop submitting to auditions and workshops, and suggests making a list of real, specific, achievable career goals for 2015. So here we go. My artistic career goals for 2015:

  1. Perform in three projects that I did not create myself. I say projects instead of plays because I would count student films, video projects, etc. in this category, too. In other words, I want to go to at least three auditions that result in someone offering me a role and me accepting that role.
  2. Get cast in the sort of role that a reviewer might notice while watching the show. In other words, get cast as a lead or major supporting character instead of background or ensemble. Not that there is anything wrong with ensemble work, but getting cast in a larger role would show some forward momentum in my career and I would like some forward momentum to help me determine whether or not New York is the right city for me.
  3. Create a voiceover demo reel. This also means getting myself to a place where I am ready for a demo reel and ready to go out and book jobs.
  4. Create a video demo reel. I have lots of footage; it just needs to be compiled properly.
  5. Finish one set of play analysis videos. I'm not going to go into too much detail about this one here because I don't want anyone else to take my idea, but I have talked about this project with a few people and they think it is a great idea. I want to get started on this for real with at least one full set.
  6. Play at one open mic in New York City. I kind of miss making music. I was good at it. There is still a lot of emotional baggage associated with playing my own music, but I think it is time to work through some of that, so I want to play at an open mic sometime.
What is nice about these goals is that I have complete control over two-thirds of them. The first two, I can only try my best. But the last four I can totally take care of, probably fairly quickly, too. So I will feel like I'm making progress. And if I want to then expand those goals to play more open mics or make more video sets, I can. But I think these are a good place to start. Help keep me focused. Keep my career diversified. Keep working on myself at the same time I'm putting myself out there.

So what are your career goals for 2015?

Monday, December 15, 2014

December 15 - Person

I don't know why I'm so frequently amazed by my own ability to be a person. All of the evidence would suggest that I'm actually quite capable so it shouldn't be that surprising. Yet somehow, I am still amazed that I can manage to do things like move halfway across the country and get my life set up as if I had been here all along. Millions of people do things like this every day. I'm one of them. And from the outside, it probably even looks like I know what I'm doing. 

When did that happen? When did I become this amazing, self-reliant, dependable, responsible person? I don't feel like I'm old enough or experienced enough or prepared enough to do some of the really basic, simple things that I do and have done, but I've done them, so I must be. When did that happen?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

December 14 - Holidays

I think we all know I'm not a fan of the holidays. Haven't been for some time. But I have to say, being 800 miles away from most people I know has made this time of year easier for me. Which sounds terrible, and I don't mean it to. I love my family and I love my friends. It wasn't until I talked to my mom today that I started to miss being around my family and friends at this time of year. But the reason I haven't missed them yet or been annoyed with the season is because I haven't been around people planning holiday gatherings. I haven't been talking to people about holiday plans beyond who is going to be away from the office or gone from the apartment. I've not been shopping much in places that play Christmas music. We've not decorated our apartment. So I have pretty successfully managed to avoid my holiday depression triggers that accompany this time of year. Which has, oddly, allowed me to enjoy the little moments of holiday cheer I have experienced. 

I went shopping today in a market that they set up for the holidays. There is a really big Christmas tree, an ice skating rink, festive drinks and food and tons of little shops selling local goods. I got all of my Christmas shopping done in about an hour and a half, because I've also managed to convince myself that just one gift for each person on my list is enough, not three. I came home happy, wanting to wrap presents and pick a cookie to bake when I get to my mom's later this month. 

And then the email came saying I didn't get called back. And the callback I knew I wouldn't get didn't come either. And there was nothing new and interesting to audition for on the websites I check. And tomorrow, I am surrendering my Illinois driver's license to get a New York one. 

I'm ready to be in Chicago for a visit. I'm ready to be with my friends and family for the holidays. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

December 13 - Kickstart

Theatre is not an easy business. As an actor, there is so much more that you have to do beyond all of the stuff that happens once you're on stage, most of which involves trying to make sure you get to be onstage again. Networking, auditioning, branding, building relationships. And especially as an actor entering an already saturated marketplace where nobody knows your name, you have to stay on top of this stuff. Go to every audition you might be right for. Talk to the directors and producers you meet. Chat with fellow actors. You have to build your circle. You have to get your face out there. 

As an introvert, I hate this part of the job. 

Maybe hate is too strong a word. It is not my favorite part of being an actor. It can be exhausting and after a while, it can feel like a chore. But it is so necessary. So necessary. 

Today, I had marked on my calendar that there was an open call audition that I wanted to attend. I spent the eighteen hours leading up to the audition talking myself out of going. I came up with every reason I could think of for why it would be depressing and a waste of my time and why I should ultimately not go. As an open call, nobody would know if I didn't show up because they weren't expecting me in the first place. I couldn't think of something good to wear. With my trip back to Chicago for the holidays, they probably wouldn't cast me because of too many scheduling conflicts. There are only two female characters. I even went so far as to look up the theatre company's past reviews to see the calibre of performance they are known for, which I'm pretty sure makes me a terrible person. But then I remembered that the way I booked the shows I've done in New York so far was by just going in and giving great auditions, whether or not I was likely to be cast. And that regardless of whether or not I'm the right person for this production, there could be some great people to meet in the process. If I go in and give a great audition, they may remember me for next time, even if my schedule is too crazy for this show. And perhaps most importantly, it was a chance to act in front of new people for a minute. 

So I went. And I had a blast. I chatted with some of the other actors, the director and producer were just lovely, and I killed my monologue. I could see that they liked me until they saw my schedule, so I'm not expecting a callback, but it was energizing. I may not be cast, but I got my face out there and I had fun. I call that a win. 

I need to remember days like today for the next time I try to convince myself that staying home and napping is a preferable alternative to going to an open call audition. I just need a little kickstart every now and again. Even if I have to provide it on my own. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

December 12 - Nothing

I have nothing new to say today. I'm at the theatre, about to do a show. Happy it is Friday. 

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

December 11 - Birthday

Today is the birthday of one of my dearest friends. He is kind and compassionate and ascerbic and sarcastic and goofy and reliable and generous and is (almost) always willing to go along with my crazy schemes. We have traveled the world together and have had lovely evenings in our own backyards. He is honestly one of the most quality people I think I have ever met and I am honored to call him a friend. And yes, I'm saying all of that knowing full well that he will hate me for it.

Happy birthday, Bill! I wish I was in Chicago to raise a glass with you tonight.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

December 10 - Ick

For the most part, I have not minded the cold weather in New York yet. It has been cold. It has been rainy. But it has been livable. Part of it has to be because I'm walking a lot more than I used to, so I manage to stay warmer when I'm outside thanks to my own internal engine. 

Today is miserable, though. It started out rainy, which it has been a lot lately. And then it switched to what weather persons might call a wintery mix, and now it is wet snow drizzle accompanied by ridiculous winds. I think I saw on the weather app I have that this is actually a nor'easter or some such thing and I have to say, I am not a fan. 

Then again, it might not be so bad if I had chosen to take public transit to my audition after work instead of walking the twenty blocks. Lord knows, when I get out of this audition, I am jumping on the closest train and will get home by transferring as many times as I have to in order to avoid the outside again. 

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

December 9 - Oddity

For two nights in a row now, I've been able to come home straight from work. No detours, no errands, no rehearsals or performances. I took the same train home that I took to work in the morning. 

This has not happened much since I moved to New York. I usually have something to do other than being domestic or spending time with my cat. But today, and yesterday, I just got to come home. It's weird. 

