Friday, January 31, 2014

January 31 - Love

I'm not exactly sure why this question came to me today, nor why I feel compelled to write about it because my guess is that when I see it all written down, I will find it horribly distasteful. It's probably something to do with the fact that I've been watching teen dramas of late and the relationships in them are so set up and forced and angsty. Two people meet in one episode and are professing undying eternal love in the next - is that really how it works? But I started to wonder about how people love me. Not in the pity-party "how could anyone ever love me" way, but in the very clinical "what does it feel like to love me" way. 

I'm not counting family in this, or platonic friends, just so you know. 

I believe there have been four men in my life who have told me they loved me in a romantic context. One is now married with a kid. One was married and divorced and is now remarried, probably with a kid. One was almost married, last I heard, until his fiancĂ©e called it off and he was devastated. And one was married when I knew him, heading toward a divorce that he is apparently no closer to or farther away from than he was at that time. One of these men, I had to stop talking to when we broke up because I was afraid of what appeared to be obsessive behavior on his part. The other three stopped talking to me. Or we stopped talking to each other. 

I have to wonder, specifically with those other three, if they stopped talking to me because they had to rip the Band-Aid off, so to speak, and break all ties because it was just all too painful, or because they really weren't that into me in the first place so once we were done, it was no great loss. I feel very conceited as I say I honestly think it could go either way, and I know it was probably different for each of them. But I wonder if I am the sort of person with whom people fall in love hard and deep, or if I'm more of a fleeting fancy, like the fickle freshmen in the teen dramas I've been watching. 

Like I said, I don't know exactly what made me wonder this today, unless it's the evil, evil television. In a way, I hope I'm the sort people fall hard for, because I like the idea that I might make people feel things. As an actor, I always want to feel things and make other people feel things, and that sort of bleeds into my non-actor life, too, I guess. And I think I'm secretly hoping that I still might find a guy someday who falls so hard he has no choice but to put in the effort to be with me, and that I fall so hard for him, I have no choice but to do the same for him. "Love is about all the changes you make and not just three small words." 

Ugh. I think I just outed myself as a romantic. See? I told you this would be distasteful when written down. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

January 30 - Words

WARNING: This blog post contains strong language that may not be appropriate for young eyes/ears. 

I had a teacher in high school who firmly believed that schools should teacher a class in creative cursing so that kids would have more interesting ways to insult one another than but just saying "fuck you" all of the time. I agree. The English language has so many lovely words that can be strung together to paint a much more interesting picture than "fuck you." Like, imagine calling someone a flaming pile of maggot sputum instead of calling them an asshole. Fun, right? And it makes you use your brain to think of really disgusting  or descriptive things. 

That being said, I will say that there are times when "fuck" or "shit" is the best word to capture the situation. I think these words have their place and when used sparingly and appropriately, they can be very effective. 

Today, there were not enough fucks in my vocabulary to deal with all of the fucks around me. Using the word fuck as a noun, verb, adjective and adverb all within the same sentence did not cover the fucks I had to deal with. I tried replacing all of the "buffalo" in the perfectly cromulent sentence "Buffal buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo" with "fuck" and it still wasn't enough. It was that kind of a day. Today, Malcolm Tucker was my hero for his wordplay and I was disappointed in my ability to keep up with his astoundingly creative cursing. I did not have enough fucks and could have used the assistance of a seasoned curser like Malcolm Tucker. 

On the up side, the day is almost over. Almost. But not quite. 


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

January 29 - Happy Things

It's been a rough week/month so far, so today, I think I need to list some happy things. 

It was three degrees Fahrenheit outside when I woke up this morning, which is not, in and of itself, a happy thing, but when compared to the negative eleven degrees Fahrenheit I woke up to yesterday, it is. 

I am one-third done with covering for my coworker who is on vacation. 

I think I made the people in cars around me think I was insane with my car dancing on my way out to rehearsal. But seriously, if you're stuck going two miles per hour, why not crank the tunes and have a bit of a dance?

The music I was listening to was Frank Turner. He always makes me smile. 

I have (I believe) two little clementine seeds germinating away in my apartment on either side of my pineapple. There is something about growing pineapple and clementine plants in my apartment during a particularly harsh Chicago winter that brings me an enormous amount of joy. 

I had two evenings this week to spend with my cat. It melts me every time he snuggles up next to me and falls asleep with his head on my arm. 

I get to start work on another Shakespeare project soon. And it sounds like Hamlet: The Series is progressing nicely. 

People seem to be enjoying Just a Fling.

I was called someone's good luck charm the other day. 

As annoying and exhausting as it can be sometimes, I was helpful at work. 

And I believe they're playing Mike Doughty in here. I like it when artists I like get radio play. 

So those are a few happy things today, to try to offset the Grumptopotomus that has taken up residence in my heart. I should name him one of these days so our conversations can be more productive. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

January 28 - Broken

I feel like a broken record, bitching about the weather day in and day out. It's really cold outside, kids. Not as cold as Antarctica, but cold enough to be really annoying for Chicagoans. And frankly, as a person who hates being cold more than just about anything, I'm getting really tired of it. I'd like to know when the warm weather is going to happen, just so I know there is an end in sight. I know there is an end in sight - it can't stay this cold forever - but I want to know when it is, so if it doesn't happen by that date, I can be justifiably pissed and figure out a way to sue the weather forecasters or something. And I'm not just talking about above-freezing temperatures; I want to know when we're going to hit eighty degrees Fahrenheit (twenty-seven-ish degrees Celsius for our friends across the pond). I want to know when I will be warm all the time.

