October 31, 2011

Five Things

Happy Halloween, everyone! 

I really don't feel like doing a lot today, and, thanks to some technical difficulties, I'm not actually able to do some of the stuff I need to get done today, so I'mma blog instead. 

I got the inspiration for today's blog post from Jen, one of my favorite 7 Days friends, and I thought it'd be as good a blog as any today, so here we go.

Five Things You (Probably) Don't Know About Me:

1. I absolutely loathe condensation.  Seriously.  I can't stand it when drinks "sweat" and the glass gets all wet and subsequently makes big wet rings on the table.  I'm constantly wiping it up with napkins...even when I have fast food cups (that are paper, not styrofoam), I have to have at least two napkins wrapped around the cup so my hands don't get wet.  It just drives me absolutely insane.

2. I have an irrational fear of the dentist.  I get anxiety just hearing about other people's dental adventures.  My favorite musical is Little Shop of Horrors, but I can't watch the scene where Steve Martin is singing his dentist song and drilling into people's mouths because it makes me freak out. I literally just shuddered typing it out. 

3. Scary movies actually give me bad dreams.  Even the stupid slasher ones from the 80s and earlier will give me nightmares.  But if you get into the more cerebral ones (think Paranormal Activity, The Exorcist, etc.)? Forget about it.  I'll be up all night long and calling on Jesus the whole time to calm me down.  So why do I watch them??  I have no idea.

4. I am incredibly insecure.  I've worked on this a lot, and for the most part I'd say I can walk out the door each day happy with who I am in the world, but man...when the insecure self rears her ugly head it can be a really low day.  I know there are others in this world who struggle with it DAILY, so I'm not complaining...but I really really hate those days when I question every decision I've made in my life, can identify whether or not I'm the biggest girl in the room, and feel like a giant piece of total crap. 

5. I still don't know if we'll have kids...ever. I joke a lot about being glad I'm child-free, and I usually mean it because I've just slept until noon, uninterrupted, OR my husband and I have barely managed to pay for ourselves in a particular month so we wonder how on earth we could afford a child.  But the truth is, we're 30 and 33 (almost) and we're just not there yet. I have moments when I will feel my uterus skip a beat over a sweet baby, sure, but as for making the decision to procreate? Not. There.  And I hate feeling judged for that by anyone. 

Five Things I am Knowledgeable About

1. Grammar.  Not only is it part of my job description to know what is or is not grammatically correct, but it's also a part of my SOUL.  Nothing throws me into a rage quite as quickly as seeing an apostrophe + an "s" used to indicate plural or the incorrect form of your/you're or their/there/they're being used.  Also, no this is not a picture of "Mom and I," it is a picture of "Mom and ME." REMEMBER SCHOOL?? It seems a silly thing to get worked up over, but I cannot help it.  It makes my eye twitch any time I see blatant disregard for correct spelling and grammar in the technological age in which we live and the myriad spell/grammar-check options we have on our techological devices. 

2. Relationships.  This is going to make me sound incredibly arrogant, but I don't care.  I know how to handle a relationship, whether it be a marriage or a friendship or an acquaintance or a business relationship.  I don't mean to say I know how to handle yours, but if I'm a part of that relationship?  You can bet that I'm going to make sure that it's healthy and that it's not torn apart by stupid things.  Yes, there are times when a relationship needs to be let go because it's not healthy to either member, but the ones that matter are salvageable.  I've learned so much from my husband in the past 9 years and from the friendships that have lasted in my life.  Because of this, my relationships are, for the most part, solid and incredibly gratifying.

3. Baseball.  I once had a (male) boss tell me, "Mandy, you know more about baseball than any other female I know."  Best compliment ever.  Now, that's not to say that I'm a wealth of knowledge on baseball trivia...I'll leave that to my husband.  But I know about the game, and I am usually very aware of current events about baseball, even if they're only related to my team.  I love the game.  LOVE IT.