I'm not saying it is bad. I'm doing laundry. I grocery shopped. I moved my car to the alternate side of the street with minimal effort. I got to spend time being snuggly with my baby. It's a window into what my life would be if I wasn't a performer, if I hadn't been so lucky as to get involved in so many projects so quickly. 

It's a good thing I have three auditions lines up in the next five days. 

Monday, December 08, 2014

December 8 - Skinny

I'm wearing skinny trousers.

Not trousers that make me feel skinny, or trousers that I bought once when I was skinnier and couldn't wear for a while but suddenly fit into again. I'm wearing trousers that are skinny shaped. As in, I might as well be wearing tights. Except thicker.

I think we all know my feelings on skinny jeans. If we don't, let me reiterate: No one should wear skinny jeans except Iggy Pop in the late 70's/early 80's and Ewan MacGregor in Trainspotting. If you are neither of those people, you should not be wearing skinny jeans. I should not be wearing skinny jeans.

Here's the thing: I don't think people are making non-skinny trousers anymore. I was desperate for some new trousers that I could wear to work, so I set out to try to find even just a nice pair of black jeans or something. Something heavier than the nice black trousers I have been wearing to work so that my legs are a little more protected during the cold winter months. But I could scarcely find non-skinny trousers. They have skinny trousers for curvy women. Skinny trousers for skinny women. Skinny boot-cut trousers, which seems like an oxy-moron to me. Skinny stretch trousers. Skinny stretch denim trouser leggings. But everything is cut skinny.

I grabbed the largest sized skinny trousers I could find and tried them on. While they are not as terrible as I might have feared, they are not going to become my new favorite trousers. I don't like trousers that stick to my legs like this - I have to adjust where the fabric falls every time I stand up or sit down. I don't like trousers that require sitting down in order to remove them. And crazy as it may sound, having a fuller leg on one's trousers traps warm air inside against the leg and actually keeps one warmer than wearing these super tight, form-fitting things. And to make matters super annoying, I am ridiculously hungry today, so my skinny trousers are making me feel anything but skinny.

Please, Fashion World, please stop subjecting us all to the same trends. We're not all shaped the same way. The clothing shapes you decide should be "in" do not work on everyone. Please continue to make clothing of different shapes available to those of us who are not concerned with being "in." And Clothing Stores, please stop stocking only one style of trouser. Seriously.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

December 7 - Small Things

Sometimes, it is taking care of the little, nitty-gritty things that makes me feel the farthest away from my home in Chicago.

Fortunately, I'll be back there to visit in just a couple of weeks, so I can keep the panic attacks at bay until then.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

December 6 - Effort

Do you remember when "trying too hard" was an insult? Is it still? I think it is, at least in terms of people who try too hard to get other people to like them. Which means, I'm walking a very slippery slope at the moment. 

I feel like some people around me might think I'm trying too hard. Whether or not they do, I have no idea. But if I was one of them dealing with me, I might start to think I was trying too hard. The bad part is, I don't know if I care that much and I don't know that I'd be able to stop even if I did care. 

This whole experiment for me, moving to New York, is about trying. It's about trying to something really hard and giving it my all so that when I get to the end of my life, I'll be able to say I tried. Whether or not my career launches from here or not, I want to be able to say I tried. So I am trying. I am working hard. I am putting in the effort required to not only do a good job, but to stand out in the hopes that more work will be born from my efforts. I am pushing myself to interact with certain people in ways that I might not otherwise in the name of trying to build friendships so I can feel more at home here. I am trying too hard, but only because I want to say I did everything I could to make the New York experiment a success. 

And you know what? I think it's working. 

Friday, December 05, 2014

December 5 - Tired

The night before last, I got about three hours of sleep and yesterday, I felt fine.

Last night, I got about six hours of sleep and today, I am trashed.

Ah, sleep, you silly, mysterious mistress.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

December 4 - Important

Last night after rehearsal, I got a chance to have a drink and catch up with a friend I've not seen in probably ten years. This is one thing I am really loving about living in New York - it is making it easier for me to see my friends who live on the east coast who I have not seen in a really long time. And chatting with these friends feels like home. People I've not seen in years, but we still pick up where we left off and cover who even knows how many topics and it's lovely and exhilarating and comfortable all at the same time. So thank you to my friend who was in town and met up with me for a beverage. It was so good to see you!

The downside of a lovely evening out with a lovely friend, though, is that it means I didn't get back to my neighborhood until about quarter after two in the morning. I'm not the sort who is freaked out about walking home alone late at night. For the most part, my neighborhood is pretty safe and there are still enough people out and about at two in the morning that if something were to happen, I could probably start screaming, "I don't know you, get away from me," and someone would pay some sort of attention. Possibly even the cops who tend to stand outside this one corner store some evenings. There are things one learns, too, as a single woman who has to walk home late at night from time to time that help make one less of a target: Don't listen to music. Stay aware of your surroundings. Look at people who are approaching you so they know you know they are there, but don't necessarily make eye contact so as to avoid inviting confrontation. Walk with purpose. Stuff like that.

So last night, I was walking home from the train and I saw a woman walking down the sidewalk toward me. When I got closer, she wished me a good night and happy holidays. I replied, "Happy holidays to you, too." She then started talking more, but I kept my hands in my pockets and kept walking at my normal, brisk pace past her. She had a very insistent and pleading tone to her voice, though, and said she needed to just ask a question, so I kind of paused. She asked me what the most important thing is that I could say to a person. I asked, "The most important person in my life, what is the most important thing I could say to them?" She clarified that it didn't have to be the most important person in my life, just anyone. I replied that I would tell them that I love them. She said, "They know that you love them, so what is the most important thing you could tell someone?" I said, "Just that. 'I love you.' That is all I would say," and I started walking away again. She tried to continue the conversation, which made me think she had a specific answer in mind that she was hoping I would say, but at the time, I just wanted to get home to get a precious three hours of sleep before my workday and opening night of Romeo and Juliet began. In retrospect, had she not had a bit of the crazy eye look going on, I almost wish I had asked her what the most important thing she could tell a person is. I couldn't read her well enough to be able to guess. And to her credit, when I started walking again, she did not follow, she just let me go.

I've been thinking about it, though, because it's a really good question. What is the most important piece of information you could impart to another human being? I think it would have to be something I know and the other person doesn't, and the only things that I know they don't know have to do with my feelings. Which is why "I love you" was the first thing that popped into my head. I think it is important to make sure that the people you love know that you love them. I'm pretty sure the people I love know I love them because I tell them, but I am also of the opinion that it doesn't hurt to remind them from time to time.

But I still want to know what answer she was looking for. So what do you think? What is the most important thing you could tell another person?

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

December 3 - Collaboration

So I've been blogging daily for nearly two years and I have to admit, I feel like I'm getting kind of stale. Or at least the exercise isn't producing the end result I might have wanted when I started out on the endeavor two years ago. My first thought was to make it through December and then release myself from the self-imposed obligation to post every day, go back to posting only when I have something really interesting to say. But then I had another idea.

This idea has the potential to kick-start this blog into something better than what it is, and also to gauge how many people are even reading it. Which also means that if nobody participates in this idea with me, I'll probably just stop the daily thing and blog when I have something to say. But my idea is to have a blog where you guys get to pick the topics. All of them. And they can be whatever you want them to be.