And then on top of the persistent annoyance of being cold, there are all sorts of other minor annoyances creeping into my life today. Nothing to talk about on the interwebs, per se, but enough little things that when added together, they feel like a big thing that just has me grumpy. Grumptopotomus City, goin' on in here. And weren't you guys supposed to be drawing pictures of grumptopotomi to make me giggle? Get on that!

So then I found seeds in my clementines at lunch today. I believe they are advertised as seedless, but whatever. I found seeds. And I think, to try to lift my spirits a bit, I'm going to try to grow them. My pineapple is doing quite well under the grow light this winter, and wouldn't it be fun to have a little clementine tree in my apartment as well? Just the sort of thing to help lift me out of the mid-winter funk. Grow a citrus tree inside.

So I may be a bit broken by the weather, but broken people can get better if they really want to, right Frank?

Monday, January 27, 2014

January 27 - Bears

I think that bears have the right idea. Not the Bears, obviously - they didn't make it to the post-season - but bears, as in the big furry animals who roar and eat fish and hibernate when it gets too freakin' cold outside. I know, I know, there are places in the world colder than Chicago right now. Last time I checked, Chicago was the sixth coldest city in the US this winter. But I say that is plenty cold. And with no end in sight, it's getting a little bit draining to have to get up and go about our everyday lives on a daily basis. Checking the weather to find "dangerous wind chills" doesn't really make me too enthusiastic about doing things like going to work, going to the grocery store, doing laundry, or (let's be honest) being conscious. When one's waking mind is constantly filled with thoughts of "how am I going to stay warm enough?" one gets tired. Just generally tired.

But bears (and other hibernating critters), they have it down. Eat as much as you want all summer and fall, and then sleep for three months. Yes, there are those who might object to having to deal with a poop plug, but I would happily put up with a poop plug for a few months if it meant A) I could sleep for three-five months and B) I didn't have to go outside in this. Or shovel snow. Or wear a minimum of two pairs of socks and three tops every day. That's a lot of clothing to go through, people. Do you know how often I have to do laundry, just so I can stay warm enough walking from my apartment to my car? It's nuts!

So yeah, bears. Teach us your ways so we can just skip the next polar vortex all together. And Mother Nature? You can hit us with above-freezing temperatures any time now. We're ready. Thanks!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

January 26 - Haiku

Snow snow snow snow snow
Snow snow snow snow snow snow snow
Enough already!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

January 25 - Theatre

I saw an amazing performance last night of a new play I hope to be in a production of someday. It was exactly the kind of theatre I want to be doing, and the kind of role I've not had in a while. And while I have had a lot of fun in the productions I've been working on lately, it sort of lit a fire under me. Helped give me an idea of where I want to focus in the coming months/years. And it made me a little sad that I'm not quite there yet. 

But then I got to act today. Twice. In an audition clinic and in a short film. Neither were Oscar-worthy performances, but as I was talking to one of the guys on the film crew, he apologized that we had to go outside and walk through the front door into the house again since it was so cold outside. And I responded without even thinking about it that I didn't mind because making movies and performing on stage is what I love to do. And it's true. No matter the size of the role, no matter the project, I love acting. So while my career may not quite be where I want it to be yet, I'm still enjoying the hell out of it. I'm working with great people, having a lot of fun, and learning loads. 

I'll get where I want to be someday. And I'm loving the journey while I get there. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

January 24 - Break Up


This is kind of long overdue. Don't act like you didn't see it coming - we've been drifting apart for quite some time now. I know you've noticed. Every time I check in, I have more and more to catch up on before we can get to the usual frustrations. Me trying the same old things, you not playing along. Me trying new methods, you teasing me with a shred of hope that is quickly, expertly dashed. Me thinking that throwing money at the situation will make things better, but it never does. Not really. It's a temporary fix at best. It's time. I think we both know that. 

Why now? Why not before? Well, to be honest, I've found something new. Similar to you in a lot of ways, but newer, fresher, more cooperative. If that makes me a bad person, I can live with that. I know this relationship is going to end badly, too, but in the short term, I like how it makes me feel. I like the instant gratification and sense of accomplishment. I like feeling like I'm making progress and not stuck in some stupid rut for weeks on end. And the silly little dog that pops up to wiggle his hips every time I get a Pepper Panic is so dumb, so dumb, I just have to keep coming back. 

Yes, I was drawn to your horrible music at first, and the super creepy voice. Something about these absolutely horrible elements kept me coming back for more. Like I was punishing myself for who knows what. And I can see that in my love for the hip-wagging dog; I know this is going to end badly and I know I'm punishing myself all over again, but...I can't help it. I'm hooked. 

This has nothing to do with your attempts to trademark everyday words, preventing others from using them. Yes, I think that is dickish, even knowing what I do about intellectual property and branding. My new obsession uses your words and is in fact made by the same company. I'm sorry if that makes it hurt more. 

I'm not sure what else there is to say. I may be back someday, when I'm feeling nostalgic. But, Candy Crush Saga, I think we need to play other games for a little while. You're just not fun anymore. We had some good times, but you are now simply an exercise in frustration for me. I don't need that in my life right now. 

