Catching up

I’ve been trying to figure out how to catch up with my blog succinctly, without leaving anything out. And the fact of the matter is, I can’t. The nature of this tour is that it has A LOT of one-nighters. It happens too quick to keep up with it. Some of my castmates have been excellent about taking pictures at every venue and logging every restaurant we eat at for future reference. I have not.

It gets overwhelming trying to keep up with it all. Also, with all of the injustices happening in the world in the last couple of months, it’s hard to want to talk about things that seem frivolous, like theater or that I had honey butter on my corn muffin in Knoxville. Especially when in the very same town square that I enjoyed that corn muffin, and did my joy-filled show, during the Christmas Parade there was a civil rights protest.

I’ve been shocked and a little paralyzed by all of the atrocities that have occurred in the last couple of months. The positive take-away that I see is that a generation that has been blasted as being apathetic, lazy, and ineffective has taken to the streets to lie down with their fellow man in die-ins, to shout, to debate, to educate, to blog, and yes to fight for justice.

This is the digital age and you can’t hide anymore. You can’t sweep an awful crime under the rug. It will be exposed, and we are watching. This brilliant, passionate, and EFFECTIVE generation is watching and we won’t stand for it.

In the meantime, I’ve been doing a musical about singing nuns. I sometimes feel like what I’m doing doesn’t matter. I have to remind myself, that anything that brings as much joy as our show brings is a good thing. We do provide a service that is grossly needed. We are joy makers.

So, I’m sitting here at a cafe in Wausau, WI watching it snow outside the window, listening to Christmas music, and writing to you. This is what I can tell you. Things are easier for me this leg of the tour. Our schedule is a LITTLE nicer, but mostly it’s that I know what this is now. I know its blessings and its trappings. I know how to pack, what to eat, how much things cost, and my body is finally conditioned enough to do this show without falling over.

I’m looking forward to my Christmas break next week. It’s no secret that Christmas isn’t my favorite holiday, but that may be turning around a bit. I can’t wait to see my family and I feel so much more thankful than normal this year. To have this job…yes, but mostly I’m thankful to have my health, to have my family and friends, and to be alive. None of this is guaranteed. As a close friend of mine quoted a friend of ours who lost his life recently in a battle with cancer, there is “no time for fear.”

I love you friends. Have a beautiful holiday. I will be back after the New Year. A LOT of Florida in the next leg of the tour, so hopefully there will be a lot of pictures of fun in the sun!

Painted-heartHarmony

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I’m a Racist

I used to shoplift. For fun. And to get a thrill and pretend I was a bad girl. I stole A LOT. I grew out of it. I never would have had the chance to grow out of it if I’d been shot 12 times. But that wasn’t my experience. I was a young, pretty white girl. My experience is that after I was arrested, they called my dad and inappropriately flirted with me for 3 hours (I was 14) until he got there. I was released without so much as a slap on the wrist. And I think I was grounded for two weeks. There is no record of it, except for this testimony, which I wouldn’t be able to give you if I’d been shot 12 times.

I have 5 black nephews growing up in Alabama. Would they get the same treatment as I for a similar crime? No. They wouldn’t. I’m scared for them. I’m scared for my beautiful friends who have and will again be racially profiled. I pray that when they do, because it is inevitable in this society that it will occur again, that everyone has cool heads and no one is hurt.

A young black man followed me home tonight, asked to be let into my gate, and when I refused, he stayed out there for 20 more minutes before he left. I was afraid. He has been there before. And of course I would’ve been afraid if a white man had done this too. But, I saw a black man walking towards me at 1:30am and I was afraid of that black man. Part of it was his color. A big part. I thought about the Ferguson outcome, and that maybe it wasn’t safe for me to be outside right now.

This is coming from a girl who was Vice President of her Minority Club in college, the Silhouettes. This is coming from a girl who sang in a black gospel choir, who wanted to join AKA, who has black relatives, who has just as many black friends as white. Some of them best friends. This came from a girl who sobbed when President Obama became President because of what that meant for equality. This came from a girl who believes and champions art that celebrates minorities and prefers it.

I am a racist. I don’t want to be, but I am. I fight it viciously every day, but I still am. I have been raised by America to fear black men. And I do. And if I’m a racist, just think about all the people that aren’t fighting it. Think of all the people that are embracing it.

I often stay silent about racial issues and just give my love and support because I don’t know what to do to make it better. I don’t want to ruffle feathers or see anyone’s true ugliness come out. I want to send money. I want something tangible that I can do to help. The problem is that there is no charity that is going to fix racism. WE have to do that within ourselves and I don’t know how to do it in others.