My thought is to start a public Google calendar where you guys can fill in the topics for each day of the year. They can be random, they can be poignant, if you want to claim your birthday now for a special shout-out, go for it. Whatever you'd like me to talk about, whether I've talked about it before or not, I will be beholden to your whims to write my blogs. If you fill in enough dates, I'll blog daily. If you don't, I'll blog on the days where there are topics. And I will certainly credit you and link to your blog or whatever when I post about your topic if you provide that information when you fill in a day.

So what do you think? Do you want to steer the direction of this blog in 2015?

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

December 2 - Chicago

I was talking to someone today who said he has been to Chicago a few times and just doesn't quite get why people love it so much. He hails from the east coast and has lived abroad for the past eighteen years and he said that even though he wants to give the city the benefit of the doubt, he just hasn't been able to fall in love with Chicago the way that so many people have. Coming from there, I don't quite understand that point of view. Chicago is, to me, one of the greatest cities in the world. But believe it or not, I couldn't really think of one good, solid reason why this man who has tried Chicago and not loved it should love it.

Not just then, anyway. I've thought about it more and today, I would like to dedicate my blog to singing the praises of Chicago.

WXRT. Chicago is amazing because it is the home of the greatest radio station in the world, WXRT. 93.1 on your FM dial. You can listen online, too, if you're feeling homesick or want to know what all of the fuss is about. Because honestly, I don't know that I can describe WXRT except to say that they play good music. It may be from the fifties or sixties or last week or whatever, they just play music that is good. Classic rock. Current rock. Folk rock. Alternative. Local artists. National artists. International artists. Most of the artists I listen to religiously I discovered by listening to WXRT. The first time one of my songs was ever played on the radio, it was on WXRT. And the deejays honestly know what they are talking about. Seriously. They are passionate and knowledgeable and engaging without bombarding your ears with all sorts of unnecessary sound effects and trite crap. To my knowledge, there is no other radio station in the country, possibly the world, like WXRT, and for that alone, Chicago is a standout city.

Pizza. This is not going to be a discussion about whether thin crust or deep dish is better, or whether or not you're supposed to fold your pizza before you eat it. That's not the point. What makes pizza in Chicago so awesome is that you can get whatever sort you like. You can get thin crust so thin it's like a cracker. You can get deep dish overflowing with cheese. You can get vegan pizza so good you won't miss the non-vegan sort. Chicago pizza is about choices, with so many places to go and so many great pies to eat. Chicago is a pizza mecca.

Summer. Yes, other cities have summer, too, but summer in Chicago is magnificent. Yes, it gets hot and humid. But there are so many things to do that you won't even notice. You can spend time inside at some of our amazing museums, you can spend time outside at any one of a hundred different street festivals (Square Roots, Ribfest, St. Pat's Block Party, Hideout Block Party, your own local block party, Taste of Chicago, Taste of Randolph Street, Lollapalooza). You can swim in the lake, or take a boat cruise up the river. You can see free theatre or free movies in various parks around the city. There is almost always live music or live theatre going on somewhere in the city all summer long. Perhaps it is because the winters suck so badly that Chicagoans really know how to embrace and celebrate summertime, and they go all out. It is brilliant.

The Chicago Cubs. Say what you will about the losing-est team in baseball, hell in professional sports, but Wrigley Field is a magical place. And the fact that the losing-est team in baseball can still sell out the park for an entire summer means there are some serious, hard-core fans who just keep going with the hope that maybe, possibly, just this one time, on an off chance, the Cubs might win. And when they do, even if it is against Pittsburgh when both teams have been mathematically eliminated from post-season play, the fans celebrate as if we had just won the pennant. It's hard to not get swept up in the enthusiasm. And when they lose, there is always a crowd to commiserate with you.

Theatre. The "second" city has a truly vibrant theatre scene. Yes, you can go see the national tour of whatever Broadway show happens to be passing through, but a lot of new work is developed in Chicago, too. Obviously the Goodman and Steppenwolf and Chicago Shakespeare Theatre are putting out good plays, but even in the hundreds of storefront non-equity theatres in Chicago, there is something to suit every taste. There is kitch, there is comedy, there is drama, there is improv, there is musical theatre, there is puppetry, there is dance, there is poetry. As an actor, I feel so lucky to have started my career in Chicago, and I hope it finds it's way back there someday.

Music. As with many of the things listed above, the Chicago music scene has something for everyone. Venues where you sit and listen. Venues where you get up and dance. Venues playing classical music, folk music, rock music, national touring bands, local bands just getting a start, free shows, cheap shows, shows you've wanted to see your entire life. Jazz was born in Chicago. The blues thrive in Chicago. The Old Town School of Folk Music - 'nuff said. And there is something going on literally every night of the week. The Chicago music scene continues to grow and thrive and change to keep music accessible to anyone who wants to be part of it.

Food. The best vegan pho in the world is in Chicago. The number nine restaurant in the world is in Chicago. Chicago has everything from top notch steakhouses, to two of the best vegan restaurants in the country, so whatever your tastes, you can find it in Chicago. Not to mention the taquito guy who visits local bars in the wee hours of the morning so you can have a snack while you keep on drinking. Food trucks, hole in the wall taco joints, fine dining with a 360-degree view of the city. Whatever you're hungry for, Chicago has it.

Transportation. Between the L and the buses, there is nowhere you can't get to by using public transportation. And for the most part, it is clean (or at least cleaner than New York). The stations are being upgraded so you know how long you'll have to wait for your bus or your train, and the pre-recorded announcements at each stop mean you'll never miss your stop because you couldn't understand what the conductor was saying. Though, if you're really a transportation snob and would rather drive or take cabs, cabs are plentiful and you can always find somewhere to park. Even if it is a $30-for-four-hours garage downtown.

Neighborhoods. I dated a guy once, very briefly (think: two dates) who seldom left a three square block area in the Ukranian Village. He found the part of the city he loved, he could get anything he needed there, and he could get around easily, so he figured, why leave? There are so many little pocket neighborhoods in Chicago, each acting almost like a city within a city, that you could change apartments and neighborhoods every year and feel like you're living in an entirely new city with each move. And with Chicago rents being what they are, you can always find a place to fit your budget. In Illinois, you can get $99.40 worth of goods for $100. That's not too shabby.

Sanitation. Chicago is relatively clean. Even with only sweeping the streets once every few weeks, Chicago is much cleaner than, say, New York.

The Lake. Lake Michigan has it's own tides. It is big enough for cruises and surfing and swimming and fishing and strolls along the beach. Yes, it will dump extra snow on us in the winter, but it can help keep outrageous summer temperatures down. Not to mention, it makes for some gorgeous views.

People. Perhaps most importantly, Chicago is an amazing city because the vast majority of the people I love most live there. My mom. My best guy friend. My nieces and their parents. The little circle of extraordinary people I know I can count on for just about anything. I know that doesn't mean as much to people who aren't me, but it is for that reason that Chicago will always be my home.

Maybe I'm provincial. Maybe I'm old fashioned or territorial. But I am proud to be a Chicagoan, and I truly love the city where I spent the majority of my life. Sure, I'm trying something different now, living in New York. But maybe the best thing about Chicago is that it will always be there, and I can always go home to my sweet home Chicago.

Monday, December 01, 2014

December 1 - Criticsm

We all know that I love Gilmore Girls. We all know I want a boyfriend like Dave Rygalski. We all know that I've seen the first five seasons enough times that from time to time, I forget that I didn't grow up in Stars Hollow. We know these things. These things have not and will not change. 