Take care of yourself. I hope that Dreamland bit works out well for you. I know you'll be fine - you have lots of other players. Thank you for the good times. It's just time for a break. 


Thursday, January 23, 2014

January 23 - Theatre Research

They say if you're really into theatre, you should go see theatre in addition to being in theatre. One problem with this assertion is that often times, being in theatre makes it difficult to go see other theatre. Not only is there the scheduling issue (rehearsals and performances often happen at the same time as other performances), but often times, theatre people don't have a lot of liquid capitol, and as we all know, theatre tickets can get expensive.

Now, I'm not going to rail on theatre tickets for being expensive. There are a lot of artists involved in making a production happen, and for a lot of them, they're still not making enough to make a living, so I think the audience paying a fair price for a theatre ticket so that these people can get paid even a little bit to do what they love is a great thing. I hope that one day, I am able to eek out an existence on theatre-related paychecks, and the only way I'll be able to do so is if people come pay to see me perform. So that is not this discussion.

But as a theatre artist myself, I find I don't go see other shows as often as I would like or as often as I should. I will try to get to the shows done by theatres with which I have worked in the past, or if I have a friend in the cast, I'll try to go support them. But I'm also working on three and a half years of pretty consistent work, so my schedule has been somewhat restrictive in regard to the "getting out to see shows" front. Today, I did something to change that.

New York has a theatre week. It is a week in January when a lot of shows offer ticket specials to try to encourage more people to go to the theatre. One of my friends in New York snatched up a bunch of tickets to a bunch of shows featuring loads of stars you've probably heard of. So when I saw on a billboard this morning that Chicago has a theatre week coming up in February, I jumped at the chance to see what sort of deals were on offer. There are a lot of theatres participating, from the big ones to the storefronts, and lots of shows to choose from. Some are sold out already, and not many feature actors I've heard of. But I figured, this is my chance to see some shows I might not otherwise get to see for scheduling or monetary reasons, and this is an opportunity to see some shows at theatres I hear about all of the time but have not supported.

Granted, I am still in rehearsal for my current show during theatre week. But I have three free nights that week, and if I squeeze in one more show after my Sunday rehearsal... I bought tickets to four shows. I am officially going to be exhausted by the time theatre week is over (because it leads directly into tech week for my current show), but I'm hoping it will all be worth it. I can chalk it all up to research. Because if theatre is what I want to do with my life, I should go see some, right?


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

January 22 - Differences

Being single is actually a lot more awesome than people think. A lot of it has to do with personal freedoms, yes - you don't have to check with someone else before making plans, or check in when running late, or have a discussion about the merits of the chips and salsa dinner versus actually grocery shopping and cooking something. And you know that all of the hair you clean out of the bathtub drain is your own. Being single is awesome. 

But even moreso than the personal freedoms, I think being single has allowed me to know and observe humanity and the world around me in a way which coupled-up people might miss. This could also be in part because I'm an introvert, so I'm prone to observation anyway, but think about it. When you are out spending time with a friend or partner or spouse or child, most of your focus and energy is on that person, with maybe a little left over to wonder if you zipped up your fly after your last restroom trip. You're focused on being nice, on being responsible, on being entertaining, on being the sort of person your companion doesn't want to run away from screaming. Maybe not consciously, but it's there. And if you find yourself in a shared silence, you perhaps both go to your phones for distraction, disconnecting from one another and the environment around you. 

And then there's me. I'm writing this sitting in a restaurant having dinner by myself. Nothing fancy, lots of other people coming and going. Some of them might notice the single woman typing away on her phone, but most don't pay attention. Small children seem to be fascinated by me while I dine alone. But what none of them know is that I am observing them the whole time. Watching a dad on his own with the kids, trying to eat fast enough that the kids don't get too rowdy in public, and then packing them back into coats and Spider-Man hats before venturing out into the cold. The two bros having dinner together, one with what must be either old boots or remarkably hot feet because he couldn't make it through the meal without unzipping his boots and taking one of them halfway off. People jockeying for the best table or the best spot at the table. Flirting that means more to one party than the other. And all of it revolving around that great equalizer, food. We all have to eat; we all love to eat. We all become insanely protective of "our" food, and instantly aware of others observing our eating habits. Okay, maybe it's just women who worry about that last one, but you get what I mean. Food holds special significance for all of us and it is fascinating to watch strangers interact with one another around food. What could be more human than that?

So as a single woman, I get to sit and observe and study what people are really like. It's useful as an actor and just plain fun. And when/if anyone ever makes a disparaging comment or gives a look of pity to the woman dining alone on a weeknight in the suburbs, I sit comfortable in the knowledge that if I were to say to them, "I'm an actor, killing time before rehearsal," most of them would be sufficiently impressed to bugger off. 

This is my life. I dig it. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

January 21 - Haiku

Dead asleep by eight
Wake to radiator clang
Midnight? No. Ten-ten. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

January 20 - Decisions

I'm having one of those days wherein I don't seem to be able to make any decisions, particularly the relatively unimportant ones. I think it all started with me wanting to snooze my alarm one more time before actually getting out of bed, but then getting up half-way between snoozes, knowing my lunch would take an extra minute to pack this morning. It's all been downhill since then.