4. Social Media. This does not mean I fancy myself one of those "social media experts," whose main expertise and knowledge are geared towards expanding your brand's social/online presence.  I just mean I know about them all, and I use most of them (if I don't, it's by choice, i.e., Pinterest).  I am also pretty good about figuring out how to modify them, use them to my advantage, and use them from multiple devices. So...yay me?

(Is it sad that I am having trouble coming up with 5 things? Or is it just adorably modest?)

5. Music.  Again, I hate saying that because I am by no means even half as smart as my husband (the one with two degrees in it) when it comes to music...but I do know a lot about a lot of different styles of music.  I also know the human voice quite well and can tell when people are using it incorrectly.  People get really TESTY with me when I don't like a particular singer or performance because I can tell that they're actually quite a terrible singer.  I'm sorry, I just know that they won't have a voice in 5 years.  *shrug*  It's why when people tell me I have to watch this clip from The X Factor or American Idol, I just grit my teeth and force a smile and try to keep my mouth shut.  I'm kind of hard to impress, but it's because I've heard SO MUCH GOOD music in my life and I've had the training to know when an accomplishment is actually being made.  Wow, it's nice here in my ivory tower....

Five Things I Know Nothing About

1. Politics. And you know what? I don't care enough.  Yes, important issues matter to me.  Yes, I make educated decisions come voting time.  But if there is a pre-pre-primary debate on but Enchanted is also on ABC Family at the same time?  I'm watching Amy Adams and Dr. McDreamy, thankyouverymuch.  I just can't be bothered to get ALL UP IN ARMS over what the talking heads are saying on whatever news channel.  I assume that the good thing about this particular "flaw" of mine is that, at the very least, I don't pretend to know what I'm talking about and/or engage in arguments with people about things.

2. Hockey.  I like to consider myself a pretty well-rounded sports fan, but hockey is just that one sport (of the predominantly featured ones, that is...there are LOTS of sports I know nothing about...lacrosse, anyone?) that I can't get into.  I have nothing against it, of course (had to say that so that my Canadian friends don't disown me); I just don't really get into it.  I know that the little black disc gets banged around on ice and that the goal is to get it into the other team's net.  That's all I need to know, right?

3. Math and Science.  I was in band and theatre and AP English classes.  Enough said.  I did what I needed to do for state regulations and then I promptly forgot it all, beyond simple basics.

4. Decorating.  My mom, my aunt, my cousin and my sister-in-law all have houses that look like they came straight out of the pages of a magazine.  I...just am not good at that kind of thing.  I wouldn't be able to see an old door and think "wow that would look great in my living room," but they will take it and make it look like it came out of an Anthropologie display.  Thank God they like helping me, or my house would be tragic.

5. The average air-speed velocity of an unladen African swallow.  But European swallows?  Got it. 

Five Things I Believe

1. (I'm straight up copy/pasting this one from Jen, because she put it so beautifully). I believe the Bible is totally and completely true. God is and always was. He created the heavens and the earth and every living thing. He came to earth as a human being — He was born to a virgin, He was killed, and He rose again in three days, just as He said He would. He’s coming back one day, a day known only to Him.

2. I believe in ghosts and demons.  I'm not sure so much about ghosts of departed humans, but I'm not saying it's impossible.  But I sure as hell (see what I did there?) believe in demons.  See the thing in the first section about bad dreams from scary movies?  I still get creeped out by those shadowy things in Ghost.  Yep.

3. I believe in education.  One thing that has actually gotten me to raise my head from my book/magazine and pay a bit more attention to politics lately is the issue of education.  I'm a firm believer that we should not just be preparing children for standardized tests.  I believe that college and extended education is incredibly important.  I believe we should never ever stop taking opportunities to learn.

4. I believe in a thing called love.  The Beatles said it the best, because, at the end of the day, "Love is all you need."  If we could all just remember to love one another (see #1 at the top of this section for reference), things would just be a little more awesome. 