That said, seasons six and seven are terrible. Terrible. Witty banter was traded for laundry list monologues. An ensemble cast turned into a series of two-person scenes. Long beloved character choices were thrown out the window for stupid gags and more laundry list monologues. Granted, there were things that annoyed me last time I saw seasons six and seven that don't annoy me quite as much this time around. But by the same token, the lack of nuance in the lighting design in seasons six and seven grates on me in a way it never did before. So there's that. 

The creator of the show has been quoted as saying that if she had stayed on for the last two seasons, it would have ended differently. After season five, there were changes with the network and she left and I don't remember totally why, but I'm pretty sure that the removal of the creator from the show is what killed this particular show. A change in production team does not always kill a show, but it certainly did this one no favors. The thing is, she's also been rather hush-hush about how she originally intended the show to end. Even among rumors of a Gilmore Girls movie, she won't spill. Which may be the part that is killing me more than anything else. 

I will be glad when I get to the end of season seven so I can say I watched all of it again. And then I will happily go back to believing that the show was only five seasons long. Maybe four and a half. It has to be hard for writers to keep writing for the same characters for seven years; I'm not poo-pooing that. It makes me sad to see those characters stray so far from themselves. Especially when they are so rich, so lovely, and so beloved. 

And please let's have a Gilmore Girls movie so we can get the mess that is the last two seasons straightened out. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

November 30 - Ebb and Flow

So much happened when I first got to New York that here I am, three months in, spending a weekend wherein I barely left my apartment and kind of loving it. Though I do have to admit to a bit of trepidation that goes along with an unproductive weekend. I feel like I need to be doing things, planning things, finding the next project so I don't have too much down time.

The thing is this: I know what my next projects can be, even if I am not cast in another show right away. And I have made connections in the past three months that will lead to more auditions in the future. And if we know anything about me, it is that I don't stay idle very long.

So after two days of not doing much, today I applied for a half-dozen auditions, I moved my car for street cleaning, updated my theatrical resume, and I logged into the Healthcare Marketplace to update my information for next year. There are things to do, things to be done, and there is plenty of time in which to do them. So for the time being, I'm going to resume my Gilmore Girls marathon (I'm in season six which is almost as terrible as I remember it being the first time around) and enjoy a little bit of non-frantic time. Because tech week starts up on Tuesday and then we're full on into the holiday season wherein I have a trip home to plan on top of everything else.

A little down time is good for me every now and again.

Oh, and I've been here three months. Three months in New York. Wow. More on that later.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

November 29 - Vanity

I do not, in general, consider myself a vain person. Granted, I do have recurring nightmares about all of my teeth falling out which some dream guides say is a vanity dream, but I don't think I'm terribly vain. I'm pretty low maintenance. I'll wear whatever the costume designer asks me to in shows. Whatever. 

My weakness, though, is eyeliner. See, while I am not the vain sort, I am the sort that remembers hurtful things that were said to me in the past for a ridiculously long time, and I am also the sort to whom a lot of hurtful things were said. Especially in junior high and high school. Teenage girls can be awful. One of the recurring comments made to me during those fragile, formative years was that I should smile more because otherwise, I look comatose. This was before I discovered makeup. It wasn't just one off-hand comment; I was told on several occasions by several different people that I have what the kids these days would call Resting Comatose Face. Their suggestion was that I smile more. Not being big on smiling then, I just walked around very self-conscious, knowing I looked half dead all the time. Such a lovely way to spend one's teens. 

But then, in college, one of my friends showed me how to wear everyday make up. Granted, what she showed me included things like concealer, which did nothing to conceal the mountain range I had on my face at the time, but it also included eyeliner and mascara. These two simple tools transformed my face and bam! All of a sudden, I was pretty. Nobody told me I looked comatose anymore. Simple as that. Eyeliner plus mascara equalled no more comments on my resting face status. So I wear eyeliner and mascara pretty much all the time now. They have become my comfortable place. 

People notice when I don't wear them, though. I've had people go so far as to ask me if I'm feeling all right if they see me without the eyeliner and mascara. Resting Comatose Face. Easily remedied with eyeliner and mascara. Poof!

Yesterday, I did not put on eyeliner or mascara. I was having a quiet day, wherein I did very little. I had not planned on leaving my apartment at all except to do laundry, but come evening, I wanted a snack so I ventured out. I went to the store without eyeliner or mascara on. I bought a soda and some chips and even chatted with the shopkeeper for a moment about how miserable it was that his heat wasn't working, but how nice that it hadn't snowed. And nobody looked at me funny or told me I look comatose. 

I'm not saying I'm a no-make-up convert now or anything. I like how I look when my eyes are highlighted - they are very pretty eyes. But it was good for me to step out of my comfort zone and find that even when stripped of the tiny bit of vanity that I have, I am still okay. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thursday, November 27, 2014

November 27 - Thanksgiving

My list of things to be thankful for is a little overwhelming this year. 

Perhaps more than in any other year, I am thankful for how small the world has become by the advent of more and more ways to communicate. I'm not going to lie - moving to New York and leaving my friends and family was hard, and it continues to be hard to not get to see them as often as I would like. But being able to call or email or text or Skype takes a little bit of the sting away. I am so thankful that I can do all of those things, and that my friends and family choose to stay in touch with me via those methods, too. Otherwise, I think I'd be lost out here. 

Which is a nice segue into saying I am thankful for my family and friends. Both old friends and new ones, and friends I have been able to reconnect with recently. I would not call myself a people person, but I have found some amazing people and am so fortunate to have them in my life. 

I am thankful for the incredible luck I've had in New York, getting cast in three fun shows with so many talented and generous artists. I am thankful for my temp job, too, because even though it's not my chosen career, it has kept me fed and housed. I am thankful that I have somewhere to live that is warm enough and where Owen has become comfortable. 

Mostly, I am just plain thankful this year. It's been quite a ride and I'm doing well with everything. I'm trying to take it all in and enjoy the fact that I get to be alive to experience these things. "Yes I'm definitely going to hell/But I'll have all the best stories to tell." Here's to a year full of brilliant stories to tell, and many more to come. 

Happy Thanksgiving! Be safe and have fun. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

November 26 - Recommendation

See Sleep No More. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. See Sleep No More

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

November 25 - Anxiety

For the first time in perhaps my entire life, I will not be spending Thanksgiving with my family. There was one Thanksgiving where I went to a boyfriend's family's gathering when I was in college, but I'm pretty sure I still went to my family's gathering that year, too. This year, I will still be in New York. So that's a thing. 

I won't be alone, though. One of my friends from Chicago has family out here and invited me to go to their gathering, which is very kind and generous, I think. But it's freaking me out. I can feel the panic attacks brewing already. I nearly started crying in the grocery store, worried that what I would be able to bring would be insufficient, that I'll be a social dud that day, that my friend's family will think me crazy and odd and awkward and that will reflect poorly on him. Not to mention, as a vegan, I can be a weird Thanksgiving guest. 

I think I have to remember what Thanksgiving is about, though, in order to get past that. I have a brilliant family who love me and miss me. I have fantastic friends who open their homes and lives to invite me in. I live in an exciting city where I have been so fortunate as I pursue my dreams. So even if I'm a social dud at this gathering, I have a lot to be thankful for and a lot going for me. I have somewhere to be, which in and of itself is a big deal. 