So the two big (read: not so big) decisions in front of me right now are whether or not I should buy a new handbag (and if so, which one), and whether or not I should drive straight from work to rehearsal or if I should go home first. Now, I know a lot of people like to make pro/con lists to help with the decision making process, so here we go. Let's make a pro/con list for going straight to rehearsal after work versus going home first:

Going Straight to Rehearsal
  • I won't feel rushed getting there.
  • Shorter drive.
  • Less fuel.

  • Have to stop somewhere to get dinner (meaning, spend money).
  • Longer overall day.
  • Less time with cat (though the time I would spend at home with my cat before rehearsal would not be quality time).
Going Home First
  • The feeling like I've finished one part of my day before moving on to the next.
  • Eat dinner at home (saving money, eating probably healthier)
  • I can change out of my work clothes.
  • Few minutes with my cat.

  • Longer drive.
  • Feeling of being rushed.
  • Kind of wasteful on the fuel front to go way north to come back south and go out west.
Kind of looks like a wash to me, yes? Let's look at the handbag situation.

Reasons to Buy a New Handbag
  • My old one is falling apart. Literally. I've already sewn the strap back on.
  • Spice things up/update my look.
Reasons Not to Buy a New Handbag
  • Money.
  • The one I have, while repaired with the wrong color thread, is still fine and suits my needs perfectly.
Again, a wash. And of the three bags I'm looking at, one is a cross-body, which I like, in a color that is not black but also not visible from space, though it might be a little thin; the other two are shoulder bags which would mean a rethinking of how I carry myself and my things, they have great pockets, but neither is in an optimum color for me - one could be a fashion faux pas, the other is quite possibly visible from outer space and we all know how I am about calling attention to myself. The cross-body one is more expensive, too.

With the handbag situation, I can keep chugging along the way I'm going until the one I have breaks or something I really love appears on the scene. But with the driving out to rehearsal right after work or not...I have to make that decision one way or the other in just over an hour and the pro/con list doesn't seem to be pointing me in either direction. Am I missing something?

When you're faced with a decision (relatively unimportant) and the pro/con list is of no help, how do you go about picking one thing over another?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

January 19 - Learning

My grandfather was a nature photographer in his spare time. You've probably not heard of him or seen his work, but most of my family members have at least one of his photos up somewhere. He was very good with flowers and wild mushrooms and things. He used to enter local competitions and did fairly well in them. So well, in fact, that they invited him to judge a competition or two. He found the judging experience to be a great leaning opportunity because he was suddenly privy to all of the little things the judges would look for in selecting photos. He said it improved his own work tremendously. 

Many years ago, I directed a children's musical. It was the first time I got to sit on the other side of the table at an audition and it opened my eyes. I know that they make up ther minds about you in the first 15-20 seconds, if that. I know they want everyone who walks into the room to be amazing. And I know some of the things they look for to determine whether or not they think you are amazing. I'm not saying this makes me an expert by any stretch of the imagination, and I've certainly flubbed plenty of auditions since gaining this knowledge. But it was a fascinating learning experience for me. 

Today, I was afforded the rare opportunity of coaching a fellow actor on her monologue. I've not done any coaching before, but I have been coached and directed on many occasions, so I thought drawing from those experiences might be a good place to start. And then it becomes a matter of helping the actor find the things within the monologue for herself that make her performance one from which I would cast her, or at least bring her in for a callback. It requires a lot of improvisation - working off of what the student brings to the session, and trying different tactics when one isn't getting the desired result - and a lot of investment in the success of her career. If I don't want to help her land jobs, I'm going to miss little moments that could use tweaking. And quite frankly, I loved it. 

I do not know if my coaching will help her land jobs. She is the first person I have coached, so I was doing the best I could and there is no way for me to know the end result yet. But it was fun. I loved watching her work change throughout the session. I loved being able to ask little "what if" questions and seeing a light bulb turn on. I loved being able to take the time to explore a solitary moment, and then seeing how the shift in that moment then fed the rest of the piece. I think she felt good about her work, and from my perspective, she should. She worked hard and went along with whatever exercises or suggestions I threw at her. My one regret is that I didn't put the disclaimer on it that she can throw out whatever suggestions I gave her that don't work for her, and figuring out which things those are is entirely up to her. But I think we'll be working together again. I hope so. Because while it is really fun to learn new things yourself, it is enormously satisfying to help someone else learn something new. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

January 18 - Question

Interesting question posed by my friend today: can a person be a critic if they don't watch the things they are reviewing "in real time?" For example, reviewing movies that are twenty years old or TV shows that wrapped three years ago. Would people read those reviews?

Friday, January 17, 2014

January 17 - Minor Changes

The thing about being single for 97% of your life is that at a certain point, whether or not you want it to happen, every time you walk out the door becomes a moment in which you could meet the love of your life. Every concert for which you buy tickets, every one of your friend's weddings, every casual evening of drinks with friends becomes an event wherein you should bring a date, so you're constantly on the lookout for back-up or last-minute date options - guys you can ask to go with you places, regardless of the level of romantic interest on either part, just so you don't have to look like you're alone. It's sad, but it is true. For me, more often than not, that person is my best guy friend. I love him dearly, but we're not dating - never have, never will. We both agree on that. But there are a couple of other men in my life who I have asked to be "dates" to events that were not actual dates. They know it, I know it, and secretly, we probably both feel a little bit bad about it. 