5. I believe in myself and my potential.  Yes, it sounds cheesy.  But if I don't believe in myself, how can I expect anyone else to believe in me? 

Well that was fun and took up a substantial amount of time!  Feel free to play along!

October 25, 2011

Tuesday Tunes -- ALL THE MUSIC

I've been on a serious music kick lately...so serious that I sort of feel like I did back in high school, when I had music playing constantly -- in my car, in my bedroom while I got ready, on my Discman (SHUT. UP.), you name it.

I'll give some of that credit where credit is due, to my recent musical muses in no particular order: Mike, Tashina and Rachel.  All three of those musically inclined friends have opened my ears up to some brand new artists and styles (Tashina mostly through our CafĂ© des Artistes rehearsals, because she uses some badass tunes for our movement exercises at rehearsal), and, thanks to the wonderful Internet, have been more than generous in the sharing of said music. 

Speaking of technology, that's where more of the credit is due.  I've been listening to Live 105, a radio station in Halifax, NS (that's in Canada, you guys) almost every day thanks to Mike turning me onto it one day...and I didn't realize how much I really missed listening to a good radio station.  I mean, nobody likes commercials, but at least these commercials amuse me (minus the friggin' Casino Taxi jingle, which I now have memorized) because of the accents...and you get commercials on Pandora and Spotify anyway, unless you pay for it.  But the contests, the different DJ personalities, and the different mix of music (old stuff I listened to in high school, current stuff, and Canadian music I never would've heard otherwise) is just so much fun for me. 

ALSO, if the radio doesn't tell me the song quickly enough, I can just load up SoundHound (great app on my iPhone), point it towards the music, and find out what song it is and get an option to buy it.  ALSO ALSO, thank GOD for Spotify.  I heard an Acres of Lions song on Live 105 the other night and really wanted to hear more of the album, so I was able to check out the entire album for free (with commercials) before buying it on iTunes.  Awesome.

But it was when I was listening to AoL that I started thinking, "Do you ever find yourself getting overwhelmed by ALL THE MUSIC?"  I mean good lord, there's some good music in this world.  I know that seems like a stupid thing to say, but there's no way I'll ever be satisfied with music.  I'm always going to want to get more and more, and one band leads to another which leads me to going to see them and then falling in love with the opening act, etc.  It just keeps going.

How awesome is that?

So, yeah...I mean...good stuff out there.  Here's a small sampling of what I'm digging right now:

1. "Reaction" - Acres of Lions
2. "Weapon" - Matthew Good Band
3. "Fragile Bird" - City and Colour
4. "What the Water Gave Me" - Florence + the Machine
5. "Black Betty" - The Standstills
6. "How it Ends" - DeVotchKa
7. "Joga" - Bjork
8. "Uprising" - Muse
9. "Oh Mississippi" - Lissie
10. "Speak/Listen" - David Usher

Ten is a good place to stop.  I'd look all those up on YouTube and link them for you, but that'd take a lot of time, and let's face it...you're a grownup with a computer and enough dexterity and knowledge to do that yourself.  If you don't, well, then you're just missing out. 

So...yeah.  Rock on?  Or something.

October 24, 2011

We Have a Show

We have a show, y'all.

When I got the email this morning from our director, Tashina, I got this feeling...nervous, excited, anxious...just kind of an overall buzzed/hyper feeling.  Also a little emotional.

I mean....we created something.  Yes, most of the text is not written by us (we used the notebooks of Richard Foreman and Charles Mee...and I don't feel like linking those pages, so go Google it if you're interested), but the structure and the order and the intent?  All done by us.  As a group.

I'm pretty impressed by us, actually.

I've never done anything like this before, and even though we're just now to a point where we're going to be blocking and choreographing and such, I already have that "I don't want it to end" feeling.  This is pretty normal for me.  The anticipation of building a show and getting it ready for an audience is so important to me as an artist that I can't help but think about how bummed I'm gonna be when it's over.  I have to actively stop myself and focus on the NOW and remind myself to enjoy all of this part, too, instead of already being sad that it will be over in a month.