Anxiety doesn't have to be the enemy. It can be a reminder that there is something I need to think through and examine my feelings about. I'd still be happier if I didn't have to deal with it, though. Someday. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

November 24 - Tired and Sad

For the most part, I have done a good job of remaining positive while living in New York. I'm viewing challenges as adventures and keeping my hopes up with the knowledge that the minor annoyances will change eventually. My mantra has become, "It's an adventure," and while that might sound dismissive in certain situations, I mean it. Living in New York is an adventure for me and in a weird way, I'm trying to acknowledge and enjoy all of the ups and downs of being here.

Today, I am failing at being positive. Today, I am tired and sad and I need to just be tired and sad for a day. The tired and sad won't go away just because I want them to; I need them to run their course.

So today, I am tired and sad because my mom went back to Chicago after we had a really lovely weekend together. As much as I love being in New York, it's hard to be this far away from my dearest friend.

Today, I am tired and sad because the second of the three shows in which I was cast closed over the weekend and I am going to miss working on that project and with those people.

Today, I am tired and sad because I didn't sleep last night and had to get up very early this morning before making it in to work.

Today, I am tired and sad because of minor annoyances with projects at work and the fact that the annoyances reared their ugly heads today when I was already tired and sad to begin with.

Today, I am tired and sad because my throat has been hurting for two days and I would really rather not be getting sick just now.

Today, I am tired and sad because it is beautiful outside and I have to be at work all day.

Today, I am tired and sad because I know I won't really get to rest until tomorrow night. Maybe.

So if you see me today and I am grumpy, it is because I am letting the tired and sad run their course. If you would like to avoid me so as to not deal with the tired and sad and grumpy, I completely understand. If you would like to give me a hug, I'd be okay with that, too.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Saturday, November 22, 2014

November 22 - Telegram

Spent the day with Mom. Stop. 
Had an impromptu cider tasting. Stop. 
Experienced sensory overload at a giant fabric store. Stop. 
Closed a show. Stop. 

Great day all around. And maybe tomorrow, I'll write sentences. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thursday, November 20, 2014

November 20 - Transgender Day of Remembrance

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance. The day was "set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved," as described on the Transgender Day of Remembrance website.

Prior to moving to New York, I don't think I had ever met a transgender person before. It is quite possible that I had but was just unaware of it. I can now say, though, that I have met several and am friends with a few and honestly, I think my life is richer for having met them. Then again, I like diversity. And sure, I like some of the transgender people I've met better than others, but that is true of cisgender people as well. (For those of you who don't know, "cisgender" refers to people who identify with the gender they were born into - the opposite of transgender, which refers to people who identify with a gender other than the one they were born into. Don't feel bad if you didn't know that term - I didn't. Anyway.)

I know I have been bullied in my lifetime for certain aspects of my person over which I have no control - the paleness of my skin, my acne, my hair, my ass, my intelligence, my nerdiness. I have to say, though, that after reading about TDoR and hearing the stories of my transgender friends, I feel extremely lucky that I have never had to fear for my life if I talk about any of those things in public. One might think in today's society, those who fall under the transgender umbrella would find more acceptance than they do. There are hundreds of transgender people every year who are beaten, disowned, maimed, mutilated, and killed just for being who they know themselves to be. I don't get that. I don't understand why anyone thinks they have the right to harm someone else because of what genitalia that person has or had. What business is it of theirs?

I am not being very eloquent in my call for acceptance here. I think Hank Green did a much better job of it. There are a million trillion different boxes into which people can fit, and every one of them is beautiful. I hope one day we can all appreciate the beauty in and around those boxes. In the meantime, if we could all just take a moment of silence in honor of those whose boxes were deemed unworthy, unfit, abhorrent, or unnatural. To all of those people, I'm sorry for what happened to you. I will do what I can to make the world in which my nieces live a little more accepting, a little more loving, a little more understanding, so hopefully others will not have to pay the price you did.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

November 19 - Lucky

There are a lot of interesting characters on the subway in New York. Last night, there was a very drunk man seductively eating a lollipop, which he then put in his hand, and then his pocket, so that he could fall asleep. My hand felt empathetically sticky on his behalf. Sitting next to him was a man who looked like the last guy I tried dating, who kept trying to covertly sneak a glance at me, and then made a sort of show out of getting a dollar out of his wallet to give to a musician playing his guitar on the train. I, of course, was standing near the doors with my steamer. As one does.

The thing that hit me last night is that each of these people has a reason for being on the train at ten o'clock at night. I, admittedly, don't understand the people with infants and toddlers on the train at eleven o'clock or midnight, but every single person on the train has a reason for being there. They're all going somewhere, coming from somewhere, avoiding something, anticipating something. They all have a story, and for anywhere between two minutes and an hour, our stories intersect when we all find ourselves riding the same train together in the same direction.

What also hit me last night was how lucky I am to be living my story. I was on the train at ten o'clock last night coming home from the theatre. I had my steamer with me because I'm the helpful sort who wanted to make our costumes look less wrinkly, and the best night to take the steamer back home was last night because I wouldn't have to move my car for street cleaning once I made it back to my neighborhood. And before getting on the train, I was part of a lovely production where I got to work with some people who I have really come to adore in the last month and a half, and we were lucky enough to get a standing ovation from some of the audience members. We touched lives last night. We made people feel things and we started conversations and we validated those who were in need of some validation. And after doing all of that, and after taking some pictures so that the work done on this show can hopefully help people get more work on future shows, I found myself on the train with the very drunk lollipop guy, the guitarist, the guy who looked like an ex, and a whole host of other people. I wondered, how many of them were on their way home from touching someone's life and making that person feel good about him or herself? Maybe a lot. Maybe none. But I found myself feeling very lucky to have had the evening I had.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

November 18 - Kindness

Is a kind act performed in the hopes someone else will see it and be impressed by it still a kind act? If the desired audience misses the act, though the act still occurs, is it still a kind act? Is the kindness strengthened or diminished by the presence of an audience?

Monday, November 17, 2014

November 17 - Goals

I know I'm not the first to say this, but the important thing in achieving long term goals is to stay at it. To think every day about what you can do to reach the goal. Be it research or networking or whatever, something every day should move you toward your goals. 

I read today and fell in love again with what I was reading. I had some new insights that will make my project more fun, I think. There is still a lot to do, but I got a start. A real start. Now to make sure I take the next step, too. And the next. And the next...

Sunday, November 16, 2014

November 16 - Laundry

I went to a laundromat today to do my laundry, in the hopes of getting more quarters with which I could later do my laundry in the machines in my apartment building. And this has turned, believe it or not, into a very depressing experience. The place is tiny, hard to find an available machine, I was told I couldn't use a cart, and they use cards, not coins, to pay for washing and drying. But at least I'm not using up my stash of quarters that I have at home, and my clothes will be clean, so not a total waste I guess. And the whole process shouldn't take more than an hour, I would hope. 

This is just a reminder to me that I need to fix my banking situation here so I can have easy access to rolls of quarters whenever I need them. Ah, the simple things in life, that will hopefully be significantly different someday...

Saturday, November 15, 2014

November 15 - Question

Honest question: what inspires you to explore new art? As in, what makes you see a new play or listen to a band you've not heard before or makes you go to a museum or gallery you've not been to? Or if you don't do those things, why not?

I'm gathering informal research and would like to know. Thanks!