The thing that I am questioning at the moment, though is whether or not putting on the appearance of being on a date when I am not is actually helpful in finding real dates. Most likely not. There are those who will say that men always want what they can't have, so if it looks like a woman is on a date, she is more attractive than a woman who is not on a date. But will he act on that attraction? My guess is that more often than not, no. Or the ones who will aren't the sort of men I'd like to be dating anyway. 

Many years ago, I learned how to do things by myself - go to movies, eat in restaurants, travel the world, etc. I'm wondering if I need to return to more solitary activities if I hope to find a life partner. Or at the very least, maybe I should spend some quality time with my girl friends so we can scope out the cute boys together. 

We'll see how long that lasts. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

January 16 - Healing

The human body really is miraculous. Every time I'm suffering from some ailment or some injury, I am reminded of just how remarkable it is that my body has these defenses and mechanisms with which to heal itself.

Take this cold I have at the moment. Likely a viral infection procured at some point during my UK trip. We were surrounded by screaming babies everywhere we went, and I was in a giant metal tube full of recycled air speeding through the atmosphere for 6-8 hours at a stretch on four different occasions in a 10-day time period. Okay, two of those flights were an hour long each, but still. Transatlantic flights are long and if there is one sick person on the flight, everyone else gets to go home with a cold. Yay!

But my body has decided that the best way to get rid of this cold is to produce more mucus. Being nice and thick and viscous, the mucus is supposed to trap the viral cells and help neutralize and expel them from my body, primarily via my nose. For this reason, my right nostril has become the World Champion of Mucus Production. If there was such a thing. I have been blowing my nose approximately every twenty minutes all morning long, and even when I've blown it to the point where I can breathe clearly and I'm pretty sure I popped a blood vessel in my eye from blowing my nose so hard, within twenty minutes, I need to start the process all over again:

  • Blow nose, using 2-4 tissues as volume requires. 
  • Wash hands. 
  • Put hand sanitizer on that spot under my nose above my lip to get rid of the feeling of mucus that was just there as I blew my nose. 
  • Revel in being able to breathe for about ten breaths. 
  • Sniffle for a bit. 
  • Repeat.

It's hard to get anything productive done when this has to be kept up at twenty minute intervals.

But I have faith that my little mucus factory will get rid of all of the virus particles residing in my nose within the next day or so. And I'll do my part to help expel them in a timely fashion. I'm sure we're all looking forward to taking a break from this crazy overtime schedule.

Yay biology!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January 15 - Ugh

Feeling like crap. Stop.
Nose won't stop dripping. Stop.
Send soup. Stop.
Send new nose. Stop.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

January 14 - Marriage

I overheard the story the other day of a young woman who was with a man for five years and rather than propose to her, he dumped her. They had moved to a new city together, she felt like she had given up a lot for him, and apparently he even had the ring with which to propose. But in the end, he didn't go through with it and ended the relationship instead, leaving her kind of shattered and she moved back home with her parents. What struck me about her story was not the heartbreak (because obviously I'm heartless), but her word choice in describing the situation. She said he had the ring and had "promised" he was going to propose. She said it a couple of times - he promised that he would propose, but in the end, he didn't.

That word, "promise," kind of rang in my ears for a while and made me think about their relationship. Granted, I do not really know this woman - I've only been aware of her existence for a week or so and we've never really chatted - so I could be completely wrong in the assumptions I made based on that word "promise." And it is also entirely possible that she is not as conscious of her conversational word choice as I am, or as a playwright is, so there may not have been any nefarious meaning behind the word at all. But it stuck in my head and made me wonder. If you are in a relationship with someone who "promises" to propose, it almost sounds like he or she doesn't really want to propose in the first place, but that it is something you have talked them into, like taking out the trash or doing the dishes. It sounds like something they will do for your sake, even though they're not really psyched about it.

Like I said, I don't know the actual situation in which this woman was involved. Maybe her ex-boyfriend was psyched about marrying her at one point, and then things changed so he ended it. But if he spent five years not marrying her, saying he would propose at some point, I can't help but think that as painful as the breakup was, he might have been doing her a favor. My heart went out to her, of course - she's young and kind of broken by the event. Maybe it was a good thing, though, that she not spend her life with a man who didn't really want to be tied to her.

I hope that if I ever get married someday, that my partner will want to marry me as much as I want to marry him. I hope we're both giddy with excitement about spending the rest of our lives together. And in the pursuit of that, I find myself thinking long and hard about some of the men who are currently flirting with me. If they can't be bothered to put in the effort, to let me know they even enjoy my company, they're not worth my time. I deserve someone who wants to be with me, just as this woman deserves someone who really wants to be with her. Is that really so much to ask?

Monday, January 13, 2014

January 13 - Dancing

The thing about partner dancing is that it is a team effort - both partners have to communicate with and trust one another in order to make it work. The lead has to let the follow know where to go on what beat, and the follow has to be ready to go there (or ready to communicate clearly that she wants to do something else for a moment). This communication is made possible by each partner maintaining his or her own frame and trying to not break the other's. There is a certain amount of body awareness that should factor in, too, so if my lead is leading me with a gentle wrist alteration on my shoulder blade, I can be aware of the fact that this alteration is something different and respond accordingly. If I'm not in tune with my shoulder blade, I'll miss the lead entirely and that's my bad. 