I'm so proud of all of us. 

We were warned that it would be difficult and frustrating at times, but those moments have been so insignificant in the grand scheme of things (so far!).  This group listens to each other and supports each others' ideas and contributes to the process without being overbearing or selfish. I'm glad to know I'll look back on this with a great sense of accomplishment and pride.  Of that, I am already 100% sure.

"You know, that's how it is to deal with art
because art is made in the freedom of the imagination
with no rules."

November 10-12th and 17th-20th.  Be there.

(this post is cross-posted on the Sundown Collaborative Theatre Tumblr page)

October 17, 2011


Remember when I blogged more often?  And then I'd go on a blogging drought and then write a post about how I used to blog more often?

Why do I suck at this so much?  Or am I just being hard on myself?  Yeah, that's probably it.  I HAVE A LOT GOING ON, YOU GUYS.

So I turned 30.  It was awesome.

Before I turned 30, I vlogged about turning 30.  Then I posted it on my Facebook page and offended some people because I said "old people are sad" on my vlog about 50 times.  So then I felt awkward about vlogging about turning 30. 

But turning 30?  Very cool.  Best birthday EVER.  I woke up to this:

Yep.  John Paul White, one half of the duo also known as The Civil Wars, (remember when I saw them play a short set at Good Records in Dallas?) sent me a Happy Birthday tweet.  The best part?  The "ma'am."  He is from the deep south, y'all, and that accent just gets me all twitterpated (see what I did there?). 

Then, when I got to work and turned on the Halifax radio station I listen to online, Live 105, my Canadian (and Halifax-resident) buddy Mike had emailed in a Happy Birthday dedication to me, which was Hope & Ruin by The Trews.  So that was about 10 kinds of awesome. Thanks Mike and to Christina from the Midday Meltdown for the birthday shout-out!

Then my amazing and adorable husband kidnapped me and took me to lunch at Chuy's (best. fajitas. ever.) where I got free sopapillas and had a margarita.

I also got a coupon to go to the zoo for their Halloween event ("Boo at the Zoo!") and a gift certificate to a local salon & spa as birthday gifts from my husband.  AWESOME.

Of course there were a gazillion texts, phone calls, tweets and Facebook messages.  Gotta love social media for making a girl feel loved on her birthday!

Then came the weekend and the big party.  Oh GOD, the big party.  Let's just say that my best friend came to town -

and SHE had organized for my friend Abby to show up and surprise me...

There were two cakes (one of which was filled with and surrounded by strawberries soaked in cherry brandy and then dipped in chocolate), and the obligatory candles...

We closed the place down and then some.  I'm told I had a GREAT time.  I'd post more pictures, but a) Shelly hasn't gotten them off her camera and sent them to me yet, and b) I'm not sure they can or should be seen...will let you know if any make it through my internet filter.

So yeah!  Turning 30. NOT BAD. 

But other than that...I don't have a whole lot to blog about.  I haven't been running.  I haven't even missed running until this past weekend, when I suddenly felt like I should go on a run and SOON before the window of time is closed.  And it will close soon, because of all the work that's about to get insane(ly awesome) with my show, which opens on November 10th.

Until then...I'll try to be less blah about blogging.  Blahgging. 

I amuse myself. 

October 7, 2011

Birthday Week = Crazy Week

You guys, this week has been C-R-A-Z-Y. I knew it was gonna be. On Sunday night, I warned my husband that it was gonna be an absolutely ridiculous week and that we wouldn't get a whole lot of time together. It sucks when that happens, but it's nice when I know about it ahead of time, I guess.