Friday, November 14, 2014

November 14 - Long-Term

As an absolute last minute thing, I got to see a friend of mine yesterday who I have not seen in at least six years. A lot has happened for both of us in that time, so there was a lot of catching up to do. One thing I found really nice about our conversation, though, was that it wasn't entirely past-focused. We talked about the present and the future just as much if not more than all of the things we had missed.

Side note: one other thing I really love about talking with this friend is that we have actual conversations. I find myself in situations quite often where I ask someone about their life or opinions or goals or whatever and they don't then turn around and ask questions back. I don't know if that is an introvert/extrovert thing, or a product of our society wherein we're so focused on what we're doing that we don't invest very much in those around us, or if I'm really so dull that people just don't want to know, but it's a thing that happens. Which leaves me feeling like I'm in either a one-sided conversation or a one-sided relationship, or it forces me to be more extroverted and just tell people the things I think they should know about me instead of waiting for them to ask and as an introvert, I hate having to tell people things. I'd much rather that they ask so I don't sound like I'm bragging. But with this friend, he asked about my life as much as I asked about his. We talked through ideas and celebrated each other's successes and empathized with each other's sadnesses. It was a true conversation. For that and for many other reasons, I will always love this man.

Back on topic: one of the things we talked about in terms of future plans on my side of things is an idea I had a little while ago for a video series. He was very encouraging and thinks my idea is a good one. We even added a little whimsy to it, which might help attract a larger audience. But I find myself thinking more and more about it today. It is a project that is personal to me, something I would like to learn more about and then share with others, something I think I could have a lot of fun doing. And it is something I could do on my own. I've been submitting to the odd audition announcement here and there and have not been getting invited in to read, and I'm feeling like my luck in getting three shows right off the bat upon arriving in New York might be wearing thin. Not that I'll never get cast again, but it could be a little while before my next show. So maybe it is time to start working, really working, on this longer-term project. I like long-term projects. It's something I can really dive into and devote time and energy to, and the more time I spend in pre-production, the better the videos will be. Which is good because finding a space to shoot videos given my current living situation could prove challenging.

Anyway. Much love to my friend, and thank you for giving me a little kick in the pants to keep moving toward my goals.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

November 13 - Guinness

Guinness is not a vegan beer. They use isinglass as a claifying agent, and isinglass is made of animal bone. Loads of beers and wines use it and true, devout vegans will avoid those beers and wines. For the first eleven and a half years of my veganism, I avoided Guinness, too, despite loving it deeply. Except on St. Patrick's Day - I would allow myself one Guinness since I am more Irish than I am vegan. It seemed fair - one beer a year in exchange for no animal products ever any other day of the year. I know vegans who eat honey because it is their weakness; Guinness was my weakness. 

And then my best guy friend and I went to Dublin, Ireland and toured the Guinness storehouse. I learned that the Guinness company was one of the first to offer paid vacation time, because they realized that people were happier when they got to spend some time with their families (or at least away from work). If a Guinness factory worker died, the company would pay for the funeral and then offer his widow, if he had one) a job at the factory so she wouldn't have to worry about being able to support herself or her kids. And Mr. Guinness signed a 900-year lease on the land wherein the storehouse now stands, in part because he believed that's where the best beer-making water was, but also in part to prevent the business, the industry, and the jobs from leaving Dublin. He wanted to do something good for his community, so he built a beer factory that treated it's workers well and promised to not leave for a really, really, really long time. That, to me, is admirable. That is the sort of company that I, as a human and as an Irishwoman, would like to support. 

So I drink Guinness now from time to time. Not all of the time, but more often than once a year. I figure, I gave a lot of thought to making the switch to veganism, and if, after careful deliberation, one product fits with all of my ethical principles except for my veganism, it's okay to bend the rules. Because as Einstein said, "The important thing is to not stop questioning."


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

November 12 - Alone

I saw the National Theatre's production of Coriolanus last night, or a screening thereof, to be precise. I had tried to see an actual performance of it when I was in London last winter, but it was completely sold out. After seeing the screening, I'm thinking maybe it's a good thing that I didn't see it in person because I may not have been able to speak for a couple of days afterward. It was very well done, and very intense.

In preparation for seeing the show, though, I read up on it in my Shakespeare books, and then read the text of the play so I would have an idea of what was going on and who was who. I don't always do that, but as this is a Shakespearean play with which I was not previously familiar, I thought it might be good to do so. My research told me that of all of Shakespeare's play, this one uses the word "alone" the most. At least, I think that is what I have read. And there is a very large through line of the title character doing things alone, and feeling that he is alone in lots of things. For those of you who don't know the story and are not opposed to spoilers, I'll fill you in a bit.

Caius Martius (sometimes spelled Caius Marcius) is a super-charged war fighting machine. The play takes place in Italy when the country wasn't really a country yet, but was a group of warring city states, Rome being one of them. Rome hadn't yet become the central seat of power, and wasn't the great Roman Empire we've all come to know and love, so there was a lot of political uproar going on, pretty much all the time, with lots of little wars and battles between these various city states. So at the start of the play, the Romans are pissed that corn is so expensive and they're ready to riot about it, until Menenius calms them down by telling them that really, the government gets the corn and distributes it to the people who then don't have to distribute it any further, so really, the government isn't all that bad. Then Martius shows up in a pissy mood, says some angry things to the peasants that essentially amount to, "You're peasants, so shut your yaps," and everyone gets all pissed off again. Good going, Martius. So they all decide that they need to fight the Volscians to get their corn, and several of them tromp off to do so. The wall around the Volscian camp is really tall, though, so only Martius is able to scale it and get inside to fight the Volscians. He single-handedly wins that battle, including a nice fight with his arch-rival Aufidus. Drenched in blood, Martius returns to Rome, where is given the battle garland (think: game ball) and everyone is happy. So happy, in fact, at his no-loss war record that they give him the title of Coriolanus. But that's not enough. I think it is Menenius, and maybe another mostly-good-dude-and-mostly-friend-of-Martius named Cominius, who decide that since Coriolanus is a good military guy, he'd also make a great politician. Because that's how that works. Coriolanus begrudgingly goes through the motions necessary to gain the people's voices so he can become consul (think: Senate hearings vetting a Supreme Court candidate, but with a toga) and is voted consul. No sooner has he left the room, though, than the two jealous tribunes (appointed to be the voices of the people) point out that Coriolanus had a stick up his butt the whole time and decide he should be overthrown and the votes that made him consul don't count. The people agree. Coriolanus shows up to do his consul type things, and all hell breaks loose as the people tell him he's not the consul. He throws a fit, says some things that he probably shouldn't, and everyone leaves in a snit. Menenius tells Coriolanus to apologize, which he begrudgingly agrees to do when his mother tells him it's okay to do so. Did I mention that Coriolanus has a bit of a Norman Bates obsession with his mom? But she's still alive. Think of her kind of as his puppetmaster. She wants him to be the greatest everything that ever was. She's kind of awesome and terrifying as a character. Anyway. Coriolanus goes back to the Senate ready to stay calm and apologize, but the two jealous tribunes are kind of prepped to either have the people kill him or banish him, and in their rage, they banish him. The mom is pissed. Coriolanus says some tearful goodbyes and leaves Rome, and leaves his mom, wife and son behind. He goes off to find, of all people, Aufidus, his arch-enemy, who he now wants to join up with so they can conquer Rome together since Rome was so horrible as to banish him. Aufidus says okay, and they build a fantastic war machine together. In the interim, Cominius comes to see Coriolanus/Martius, who refuses to see him. Menenius comes to see Coriolanus/Martius, who refuses to see him. And Rome starts to panic because now they know that Coriolanus/Martius is going to attack and in all likelihood, will devastate Rome. Finally, Coriolanus/Martius' mom, wife and son go to see him, and the mom makes a very impassioned speech about why he shouldn't destroy Rome, but should instead broker a peace between Rome and the Volscians. Puppetmaster wins and Coriolans/Martius says okay, he'll broker a peace. He sends his mom, wife and son back to Rome with the good news, at which point, Aufidus and his men promptly kill Coriolanus/Martius for being a traitor and the play ends.