I am saddened beyond belief at the outcome of Ferguson. I wasn’t there, I don’t know what really happened and never will. I don’t think police are evil. I do believe that the majority of them are good. I believe in them. I do know this though, it does not take 12 bullets to take somebody down. It does not. Especially, with a trained shooter. That shows aggressiveness, fear, and possibly psychosis. This is a travesty.

My friends, I don’t know what to do. I am saddened beyond belief. I am sad for Ferguson and I am sad for our country. She’s better than this.

Sorry for the break from theater and adventures on the road, but I needed to say this.

Painted-heartHarmony

Alone Vs. Lonely

On a tour like this, you get very little alone time, if any. You are always surrounded by people. The same 40 people. Sometimes it’s really great and sometimes it’s not. Add to that the fact that there is a large range of ages. I am 15 years older than some of the cast/crew and 15 years younger than some of the other cast/crew. We’re all from completely different backgrounds. Some of us have a lot in common and some of us don’t. Our personalities range from lone wolf to social butterfly. So how do we stay sane?

I can’t speak for others, but what I’m learning is that I need to get as much alone time as possible. I still socialize, but I need both. About half the time, when people are going out, I decide to stay in because I know I’ll have the hotel room to myself and I know I need to recharge. When I was younger I wanted to be around people constantly, but as I get older, and dare I say get more comfortable in my own skin, I treasure time where I am alone with my thoughts.

You can have too much of any good thing though and I certainly don’t want to isolate myself from the group. Alone can quickly turn into lonely. It’s a careful balance. I choose my social outings wisely, just like my food or shopping splurges (another post coming soon). I plan them and look forward to them. They become special. One of the most special outings we have had yet, and I have a feeling it will stick out as a highlight for the rest of the tour, was dinner and drinks with the Talbots in Baton Rouge.

Mr. and Mrs. Talbot are one of our cast member’s friend’s parents. They opened their home to our entire cast/crew and fed us a delicious and much needed home-cooked meal comprised of gumbo and quinoa and salad and fresh fruit and vegetables and liquored us up a bit. Some of us more than a bit. 😉 And to top it off, they had beignets for desert which just so happens to be my favorite desert in the world.

We sat outside by their beautiful pool, in candlelight, and listened to jazz standards float through the air. You could smell in the air the flora combination that only exists in Louisiana. It’s sweet and musky, with a bit of spice. When my castmates started talking about work, I just drifted away and sat down by the outdoor fireplace and looked at the pool. I let my body and mind relax and recoup. I could feel the energy and light and life of my friends just a few steps away, but also had a kind of perfect solitude. It was the perfect night and the perfect balance of being social and alone.

On this tour I have been overwhelmingly happy, overwhelmingly sad, and everything in-between. That night, I was simply and calmly content and it was glorious. So much thanks to Nicole and to the wonderful Talbot family for taking care of us and giving us all a moment of peace.

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I wish I had taken more pictures, but I was busy enjoying myself! Next up: Georgia and Back to NY!

Painted-heartHarmony

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Missing Chicago

I’ve heard it from other people for years, people who relocated to L.A. or New York or abroad…or wherever…that there’s no place like Chicago. It never sunk in. I was so ready to leave it. I was so ready to spread my wings and see what else was out there for me. I’ve lived in 21 different places. I love moving. I get bored. I love being transient. I thought I’d be fine. I was in no way prepared for the daily ACHE that I would feel not being in Chicago. I’ve lived in Chicago longer than I’ve lived anywhere. 10 years, almost to the day that I left to go on tour.

In Chicago you have this:

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And this:

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And them:

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And these guys:

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And these people:

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And her:

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And this guy:

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To add insult to injury, Wild Party, a show that I had done the casting on, was going up at my beloved theater company, Bailiwick Chicago. I was so damn proud of the casting on this show. It was diverse, interesting, and not always expected. It was so hard for me to go away knowing that I wouldn’t be able to see it. It was so hard to leave my theater company which I’m inspired by every day. It was so hard to think that I wouldn’t see it. I wanted to see my girl Danni play and conquer Queenie, the most challenging role she’s had yet and to see my friend Matt in a role that I knew he would completely slaughter, not to mention the rest of the stellar cast that were carefully selected.

I tried to accept the fact that I was going to miss it and almost came to terms with it, until my mentor Sheldon Patinkin died. Then I decided it was unacceptable for me to miss it. It became unacceptable to miss anything that was important to me. So, I planned a crazy 36-hour trip to Chicago. I spent way too much money and was exhausted, but I don’t regret it at all. It was exactly what I needed. I saw the show which was beyond brilliant, but more importantly I sat on my couch, I laughed with Eric, I surprised the Wild Party cast resulting in laughter and tears.