I turned 30 this week. On Tuesday. It was....kind of awesome, actually. I'll post about it next week, when the official celebrations are all over (since I turned 30 on a Tuesday, we're having the big party with all my friends [including my very best friend Shelly] on Saturday night and a family gathering on Sunday, so...stay tuned), but suffice it for now to say that it's the best birthday I have had in YEARS. No, really. I put a lot of expectations on my birthdays for some reason, and not even consciously. I think I just still have a 5-year-old buried inside that expects it to be a day unlike any other day that year. Most years, I'm slightly disappointed. This year, I was blown away. Maybe my expecations have changed, or maybe my life is just kinda awesome, more so than ever before. I dunno. Either way, I'll talk about it more later.

So along with work and rehearsals, for which I have homework (but it's kind of an awesome kind of homework):

...and LOTS of work to do at work (including but not limited to putting together the Big Monthly Meeting I prepare every month and substitute teaching a College Writing I class) after those late nights of rehearsal and reading...I have had lots and lots and lots of caffeine this week.  It's done the bare minimum of keeping me awake and relatively alert for the things I have to to get done.

But the tired I'm feeling?  Is that really productive kind of tired.  I don't feel beaten down so much so that I don't wanna do the things I have to do.  I just am plugging along, enjoying it all, for the most part.  I think it's a good sign that I could handle going for that Master's degree, maybe.  I can get stuff done in the evenings, read the things I need to read, cook dinner, attend to my husband (heh), and keep a relatively clean (okay it's not clean at ALL) house, and still do my job. 

Hey, did I maybe turn into SuperWoman when I turned 30?  Because that would be kind of awesome.

But really, I'm really enjoying working on this show.  Re-reading all the Richard Foreman and Charles Mee texts and working with stuff I've written and created and discussing things with the cast to create something new and interesting and—hopefully—beautiful and meaningful.

(yes, that does say "Fuck Math!" at the top. You kinda had to be there.)

By the way, are you following the Sundown Tumblr to read about the actors' experiences during this process?  Because you should be.

Anywho, I'm SO VERY GLAD that it's Friday.  And that I'm coming up on a 4-Day weekend.  And that my bestie will be here tomorrow.  And that I get another night of talking about theatre and beautiful things with my cast.  And that I don't have to look good on Fridays, because there was just no way it was gonna happen today.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and I'll be back next week with a post filled to the brim with birthday shenanigans!

Happy Friday!

October 6, 2011

Mermaids vs. Whales

I've seen the following photo posted on Facebook with the text in italics as its "caption."  It currently has nearly 200,000 "likes," around 140,000 "shares," and over 60,000 comments.  Obviously I haven't read all the comments, but I'd like to share my thoughts below the italicized text.

(this is the picture that accompanied the post on Facebook)
 A while back, at the entrance of a gym, there was a picture of a very thin and beautiful woman. The caption was "This summer, do you want to be a mermaid or a whale?"

The story goes, a woman (of clothing size unknown) answered the following way:

 "Dear people, whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, seals, curious humans), they are sexually active and raise their children with great tenderness. They entertain like crazy with dolphins and eat lots of prawns. They swim all day and travel to fantastic places like Patagonia, the Barents Sea or the coral reefs of Polynesia. They sing incredibly well and sometimes even are on cds. They are impressive and dearly loved animals, which everyone defend and admires.

Mermaids do not exist. But if they existed, they would line up to see a psychologist because of a problem of split personality: woman or fish? They would have no sex life and could not bear children. Yes, they would be lovely, but lonely and sad. And, who wants a girl that smells like fish by his side?

Without a doubt, I'd rather be a whale. At a time when the media tells us that only thin is beautiful, I prefer to eat ice cream with my kids, to have dinner with my husband, to eat and drink and have fun with my friends.

We women, we gain weight because we accumulate so much wisdom and knowledge that there isn't enough space in our heads, and it spreads all over our bodies. We are not fat, we are greatly cultivated. Every time I see my curves in the mirror, I tell myself: "How amazing am I ?! " (The girl on the picture is French model Tara Lynn)

Allow me to begin with my rant to the gym which posted this sign (allegedly -- I've yet to see or even look for proof of this.  For all we know it's fake and has just gone viral).  WHAT THE HELL, GYM?  Do you really think that's going to help anyone? Do you know how many people have a hard enough time getting up the nerve to even GO to the gym, a place where people in spandex do things that make body parts jiggle that they didn't even know they had?