This a very brief synopsis, mind you.

Getting back to the point I wanted to make before the synopsis, though, there is a lot in this play about doing things alone. Coriolanus fights the Volscians alone. He, alone, slaughters them. He, alone, has garnered all of these military victories. Alone, he is chosen to rule and represent Rome. Alone he asks for votes. Alone, he is cast out. Alone, he begs Aufidus for an alliance. Alone, he chooses to broker a peace. Alone, he dies. And in the way it was staged in this particular production, when Coriolanus is killed, his mother shows up on another part of the stage, with rose petals raining down on her, so you can see her face as she learns of her son's death. And the way it was played, she knew it was her fault he was killed. Had she not convinced him to broker that peace, he would still be alive. It was heartbreaking. Seriously, if you can find the production online somewhere, rent it or buy it or find some way to see it because it is very well done.

But as one who has spent so much of her life being ridiculously self-reliant, this might have been exactly the wrong show for me to see at this point in my emotional development. Coriolanus, arrogant as he is, is doing just fine in his solitude. He has a wife and a family and the best battle record of anyone in Rome. It is not until he starts to trust other people that things go haywire. He doesn't want to be consul, but he does it to please others. And then at the end, when he finally gives in and lets himself have a family, lets himself truly care about those who care about him, he is killed. This would seem to reinforce the idea that solitude isn't such a bad thing; it's other people who will screw you over the in the long run.

Yesterday, I wore the wrong shoes. My feet were killing me before I even got to work and I knew I wouldn't get home until after eleven o'clock at night. And as I was trying to figure out how to fix this problem, one of the women I work with offered to lend me a spare pair of sneakers she had under her desk for the day. I felt weird doing it, but then I remembered that a) my feet really hurt and b) people like being able to help other people, so I borrowed her shoes. And I found myself nearly bowled over by this simple act of kindness from someone I've only known for two months. It reminded me that self-reliance is great up to a certain point, but that help from others can be a glorious thing. And then I saw Coriolanus. You see my problem now?

So it's something I'm still working on. I do know that playing the character of Coriolanus' mom is in my future, or at least I hope it is. Though maybe I need to get past the place where I so strongly identify with Coriolanus' self-reliance first. Maybe I need to play him.

What? Stranger things have happened.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

November 11 - Step It Up

Moving to New York was one step in getting me closer to my dreams. Things are progressing, but I still have a long way to go. 

Time to step it up. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

November 10 - Cooking

I realize that I really have no right to complain about anything because things in my life in general are really good right now. That said, I'm going to complain about one minor thing anyway.

I miss cooking.

Especially this time of year, I love making a vat of jambalaya, or some soups, and storing them away for easy lunches and dinners throughout the week. There is something about taking the time to prepare one's own nourishment that is quite satisfying. But because of the craziness of my schedule and the smallness of my kitchen and the fact that I share a kitchen with three other people who are all omnivores, I've not cooked. I've not done anything more exciting than heat up soup since I got to New York. And I miss it.

I'm not malnourished, don't worry. I'm still eating healthy and in reasonable amounts. I just miss making some of the comfort foods I've grown accustomed to this time of year.

On the up side, where I live now is not where I will be living a year from now. My first apartment in New York is not my forever apartment here. So I can add to my list of things that I want in my next apartment, "a bigger refrigerator" so I'm able to cook and store food for myself from time to time. Probably along with "fewer roommates." I miss living alone, too.

Anyway. Things to look forward to.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

November 9 - Opening

This was opening weekend of my second show in New York. I have loved working on this one, and really hope I get to stay in touch with and work with these people again. It's been a very rewarding experience. 

We had a couple of hiccups, which was to be expected. But we were also fortunate enough to have the playwright in the audience both last night and tonight, and she was over the moon with how it came together. I think that's a good barometer by which to judge the outcome of a rehearsal process - if the playwright is so pleased that she wishes she could be there for every performance, I think we must be doing something right. 

And now I'm going to eat a giant salad and go to bed at a decent hour. Such is the theatre life. 

Saturday, November 08, 2014

November 8 - Grateful

Real quick, 'cuz I'm out and about with friends. 

I am so fortunate to be living the life that I live. Please don't let me ever forget that. 

Friday, November 07, 2014

November 7 - Memorization

Most actors will likely tell you that their least favorite thing to do is memorize their lines. They'll complain that it is boring and tedious and say that there are a million things they would rather do than memorize lines. I'm not here to debate that - memorization is boring, tedious work. It is so necessary, though. Acting 101: Memorize your lines as quickly as you can so you can get the script out of your hand and start playing around with the character and your scene partner.

Now, that is not to say that the script is the enemy. The script in its entirety is your best friend in the whole wide world. I know some actors who only pay attention to their lines and maybe a cue word, and it works for some, but not always for others. I think it's helpful to know that my scene partner has a giant monologue before my next line, so just in case they say my cue word more than once, I know that they still have a ways to go before it's my turn to speak. So hang onto your script until you're comfortable being without it.

I also know that I memorize things quickly - we've talked about this before - and people ask me how I go about doing so. So today, I'm going to walk you through my basic memorization process as best I can in case you would like to give it a shot.