That being said, one qualm I have with beginning lessons is they give out tricks to try to make things easier for the students - don't be afraid to lead hard, follows follow the footwork instead of the actual lead, etc. - that can actually impede one's progress toward becoming a good dancer. As someone who danced for years (and was quite good at it), I know these commandments come from a good place, but they can also be misleading. A follow does not need two beats of warning before a move happens. If the lead comes early, the follow will follow it early. And while it is possible to lead someone too hard (I know follows who have been injured because their leads didn't trust that they could follow something subtle), I have never heard a follow complain that the lead was too clear. To teach the follow to ignore the direction in which her body is being pulled in favor of doing the steps correctly is to ultimately teach her to be okay with breaking her frame, and to not actually follow leads. She is learning choreography, which is fine if the dance is choreographed, but does nothing to save her if her lead decides to improvise. 

I know it is a fine line to walk when teaching dance to people who have not danced before. The instructor wants the students to develop good habits and to feel like they are making progress, and of course, one has to teach to the middle (ie not the best student in the room nor the worst, but the average student). So teachers come up with these tricks to help move the class along at a reasonable rate with the students feeling like they're learning something. As someone who spent so much time learning how to honestly follow a lead, I find myself wishing that beginning partner dance classes were more about communication and body awareness than actual steps. Because if you can truly speak and truly listen in the conversation of the dance, it doesn't really matter where your feet are going. The follow's feet will end up where the lead wants them to be. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

January 12 - Pretty

In the last couple of years, I have started to come to terms with the fact that I am pretty. I wasn't always, so it was a bit of an adjustment to categorize myself as one of the pretty ones. I wouldn't say I feel pretty all of the time - it comes and goes depending on the day - but it is something that is there in the back of my mind. I'm not bad to look at. 

The last couple of shows I've done, making me "pretty" was not a major concern. Personally, I'm fine with that. I know some actors need to be pretty all the time, which is why you get the "ugly pretty" characters from time to time. That is not a concern for me. I'm fine wth being ugly, or at the very least, "not pretty." If the director and costume designer want me in something totally unflattering, that's their call. 

Today, we did the publicity photos for the show I'm currently working on, and I was freaking gorgeous. I've always looked good with 1940's hair and make up, and they put me in my royal blue and white Geisha dress and I looked freakin' gorgeous. To the point where I think I made some of the other traditionally pretty girls in the room uncomfortable. Like, they didn't know what to do with me, knowing now that I have the potential to be an absolute knock-out. Because let's face it, I don't dress like a knock out in my everyday life. It's an occasional kind of thing. And for the photos today, I was a knock out. Which is why I think they put me in so many of them. 

It's kind of fun knowing I have that potential in me. It's a lot of work to look that way, so it likely won't become a regular thing. But it's nice to know I still can when I want to. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

January 11 - Grumble, Grumble

I went through the very humiliating task of trying on all of my old swing dresses earlier this week to see which ones still fit. Not many do. Part of it is that my body shape has changed - my rib cage has expanded a bit - and part of it is that I am heavier than I used to be. And as much as I don't like to think about my weight and whatnot, it kind of forced me too. Not that it is necessary for me to fit into all of my old dresses, but I would like it if I could. 

So I'm back on the food and exercise tracking website. I'm trying to not give myself too hard a time of it at the start, because it makes me grumpy to have to measure out single servings of everything and fret about whether or not I have enough calories left in the day to have a beer with my friends tonight. But I'm trying to keep track of things. Cut back on bingeing. Maybe get some muscle tone. 

On the up side, I made some tasty chana masala today, and it is only 218 calories per serving. So there's that. 

Wish me luck. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

January 10 - Anger

Today is one of those days when I have very little faith in basic human goodness. I have been a subscriber to the idea of basic human goodness for quite some time - I take comfort in believing that most people are basically good and we all just want to be safe and loved. I'm not exactly sure where this belief came from. Maybe observation. Because think about it: in the course of your average day, you probably have a lot more relatively pleasant interactions with others than relatively unpleasant ones. 

But then there are days like today when the majority of the interactions I had were antagonistic. Some out of a combined grumptopotomusness, some out of playfulness, some out of lack of awareness. I don't think any were intentionally malicious. But they all add up to a day of antagonistic interactions that leave me angry and doubting the idea of basic human goodness. 

Fortunately, basic cat goodness is a very real and true thing. He justs wants to be warm and near me and to maybe get some scritches on the top of his head or some snuggles on the couch. And his sweet, fuzzy face lights up when presented with a lap on which to sleep. It's hard to stay grumpy and angry with the world when an adorable friend is curled up at your side. 

To those who I may have offended today with my anger, grumpiness, and lack of faith in humanity, I apologize. I'll be a better person tomorrow. 

Thursday, January 09, 2014

January 9 - Bodily Functions

Ew, gross.

No, not really.

But maybe.

Kind of.

Since I became vegan, I am much more aware of what my body is doing on the inside. I've always been pretty good with spacial awareness and whatnot, but paying attention to what's happening inside is interesting. Things like what happens when you drink too much water, or how much my digestive system hated me when I was first making the transition to veganism.

Today, all of the organs in my lower abdominal cavity seem to be staging a coup, at the same time I'm experiencing the first honest to goodness cold I've had in years. It's not pleasant. I'll spare you further details.