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It was the balm that I needed to help mend a broken heart. It has been so hard being away from Chicago during all of the tragedy that has befallen our little theater community this Fall. I needed to breathe Chicago’s air and feel the energy and share laughs with my friends. Friends who were also hurting.

I’ve been struggling with coming to terms with whether I can be a commercial actress, whether I can turn my back on the grit of the storefront scene and move into the machine of big commercial musicals. I’ve dipped my toe in here and there, but this tour is the beginning of full immersion into a very different type of theater. And while I LOVE the big show that I’m working on right now, I don’t know if I could give up the challenging, meaty, intimate, relevant shows I’ve been lucky enough to work on at my theater company and in Chicago.

My friend Danielle lifted my burden and freed my heart when she said, “You’re doing that so you can come back and do this.” And she’s right. I am a Chicago girl. I can go other places. I can do other things, but my heart will always be in Chicago. And now that I’ve come to terms with that I feel like I can actually let go and enjoy the adventure that I’m on, because while I don’t know what the future holds for me, I know I’m coming back. And this adventure deserves my full attention. 🙂

Painted-heartHarmony

Sheldon, my love.

Sheldon Patinkin was the first person to see me as a leading lady. He saw it in me even when I didn’t. He looked at me and saw Mother in Ragtime. He looked at me and saw bubbly and fragile Lou Ellen in Oh Boy. When I shared my news that I was so excited to be called back for Petra in A Little Night Music at Peninsula Players, he said “No. No. No. You’re the wife. You’re Anne.” I remember being so tickled by that. That ANYONE would see me as Anne. But his eyes sparkled and he said it with such certainty that you couldn’t help but believe that it was possible. I never thought I was pretty or thin or talented enough for those roles, but he did.

He thought I was the heroine and sometimes he even thought that I was the ingenue and cast me as such. He saw things in me that no one else did and no one else does. I am embarrassed and feel presumptuous, but on occasion I was his muse. As weird as I feel saying it, I know that it’s true. To be even the occasional muse of such a great great man was and is one of the greatest honors of my life. The last message he sent me was “We have to work on a show together. Have to.” I so wish we had had one last show together. My heart breaks that we didn’t.

I was just thinking yesterday about how my birthday is coming up and I was so looking forward to his yearly birthday post on Facebook. It always came the day before, so it was always the first one I got and I looked forward to it every single year. I won’t get that post this year. I won’t get that love. But is it weird that I feel basked in his love right now? I feel even more looked after now then I did before.

I used to feel that grieving on social media and in a public way was unseemly. I now find it beautiful. We can’t hide or avoid the death or decline of our loved ones. It’s right there in the open for us to see. We are confronted with it. We are confronted with the pain and the loss, but we are also confronted with the love and the joy. We can CELEBRATE how one person can make an immeasurable impact on the world.

I feel so fucking lucky to have known that special SPECIAL man. FUCKING LUCKY. And I just hope that he’s proud of me. I just want to make him proud. He’s my fucking hero. He’s my Dumbledore. He’s my mentor. But mostly, he’s my friend. I promise to be an asshole and not a chickenshit Sheldon. I fucking promise. I owe it to you. I love you.

imagesHarmony

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What are we thankful for?

Greetings friends. I come to you from a dark place…well let’s not be dramatic. I’m fine. A little dark around the edges maybe, but with the ongoing race war, war for marriage equality, and war on women…America is dark right now. If there is anything I’ve learned from Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Battlestar Galactica, or any other nerd endeavor of mine…it’s that darkness can only be combatted by light. So this is my small attempt at that. This is something I’m doing this year and I encourage you to do it too!

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Start the year with an empty jar and fill it with notes about good things that happen. Then, on New Years Eve, empty it and see what awesome stuff happened that year.

 

However, I don’t think I can wait until the new year. I really need, and I think we all do, some light right now. Rather than focus on the things in my life that suck right now or that I want to bitch about, I’m going to say what I’m thankful for. Let’s all do it, shall we? I’ll start. In no particular order.

1)I’m thankful for my health.

2)I’m thankful that my parents are still around. I love them so much.

3)I’m thankful that I live in a beautiful apartment that always makes me smile when I look at it.

4)I’m thankful for my gifts. Large and small.

5)I’m thankful for lilacs.

6)I’m thankful for theater.

7)I’m thankful for Starbuck and Pink! and Brandi Carlile and Kate Winslet and Barbra Streisand and Madonna and Hillary Clinton and Cate Blanchet and all the strong women/female fictional characters that I have looked up to my entire life and have shaped who I am.

8)I’m thankful for a love of reading.

9)I’m thankful that my brothers are finding their way in the world.

10)I’m thankful that when I called my father on Father’s Day that he was having a good day.