  • Step 1: Read the script. The entire script. Look for your lines, yes, but also pay attention to the story, the arc, the other characters. Get an idea of what the entire show is about.
  • Step 2: Read the script. Again. At least one more time. If you want to, on this read you can highlight your lines as you get to them. I know some people also like to highlight their stage directions; generally speaking, I don't. Often times, I don't even read them. The stage directions in a published script are often the stage directions from the first production of the show, which likely had a different set or stage configuration than what you'll have, or your director has a different vision than that director did, so your stage directions will likely not match what is printed in the script. If there is something that is important to advancing the plot, or that directly affects someone else's lines, highlight that, yes. For example, if the stage direction says, "They kiss," and is followed by the line, "Why did you kiss me?" chances are, the kiss will be kept in the production. So highlight that if you want, but you don't have to.
  • Step 3: Read the script. This time, say your lines out loud when you come to them. This step is important so that you can hear what you sound like saying those words out loud. You can also make note of any words that are particularly difficult to say, that you don't know how to pronounce, or that you don't know what they mean. If, in this step, you want to focus on only the scenes you're in, that's okay. I think it's a good idea to have read the entire script more than once before you really start diving into it, though.
  • Step 4: Start building a character. This does not have to be the finished product, or the final version of the character you will be playing. But by this time, having read the script (or your scenes) at least three times, you should start to have an idea about some of the choices you'd like to make. You can even write down a list of questions about the character that you may want to think about later or ask the director about. Think about your character's history. Think about why the character is in this specific place on this specific day. Think about how the character feels about the other people in each scene and in the play. Figure out who this person is.
    • Be careful about making decisions about your relationships with other characters without talking to those other actors first. If there is information you should both know (i.e. we've been dating for three years and have talked about marriage but are not engaged), that's a discussion item. You can make your own choices for your own character (i.e. even though you've talked about marriage, you know in your heart you'll never propose), but you can't make choices for someone else's character without discussing it with them first. Nor can they make choices for you.
  • Step 5: Read the script. The entire thing. See if any of the answers to the questions you wrote down exist elsewhere in the script or if they really do need to be asked.
  • Step 6: Read the script out loud, preferably with your scene partner in rehearsal. Sometimes, this step has to be skipped or edited down because of time constraints in the rehearsal process. But I think it is a good idea to read the script, while looking at the actual words written in the script, with the rest of the cast. You'll get an idea of who their characters are, how they will be played, and what sort of shape the scenes will start to take.
  • Step 7: Read the script. On your own, but maybe in chunks. Look at a line or two and see if you can remember what they are without looking at the script. If you have big monologues and need to focus on a sentence or two at a time, do that. Get the words down in the right order so that you can say your lines without looking at the script.
    • Try to remember the words in the right order without any particular emotional inflection. If you get too used to being extremely angry on a certain line and then the director suggests you try it with more self-pity and less anger, it can throw you. If you remember the words just as words in a sentence, sentences in a paragraph, then you can put whatever emotions and inflections you want onto them later.
  • Step 8: Read the script. Cover your lines and read your scene partner's lines to find your cues. Figure out what it is in what your partner is saying to you that makes you say what you're about to say next. For example, let's say you know you have two lines that are, "Does ginger ale remove blueberry stains?" and "They're right here, where they always are." Your scene partner says, "Why can I never find my glasses when I need them?" Which of those two lines of yours is the more appropriate response? If you said the second one, congratulations, you're on your way to passing Acting 101. 
    • Caveat: there are certain playwrights or certain scenes wherein the proper response to the question above would be the one about removing blueberry stains, but that goes back to your character building exercises. Is your character anti-social? Is your character petulant? Does your character have a compulsive need to clean things that is more important than anything else, or a crippling fear of blueberry stains? If so, the the ginger ale response would be the right one. Which is to say, if you find yourself getting stuck in the same place over and over again in your memorization, chances are your character development needs a little bit of tweaking. What kind of person would say the thing you're supposed to say next? Be that person. There is no shame in stepping back to reevaluate.
  • Step 9: Rehearse. By this time, you know your character, you know your lines, you know your cues, so all there is left to do is rehearse the scene with your fellow actors. This also means that if your scene partner skips a line, you can pick up the scene where it goes from the line they gave you, not from the line you thought you were supposed to say next.
    • This includes saying the lines as often as you can. When you're walking down the street, recite your monologues. When you're in the shower, see if you can say your lines in order. That kind of thing. If you get away from them too long, you'll forget them.
This is called "doing your homework." Notice a theme?

Ideally, all of this would happen within the first couple of days following the initial read-through. If you're really lucky and can get the script before the first read-through, I'd recommend spending time on steps 1-5 before the read through, and steps 4-9 in the days thereafter. Because then you can spend the rest of the rehearsal time working the scenes. Working moments. Exploring emotional depths. Learning dance routines or fight choreography as necessary. And since you'll get to do all of that without your script in hand, the lovely phenomenon called "muscle memory" can kick in and by opening night, you'll just be so used to saying your lines with your scene partner that if the venue you're working in floods and you have to perform in the street with different costumes, you won't be so thrown that you can't perform.

Memorization is tedious and boring, yes. But it is a necessary first step in performance. First step. Which means it should be done as quickly as possible, not saved until the night before opening. Acting is about so much more than memorizing and blurting out lines, but it is hard to get to all of that other stuff until the lines are memorized. So do everyone in your production a favor and learn your lines as quickly as you can.

I hope this was helpful. I'll get of my soapbox now.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

November 5 - Breathing

In the constant duality of my life, I find myself focusing too much attention on things that don't really matter in the long run at the moment. It's hard to not think about these things, and fret over them a bit, because I'm the sort of person who likes to do things right. The sort of person who doesn't like to let others down. But in the grand scheme of things, I think I need to learn to pick my battles better. I've been doing so well with staying positive and moving forward with my life, I don't want to fall back into angry, stressed-out patterns.

"Everything will be fine in the end, and if it is not fine, it is because it is not the end."

Or something to that effect.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

November 4 - Haiku

Putting costumes on
Someone cuts them off again
Miss Match aesthetic

Monday, November 03, 2014

November 3 - More on Smart

More on being smart:

Often times, when one displays above average intelligence, those around them tend to think the intelligent person knows everything. This could be, in part, because a lot of intelligent people know a lot of things and take immense pleasure in letting others know that they know a lot of things. I think some of it boils down to the transitive property, too: If Person A knows a lot about cars, then Person A must know a lot about my car, so I can ask Person A questions about my car.

Intelligence does not equal infallibility.

It is very possible that Person A knows things about your car specifically, but knowledge about one thing does not necessarily translate into knowledge about something else. Even something related. I, for instance, know a lot about Doctor Who as it has been laid out in a television series, but I know nothing of the comic books, novellas, or radio plays or another media in which Doctor Who stories have been disseminated. I'm not opposed to knowing that stuff, I just haven't learned it yet. Which means that when I'm arguing Doctor Who with someone, I am arguing from the viewpoint of one who has just watched the show (several times) and there may be gaps in my knowledge base because of things that happened in the Whoniverse outside of the television show.

In general, I am the first to admit when I am wrong. Though I do like to get into Devil's Advocate type discussions with my best guy friend when I get flustered by being wrong. Every now and again, though, I find myself in a situation where someone expects me to know something that I would have no real reason to know, and my hypothetical answer becomes the go-to-answer and when it is then proven to be the wrong answer, then I feel like a heel for having to admit I was wrong. Because I would like to think that a) my general ignorance on a certain topic should be known within that circle or b) that when I gave my hypothetical answer, I mentioned that it was hypothetical. It's possible that I didn't, though, and we get a better look at exactly how not-infallible I really am.

I sometimes think I should downplay my general intelligence so that those around me don't start to automatically assume that I know things I would have no real way of knowing. If I'm not the reliable one that everyone can turn to, my imperfections show less. Maybe the better coping mechanism would be to embrace and/or flaunt my intellectual imperfections more.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

November 2 - Friends

As much as I have complained in the past about how awful some of my friends were in junior high, I have to say that in the grand scheme of things, I think I have been extraordinarily lucky in finding the group of friends I have found in my life. Even the people who I don't hang out with as much as I did with my little core group (who I miss terribly) - they're really exceptional human beings. Intelligent, funny, generous, loving, accepting people. I am honestly a better person for knowing them. 

I say this today because I got to have dinner with a Chicago friend who was in town to run the marathon and it was lovely. We talked about his family and my shows and the state of schools and all kinds of things over a burger (him, not me) and a pint. We haven't seen each other in months, but it was as if we hang out regularly. I love that. 

Granted, I'd love to see my friends more frequently than I do. Even before I moved to New York, I felt guilty passing up social engagements for theatre things or because I needed introvert time. Now that I'm here, I realize just how precious those "nights where nothing really happens, yeah, but everything goes down" are and I am trying to relish them when I have them. I would also love to be able to take some sort of credit for attracting so many wonderful people in to my life, but maybe it is they who attracted me. Who knows?

Whichever way it worked, I'm glad it worked. I'm so lucky to have the friends I have. Thank you, guys, for enriching my life. I hope I can come close to doing the same for you someday.