I do find myself wondering what is causing this coup, though. Because the entire time I was in the UK, I had no problems whatsoever. As soon as I come home and return to my normal eating habits, my digestive system hates me. Is it true that American food is so much more processed that it's hard to digest? I haven't been eating badly since I got home, so what's the deal?

This also puts the idea in my head that maybe it really is time for me to move overseas. My skin was happier there. My tummy was happier there. My sinuses were happier there. My hair wasn't fantastic, but I can play with that and find something that works well. Will they let me immigrate if I have a doctor's note saying it is better for my general well-being to live in London? Can I get a visa with a note like that?

Obviously, this is all affecting my brain function as well.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

January 8 - Perception

One of the things that always gets me when I travel, or when I go somewhere where I am surrounded by thousands of strangers (like Wrigley Field) is just how small and insignificant my life is to the vast majority of the other people on this planet. Not to say that my life is unimportant in general, just that everyone has their own things going on - their own circles of friends, their own stresses, their own joys - and as they see my face walk by in a crowd, it doesn't even really register that I have this entire life of my own of which they are completely unaware. I'm just a face. Just as they are to me.

And then there are the few with whom your life intersects for just a short while. Long enough that you may remember the encounter years later, but still brief enough that you don't get to know them as a well-rounded person. I've known a few of those. When I worked in the bagel shop in high school, there was a man who came in every weekend for one of the herb-cheese twists and a cup of coffee. He almost always had exact change and a smile for me, but I never knew his name. There was another man when I worked in the video store who took full advantage of the $0.99 rentals on Monday-Wednesdays and would rent two movies a day for each of those days, every week. He always had his rental card and $2.11 ready as he approached the register. I knew his name at the time from scanning his card, but have no idea what it was now. I probably couldn't pick him out of a crowd these days, but I was always happy to see him come in back then.

It's funny to me, too, that I am that person to others. In high school, the cute guy at the gas station knew me as Clover Girl, because I wore a four-leaf clover necklace all of the time. I'm sure the people at the sandwich shop around the corner from where I work now know me as Falafel Girl because I only ever get the falafel sandwich - it's their only real vegan option. They are always polite and greet me with a smile, and half of the time, they've started making my sandwich before I walk through the door. But that is all we know of each other - I eat falafel, they make sandwiches.

I wonder, sometimes, how I will be remembered by some of these people, if I am remembered at all. My tattoo artist in Dublin said I looked familiar and Facebook stalked me a bit before working on me, and asked a couple of times what my most famous movie was. I told him I do more theatre than film, to look out for Hamlet: the Series, and that he should remember my face because in ten years, it is going to be everywhere. He took a picture with us when we were done and I wonder how long it will be before he forgets what marks he left on us, or why he even took the picture in the first place. I wonder how much the flight attendant on my fourth screwed-up flight in ten days complained to her life partner about the bitchy woman who was pissed they couldn't find her special meal because someone had spelled the name wrong. I wonder if the woman walking her dog on a bright Dundalk morning will remember the two Americans who couldn't find their hotel and if she will think of us fondly. Will my repeated thanks to the cabbie be remembered as polite or insincere? Will the last man I kissed remember my name ten years from now?

I know all of these are rather insignificant moments in the grand scheme of things, and in all truth, the other parties involved have probably already forgotten their interactions with me. But I wonder, because I remember all sorts of things. Not everything, and not everyone, but loads of things and loads of people who have floated in and out of my life in a matter of moments. Am I also so thought of?

I kind of hope so. And I hope most of those memories are positive.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

January 7 - Language

So, for the next show I'm in, I will have to employ a British accent - royal pronunciation, as they call it. "Proper British" as we all think of it. Think of the family in Downton Abbey - the really posh, formal sounds - that's what we're going for. At least for my character. I'm rather looking forward to it, as I often employ accents when I'm talking to my cat just for fun. I think some of my accents have gotten pretty decent, though my cat would never tell me if they are terrible. It will be sort of fun to take it out in public and see if I can fool people into thinking I speak that way normally.

I've thought about accents quite a bit in the past year or so, to the point where I've considered entering some sort of training program so that I can get better at them and then teach other people to do them properly. I've already expressed an interest in studying OP, and was really proud of myself when I could start to differentiate northern British accents from southern. It's fascinating to me how the spelling of one word can produce so many different sounds, depending on where you grew up.

One thing that the artistic director/dialect coach of this show I'm in pointed out, though, is a trap that many people fall into when doing an accent that has been on my mind a lot. We tend to think that if one vowel sound changes in one word, that it changes in all words, regardless of whether it is part of a diphthong or starts or ends a word or whatever. People putting on a fake Irish accent, for example, will turn all "I"s into "Oi"s, when that really isn't the case. In Royal Pronunciation, lots of words with a's in them sound just the way they do in a Midwestern accent - have, cat, man - though we're tempted to change all of them to sound "British." I noticed this one a while ago, particularly in an episode of Doctor Who when the Master talks about gas masks. We, as Americans, would be tempted to change both of those a's to very open sounds - gahs mahsks - when John Simm (a native British speaker) only pronounces the one that way. He says, "gas mahsks...Because of the gas." So it's not a blanket rule about words with a's in them; it all depends on how the "a" is used, where it appears, and the rest of the context of the sentence.