11)I’m thankful to have meaningful relationships in my life. So many people are not so lucky.

12)I’m thankful for a bedroom to retreat to.

13)I’m thankful for 80’s movies always bringing me joy.

14)I’m thankful for a good, healthy, meal.

15)I’m thankful for quiet time.

16)I’m thankful for the ocean.

17)I’m thankful for a nice, cold, drink.

18)I’m thankful for a misty grey rainy day.

19)I’m thankful for sunshine.

20)I’m thankful that I’m learning how to deal with rejection. Slowly but surely.

21)I’m thankful for my successes and my failures. They push me.

22)I’m thankful for my independence.

23)I am thankful, so thankful, for my Grandpa.

24)I am thankful to be an artist.

25)I am thankful to Sondheim, LaChiusa, Flaherty, Coward, Loesser, Tesori, for writing music that makes my heart sing.

26)I am thankful for technology.

27)I am thankful for my silly cop shows that bring me laughs and sometimes tears.

28)I am thankful for my intuition.

29)I am thankful for the love I feel in my life.

30)I am thankful for a clean house.

31)I am thankful for Disney and Pixar.

32)I am thankful for this blog giving me an outlet.

33)I am thankful that I’m a dreamer.

34)I am thankful for a nice outfit.

35)I am thankful for travel.

36)I am thankful for family heirlooms.

37)I am thankful for an afternoon nap.

38)I am thankful for a soak in the tub.

39)I am thankful for my God given talents.

40)I am thankful for my LIFE.

What are you thankful for?

imagesHarmony

Truths about Weight

In this day and age (the Facebook age) we see a window into our friend’s and loved one’s lives. Every day we see posts about our friends and what they’re up to. We learn things about them that we didn’t know before. We see their political bents (liberal), their favorite movies (Soapdish, Groundhog Day, Goonies), their favorite tv show (right now…PSYCH…don’t judge me), and often we see what their favorite foods are. We see what their favorite foods are, because there is a facebook obsession with posting photos of food. “This is me eating a hotdog.” “This is me splitting ice cream with my oh so cute boyfriend.” Etc. Etc.

So here I am, beating myself up because I had a 1/2 cup of whipped cream with my sliced strawberries instead of the 10 calorie 2 tablespoon portion that I am supposed to have. I count my calories. I keep a food journal. There is no junk food in my house. I have lean protein, whole grains, and green veggies with EVERY meal. I eat every four hours because that’s what Jillian Michael’s tells me to do. I also drink enough water to supply a camel.

So I’m sitting here, beating myself up about said whipped cream…which is MAYBE 50-60 calories, and on a daily basis I have to watch my naturally slim friends eat doughnuts and cake and ice cream and hotdogs and chips and garbage. Some of them work for it, they work their asses off for it (literally) in the gym or as a dancer or whatever. But SOME of them don’t. SOME of them just get to eat whatever they want whenever they want and do nothing physically to counteract that and honestly it pisses me off. It’s clearly not their fault. They got the long end of the genetics stick.

Now my Biggest Loser food math of food in and energy out doesn’t apply to these folks I suppose. People that don’t have to deal with their weight, don’t understand how hard it is to not gain weight. We’re not all hiding in our closet eating a jar of peanut butter. I have to do everything I mentioned just to not GAIN weight. I am not a big girl, but I have to do all of this just to stay at an average, healthy weight and don’t even get me started on what it takes to LOSE weight. That’s a whole other ballgame including cardio and strength training and tears and regrets.

I know I have nothing to really complain about. There are people that have to struggle with their weight way more than I do. People who are dying from eating too much or eating too little, but nobody ever talks about those of us that are straddling the line. We don’t have food disorders, but we are genetically predisposed to store fat and have to work so hard not to. And honestly, I think if I was a dental hygienist or something I would be perfectly content being slightly pleasantly plump. However, for some strange reason, I’ve settled on being an actress. We are selling our “look,” and as a girl who is normally bigger than most envision the leading lady to be, but not big enough to be the funny character woman, it can be frustrating as hell. I don’t always know what “type” (the kind of part an actor is usually cast as) that I fit into.

So what have I learned from all of this? A. Life isn’t fair. B. What fun would it be if it were? 3. Everyone has their struggles. If they don’t have weight problems, they’re dealing with something else. D. Facebook is bunk. It’s not a true representation of someone’s life. It’s not the whole story. E. My journey is MY journey. I don’t fit conveniently into a box. I’m unique and wouldn’t want to be any other way and I am the designer of my own destiny and my own career, no one else. 7. Besides brief moments of whipped cream rage, I like eating healthy. Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels. Z. “Talking about our problems is our greatest addiction. Break the habit. Talk about your joys.”  -Rita Schiano

imagesHarmony

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