How about, rather than making women feel even worse about themselves, you do something else.  Something actually inspiring, rather than berating and insulting.  Put up a picture of a normal sized woman crossing a finish line, shooting a basketball or swinging a tennis racket.  Make the caption something like "Feel better this summer than you ever have!  Ask us how we can help!"

Stupid gym.

Now, onto the woman's response.  I had a friend on Facebook comment on my post (I expressed annoyance and mild disgust at this whole thing) that she just took the woman's response at face value. That it's just a metaphor.  I get that, I really do.  And I'm glad if it makes some women feel better, which it most surely has. But a good metaphor is one that is well thought-out.  This is just a bad metaphor that, frankly, offends me as a writer.

Things she says just don't make sense.  Such as her tirade against mermaids, during which she says, "They would have no sex life...who wants a girl that smells like fish by his side?" Um...so a man would prefer an even larger ACTUAL fish in his bed (the whale)? At least mermaids have boobs.  Poll 100 men and say "Real, 100% fish in your bed, or half-fish with great tits that maybe just smells like a fish?"  See what I'm sayin'?  BAD METAPHOR.

Now here is where I'm gonna hurt some feelings.  So get ready for it.

The part I take MOST ISSUE with is this: "We women, we gain weight because we accumulate so much wisdom and knowledge that there isn't enough space in our heads, and it spreads all over our bodies. We are not fat, we are greatly cultivated."

Um...hold on.  What?  Women gain weight because of their awesomeness?  My achievements and education and great knowledge is all manifested in my thighs and my ass?  I'm not fat, I'm cultivated!!


The thing is...I don't know the woman who wrote this response.  I don't know how old she is or what she looks like or anything about her station in life.  But I do know this...that response has a tone of painful familiarity for me.

As a former "fat" girl and a girl who still has some (ROCKIN') curves (I don't mind telling you I'm a size 12)...curves that I have enhanced and earned by working hard and making healthy choices (or trying to) regularly...I'm gonna say that I call bullshit.  You know why?  Because I have said those things:

"I'd rather be happy than thin!"

"Who wants to diet when I'm getting quality time with my friends eating cheese fries and drinking beer? I AM HAPPIER THAN THAT SKINNY GIRL AND/OR THAT GIRL BUSTING IT AT THE GYM 3 TIMES A WEEK!"

Then you know what I'd do?  I'd go home and get up the next morning and cry silently because nothing fit right and I didn't feel good or confident in any of my clothes.  Because I wasn't actually happy.  Not with myself.  Not 100%.  Yes, my life was (and is) filled with wonderful people and incredible moments.  But then the dust cleared and I was left looking at myself in the mirror, I wasn't actually happy.

So I made healthy changes and wanted to look better for ME.  And guess what happened when I lost weight?? I KEPT ALL THAT OTHER AWESOME STUFF LIKE WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE AND GENERAL AWESOMENESS.

In fact, I'd say I earned even more throughout the process of becoming healthier.

Look, I understand that the woman is angry because the gym made such a ridiculous, extreme statement.  Extremes are rarely a good thing.  My response would have been, "Wait, THESE are my choices?? Mermaid or whale?"  And then I would've switched gyms.

Actually, I probably would've scheduled a time to talk with a manager or head of personal training or PR for the gym or whatever and calmly explained how harmful I thought the sign was.  But that's who I am in the world.

But getting all up in arms and turning an already ridiculous metaphor into something more ridiculous is not actually helping future generations of women.  Rather than telling them that being a whale is awesome, how about we tell them how awesome it is to be healthy?  That it prolongs their life, that it makes them feel better and feel more accomplished and feel sexier (ask my husband how much his life has improved since I started loving who I am more)?

 I think that would do much more good than continuing to make the case for "extremes."

Aaaaaand SCENE.