I think because I've noticed these things on my own (after watching a ridiculous amount of British television) that I would be good at learning and teaching various accents. I just need more exposure to them, and a little more confidence to try them out in public. I feel an around-the-world research trip coming on. Anyone care to join me?

Monday, January 06, 2014

January 6 - Habits

This blogging every day thing is weird. I don't exactly feel like I can stop. I intended to do it for just one year, but they say habits are formed after 21-28 days (depending on which article you read). Now I feel a sort of pressure to keep blogging every day, even though the original time period is up. 

It is sort of like my veganism. I originally meant to try it for a year, but it worked out so well and I enjoyed the lifestyle so much and just got in the habit of being vegan and it has now been eleven and a half years. I will admit, there are some temptations to not be vegan anymore, or at least there were when I was in the UK. And I've asked myself if I can maybe just be a vegan who drinks Guinness on a regular basis. But it is such a habit now to avoid these things that even those thoughts make me feel guilty. 

I know that these habits are my choice. I know that as a person, I can reexamine my life choices as I see fit and make new decisions if necessary. But sometimes habits are a good and helpful thing. And sometimes I just like the routine of it. 

So when will I stop blogging every day? When I can figure out a way to do so without feeling guilty about it. Maybe. 

Sunday, January 05, 2014

January 5 - Cold

It wasn't necessarily warm in the UK while I was there, but it was at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit warmer there than it is supposed to be here tomorrow. Schools are closing, businesses are closing, the news keeps saying people shouldn't go outside if they can avoid it. I don't think my company is closing tomorrow, but I think a couple of us are going to be taking personal days. Sometimes, you have to think of human safety and well-being above corporate needs. I apologize to anyone offended by that last sentence. 

Stay warm, everybody!

Saturday, January 04, 2014

January 4 - Home

We made it home safely today. I have to say, it was hard to come home. I really feel like I need to live elsewhere for a while. 


I would have to be able to take my cat with me. He has been in almost constant physical contact with me since I walked in the door. You can say what you want about cats being independent or impersonal, but my cat has imprinted on me and he likes having me around. His cat sitters did a fine job, but I can tell that he missed me and is glad I'm home. And I am certainly happy to see his face and snuggle with him again. I missed him. 

So, how about I make a documentary about traveling the world with a cat?

Friday, January 03, 2014

January 3 - Travel

The biggest problem I have with traveling is I never get to be anywhere long enough. And it doesn't really matter what I do while I'm there, I always leave with the feeling that I didn't do enough. I was thinking about that today - what would constitute enough?

I think, since in my travels, I like to try to find out what a place is really like, what would constitute "enough" would include making friends, grocery shopping, going on dates, getting my heart broken, ordering take-out that I eat by myself at home, fighting with landlords, finding my way to work on really icky days, complaining about the weather, finding a pub where they get to know my name, learning the public transit system well enough that I don't have to triple check a map every time I go somewhere. In short, in order to feel like I have been somewhere long enough and done enough there, I need to live there for a while. Though if you were to ask on my way out if I have done enough in Chicago, I would probably still say no and I've been there my whole life.

We went to the Guinness Storehouse today, which was kind of amazing. There is a rooftop bar with a 360 degree view of the city where you can sit and have a pint and look around. Dublin really is gorgeous, and it hit me that even if I lived here for years, I would probably not get to see all of it or know all of it. But I might get a basic feel for the energy of the city, moreso than I have in the past 24 hours. And I'd get a better feel for whether or not I spent too much on the gifts I bought for people (and myself).

All in all, I've had a really lovely trip. I miss my cat and my family so I'll be glad to go home, but I'm not looking forward to going back to reality tomorrow. Nor am I looking forward to the queue at the airport. Oh well. I'll just have to find a reason to come back here soon.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

January 2 - Dublin

We've been in Dublin for about four hours and already done things I will remember for the rest of my life. More on that later.

Dublin so far is awesome. Granted, we're in a sort of touristy/shoppy area, so there's lots going on, but we've seen buskers and had Thai food and yeah. I'm really happy here. Our hotel is very much cooler than we are - we're not posh enough to be here - but the people are really friendly.

And yeah, I know this isn't the most exciting blog post, but lemme tell ya - if you get into the habit of writing something down every day for a year, it's hard to break that habit. I'm sure I'll have more to say about Dublin later, and stories about London to share that I've not shared yet. My big take-away from this whole experience is that I need to live in another country for a little while at some point in my life. Preferably sooner as opposed to later. And that I'm really good at finding my way around places. But yeah, I need to live elsewhere for a while. Let's see if we can make that happen.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

January 1 - Happy New Year

Happy 2014!

The year started off with a bang for me, making some new British friends who I will likely never see again, and then waiting in a queue for about an hour in the rain to find out there was still another hour to go before the box office even opened. I would love to see Tom Hiddleston in Coriolanus, but I don't want to spend my entire last full day in London standing in the rain. Does that make me a bad person? Does that mean I'm the sort who gives up too easily? Would I be even angrier at the theatre than I am disappointed in myself if I had waited the additional hour and not been able to get tickets anyway? Probably. 

This is why I shouldn't blog when I'm tired. 

It has been a lovely trip, I've seen and done some great things. And I desperately need breakfast. 

Happy new year, everyone!